Family portraits are enduring, tangible proof of your most important moments and memories.
2020 has been delivering shock after shock, testing our limits with each passing week. The COVID19 pandemic has been a major upset to us all, with announcements coming out, by the hour, that are upsetting, confusing, scary and sometimes just a downright bummer.
My family has had a magical adventure planned for the end of the month at DisneyWorld. Disney announced their parks would be closed until at least April, and though I respect their decision and admire them for making a tough choice that is in everyone's best interest ... I still went to bed with shattered dreams of spiraling in teacups with my nephews and trying to collect autographs from all of their favorite Disney characters.
Back home in Kentucky, friends and family are reeling over the NCAA tournament and spring horse races canceled; schools on extended spring breaks, and general pandemonium. Across the global people are understandably concerned about our uncertain future and these trying times. Even as I write this, I wait anxiously for the USVI governor to make an announcement whether they’re canceling the Saint Croix St. Patrick’s Day parade this year. It's a big event and canceling it is strong indication for the struggles the government foresees us facing in the coming months. To say we’re all a little scared and upset is an understatement.
All this chaos and uncertainty forces me - forces many of us - to pause and take stock. With all that is happening in the world, I have been thinking back to Hurricanes Irma & Maria and how close we became, as a community. When destruction and crisis come it causes a reevaluation of what you really need and what is truly most important.
I am experiencing so many positive emotions and connections even as today feels so negative. I have a great swell of love and pride in my husband for building us a home that has proven it can weather many storms. My friends are truly amazing, who at this very moment are sending messages of love and support to each other in our group text. The unshakable support of my family continues to provide the strong foundation upon which my life stands. Without each of them, I would not be the person I am today. I am privileged to have the friends, family, and resources that I have, and I am grateful.
Sitting here, at my kitchen counter, I look over at a wall portrait of Kevin and I being silly in Christmas garb. A piece that was meant to be just for holiday decoration, but after more than a year, I can't bring myself to pack it away. It brings me too much joy when I see it for it to live in a box in the laundry room. Then I look behind me and smile at the piece of my nephews at our family cabin hanging in my home office. In a time of such uncertainty, I want reminders of my family, my love everywhere. They are reminders that I am loved and they help to dampen the noise of the chaotic world outside. Our family portraits adorning the walls of our home help to keep my home feeling like a safe haven. And in these trying times that is an immeasurable gift. Not to mention an immune booster! Stress and anxiety weaken your immune system, so surround yourself with love and tools of calm and happiness.
Thinking back over the years and all the wall portraits I’ve created with clients over the years, I am so thrilled that maybe their family or wedding portrait is bringing them the same calm and joy right now. Allowing the treasured memory of their first sunset together ... or their magical family trip to St Croix ... the year their teenager was only two ... to bring them back to that happy moment. I am so glad to think that boost of serotonin will make them smile and bring them an extra dose of strength when they need it most.
Family portraits are powerful. When displayed in your home, they are a constant and daily reminder of the most important things in your life. Psychological studies have even shown that children who grow up in households with family portraits prominently displayed create stronger family values and better self-worth because they feel important enough to be displayed as art in their home.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to work at home, with your kids for the next few weeks, I hope you are able to enjoy some quality family time. Enjoy family portraits and photo albums, tell stories of your ancestors, the roots of your family tree. Tell them the story of how your family portrait came to be created. Show them the pictures of their life, year after year, and share all your favorite stories.
Hug them and kiss them and love them. We all have something to be thankful for!
Reach out to your neighbors and community too, some people are less fortunate or don't have family close by. Check-in with those in the periphery of your social circle. If you can donate time, or skills, or money to local charities and shelters do it.
We're in this together and we are stronger together.
Local St Croix Charities to call with an offer of support:
Women's Coalition of St Croix -- some may not have a safe home space to quarantine themselves at this time, donate to the Women's Coalition to support the work they do in protecting women and families escaping from abusive situations.
Lighthouse Mission-- Those without homes have no place to quarantine. Donate to the Lighthouse Mission who has been assisting the homeless population of St Croix for many years.
I know there are more places that could use our support, please drop links to them in the comments below.