1. Revising Down to Essentials
Social distancing and other restrictions meant less meetings and no small group activities. It was pretty much me lecturing. Boring! So I had to find alternative methods of getting key points across, relating content to Lockdown experiences, class work, sports or other leisure activities I know they enjoy.
I had to think like the kids and the parents in my community, in other words I really had to know both my ‘story’ and my audience.
2. Valuing the Richness (and finding different ways to include it or lamenting its loss
Once I had decided what those essentials were and felt I would adequately, repeatedly have them heard, then I was able to look ‘on the cutting room floor’ as it were. I had to decide what had I cut out which I definitely wanted to find a way to include and could I get this across in some other way. Props (like a prayer space) Probing or Rhetorical Questions, In between meeting activities, Emails, Suggested Websites and YouTube clips, I used them all.
I have little way of knowing how many people used/read/viewed these, understood their purpose/message, saw any value in them, but isn’t that the way with any creative piece? Where I could not add another thing in, I simply had to lament the loss of some rich and beautiful imagery. In other words, I had to ‘kill my darlings’.
3. Being Flexible and Kind
Ahh this was my possibly my biggest personal growth area. Working with people with many varying degrees of faith who often turn up for the Sacramental Program, many a time quite grudgingly and then never turn up again, can leave you cynical and overly righteous. Now, several of them couldn’t come to the already reduced compulsory meetings due to being unwell. In a pandemic, I had no choice but to give them the benefit of the doubt. Then I would offer private catch ups and to my surprise, these were always taken up and more often than not with genuine humility and gratitude. These proved the most rewarding sessions as the children especially were full of interest and questions.
Still, they did take up a lot of time and energy and I had to take greater note of how this was affecting me, my energy levels and my behaviour at home. Luckily, I have a competent, understanding and supportive family, who allowed me to vegetate while they took over the running of the household. It took me some time to accept this assistance without guilt, but I realised that sometimes the person we (especially creatives) need to be kind to is ourselves.
4. Dragging Yourself and Others Through
As Covid threw up obstacle after obstacle, there were times (restrictions, cases, tests and waiting on their results- including our priest in the week before the actual First Holy Communion) when I found myself mentally and emotionally dragging myself and others through- ‘Yes, I understand, perhaps we could try this’, ‘ I could see you at such and such a time’, ‘I can email… drop a Flash Drive in your letter box….’ I had to think outside of the box and just keep on finding solutions, alternatives, possibilities.
This reminds me so much of the journey to publication, as rejection after rejection or worse unrelenting silence meet my submissions, I simply have to find other ways, publishers, stories and keep trying.
5. Celebrating Unplanned Successes
Considering the vast majority of the program should have been completed in the Lockdown period and we now had two and a half months to complete a four month program, its culmination over the last two weekends with 35 gorgeous children, their amazing parents and our incredible team of ‘Young Adults’ who sang, photographed, Live-streamed, administered Communion (if they were Ministers of the Eucharist) and even collected money on the plate was an unmitigated success which I am still happy dancing about now!
This year I’ve found small creative successes in a place I’ve never planned on looking for it, with my renewed interest in art. I have found greater confidence and no expectation allowing me to play and experiment and even mould my previously uncooperative, grubby-work-making fingers willing to glue delicately and neatly. One work was even published! For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, check out my Fairy Tale Memories in the New Writers Group Inc. Pop Up Zine https://nwg-inc.com/word/?page_id=4347
And a bonus point, cause who doesn’t love a bonus?
Sometimes all the pomp and ceremony isn’t needed or possibly even wanted by those we think we’re doing it for. Keeping it simple can often be better- more meaningful, accessible, poignant… I’m a Picture Book Author and I’m discovering that often the ‘bells and whistles’ are more for me than the kids, I really must remember that… how about you?