Last year my husband and I decided to do a little life reshaping. We were about to welcome our son into the world and we’d also been through so much personally and professionally that we were feeling like we were at a crossroads. It made us examine where we were at-emotionally and geographically. We found that we were asking ourselves what we really wanted out of (and to put into) our life.

Our path to creating a little family was not an easy one. It spanned 3 years with many ups and downs. It took a toll on us. It strengthened us in a lot of ways also. While we were (constantly) thinking about our family-to-be, we were also experiencing many other highs and lows: Job promotions (and the added pressure of those), moving houses, loss of loved ones, loss of relationships, anxiety and depression, relationship ups and downs, a car accident and recovery, and the very real feelings around mid-life. This was all within the past 3 years or so. With all of our experiences we had some eye-opening moments and found ourselves asking if what we were doing with this precious life was what we’re meant to be doing.

Are we engaged in this life of ours? What are our priorities?

Every single experience I mentioned and every single question we asked ourselves are widely considered “common” or “normal”. I get that. But, I also feel that while it is “ordinary”, it doesn’t feel as much when you are personally going through it and to be told it’s “common” right in the thick of it can be both reassuring and annoying. I could try to rationalize with myself a million times, but sometimes I just felt sad, or tired, or upset.

I completely recognize that the challenges we’ve faced, or are still facing, are far from the difficulties many others are dealing with every day. Let me just say that I am beyond grateful for so much in my life. Also though, the hard stuff is still hard some days. And sometimes that would make me feel bad because I’d look around and beat myself up that I should only feel grateful…and not tired or stressed out.

I know it is not groundbreaking to say that how we handle a situation will likely impact our overall experience of it….(and yet, I still need to remind myself of this at times): Choosing joy, finding the silver lining, etc. But what I’m interested in is taking a look at what we go through more systematically to gain a little insight. Maybe you’re really good at always finding the joy in a situation. Or knowing what there is to learn from an experience. I am not always super skilled at that in the moment, particularly when my stress peaks. So, for me, I needed some sort of tool or guidance to really dive into how to do that. This is a part of what my research and my artwork is about.

I’m interested in not only reflecting on how I handled or experienced something, but how that reflection actually takes place. Like how it will really happen. It’s one thing to say we’re reflecting on an experience, but are we really? Without a tangible way to do that, we may or may not be. For myself, and for my research, I’m interested in taking a critical look at my story. How have my own life events shaped where I am now and where I’m going? Specifically, the past few years. How have the combination of “common” life events impacted the navigation of them?

I believe this gives value to what we learned. It gives weight to the pieces and not just the result-even if those pieces are everyday items. There is a recognition of our truths and our dreams that are wrapped up in our experiences when we do this.

Creativity, Art, ResearchMonica Rezac