All posts by Sara Barcus

Thoughts on life’s increasing Strangeness and surviving a global paradigm shift

Things have been hitting me in chunks. I have decades of defense mechanisms, being drowned out by coping strategies, still humming at increasing volume (like cicalas in the shrubs) until it all drops out and I have to focus only on what is in my bubble. Because the background noise is terrifying. It is this bitter cacophony of out of sync conductors and drunk choreographers echoing forward misstep by misstep as we watch our future played out unthinkable tragedy by catastrophic loss of humanity.

I want to reach my arms from Texan isolation to help scoop folks out of these indignities while also frantically waving at oblivious exceptionalists, shocked by the inaction. We are all somehow shuffling through a global trauma right now, and there are many different human responses to trauma or crisis. We are also still at a point (in the United States, at least) where some people can’t begin to move forward because they have not yet acknowledged the evidence of our current reality. There are a few types of psychological reactions to crisis that can lead to dangerous levels of denial. I think we’re seeing a lot of those, as well as people who aren’t being given data in a way that they can digest. When this starts to peak, I think it will be hardest on them. The whiplash is going to be dizzying; be kind. Anxiety is a normal and healthy response and I have been moved by how freely folks are sharing resources to protect each other’s mental health.

We don’t want each other to fall through the cracks.

That’s something I think we’re all going to need to cling to for quite a while. This is going to cause ENORMOUS fallout and drastic shifts in psychology and sociology on a *global level*. There are mass grievings of humans in multiple countries now, whose loved ones got sick, went to the hospital alone, died alone; those humans mourning in isolation, funeral services made impossible (an especially tragic experience for anyone whose cultural burial practices cannot be upheld). We will have many months of grief and mourning and we have to be prepared to help people truly mourn.

We have got to keep people feeling connected (and being connected) to each other.

I wonder what the data will show about the pandemic’s impact in so many areas of human existence: effects on people who had to go without physical intimacies like a hug for weeks or months, in what (expected and unexpected) ways will this affect the psychology and behavior of young humans at different stages of development. Most of these thoughts get placed neatly to the side because we can’t know until this is over and there is little to do now to significantly minimize that fallout.

But our citizen’s mental health throughout this crisis and rebuilding? That is something we can work to protect now, and we have to.

Will we keep fighting over the money and ignore that a significant portion of the population is in compounded mourning, many will develop PTSD even if they don’t directly experience a personally traumatic event, and nearly everyone is experiencing dangerous levels of stress and anxiety.

Our politicians, city officials, and news outlets need to be as direct as the data. The only thing to combat the panic right now is facts. Not half-truths that will let them down in a week and create greater distrust and increased helplessness.

Helplessness: Involve your communities in planning and developing solutions and ways to move forward through this. Give us the blunt truth, humility, compassion, a common goal and something actionable to help move forward.

We cannot cling to the idea of going back to a previous sense of “normal”. We all need to really digest that information and find constructive ways to build from where we are.

This isn’t a “starting over” though. It will hopefully move us forward further than our past trajectory would have. But it is so important that as many people as possible understand how broken things will get *before they break*. We need to acknowledge the trauma now.


Our reaction to trauma and crisis is not like other mental health issues. It is a physiological response and inherent to how our brains operate. The effects can be mediated through direct, accurate, and compassionate information, access to supports, and finding a way to involve entire communities in response and support (from home as well). If we all feel we are actively working towards the same goal and moving through this together; we will absolutely survive this. Our individual and societal health depends on giving its citizens purpose in the uncertainty and the tools to support themselves and others.

We *can* catch each other when we fall, instead of waiting until after the crash to collect the fallen.
It’s vital that individuals and communities have resources at hand during the breaking so they can avoid more turmoil in the midst of chaos.


If, somehow, you can’t relate and this all sounds like the wrong set of priorities to you: The country depends on a healthy economy and healthy workforce. Our workforce can only return to “health” if citizens have access to supports and can take care of themselves and their families. People can’t take care of themselves or their families if they are not dealing with the human response to trauma.

The Hygiene Precautions we should all take when any communicable illness is spreading.

I realized this morning what a major source of my frustration has been with government and media focusing entirely on *basic hygiene practices* as defense against the spread of coronavirus.

With the United State’s severely limited testing capabilities, the community should be *extra* vigilant about hygiene. The released posters contain nothing more than what I teach my six year old for cleanliness/illness prevention.

But everyone should be practicing “interacting with the immuno-compromised” hygiene. These are the extra precautions I take in my life when risk of communicable disease is higher. They are not unreasonable. And the population at large adopting and practicing these measures is the absolute best way to limit its spread and lessen the impact on our more vulnerable citizens.

[List is a collection of preventative/containment measures recommended for a variety of different “bugs” and some practices I have developed in response to things like keeping one sick kid from infecting the other in the same house, when i want to visit my bestie during flu season (she is on immunosuppressants), that time i was hospitalized with the flu, the time i was stopping poison ivy exposure, and just generally during flu season or when we are having more house guests.

So *definitely* do these if you or someone in your house is more vulnerable. And if your household interacts with a greater population of people, it’s probably good practice at the moment.

Consider doing these if you’re anyone else within your abilities and reason.

(The CDC posters cover the bases. These are just applying those basics more broadly.)

In Public:

Do a Risk/Benefit analysis of any large-group activities. Stay home when possible, especially if you feel sick or have a fever…even if it’s mild.

Wash your hands well after interacting with any surface that is more likely to have been exposed to “bugs”.

In public spaces, limit the items your body contacts; use one hand to manipulate doors, elevator buttons etc and don’t lean on walls or railings or place your belongings on public tables. Make sure to not use this hand until i have washed/sanitized it.

Sanitize hands *before* and *after* interacting with public items such as: sign in clipboards/tablets/computers, community tables.

(Just pretend everything is a seedy bar or gas station restroom…though, that might be drastic depending on your general level of hygiene.)

(I’ve always had logical issues with coughing in your elbow…and then switching to elbow bumps. Well…i have issues with the concept of washing your hands regularly, but coughing into your elbow. We don’t routinely wash our elbows and they come into contact with public places and other people quite a lot.)

cough or sneeze into own shirt. Maybe that sounds gross…i don’t really know or care. Those droplets are more contained on me and I can control people interacting with my body and cleaning those items.

When I’m sneezy, i carry tissues and sneeze in tissues. I dispose of the tissue (or i have a place in my bag for dirties). I sanitize my hands. The place in the bag for dirties gets cleaned regularly. (Think reusable/machine washable snack bags).

At Home:

Put toys with lots of pieces and household items that are harder to clean away when they aren’t necessary. Consider putting some things in “preventative quarantine“. When “bugs” are going around at the boys’ school, the legos go up for awhile. So do “extra pillows”, more interactive “coffee table items”, etc.

I change my air filter. I change it again, if we get sick, once symptoms are dying down.

Same thing for sheets.

Lysol multi-surface is amazing.

I nightly do a quick wipe down of all public surfaces in the house (fridge handles, trash cans, doorknobs too) and any items (like nintendo DSs) that get more interaction.

I’m a morning shower person, but I switch to nightly showers when my sick risk is high. Picked this up with ways to lessen seasonal allergy “contamination”. By bathing at night, you eliminate transferring all of the days allergen accumulation into your bed.

If one person is sick and others aren’t: they’re more self-contained. Ex: I’ll set the kiddo up somewhere with the necessities and I facilitate things beyond that. There is at least a separate place for used tissues, a way to sanitize hands, snacks as able, water or gatorade and entertainment. I switch and wash clothes/blankets/ sheets every night (as needed). I disinfect anything coming in or going out (within reason…i’m not like setting up a cleaning chamber or anything…but if my kid coughs on me i’m gonna change shirts). They obviously have free travel to the restroom. If they are super snotty, they get extra baths. The steam also helps clear mucus.

Dirty laundry is moved from more centralized location to only by the washing machine.

Stuffies (and other items) often end up getting quarantined for around a month. Appropriate items are placed in well sealed bag (trash bag will work when tied without gaps and placed in an out of use location).

I check the kids for a fever before going anywhere public. They aren’t great at self-reporting. I wait 24 hours fever free (without a fever reducer) before they go back to school or interact with public at large.

Interacting with People in public and small groups…or 1 on 1.

You should never be pressuring any kind of physical contact with people anyway…but definitely don’t make someone feel bad or be offended if someone doesn’t want to hug+.

Maybe make your go-to a fancy head nod or hat tip. Give people space and give yourself space. Don’t be cruel in limiting contact; be reasonable.

If you don’t know a person, give them space. In grocery stores, lines in public, elevators…

Shrink your space if you can before imposing on their’s. You don’t know everyone else’s risk status. Your understanding that it probably won’t be a huge a deal if you get it shouldn’t keep you from understanding that it may be a big deal if the woman in the elevator next to you does. Don’t minimize other people’s precautions and echo them when interacting.

They know better than you do (or i do) what they need from the public concerning interactions. Now is certainly not the time to make anyone feel bad for “not being friendly” while y’all are sharing public space.

Consider sharing disinfectant supplies in public if a situation warrants it. If you saw someone sneeze over a sink in a public restroom, maybe wipe it down before you wash your hands well. Share travel hand sanitizer if someone doesn’t have any.

If you are giving things to people or receiving items, consider disinfecting as possible.

Video call with friends/relatives who are higher risk for complications even if you aren’t symptomatic at all.

If you feel sick or have a fever, stay home. If you have to leave home; severely limit contact with non-personal items, don’t get on that first elevator with the group of 11…wait for the next one.

Cough in your shirt.

Be Excellent to Each Other.

*I may realize later that I forgot some good ones and come back.

*I also may make an illustrated version if that might be helpful.

When an artist wants to talk about a pandemic

Coronavirus

Why do Americans have to polarize everything? I have seen some of the most appalling avoidance of actually digesting relevant information about the, now pandemic, new strain of coronavirus.

Arguments:

-government conspiracy: a textbook from 70’s mentioning coronavirus means that this isn’t a new virus. Yo. It’s a new strain of coronavirus, which is why it has the fancy name of COVID-19. Coronavirus is a family of separate (but similar) viruses.

-people saying to stop making it political when other people bring up the barriers to diagnosing and tracking the virus in this country caused by our healthcare system: Citing relevant information isn’t making anything political. Lamenting the actual political actions which are creating even more barriers (like gutting the federal program that was equipped to properly handle a pandemic) isn’t even really “making it political”. Facts are non-partisan.

Here’s the worst…

American exceptionalism sucks and is what will kill a lot of folks in this country.

Viruses don’t give a fuck.

Viruses mutate and grow stronger, really rather quickly, when left to reproduce.

Yes. It is a flu-like virus; and we all know how much people hate getting flu shots because they’ve never gotten a bad case. Bad cases aside, we still have a vaccine for the flu (variable efficacy) and some responsible percentage of people in this country *get* the vaccine.

That slows the spread of the flu and its unabated ability to reproduce.

We have medicines that are built to help fight the flu and lower its mortality rate.

We don’t have any of that for coronavirus.

Now, am i saying we should all freak out because everyone is going to die now?

No.

But there are a lot of factors that are truly concerning here.

*This virus has been shown to survive *on surfaces* up to 2 WEEKS. Reference point: the flu survives on surfaces for 24 hours.

*There is at least one known case of re-infection. A person tested positive, was treated, recovered, was exposed again to the virus and re-contracted it. It seemingly wasn’t a (much) weaker response either. So, the antibodies we create to fight the virus may not be protective against future exposure.

*Now that we have cases that aren’t related to the original outbreak, we don’t have the capacity to contain its spread. Or effectively track it.

*other countries are shutting down schools and churches for weeks/more than a month in an attempt to slow down the virus’s spread.

There are countries reporting roughly 1 in 50 mortality rate in confirmed cases. (No, this isn’t directly representative of deaths/cases. Especially since there is evidence that the *known* and *suspected* cases are not the *only* cases. But this is true for numbers on anything…like the flu).

*Ecosystems tend to evolve and “intervene” when a population is threatening the balance in an ecosystem. They like to evolve viruses to this end. The notion that any new virus going pandemic *is not* an issue is absolutely ignorant.

Knowing all that…And watching American exceptionalism growing stronger is concerning.

All the healthy young adults brushing it off entirely because “so what? It’s like the flu..”.

Healthy young adults who have no concept what a pandemic actually is because we have things like vaccines, treatments, and government programs dedicated to preventing and managing outbreaks of communicable diseases.*

All those healthy young adults heading towards spring break and muchos, um, close contact and lax hygiene. (Y’all wash your hands after that keg-stand, bros?).

So, should we all panic? No, but we also shouldn’t ignore the real risk to the point of doing nothing to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. And please don’t dismiss relevant, factual information because your experience says that your healthy young adult body shouldn’t worry about something “like the flu”. Healthy young adults have children. They have parents. They have friends and colleagues with autoimmune disorders or in treatment for cancer. And viruses can grow strong enough to kill healthy young adults in the absence of treatment and preventative measures.

Focus less on how sick *you* might get and more on what you can do to limit the virus’s ability to spread through our communities.

Wash your hands, cover your cough, be excellent to each other.

The Great Taco War

In 2018, San Antonio celebrated its Tricentennial. One of the city’s celebrations of our history was “Common Currents”; 300 artists were each given a year to represent, as a painting, dance, short film, etc.

I was honored to be asked to join up with a poet and friend of mine, Jason Gossard. He wrote an amazing piece about the heated internet incarnation of a decades old battle of bragging rights to the “Best/Original/Authentic Breakfast Taco. He wanted an illustration to match his work and represent this moment in San Antonio’s history. The battle wasn’t a new one and history was on our side, but the braggadocio was on their’s. An “official” Taco-off was held (they even had home-court advantage), but Austin chefs didn’t even show up to the challenge.

The collaboration showed in March of 2018 at the Mexican Cultural Institute in San Antonio.

I hope you’ll enjoy this piece as much as I did making it.

Social Impact Statement

Social Impact Statement:

Sara Barcus 2020

  Fully aware that the only actions and words I have any control over are my own, my aim is only to do what I feel is right and hope that my life’s impact is a positive one.  The following are my Principles of Impact:

1. I would like others to not have to hurt in ways i have or otherwise.

2. I would like others to have tools and support for struggling.

3. I would like others to feel I have added something positive to their experiences.

4. I would like to honor those I love with my actions in this world.

5. I will always listen and seek to understand as much as I am able.

6. I will remain genuine and honest.

7. I will work, always, to perpetuate *fair play* in an infinite game over winning a finite one.

8. To create is to provide more connections in a world where we can often feel detached. I will build as many connections as i am able while here.

Background:

It seems that we all have to spend years learning about the world and ourselves before we can fully discover what life has to offer in the way of meaning and success.  We look for purpose, and we find it in a multitude of ways.  

Victor Frankl discovered an undeniably important fact of human existence: finding a purpose, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant in the grand scheme of things is essential to mankind’s will to survive.  A purpose does not guarantee survival or sanity; but the absence of one can hasten one’s death, especially in the face of struggle.

I was tormented for years; i was struggling and couldn’t see that I had anything to offer this world which could be considered “meaningful”.  Frankl provided the ultimate loophole for St Jude’s flock of lost causes, of which I was undeniably a member:

“There is purpose and meaning in the graceful endurance of one’s struggle”

To merely persist can be truly noble.  

To simply survive, when survival seems impossible, is a meaningful and important act.

Without a previously recognized and structured belief system, this concept saved my life.

What is a Social Impact Statement:

*(Most businesses and professions have statements of purpose, mission statements, artist statements, etc; this is in the same vein)

I decided to come up with a Social Impact Statement as a way to communicate my intentions and expectations of myself in relationship to the world.  essentially, it is the patten which underlies all of my statements of purpose; as an artist, a teacher, a mother, a writer, a human working to cope.  To fully understand *me*; or any individual work, or series, or my business ethics, it is imperative the perspective includes this larger context. Especially, but not exclusively, because so much of my work relies on personal narrative, human communication, and social/emotional growth and honesty.

Relevance (?):

I will likely always question whether my shared experiences could be useful to others.  The past 6ish years though, I have received feedback which consistently shows that my work, my words, or my story have helped others in some way. Other humans who find some connection to or something interesting about my perspective sometimes feel *better* about something.  Folks find my blunt vulnerability refreshing…or comforting. I’m grateful people have shared these things with me; it makes me feel as though creating and sharing things with the world *does* matter in however small a way.

So, it may not be universally relevant; but, maybe it will matter to some one.  And that’s enough of a reason for me.

The Social Impact Statement:

To understand human existence is to see a confused creature endlessly straddling a chasm between utter meaninglessness and true purpose. *I* cannot live a life with any purpose at all if it has no meaning or value to something outside of myself. And i can contribute nothing honest until i know how insignificant *i* am *to *life*.  

*Life* must, therefore, be based more on humility and connections between humans and things, and ideas. Life must be less about personal gain and transitory emotional well being; life is (and has always been) about furthering life.

Human society has expanded the concept of furthering life beyond procreation and natural biology/physiology.

Humans are able to easily and instantly share information with other humans and groups of humans without ever meeting them.  We further others’ life experiences and our own more and more through social interaction and shared knowledge. This is equally beautiful and terrifying, especially when the interwebs is concerned.

There are so many things that we try *not to* communicate.  They are messy, or scary, or we think that we are so flawed that people wouldn’t understand.

But those are the things that really connect all of us.  We are all flawed. And we’re allowed to be, we’re meant to be. There is no ultimate perfect or ultimate good.  We are all just striving to do the best we can with what we have where we are. Our circumstances and histories are different; but the trying and the making mistakes, the doubt, the joy, heartache, love, grief and fear, inadequacies and victories…those are universal. 

Examining the human condition through introspection and social analysis, I learned to people by learning about people.  I listen… a lot. I’ve learned that you will understand that You are understood when I am vulnerable. I won’t feel alone if I talk to others who have been there. We all want to feel understood and connected to things less mortal that ourselves.

So, I want to create things that make new connections for people to grab hold of.  And I want to create things that are honest and vulnerable; things that help people feel understood.

In addition to the intention of a meaningful impact, the method of purpose creates more meaning in immediate actions and experience.  For me, the method of purpose has four reasonable classifications:

Analysis

Synthesis

Function

Frivolity

Analysis and Synthesis encompass our relationship with the entire universe.  Information, consuming art forms, enjoying a quiet breezy day, listening to a friend; these are all ways we analyze.  And synthesis is creation; what we create with all we analyze and send back into the world. 

Function and Frivolity are categories of action. Our actions either have an inherent purpose in “function”, or they gain purpose in functionlessness by default of “frivolity”.  Without frivolity, though, you can’t truly experience any purpose in the other three. Frivolity of some sort is absolutely essential to purpose.

*A note on personal history in relation to perspective on the comprehensive body of woks.*

My work has always been heavily influenced by illustration, human nature, science, sociology; as much as fine arts.  In 2006, my brain did its first full nope and I was diagnosed with PTSD in March. The only way i found to cope, was to turn all of that messy mishegaas into *something*. Matter can be neither created nor destroyed, only transferred or transformed.  The only way I could restructure my perspective was to try and make it *mean something*. And the most effective way I knew to communicate was the artworks.

The work I created in those initial months became my first solo show “Memories, Remedies, and Nightmares”.  Since then, the bulk of my personal work has been autobiographical in some sense. I suppose every artist’s is, but my intent is to accurately convey a human’s experience; the most vulnerable moments, deepest fears, inside jokes, homages/interactions with social “knowledge”.

I present the resulting creation as something all its own, leaving the viewer to create their own connection to it.  I love hearing what people see in my work, what connections they made. I usually don’t like to “explain a piece” because it closes off potential connection.  Retrospectively, I feel the context of individual creations can now serve my work (as a whole) without compromising the viewer’s ability to connect and interact with individual pieces and series as before.

Moving Forward at an Indiscernable Speed

Time is such a flimsy, fickle construct.
Internet time stands still, making a life look unproductive when one is busy away from the internet.
The past 6 months have brought so many new and wonderful opportunities and I have been running with them, just trying to keep up.

I have been discovering the joys of encouraging creativity and confidence of artistic experimentation in children. It feels wrong to call myself a “teacher”…I’m more a facilitator.
I have been working with a gallery, Hijole SA, in the southtown arts district which has provided the opportunity of working with some amazing artists and human beings.

The past month, I have been really focusing on my series “There Is Hope in This World”. I finished, and showed, the first “volume” of the series and am now working on compiling the current collection into a book.

There are so many more details to divulge, but I am really excited for all of the new directions my work has been able to take recently.

Memorial Series for Día de los Muertos 2017

For the past few months, I have been working with Híjole SA, an art gallery in The Blue Star Arts Complex. We just finished our Día de los Muertos show and here is the series I created for it. It includes pieces created in remembrance of my father, whom we lost almost ten years ago, and my best friend Bart who took his own life a little over two years ago

.

Lies for Sanity

I made another drawing that’s a lie.
I have sinned. Between the longing and the desperation,
I have made an image that reflects reality so little
that pictures a hope that may not remain.
I have made another lie.

And it is a familiar one.
I have already learned that no matter how hard you hold them,
they can’t keep you here,
can’t keep you from slipping.
No matter how hard you breathe in their love for you,
you know they are fools by nature alone.

When you let go,
when you look away;
they are still gone.
All that remains is the sorrow
and the confusion, the pain,
and the anger, the hopelessness
and the lie that there could be more.

People don’t like their truth without hope and I apologize. But my new brain doesn’t seem to care all that much. It knows anger like I never have. And it knows that my kids won’t come home to the mother they deserved.

Responsibility of an Artist in Society and Politics

It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact role of the arts in societal and political critique. Especially since postmodernism has overshadowed everything with a twinge of mocking nihilism. Hyperbole has taken over in the past few years and it becomes difficult to articulate any criticisms on society with subtlety and moderation. But screaming or quiet whisperings, the role remains I believe. It isn’t a martyrdom or an esteem…it simply is.

A heavier social critique from 2015. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this boy, so like my son, today as I read my country’s new stance on refugees.

As communicators and citizens, artists by necessity become a reflection of their times and their surroundings. Our work can’t be adequately critiqued without the context of our personal and societal history and current experiences; and our society and history cannot be adequately understood without an attempt to view the artwork that arises from it.
There should certainly be a degree of integrity attached to our works, though we often infuse the genuine even when we seek to remain light-hearted and a distraction from the drudgery.
As a visual artist, the line is more stark or more subtle, depending on mode of communication and subject, style and medium. But the arts include dance and music, film and literature; cultural expression. The arts are essential to a full life and a full understanding of identity and humanity.

Fuck Yer Fences We Got Tunnels. We will find a way to trudge on.

It is with great hope and great humility that I can continue to provide some sort of context of my experience and my understanding as the political climate changes so drastically in America. And it is also with a heavy heart, because so many politicians and so many citizens place such an insubstantial value on the arts in their lives and lives and growth of others.
But throughout history, art has never disappeared. Especially during times when others tried to stifle expression. The human mind fights to remain what it always has been. It fights to remain.

Support the art that connects to you when you see it. Support the struggling painter and the inner city youth dance company. Support your local independent film festivals and support your friends who play gigs. Support National artists and art programs and non-profits. Donate art supplies or instruments or times to local schools and local students who lack adequate access. Create an account on Patreon and find an artist or creator (or 12) who speaks *to you* and help fund their work.

Be Excellent To Each Other.

Agony Unveiled

“Agony” is a piece that I started in January of 2007. It hadn’t yet been a year since I was diagnosed with PTSD, but I had begun to make significant progress as I used my artwork to work through past traumatic events. This also led to a solo showing at Flight Gallery in December of 2006. The show came down on the 9th and 10th of January. On the night of January 10th I was assaulted and in the next few days I did the only thing that I had learned to do to cope with all of the swirling in my head and the physical dysphoria, I started a new painting.

[Here is the piece in 2007, after months of mildly tinted acrylic medium.]

One of the constant thoughts in the early period was “How long will it take to move past this one?”. I was utterly lost really. I began to put a thin translucent layer over the word agony every day. I planned on continuing this until I had found a way to move on; or perhaps until I couldn’t read the word any longer in the hope that this metaphor would make me strong enough to move on.

It is now January 2nd, 2017; almost 10 years later and the piece is complete. Or, as complete as it ever will be. It is as complete as I am. I have learned, in these years, that these things can’t be erased. We all find our own ways to cope with our unique experiences and we create stories and metaphors in our heads to make sense of our reality, but sometimes we remember that they are only stories and we catch glimpses of the ugly truth in our peripheries. We could attempt to build a wall between ourselves and our tragedies. We can try to make these things invisible to others, even to ourselves, because we don’t want to see it every day. But, despite this resistance, we can’t forget. And we can’t ignore it.

I am so deeply satisfied that I was able to complete this painting. I had felt as though that word was staring at me at times and felt ashamed each time I saw it. I love that the process has been completed at a time when I have been especially focused on temporal distances and the effects of time on the tangible and intangible. Its completion also comes at a time when I have been clearly reminded that sometimes these metaphors are obviously only metaphors and the tragedies in life are always there, subtly shifting our perceptions and actions.

I am honored at the response I have received from the few people whom have seen the piece “early”. The connection they expressed to the piece is truly overwhelming and has reminded me of how important it is to honestly use our voices and our truths to create connections, and beauty, and integrity in a world that is often tainted by tragedy, isolation and injustice.

It is my honest hope that this piece may remind a few souls that, while they may always carry something tragic with them, it need not haunt them or define their beauty or impact on their worlds. Even when we can see that it is only a story, it is always our story. And ours alone.

Here is the now completed piece, thank you for sharing in a piece of my story.

For more writings on mental health issues from Sara Barcus (including background on both diagnosis and the journey of creating Memories, Remedies and Nightmares in 2006 and recent progress and challenges) at Bird By Bird.