Overcoming the Past, Dreaming of Tomorrow
by Meredith Bond
Vivian Greene once said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” When I was a sophomore in college, I fell down some stairs and acquired a degenerative, bulging disc. As a fine arts major used to being physically active while making artwork, I suddenly faced a roadblock. What was once so much easier was now incredibly painful. I had seemingly hit a dead end. I became withdrawn, and as I limited my interactions with others, my depression took ahold of me. It wasn’t until I decided I had to push myself, to go beyond my comfort zone and take on a heavier work load that things began to turn around. Not only did my mood improve, but I started to seek out new opportunities. Even though I still dealt with back pain from the fall, I decided that I needed to completely throw myself outside of my comfort zone.
After searching for different possibilities, I ended up at Colonial Williamsburg in the Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Shop. I didn’t realize it until my experience there was mostly done, but the time I spent in Williamsburg gave me new confidence and made me stronger; it made me believe that my dream could come true… I just had to keep trying. As much as the work itself impacted me, the hour long commute had just as much of an influence on me. It gave me plenty of time to think and to listen attentively for God’s word. The dream I had held for years was suddenly possible for me to achieve. Where I once thought that I had limitations on what I could do because of my health concerns, I started to believe that anything was possible.
Even through my battle with depression, I knew that I wanted to find a way to use my love of art and history to help others. I could not fathom doing something as a career that would not allow me to help others in some way. From that, Grace Wins Explorative Arts, LLC, emerged and with it, our mission: “We aim to use artbased programs grounded in a historical context to foster self-confidence, healing, a sense of purpose, historical exploration, and unending curiosity across various communities.” Through art exploration, individuals can find a sense of peace and recovery of their wellbeing. While using art as a tool for healing is an essential part of what we seek to do, it is also imperative that the history behind these traditional arts is shared so that it is not forgotten and so this knowledge can further enrich participants’ experiences. In essence, Grace Wins Explorative Arts aims to find a balance between the idea of art therapy, technical skill, and historical study so that education and healing may become one. There will always be challenges and setbacks but with strength of will, faith, and a determination to follow my dreams, I know that anything is possible.