I sat down to write a post on an entirely different subject but all of a sudden it felt self-indulgent. As I pondered on what I should really say, I once again scrolled through the headlines and checked the messages from my Polish friend.
To many of you who read this, the war in Ukraine may seem like a far-away event, something that doesn't have any direct impact on your life. And I hope that it will always stay like this for you, that you never have to worry about anything like that affecting your loved ones.
To me and my family it feels very real. As many of you know I was born in Poland and the link between the two nations has always been strong. My heart is broken for beautiful Ukraine and I worry about my parents and the rest of my family and loved ones in Poland. But at the same time it fills me with so much hope to see the many ways in which Polish people help the refugees right now. At the borders hundreds of Poles wait to help Ukrainians fleeing their country. There are Polish websites where you can register your address to take in the refugees and there are hundreds of Poles doing it. Love and compassion are strong and they always win
We can't all open our homes to refugees, but there are ways in which we can help right here and right now. There's no need to wait, these people need our support. Here are some ideas:
1. Donating money is one of the easiest things to do. If you can donate then please consider one of these:
Ukrainian Red Cross to help support all the humanitarian work they do (from aiding refugees to training doctors) -> here.
Support refugees by donating to UNHCR -> here
Support independent journalism by donating to Ukraine World Patreon.
2. Another way to help is by following informational accounts on social media and openly supporting the victims.
Stand with Ukraine - Instagram community page dedicated to sharing knowledge wrap-ups based on the ongoing situation. Follow here.
Ukrainians for Solidarity - This is an Instagram account that has posted information on how followers can support Ukrainian citizens. Previously the account has been used to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Follow here.
3. You could also consider donating items to the refugees. Search your local social media to find out about community collections of baby clothes, blankets, towels, first aid kits etc. This is also a great opportunity to talk to your children about the need to help others and share what we have.
4. Reach out to your Ukrainian friends (living in Ukraine or Ukrainian ex-patriates). You are a part of this brilliant creative community and I can imagine there are people of many nationalities in your social circle. Nowadays the Internet makes it so easy to reach out. It doesn't take much to send a message, but it can mean the world. Contact them, let them know your thoughts are with them and that you are there if they need your support. Also remember there are many Russians and Belorussians that don't support the war and feel shame for their leaders. They too deserve our compassion and support.
There's one more very important thing that we all need to do in times like these (and I myself need this reminder too!) - take care of your mental well-being. Help others as much as you are able to, but then remember to protect your heart and soul.
Try not to worry, because there's only so much you can do. Offer yourself some compassion and allow a bit of escape.
Switch off the television, check the news or social media only once or twice a day and make sure it's only credible sources.
There's nothing wrong with diving into a novel or a series to take your thoughts off the stress for a moment. I'm using The Office as my saviour in the evening to stop thinking about the current events for a bit.
Choose who you speak to. Avoid conversations and people who tend to stress you and cause anxiety.
And then there's art journaling, which is my most precious way of processing my thoughts and emotions.
When the pandemic has started I created Soothe Me Art Journaling, which is 7(+1) days of art journaling prompts and videos for stressful times. It's free for everyone. If you wish to receive it enrol in our free Creative Sparks library here. Now is the perfect moment to revisit the prompts and let art journaling soothe you once again.
I hope you'll find some peace in this stressful time and that art will once again be your refuge.
Lots of love to all of you,