New Normal?

Cassandra Tondro collage

Hi Friends,

I went to my first art event on Friday night since the start of the pandemic, and it felt strange. Two galleries and a few artist studios were open, which is way more than anything we’ve had in the past 15 months.

It felt somewhat disconcerting to be in a group of people, and I was surprised to find that it was difficult to make conversation. I wonder why. These are people that I used to see regularly and could speak with easily.

Part of it is probably being out of practice, but I think another part is that so much has happened since March 2020. We’re not the same people that we were then. Where do you even start when trying to reconnect? How do you bridge that gap of lost time?

I know that a lot of us don’t want to go back to what was considered “normal” before COVID, and we’re reevaluating our lives. We’re feeling our way through the things we used to do and making decisions about what we want to keep and what we’re willing to let go. For me that shows up as hesitancy to jump back in.

Then there’s the masked/unmasked dilemma. I was surprised to see so many people not wearing masks, and at first I felt conspicuous with my mask on. Masks also make it harder to talk and be heard, especially in a crowd, as I found out.

And so lockdown ends as strangely as it began. Who knows where the pandemic will go from here?

The collage at the top of this page is titled “Summer’s End,” and it’s one that I created over the weekend. The flower arrangement in the center is from a Martha Stewart Living magazine. It inspired me to create this bittersweet piece that evokes the end of summer when we shift into the cooler seasons of winter and fall.

What are your experiences as we move out of lockdown and what is your new normal? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,



  1. I just wanted to thank you for your emails over this long pandemic journey, I was lucky enough to get one of your paintings when you sold some just for the cost of shipping. I still can’t believe how lucky I was to get one, it brings me joy every time I see it. I bought your instruction guide on how to do them myself, but they sure didn’t look like yours lol. Thank you for creating and thank you for being

    1. Thanks, Shelley! I’m glad you’re enjoying the painting, and I appreciate the feedback. Yes, it has been a long journey since the start of the pandemic. It seems like years, even though it has only been 15 months. The reason your paintings don’t yet look like mine is because I have been doing this for a very long time! Keep going! You’ll get there. And in the meantime, I’ll bet what you’re doing is lovely and unique in its own way, because we each have a different voice when it comes to creativity. Enjoy!

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