I got a phone call last week asking if I would be interested in teaching two art classes at the private school I taught at last year.
I was hesitant.
Last year was a real struggle at times for many reasons: some of them were “me” issues and some were issues with the school situation.
I was distracted by things happening at home and was not always as prepared as I would like to have been. I was teaching Kinder through 2nd grades in the common lunch room area and there were continual distractions as people wandered through. I’m not totally displeased with the school year overall, but really feel that I could have done better.
This year they asked if I could teach Kinder through 2nd and 3rd through 5th. I’d be in a small classroom and that is a much more pleasant situation.
I was still hesitant.
It is a large time commitment and I am trying to spend more time making art.
I’m getting ready to be a grandmother.
I’m homeschooling a high-schooler this year.
And so on…
I said yes…
for three reasons.
Without a doubt, the money I’ll make would be helpful as I continue to try and pay down our debt (and for art supplies which are expensive).
I feel that it is important to expose children to art and I am distraught that art is considered to be an “elective” instead of a required subject, or not necessary at all!
I love watching children as they create and discover what they are capable of. In the early years children (for the most part) believe they are artists and that all things are possible. Their freedom of expression and interest in play are inspiring.
So, I said yes.
Almost immediately, the anxiety set in.
Will I be able to manage everything? Did I make a mistake? Will I do a good job?
My anxiety has been very manageable lately. I am making progress on the house. My mood has been mostly stable. I am back in the studio.
I’m worried that this will upset the balance I’ve been working to maintain.
This is definitely a step outside of the comfort zone I’ve been dwelling in.
Early in the summer, I had drafted a rough schedule of lessons I would do if I was asked to teach again. I hadn’t anticipated two classes and older students.
Now, I need to get to work and finalize the projects and draw up a supply list. School starts on the tenth of August. I want to be better prepared this year. It will definitely lessen the stress.
I also need to consider the loss of a day at home while planning our homeschool year. Youngest daughter is taking three classes outside the home this coming year: American Sign Language, Theater Production, and Spanish 2. I’ll be covering the rest of the subjects here at home. Her outside classes are on Wednesday and I’ll be teaching on Friday. That leaves three days at home to do the rest. It’s not too early to start planning that out.
All shall be well.
Last week’s Kon-Mari de-clutter of clothes resulted in a box ready for the thrift store.
We are getting ready to put new flooring in the third bedroom that has been sitting empty for over a year waiting on the money to repair it. It was damaged by a water leak under the house. One wall also has damage from a water leak in the adjoining bathroom. Once completed, oldest daughter will move in there from the second living area that she has been occupying along with my studio. That will give us space to spread out a bit more and accommodate the activities of our busy family.
Unfortunately, that empty room is not really empty. It has become a catch-all for all kinds of junk. That’s the declutter project for the rest of the week.
Along with the art journal, several art projects are in process:
It’s been busy so far this week and now will be even more so.
Last week ended with a two-day trip to San Antonio to visit my future grandson and his Mom and Dad. I forgot my journal although I remembered to bring my supplies. (Sigh)
Then I got busy working on a larger project (which I finished late last night). It was inspired by one of my journal pages.
I have an idea for another project that relates to it. Hopefully, I can start on it this afternoon.
But first, I need to get some other things done.
You know, mundane things like laundry and dog hair patrol. Necessary tasks but not nearly as interesting as paint and glue and paper…
I could have become overwhelmed by the to-do list buzzing in my head, but I stopped before that happened.
I took a deep breath.
And made a list of all the things that I thought needed to be done by me today.
And then I edited it.
I left the things that had to be done today and started a list for tomorrow (or the next day).
I drew a line through “save the world” and settled on “write a note to a friend having a difficult time”.
I added “journal page or two”.
I wrote “studio time” with the knowledge that I may get started on my new idea or I may spend some time sorting and tidying.
Dishes, laundry and dinner are still on the list.
At the bottom of the list I wrote “balance”.
Then I wrote it at the top also.
I can’t do it all, but I’ve got a degree in English so I can write and edit and make a list that helps me define what is possible and necessary and helpful.
And not overwhelming.
It’s been a long time since I dedicated myself to making time for art-making in my life. To really commit to the process as a priority. I’ve sporadically done a bit here and there, but not made it a daily thing.
It’s going to require a great deal of effort to balance consistent art making with the rest of my life. To effectively integrate it with my other responsibilities and not overwhelm myself.
Making art is an important part of who I am. It makes me happy (not all the time happy because art is a sometimes frustrating, time consuming and always messy undertaking). I have some talent, but a definite calling. At the risk of sounding cliche – art completes me.
I can’t journey towards an intentional life if I don’t include art-making in it.
But, I have other responsibilities also: Wife, Mom, Sister, Homemaker, Teacher and on and on…
Adding artist to the mix on a daily basis is doable (I hope).
The quote above was chosen because I actually remember learning about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in my college psychology class.
Well, and I like the quote also, of course.
What I remember about the hierarchy (and I went and researched it just to make sure I got it right) is that basic needs have to be met in order to move up the scale which is normally depicted as a pyramid. We need to have health, shelter and food. Then we move on to personal relationships and self-esteem. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization.
This is an extremely simplified version of his theory. I’m not a psychologist although I do remember making an “A” in the course. But that was a very long time ago and I made good grades in several courses without actually learning very much or purchasing the textbooks for that matter. I was one of those obnoxious people that just did well in school. I would have stayed there forever…it was definitely my comfort zone.
Which leads me to the musings of this post…
Today’s journal page:
A quick drawing of a face and let me tell you that it has been years since I’ve attempted that. Life drawing was one of my favorite classes in college. And then once I graduated, I never really drew the human form or face again. In fact, I quit doing art of any kind once I became a “grown-up”.
I started up again about fifteen years ago, but still didn’t draw people. I don’t know why.
I also don’t know why I have chosen to draw this one today and then post it to share with the world (or at least anyone who stops by this blog today).
I’m just tired of being afraid of something that used to bring me such joy.
I’m tired of worrying about trying something and failing at it…
or even more so…
of trying something and not failing and then having to face the next challenge.
The drawing isn’t great, but maybe the true success was doing it and posting it and finding out that I could survive just one tiny step out of my comfort zone.
I have an idea for a biggish canvas that I want to work on, but first I need to clear space in my studio.
I have been sorting through the stuff that is in there – trying to be aware of what actually contributes to art-making and what is there to simply make me feel like I am an artist. This process is a lot harder than one might think. I still struggle with saying that I am an artist. I used to just say that I made stuff. So, I’m making progress in that respect.
Anyhow, getting rid of stuff that I don’t need is a good thing. It makes room for what I really need, and clarifies and simplifies the process of making art for me. A studio that is functional is better than a room that looks like a studio in a magazine spread…not that I actually achieved that look, but I kept trying.
Still, parting with stuff that I might need for a future, hypothetical project is difficult.
And that difficulty applies to all areas of my home, not just the studio.
So, today we are redoing the Konmari method for the whole house.
Not the whole house today, of course.
Today is clothing.
I don’t anticipate that there will be a lot to get rid of, but who knows…
Tired today and not feeling my best. The last couple of nights I have had trouble sleeping.
Thoughts from the past have been mixing in with worries and to-do lists of today and prevented the quiet restfulness of sleep to bless me.
The memories are wispy and hard to grasp onto. The vagueness of them is as distressing as the actual memories. Without clear and concrete imaging it is hard to deal with them – to bring them into clarity and bid them goodbye.
Last night as I was finally drifting off to sleep I heard the phrase, “she grew up in houses without windows”.
I remembered it when I awoke.
This journal page is the places I remember living in as a child and teenager…they are not in order. I’m not sure where Dallas fits in and I know that there were sometimes multiple houses in each city.
Other than our time in Huntsville, Texas attending Sam Houston State (where my husband and I met) and a couple of years in Alabama where my husband attended Auburn University, I have spent my entire adult life in the area around Austin.
I picked that quote because I have no idea what this drawing is about. It just happened and is in no way my normal thing, but I kind of like it…I imagine that more work will be done on it in the future.
And in other areas of my life – this quote fits today.
Yesterday, we went to drop off a car load of de-cluttered stuff that had been piling up in the dining room.
We visited a new thrift store set up in an old house. I naturally ended up in the kitchen where there were lots and lots of cabinets with the doors removed and painted a beautiful clean white. On display were lots and lots of beautiful dishes. It was a dangerous situation to be sure.
As I browsed and enjoyed the abundant wonders, I thought about how amazing it would be to have a kitchen that looked like that. I have a kitchen with still unpainted cabinets, half-redone walls, missing trim, a plywood floor and dirty dishes.
Then I stopped.
Nothing in that room would make my kitchen look any better. Adding more stuff would make the issue worse – no matter how beautiful the item is in its current setting.
I am blessed to have a kitchen with electricity, running water and working appliances.
The rest will come with time, effort and money. The money will come if I quit spending it on comfort purchases and attempts at quick-fixes.
Buying and acquiring stuff is an emotional response that I have developed over the years.
The clutter is a symptom that I have been attempting to deal with.
That doesn’t work out too well in the long run.
You feel better for a while, but you’ve only treated the symptom. The cause is still there and inevitably the symptoms will return.
I believe that I clutter to try and protect myself from the difficulties and traumas of my childhood.
A scared little girl wanted to buy the pretty dishes in an attempt to make everything better.
I am not that little girl any longer although she does live within me.
I think I am finally reaching a place where I am realizing that I need to become the adult who heals the scared child within me. She doesn’t need more stuff. She needs to feel protected.
I need to address the problem and not just the symptoms.
I can’t keep ignoring the fear and trying to live as if its not there.
The fear is just as real as the clutter that I try to bury it under.
This is feeling a bit like an overshare, but I know that I’m not the only one living with either the fear…or the clutter.
There is another empty box waiting in the dining room.