Monday, May 9, 2016

Out of My Cocoon

I have always been a social butterfly. But for the past 9 years I laid low. I was in and out of unfulfilling relationships with men that I stayed with because I must have felt that I was past my prime. 

Meanwhile, my professional life had become a nightmare. I had the unpleasant experience of working with two principals who did their best to make me feel like a failure despite all the evidence to the contrary. It took all of my strength to put my clothing on and get to work in the morning.     

And if coming into my classroom to make me sweat wasn't enough? The second one had weekly conferences with me during school hours threatening disciplinary action if I didn't do things his way. The parents were happy with what I was doing, the students were happy, the teachers who received my students the following year were happy, but he was not happy. And he was the boss.                                                 

Finally one Wednesday afternoon, I was told that I was needed in the principal's office. I couldn't even imagine what I had done this time because he had "conferred" with me on Monday and was not there on Tuesday. I thought this was the end. And, in a way, it was.

My boss's boss was there. He told me that he had a kindergarten position at another school and that I could trade positions with the teacher who had been assigned there. My loyalty to my school community started to kick in, but I was able to recognize that staying would be a huge mistake. I took that position. 

I went to the new school that following Friday to introduce myself to my new principle. He eyed me warily because what does it say about a teacher when they can 'desert' their students? 

It was March and my co-workers also eyed me warily. I had more seniority than most of them and they worried if I wanted to take their positions for the following school year. Several sighed a breath of relief to learn that I was staying in kindergarten. But the parents were happy to welcome me and soon my principal realized that I was going to work out well. 

Over the course of the next couple of years, I began making new friends. The friends I made at my previous school were, and still are, a major part of my support network. But now, I was ready to expand my circle. I was still laying low because I was living in a tiny apartment that felt less than homey. And I had stopped caring for my appearance and had put on weight. But as fate would have it, being in an environment that was not toxic allowed me to begin eating in a very healthy manner and I shed the weight and began looking like myself again. 

By the following year, I was a homeowner. I now have a home that feels like home! There is space to breathe and stretch and relax. 

I am so thankful to have this opportunity to begin my life again. I am even hopeful that I may have someone to share my life with. But, even if that is not in the cards, I am thankful for the friends and family who helped me get through hell and come out okay on the other side.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Back at the old drawing board...

Sometimes we are able to find a blessing where we once found a curse.
Today, I am living in a beautiful house of my own. It is about three times the size of the apartment I inhabited previously. I have space to begin spreading out, organizing, and most importantly creating.
I am now teaching at a wonderful school where the art and music are not practiced in hiding behind closed doors. The students enjoy PS Arts classes for art and music. They also participate in drama and dance class. The school has an amazing garden where children participate in planting, growing, harvesting, and eating fresh, healthy foods. My principal comes into my classroom and smiles at our projects instead of questioning what page in the teacher's addition gave me permission to create with my kindergarten students.
I realized that I owe much of this to my former principal. Had he not pushed me so hard, I would not have left my discomfort zone. I would have stayed at my old school feeling unhappy, unappreciated, exhausted, and ill. He created a situation that forced me to leave, thus opening a door to such wonderful possibilities.
One of  the many terrific things about my new school is our dedicated and tireless PTA. Last weekend our school participated in the Mar Vista Garden Showcase. People from the surrounding areas visited our school garden, bought 'seed bombs', plants, refreshments, and hand-made recycled seed paper butterflies.
I'm very proud of these butterflies that I created with my students and several other PTA volunteers. It combined my love of paper with my green consciousness and my new-found love of gardening.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Maybe Just Another Cut...

I am loving my online Stamp Carving class. Now, when I can't sleep I pull out my carving tool and go to work on another stamp.
Monday's class was about creating a chevron stamp. This time I followed Julie's carving pretty closely. The carving went smoothly so I decided to ink and stamp it.
First I stamped a shipping tag in basic black... it was okay.
I then took a few postage stamps that I had previously painted with iridescent watercolor... it was a little better.
It just didn't quite work for me.
So I decided to test it with one of my 'go-to' techniques; watermark ink dusted with Pearl-ex. It definitely improved things.
The results are fairly nice, but it just isn't quite working for me yet.
I guess it's 'back to the old drawing board' ...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Two Stamps Can Be Better Than One

Today I completed the second project from my online stamp carving class. The assignment was to make a pair of stamps that work together to create a two colored image.
The first thing I had to do was design a 1.5 by 1.5 inch square design. My design was a diagonal leaf.
After drawing the design in pencil I transferred it to two 1.5" square rubber blanks. The next step was to convert one leaf into the opposite of the other leaf by changing the negative space into the positive space.
Before carving the stamp, the design needed to be copied in pen so it wouldn't rub off during the carving process. After inking the design it was time to cut.
Finally, I was ready to stamp the design with an ink pad. One of the stamps printed beautifully but the stamp of the leaf's outline needed to be carved more deeply to avoid ink catching in the negative space.
When the revision was completed I began stamping, first with black ink, then with various green inks.
I like the stamps when stamped singly or in tandem, but I really like the way it works as a repeated pattern when stamped repeatedly.
I can't wait for project #3 to be revealed!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Carving Out Something New

Part of the beauty of the internet is all the possibilities that it offers.
In the past decade or so, I've done so many different things online in the comfort of my own home and my favorite pajamas.
This year, I began taking art classes online.
The internet has made it possible to take classes taught by immensely talented artists with other students from all over the globe. My classroom at home allows me to access my stash(es) without needing to pack and shlep one of my extra large LLBean bags. I am in control of the music, the temperature, the lighting, the seating, and the schedule. And it allows me to create in my safety zone and not present my work until I am satisfied with it.
That being said, I was quite satisfied with my first project in Stamp Carving 101 being taught by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. The first project was to carve a heart shaped stamp to get used to using the carving tools.
I was so excited after carving the heart that I couldn't delay printing until I found the archival black ink pad. Instead, I grabbed the white ink that was still in my workspace and stamped some heart and shipping tags. I think I did pretty well for a first try.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Accidents

Sometimes, serendipity sets in. I was trying to make a card to express the idea that 'love is in the air'.
I immediately thought of soft billowy clouds and a translucent rainbow.
As I thought about the clouds, I wondered what would look soft and billowy. Flocking came to mind, but I wasn't certain that the fuzziness would come across.
I tried to think about papers that might convey billowy, when I came across a package of adhesive backed white mulberry paper. Mulberry paper has long fibers that give it a soft effect when torn so I began stamping white hearts which I then embossed with a sheer holographic powder.
Then a happy accident occurred... I removed the protective white backing paper to reveal something I had not remembered ~ mulberry paper is translucent!
My clouds looked soft, billowy, and airy.
I don't know if love is in the air, but serendipity surely was!