Grace, Gratitude and Kleenex

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Summer will soon be drawing to a close.  And all I can say is that I’m thankful to be emerging from summer intact…mostly.  You’ve heard me talk about our schedule but just to recap….we had a daughter and a son get married within four weeks of each other. So previous to that there were eight showers.  Two children graduated from college, two children began Graduate school this fall, one child traveled to Japan, one son moved out and one daughter moved in the next day with her husband and 18 month old and one on the way in October. We built a small cottage for one daughter and moved three or four kids this summer.  Hard to remember now…all the in between stuff as well. It was hectic squared. These days we are running around after an 18 month old and hoping that our lives will calm down just a little.

I’ve learned a few lessons along the way.  One of them is that you should never NEVER allow more than one child to get married at a time.  Lol. Trust me on this one. Dont. Do. It.  Just go ahead and make your life a little easier.  Another lesson I learned is that things hardly ever work out the way you planned….so the universe will give you lots of opportunities to be flexible and feel silly for wasting all that time planning.  Don’t proclaim things to all the people around you.  That was a good lesson I learned this summer.  I told every child within a 5 mile radius how much I was going to enjoy our newfound space and freedom once they were all moved out.  I even wrote a blog post about it.  That space in our home wasn’t empty even 24 hours.  Yeah thanks universe for that lesson.  I really enjoyed the comments from family and friends over that.  All kidding aside though…this lesson is one of sharing, and caring, and doing what you have to do to make sure all the members of your family are taken care of.  No matter what.  Because in the end, family is more important that space.  It just is.  I’ve learned a lot about what I could do physically and what I could not.  About the need for self-care in the midst of chaos.  I’m grateful for those lessons for sure.  They will be applied in many ways over the coming months.

Mostly I learned even more about being immersed in family events and family life.  I learned more about myself than I expected since really none of it was about me.  I learned a few new lessons about this journey of parenthood and what it takes in an ongoing sort of way. I learned that if I never have to go to another shower I will be ecstatic.  I learned that too!  And I get to celebrate not having another one to go to this summer.  Woot!  Mostly I learned that grace under pressure, gratitude, and few kleenex will get you a long way down the road.  True Story.

 

The Truth

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Recently, Julia  called me from the Boys and Girls Club because she was writing an art grant.  She was curious about my methodology for teaching art to the teens.  My behind the scenes thought processes.  I’ve thought about that conversation for several days.  I thought to myself that the teens will probably never know how much time and thought I put into their lessons.  Just the generation of ideas, for projects day in and day out, can be exhausting. I know, for myself, that just the putting together of supplies for specific projects and the working thru of methods for students in different stages of skill development is enough to wear me out….I can’t imagine art teachers in public schools doing all of that.

But the main thing that stayed on my mind was this…I don’t want the facts to get in the way of the students’ truth.  So the facts are these…these students of mine will not grow up to be artists, for the most part.  Even though they are incredibly talented, I know that their lives are so difficult, on so many levels, that an art career is out of the question.  Just the sheer amount of practice necessary to become proficient is something most of them will not be able to do.  Several years ago I had the realization that I could not teach them art.  That’s right.  NOT.  So I had to back up and wonder what I could teach them.  What would be the most valuable way to spend my time?  You know, my husband and I have six children.  I’m 52.  My time is limited in the extreme. So how could I “give back” and serve these kids that I made a commitment to?

Here’s what I decided, in case you’re interested or thinking of teaching at a nonprofit.  I cannot teach them art, but I can teach them the benefits of art.  And, for me, the benefit of art is being able to tell my truth.  I want them to tell their truth, whatever it may be.  A lot of their art is raw, uncomfortable and ugly.  That’s perfect.  Every day, every month, every year that I can spend teaching them to art their truth out …is another day I’m successful.  And ultimately that they are successful.  I believe that it’s not enough to just get through your day, I believe that it’s not enough to just exist.  I want them to believe that too.  I want them to think, deeply, about who they are and why they are here.  To understand themselves and the context of their lives.  I want them to not only point at the moon, but to see it.  I want them to become comfortable telling their truth, despite the facts.

Sometimes the facts are grim…sometimes their truth is too.  That’s ok. I can’t change the facts but , It’s enough I think, for them to be heard, understood, and to pour their emotions out onto the page.  If I can facilitate that…their truth…then I’ve taught them something.   I’m listening and the people who see their art are listening too.  That’s a lot more people listening to these children than were listening previously. We all just want to be heard.  This art that we do together is the vehicle for that process.  I’m working at teaching them to drive it without worrying what it looks like.  It’s enough for me that the engine works.11986541_1133544983325861_2640067883030745446_n 11988721_1133544839992542_5513433865370976583_n 11990487_1133544826659210_8683497545799811215_n 11990631_1133545479992478_169850887869452727_n  12003293_1133545186659174_2656421595472490188_n 12004088_1133545423325817_7635991914060503939_n  12009606_1133545023325857_4687006686900331704_n 12011244_1133544923325867_2365988629101261136_n Magic final