Friday, September 26, 2014

It's official! And we even have the jacket to prove it...

It's would just happen that I would go and make some proclamation on here about how I don't know the next time will be when I'm on here and then I'm just all of a sudden on here two days later all, "Hi! I have one more thing to say..."

*insert awkward smile and wave from me here*


More than three years ago, I embarked on a journey that finally ended (with an unexpectedly beautiful flourish) TODAY. I cannot be more delighted and overjoyed to report the end of such an incredible... hmmm... fight? 

To be completely fair, it's not been a fight so much as it's been me just persevering and seeing this all the way through. And that is? It's the jacket that you see me wearing as I'm doing something that I rarely (well, honestly more like never) do - a bathroom selfie. I honestly cannot even believe that I'm wearing this jacket because... well... it has taken me YEARS to be able to get this jacket approved in order for it to be made to begin with!

Here's the thing: Nearly EVERY student-interest group/team at my school is (very obviously) visibly represented when you gather our students together in a whole group. The athletics teams all have official jackets and other sorts of team apparel. The choral, performance arts, and instrumental art groups have matching (read: UNIFYING) apparel that they "sport" with great pride. There's even students of certain social studies classes that get matching shirts every year at the end of the course study as a way to celebrate the bond that they have formed together and the love that they have discovered for what/how they have studied it. But the VISUAL artists in my school? Well... we (because I include myself in this) have allowed our artwork to be seen but never ourselves and while being behind the scenes is something that we very much enjoy, we (meaning: the art students AND myself) have always wanted to have some matching (read: unifying) "gear" to sport in school colors and in solidarity with our brother and sister artists who we spend all of our time designing and creating alongside in our beloved art studio spaces. 

I am a person of dreams as much as I am a person of prayers as much as I like LOVE to MAKE. THINGS. HAPPEN!!!! There have been SO many dreams that I have shared with the student artist community and we have always said, "Hey! Why can't WE get jackets too? We can even design better ones than *insert any other jacket that everyone else has here*..." (We really aren't trying to put other people's jackets down. Seriously.)

So after enough talking (and lots more praying), I got to work on trying to make an official jacket happen for the visual art student community. I drafted up a few designs, put out "feelers" for which ones were most preferred and then approached administration to get their blessing to do it. I was given a little bit of a maybe but ultimately a no. I was bummed but hardly discouraged because the issue was a matter of our uniform policy (that we have and try very hard to keep to for very good reasons). I went back to the drawing board in both literal and figurative ways and I tweaked the things that they said could stand to be tweaked and then I approached administration again. I was told maybe for even less time and then no even faster than the first time. I wasn't bummed though and instead I became very VERY determined to not take no for the final answer. 

Time passed and administration changed and every time I approached them and asked again and almost always with the same outcome and (for me) the same determined response. The more I was told no, the more I believed this to be just a problem that required a more creative solution that needed to be thought through. It only took me YEARS to get to a point where administration stopped giving me no's after their maybe's and their maybe's started looking more like OK. I don't even think it's because I "wore them down" - though I'm sure my persistent did that a little bit - and it was more that prayer is a strong force to contend with AND I was also willing to flex and bend and compromise with what was being requested of me and the whole business of this jacket. 

Long story a little longer, today I am wearing the OFFICIAL jacket that has been so many years in the works and at times that felt like a (pipe) dream more than anything. It's really only me and 11 other student artists wearing it but the offer was put out to everyone to join with us and we're all hoping that now that people are seeing the jacket? They will be encouraged to join us and get one for themselves and I will be more than happy to place a second and much larger order with Custom Ink. Maybe the next order will be even cheaper than the $49 that it cost us since the more jackets you order at once, the more everyone saves!!!

I would love EVERYONE at my school to be able to wear this jacket if they want to because the way the visual arts works is that I get to see/meet/know nearly every student at my school. Some just take the visual art courses for the general education/graduation requirement but even those student artists really treasure their time in the art class they take and want to take more even if they don't intend on ever "doing" art again beyond their time at the school. 

I also think that EVERYONE at my school ought to feel as if they can rightfully wear this jacket because I do believe that God has seeded the gift of creation within all of us because He truly did create us in His own image (and He is the master artist if there could ever be a master of the masters!) and because I believe we are called to be imitators of Him? Well... that means every last one of us is 1) called to create, 2) enabled to create when we seek to answer the call, and 3) CAN rightfully identify ourselves as ARTISTS because when we answer the call to create and then we create in His name and for Him - we are artists no matter where we come from who we think we were before we acknowledge and embrace ourselves as artists. 

Today is a day when big prayers were answered and blessings were provided with abundance and I couldn't not mention it here on the blog no matter how flaky I've been and how many times I've promised you that I would be scarce here. I had to tell you about this day. I had to tell you about how great God is and show you how he delivers in mighty ways when you dream for Him, PRAY to Him, and then CREATE FOR HIM. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do I have to go back to the future?

This morning (Tuesday, 9/23/14) in the studio classroom
Clearly,  I have not held up any bargain/promise/proposal I have previously made to resume blogging. I am not even going to try and apologize about it anymore because I'm actually not all that sorry.

I mean... this blogsite has been really important to me. (Don't get me wrong on that.)  It has (more than) served its purpose of connecting me with other art teachers and working artists and designers. It's also been a terrific resource for folks if/when they have really REALLY needed it - be it for lesson plan ideas OR set/scene design ideas/how-to's/graphics for the many theater productions of which I have worked. I have gotten some awesome emails and comments from readers (about all of the aforementioned) and with every single one, I'm constantly humbled and amazed that anybody else thinks what I have done here has been useful or good.

(Please don't read all of this as a cry for validation and passive-aggressive request to feed my ego. I just seriously feel like I am 1) not that great of a writer to begin with, 2) OK enough at sharing what I have shared and 3) still learning so much myself that I am hesitant to "consult" because I'm still figuring things out myself/for myself - basically, I know I don't have the "answers" so I'm not trying to give anyone anything that is "half-baked.")

Related to all of the previous, the "fasting" I did years back from social media and then eventually from my electronic devices at large, I have found that since I have tried to return from that fasting, it's been hard for me to have very much of an appetite to keep up this particular blog anymore. I find that what I really crave (and am drawn to do) is to be more present in my classroom and with the incredibly talented (and hungry) student artists that I have been blessed to come to know. Despite how contradictory this sounds (especially since I am sharing this with you via digital social media), I find that one of the first things I want to do in order to start and end my days, are things that are not digital/virtual and are as tangible as possible.

In the past I used (and hated) using a teacher planning book/notebook. While I had lesson plans, I disliked writing them and I preferred using any (even every?) number of digital mediums/apps to write and archive them. Over at least half a decade later, I'm admitting that "my way" - of doing as many things digital as possible - is not nearly as productive or useful as I once thought. Through much too much trial and error, I've discovered that actually WRITING lesson plans in tangible ways (on real paper) has made teaching and learning (for both myself and my students) that much more tangible and REAL than it ever has been in digital format. This isn't to say that I have now decided that technology is bad but just... I have a new understanding of what it is good for and it's no longer as good for me (and my teaching efforts) as it once was.

My very well used Teacher Planning notebook - NOT digital!!! Thank you, Erin Condren for this amazing teaching tool. 
I've applied the understanding of the need for tangible things and organization in other areas of my life too. While I still use iCal across all of my devices, I don't rely on it as my sole means to keep me on track and on time. I have alarms and reminders set for things but I don't require them because I am actually remembering things before they remind me to not forget them. This is all because I'm using a paper planner (also from Erin Condren) for my non-teaching life...

I have no idea how my life was ever functioning at all without this Life Planner. Seriously. How did I do it? (Answer: I didn't)
The above looks fancier and like it requires more work to maintain it (as seen above) than what it actually does and I'm so thankful for that. I've come to find that it is true that when I fail to plan, I plan to fail and this has a domino effect in every direction of my life. This isn't to say I've become this incredibly regimented and "by the [planner] book" type of person of routines that cannot be deviated from and structure that is so rigid it hurts. Quite the opposite, I'm more relaxed and at peace and fully present than I ever have been in all of my life. I don't get worked up over stupid things and I'm truly able to do things like keep little things little because I have taken the time to better know the size and weight and TIME that most things take up in my life. And if something unexpected arises? I know how much size/weight/TIME I have leftover (or not) in my life in order to be able to squeeze/fit it into the time and energy that I DO have because I can see it so clearly as it's laid out in my planning notebooks.

None of the previous was ever possible for me when I did things digitally. Perhaps there's something wrong with me that doing this digitally has worked like this but I have found I just can't do things digitally as much as I have thought I could. I feel like doing things digitally (and thus asking less physically and cognitively of myself) has ended up giving me less HEART and SOUL to actually LIVE life as I know I have been called to do rather than giving me "convenience" and saving me time, energy, or money the way I have thought it worked when digitizing is used to its greatest degree.

Anyway, all of this is to say that 1) I'm still not clear about what I'm to do with this here blogsite though I know I'm not taking it down and 2) I'm still choosing to be more present in my actual and physical life more which consequentially means I am also choosing to be less present here (on this blogsite) and until further notice.

I hope you all understand. I hope that even what I am sharing now (in addition to what I have already shared) is relevant and useful in the dreaming, Praying, and CREATING of your own decision. In the meanwhile, I am being still and remaining in a holding pattern where I'm praying for each and every one of you, this blogsite, and myself so that I can better understand where/what I should create next.

God bless you, all! Have a great rest of your week and see you whenever I see you...
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