Saturday, August 28, 2010


I woke up this morning wanting to write. it has been awhile since I have visited my blog and have thought of it often but been unable to settle on a topic or a way to express all that this life has brought to me in the past few months-if all of our experiences are there to teach us something, I have learned a few things this summer.
In June, I retired from West Ottawa Public Schools. All told, I taught in the public schools for 27 years, with about 3500 different kids sitting at my tables playing with clay or creating a painting.
I greeted classes of kids about 120,000 times over that the early days, I arrived at their classrooms with my "art cart", and later, with the luxury of a real art room, they gathered on the carpet around my chair. I fired somewhere in the neighborhood of 33,000 clay pieces, hung at least that many carefully created paintings, drawings, collages and prints in the hallways of a dozen elementary schools. I scrubbed untold numbers of paint spills out of tee shirts and jeans, cleaned a million paint brushes, poured thousands of cups of ceramic glaze, cut enough construction paper to fill the gymnasium. I tied aprons around little bodies and fixed barrettes and tied shoes and wiped noses and found earrings and did all of the things that elementary teachers do. I will miss those things-I am sure I don't even know how much yet.
Retired teachers tell me that you don't really feel retired until the first day of school. This year, on that day, September 7, my friend Kathy (a teacher friend who also retired) and I will wake up on Mackinaw Island- the trip a gift from my colleagues at Waukazoo. For the first time in 27 years, I am not going back to an elementary school and greeting children.

What I am doing, however, is moving in to a little office space at Depree Art Center on Hope's campus, where I will meet with students and work on art education stuff. I will attend art department faculty meetings, go to the Kletz for coffee, work out at the Dow Center, and create a new work life for myself there. I teach a couple of courses: in the fall, one for elementary education students on how to use the arts in the classroom, and in the spring, an art methods course for art majors. I am excited to have more time for Hope and to be there, on campus, a part of the college life, a new place to belong now that I have left my beloved Waukazoo.

My other commitment is to the Holland Area Arts Council, where I am a volunteer and a board member. The executive director, Lorma Freestone, is an inspired and dedicated leader and I have had the pleasure of knowing her forever. I have a chance to put some things together for arts educators and kids there and it is a great place to work and use creative talents. I will share my love of art with people there and lend my back to the work that needs to be done.

I spent the summer with my son Jon, who just got his Masters of Architecture, finally, from Tulane, having been sidetracked for awhile after Katrina swept him over to Austin for awhile.
We spent a great deal of time at the beach, swimming in the warm waves and walking along the edge of the sand, reading, sleeping, playing cribbage. We worked on my house, which, like my body, was suffering from neglect, having an owner who was never home and when she was, she mostly collapsed on the couch and let the cobwebs and the weeds grow.
The house looks better, now, and so do I, responsive to care and nurturing as we all are. My teaching stuff is all in order in my home office. My closet is in order. As I have made space in my closets and drawers and cabinets by hauling what I no longer need to Goodwill, so have I made space in my life for rest, for dreaming, for writing, for art, for breathing slowly in, slowly out.