I realized this morning, as I washed my cereal bowl, that the crepe myrtle outside the kitchen window was blooming. I am aware of the calendar date, July 24th, but seeing the hot pink blooms of the crepe myrtle really brought home how fast this summer has been flying by. As a kid growing up, when the crepe myrtles would bloom it meant that it was almost August. Being the pessimist I generally am, that meant that summer was half over and it was almost back to school time. More depressing was the blooming of what my childhood friend and I dubbed the "back to school flower." It was some sort of lily that came into it's full glory in the last precious weeks of summer. Her mother had an extensive garden that she worked tirelessly in, and went mostly unnoticed by us, until those damn flowers bloomed. Every year my friend and I would behead them in an attempt to stop the encroachment of rising at 6am, new binders, sharpened pencils and back to school clothes shopping. I doubt her mother ever knew- blaming the decapitation on the squirrels who were starting their fall hoarding frenzy.
Standing there looking at the hot pink flowers this morning I felt that familiar drop in my stomach- fall and back to school are looming. 20 years later I still feel much the same way as I did as a kid- because I have been teaching for the past 7 years, and fall still means the loss of whole days free to pursue MY interests and art, sleeping in past 6:00 am, and the time to actually read a book. Around this time every year, I start to panic that I've taken my summer days for granted. All the projects I didn't get done, books that didn't get read, no days spent just "being." Wasted chances at vacation and renewal in the pursuit of trying to cram all my built up creative energy into the fleeting time off from teaching. I become so anxious that I won't get "enough done" before going back to school that I work myself into a tizzy, and before you know it I am back in faculty meetings wondering where my "free time" went. But I have to keep reminding myself that this summer is different.
I've alluded to a "big change" for a while now, dancing around the subject, leaving you all to guess, but never really giving a straight answer because, well I have had a hard time embracing this change.
So here it goes- I am taking a year off from teaching, to do, well, what I am not sure of yet. "Wow," you may say, "was that really so hard???"
Yes it is- for me.
You have to understand that I can't remember a time when I have not worked or earned my own money.
Even as a child some of my earliest memories are of doing chores for extra money, painting seashells to sell to unsuspecting neighbors, and cultivating rows of corn to sell at my vegetable stand. I have always had more then one job at time- the standard job for the benefits, and then a side job for extra cash, or in the case of running my own event photography business- to buy a house or pay for Grad School. Even in the summers off from teaching I rarely gave myself a vacation really. I was always shooting events, walking dogs, or for the past 2 summers, working on my jewelry line. This past year I realized I had to make a change. I have never given myself the opportunity to really take a chance on myself, my abilities, my creativity, or my dreams. I fell into teaching while still in school myself, and once graduated, it was an easy, "safe" job with benefits and a steady paycheck. The longer I was at the school, more and more was expected of me, both time wise and energy wise. I realized this past year that I was so drained that I couldn't come home and work in the studio, or do any of the things that are a vital part of my life and happiness. This lead to one cranky, frustrated person to live with. Terrible.
My husband is giving me an incredible gift. Supporting me and us, both financially and emotionally, while I take this year to figure out what my next move is. My first instinct after I asked for the year off from my school was to try and find an interim job- any job. My husband quickly squelched that by saying "this wasn't the point of the year off, I need some time to process and think about what it is that I want to do. Jumping in to another job, just to have a job, was not productive." So I have decided that this next year is going to consist of taking all those classes at MICA that I haven't been able to take because of teaching, wrapping up my metals program, making jewelry, doing shows, and promoting my jewelry more in the hopes of a small income. And we'll see where I'm at next year. Don't get me wrong, it will not be easy financially, and I couldn't be doing this at a more scarier time (umm recession anyone?). But I figure I can go without all those new shoes I hardly ever wear, dinners out often, expensive haircuts, and new clothes, in exchange for this time for me. And hell, if all else fails, I am an experienced dog walker, photographer, jewelry maker, business owner, retail shop manger, gardener, vegetable sales girl, waitress, sea shell painter, nanny, teacher, and artist- I'll figure something out.


Rebecca Dortzbach said...

courageous, and exciting! best of luck to you!

Juliet said...

I am so happy for you! I think you will learn that you never have to go back to work when you make money doing what you love!!

dandelion blu said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement! It is scary, but exciting. In the words of my father- "leaving a stable job to make things people don't need in the midst of a recession is just plain crazy." But honestly, I was going crazy in the position I was in. Who knows, maybe I just need a year to re-charge and I'll see that teaching is really something I am passionate about and enjoy. Or maybe not!

sugarpaperie said...

Ah - you summed it up perfectly. I too am a teacher and artist and I feel so selfish sometimes because I feel teaching is holding me back from doing what I really love. My passion for my own creations has surpassed my love for teaching art.

Monica of Sugar Paperie

greenstarstudio said...

beautiful! go get 'em! xo, danamarie