So, as my crazy work-year begins to wind down, I find myself asking, "What's next? Where do I go from here?" I've been serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the last year, my second year of service overall. This journey, working in experiential science education, has led me to believe there is a place for me in the world of teaching. I find no greater joy than feeling as if my students, for the brief moments in that I spend with them, actually enjoy learning. For many children these days, that is a rare feeling. The bright-eyed look of "ah-ha!" on their faces when they understand a difficult scientific concept or see something they've never seen before...those are the moments that I keep close to my heart as I do this work. It's not easy serving as a volunteer. I've made plenty of financial sacrifices in the last couple of years, but what makes it all worth it is the self discovery i've experienced. The little voice in my head that i've had for years, whispering at me,"teach, teach, teach," has become a loud, unending yell, that resonates within me and rattles my core. I am teacher, hear me roar! As I pursue my next teaching adventure into the world of Waldorf, I will be also expanding my creative realm and really putting myself out there as a designer, crafter, blogger and writer. As work slows down for me, I find myself making plans, getting busy, and finding new ways to sustain myself, so that I may also do the other things I love. Right now for me, that means expanding my readership on this blog by putting myself out there more and taking the time to write more interesting and meaningful posts, re-vamping my Etsy shop and expanding my wares to include more items made from sustainable and recycled materials (something i've been wanting to do for quite sometime), and finally getting some of those knitting pattern designs into a format that I can begin to share them with the rest of the world. This has all been on my mind for a while, and it seems that now I have a little more time to dedicate to putting these plans into action.
These plans were all the more reaffirmed yesterday evening as I reconnected with an old friend. Well, not just an old friend but someone who I have long looked up to as a father figure--my best friend's dad Richard. He was in Reno the past few days to help Elle (my friend) move out of town.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time at their house, feeling very comfortable in their home. My own family was very different from theirs. My parents were very conservative and strict, and although I never once felt unloved, I didn't always feel as if I belonged within the constraints of conservatism. Our house was always immaculate and everything was always in it's place. I was hopelessly messy by nature and never felt like I could do the right thing in this department. My friend's family on the other hand was always warm and inviting. It always seemed to be a place where I could let my guard down, and be comfortable. I was always at home there, within myself. The relationship that each member of their family had with each other was that of respectful acknowledgement for each others views and opinions. Of course there were rules for the kids, and chores and that sort of normal kid-parent stuff, but I never felt like my viewpoint wasn't heard or respected. It was nice to feel allowed to have an opinion.
Elle's families house was also something to behold. It was a beautiful 1911 Craftsman style historical home on an old cobble-stone street in my hometown of Medford, Oregon. They bought the house knowing that they had a major renovation project on their hands. Luckily, Richard was a carpenter and a jack-of-all-trades. So they got started right away. Their house always held a sense of wonder for me, that was most always overshadowed by a bit of chaos and construction. Never the less, it was a marvelous place to be. We would spend hours in the tiny kitchen, cooking up all kinds of culinary goodness and the hosting dinner parties in the beautiful dining room. We would have slumber parties in the living room in front of the fire. Elle's house always stood in my mind as a place that exemplified perfection within it's imperfections. It was home.
So last night, as I caught up with Elle's dad (Richard) at her going away party in Reno, we chatted about all of the going's on in our lives. It had been a while since we'd really talked. He told me how he'd returned to school and was getting a degree in Photo Journalism. He was talking excitedly about how he loved to take photos. I told him how photography was the one thing I had always regretted giving up in college. Not only was it something I really enjoyed, but it was the one thing my dad and I had in common besides blood. It was the one thing we could talk on common ground about and enjoy together. I quit taking photos because of my own perceived inadequacies. I wanted to be a photojournalist but the only path leading in that direction at my college was specifically through art. The eye looking through the lens of a photojournalists camera is very different from that of an artist. The story is very different and although I tried, I just didn't fit in within that crowd at my school. Not really feeling I had the time or money to waste, I just threw in the towel. He encouraged me to jump back in there and start taking photos again. He said, this could be a good way for you to reconnect on that level with your dad. You don't have to have a nice camera to take nice photos, it's just all about getting out there and shooting, and finding a story. Hmm, that really got me thinking.
We also chatted a bit about our blogs and other interests. You can check out Richard's blog here. (He's a great writer--check it out if you get a chance.) When the evening ended, I felt inspired for the first time in a while. I've been gradually allowing my artistic drive to come back this past spring as my work has begun to slow down and i've started to make more concrete decisions about my future. I feel more ready than ever to pursue some of the creative endeavors that i've been putting on the back-burner for so long. What is great about this is teaching Waldorf and being an artist are two very interrelated things. For the first time in my life, I don't feel as if I have to give up one thing for the other. I can do both.
Moments of inspiration often come when you least expect and from people you don't always expect them from. Thank you Richard for surprising me with a moment of inspiration and offering your wisdom. And as the sun set over the Truckee Meadows, we celebrated the next step, in our lives and friendships, for us and for others. It couldn't have been a better evening.
So, if there are any readers out there, thanks for reading. It means a lot. This post marks the beginning of a lot of change around this blog...for the better. Have a great weekend!