Rocking in the School Room

Have YOU been a bad child in school? Photo courtesy of Pexels.

I want to point out that there are a lot of really wonderful teachers in the schools today, and we will always have some bad ones too.

Now being of the senior persuasion, it has been a lot of years since I was in school. If we picked a century to start, it would be the early 1950’s thru some of the hippy years.

I was not the kind of child who tried to get in trouble normally. But somehow or other, I seemed to attract it. Let’s see how many of these things you might have had to do.

Sitting in the front corner of the room with your chewing gum stuck on your nose through the whole class.

Sitting in the front corner of the room with a dunce cap on your head.

Writing 100 times or more BEFORE you left the class, some crazy sentence that was way too long, even if it made you late to your next class, for which you would also get punished.

Getting dragged by your hair down to the principal’s office because you got up to sharpen your pencil just before the teacher started to dictate some shorthand while she was still talking.

Getting a clown face of makeup (and you did not wear makeup) because you played hooky one day.

Getting told that cows had more brains than most people, especially bad children.

Getting your knuckles hit with a ruler because you did not have your hands in proper position on the keyboard.

Being told your biology specimen you identified was incorrect and that if you questioned that, you would get an F (and later finding out it was contaminated when we got it).

And of course I had my exciting adventure in Bible School, which I wrote about in a previous post.

BUT . . . some of those teachers would turn over in their desks if they knew that I had actually grown up to accomplish some things. Not sure how I did it, but I did, yes I really did . . .


In a Box of Crayons (Children & Art)

In a box of crayons, I am the orange. Who are you?

Ok, I believe that each of us can be represented by at least one crayon. I know for myself, I am definitely not a pink, or a brown, though I do like nature and the earth.

Children and art belong together, just as they need to be read to aloud, and to learn as many words as they can in fun ways that they remember.

The following story illustrates the imagination of a child when that imagination is squashed so to speak.

My mother, like a good number of other mothers in my day, put me into a summer Bible school. Now this was fine if we were church goers, but we were not, and I really did not know much about the Bible. So on one of the first days, the teacher asked us all to color pictures of Joseph and Mary that she gave us. We each had colors, and I just assumed that this was meant to be a creative exercise.

But when my little hand picked up a crayon and began to color Joseph’s hair orange, the teacher slapped the crayon out of my hand with a firm “Joseph’s hair is brown, not orange.” I quietly waited for her to leave my spot as I picked up the brown and began to peel it as though it needed to be peeled.

Moments later, the teacher had to go down the hall to the office. Now in those days, it was not against the law to leave the children alone in a classroom and we did not have aides in our classroom. We were alone – all alone.

Bored beyond measure, I picked up my pair of children’s scissors and began to pretend to cut my eyebrows. Soon all the other children began to cut their eyebrows, or pretend to as well. And one little girl got really carried away and was cutting her braid. As we giggled ourselves silly, the teacher walked back in. Outraged at what she saw, she said in her hornblower voice, “Who showed you to do this?” And all those little fingers pointed right at me. I tried to look around, but to no avail.

She marched over to my table, grabbed me by the hair, and got me up and marching to the office. Once there, she called my mother and told her that I could no longer be in HER class, for I could not follow instructions and was a troublemaker. So that was it. I was going home. Maybe there ARE miracles in this world.

My mother was furious with me, of course, so I got sent to my room . . . where I had a box of crayons and coloring book. I sat and colored the hair of each person in the coloring book orange . . .

In this World of Ordinary People

A couple of ordinary people, Anne and Richard

In this world of ordinary people, extra-ordinary people, I am glad there is you. I wish each and every one of you extra-ordinary people the very best life has to offer for the New Year and all the Years to follow. Some of you may think yourselves ordinary, but in my life, you are miracles, and you are sacred. Thank you for the many gifts you have brought into my life.

Children and Art

  Anne’s Special Needs Classroom with Children’s Art

I love special needs children. And I love art, so I have tried to infuse my classes with art through the many years I did this work. This particular project was a call for art to cover a gas station in New York used specifically for that purpose one time. The project was a fiber arts project, 3′ x 3′ square from each group that contributed one. The project, chosen by the children, was a world with lots of hand prints on it. The world was painted onto quilt batting painted blue, and the children’s hands were hand prints they all made. The hand prints were cut out and stitched onto and around the world and each child wrote his or name on the hands. They also helped put the name of their school on the piece.

The children learned much beyond just creating art. They learned how to do a project together with minimum guidance. And they learned what it was like to have something they created go across the U.S. and got to see it online up with all the other projects. They got to have a sense of pride in doing something so much larger than their own little world. I am so glad I got to help them do this project.

All children should get to experience art, just as reading out loud to them is good for their growth too. They need to learn to be ok if they make mistakes, and to accept and appreciate the miracle of what they have made, even if it is not perfect in adult eyes. How many art projects have any of us who create art made with imperfections? Imperfections are what makes art that is truly unique and fantastic. In the same sense, special needs children are unique and amazing people with so much to offer the world. Thank you one and all, and bless each of you for the New Year and all the years that follow.

Respect Yourself

Lady in Red by Anne Copeland

Yes, the sign next to her says, “If you ever knew how powerful a negative thought was, you’d never have another.”

Once upon a time in my life, I was so creative. The piece to the Lady’s right is a vase I made as part of a mystery project where you have no idea what you are doing until it is done. And even then . . .

So I had this magical idea to make a bunch of muslin ladies and wrap them in red and stand them upon a sort of sculptural hill. They would be all moving up the hill and all of them would be like this one.

But then, the Boogeyman of Creativity moved into my mind and told me I should get someone else to look at it before I finished it. So off we went, the lady held carefully out in front of me.

We arrived across the street at the mobile home of the Queen of Creativity. Now she wasn’t just the Queen, but she KNEW that she was the Queen, and so she did what all Queens do, and that was to tear my Lady in Red apart, word by word. What had I done right? Did I not KNOW that I could NEVER do ANYTHING as good as she could?

Back home again, I looked sadly at the Lady in Red once again, and buried her in my drawer in a cardboard box with all the muslin figures who by a few well aimed words were doomed never to become Ladies in Red.

Then after many, many years, the Lady in Red was rediscovered by an old Arteologist. She held the Lady in Red and looked her over again, and she discovered the most wonderful thing. The Lady in Red WAS good. She was damned good! And she was ONE of a kind!

The Arteologist placed the sacred Lady in Red on top of her desk next to the Vase that was the resting places for many sacred things that she had discovered from the deep, dark recesses of her soul. It is the place where lessons of life are born . . .

So here we are on the eve of Christmas and I believe the message for the day is “Respect Yourself.” Respect the magic you bring to the world, and respect what you create. You AND your creativity are sacred. They are the beautiful memories you leave behind you to tell your story. And every one of us needs a story.

The Little Match Girl

The Little Match Girl by Anne Copeland

I loved for my Grandmother to read to me, even when I was a teenager.  I remember sitting next to her rocking chair and kneading her soft skin and telling her lovingly that it felt so good, like a turkey.  For some, that may have been a dreadful thing to tell a Grandmother, but mine understood that it was soothing for me.  She would always sit and tell me over and over the fairy tales I always requested.  Strangely, both of these stories seemed so dismal on the surface, but I always interpreted them differently. 

This is my conscious interpretation of the story.  It is true that it was likely in Victorian times in England.  It was Christmas eve, and it was very cold as citizens found their way around the area seeking last-minute gifts and special foods to celebrate.

The little match girl, a poor child who would represent reality in those times for a lot of children, was out in the street, poorly dressed for the cold.  She held up her matches, for she knew she dare not return home without selling them.  Her family did not have the good foods that others had to eat.  She perhaps had not eaten all day or even several days.  No one noticed the matches she held up in the cold.

Desperate to do something in this dismal time, she lit one of the matches.  As the long match glowed in the dark, it warmed her a tiny bit, and in that moment, she saw a vision of possibility.  She saw herself in a warm home with food and presents, and a beautiful Christmas tree lit with many colors.  The other children with her were all aglow with happiness that permeated the cold, dark sky.

The match did not last. With a sort of strange bit of hope, she lit another match.  Once again, her heart was filled with joy and happiness, if just for that moment. You know, it only takes a moment for a miracle.  If we can experience the joy of being alive in our minds and our souls, just for that moment, we experience the true miracle of life.

As the matches continued to be lit, finally culminating in the lighting of the remainder of the matches all at once, she was able to transcend that reality of her life.

We are sometimes faced with ugly realities in our lives, and we don’t  have to accept them as our forever reality.  We can see the best even in the worst of times, and know that life will change as it always does.  We are all sacred in this world, as is every plant, every animal, every grain of sand.  We are not alone.  We are part of the larger universe, and we would not be here if we were not meant to be.  If we are here but a moment, we can make it the most beautiful miracle of a moment ever. 

wabi sabi

Wabi Sabi by Anne Copeland

This piece is not an angel, but a persona representing wabi sabi, a philosophy I love in this life. 

“Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.” – 
“Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers”, Leonard Koren

There is a lot more to this life philosophy, a later outcome of Zen, than what is stated here and it is well worth reading. 

When I think of wabi-sabi, I think of raku pottery, where the pots, when they are in their cooling stage, are taken and put into a bucket of leaves, papers, or other various natural materials that give the pottery its beautiful sheen.  Raku pottery is my favorite, because I enjoy any art form that has a stage where you cannot be in control any longer.  You have to accept that which is perhaps imperfect, and for me, that has always been a pleasant experience.

This version of wabi sabi, in keeping with the philosophy, uses recycled coffee filters for the aura and the wings, and shows only one hand, holding a broken branch with a single leaf falling from it. The leaf has not reached the ground, so it represents all the things in the statement.  Although you may not be able to see it very well, there is a clock beneath the heart, and there is a single teardrop, for it reminds me that there is a beauty in this way of seeing life.