This is one of my favorite pieces of music. It says so much about our integrity and sacredness as human beings. I hope you enjoy it as much as i do. It is definitely on my regular listening
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 . . .
Although I am normally of a cheerful spirit and am always trying to provide inspiration for others, today is a truly difficult day.
I have been working with physically/developmentally/emotionally challenged children and adults perhaps since the 1970’s when my younger brother came home from Vietnam, 100% disabled with a TBI, a spinal injury, and permanent PTSD. It gave me the heart for this work and I have done it ever since.
It has been a good journey, and I am glad that sometimes in the face of tragedy, we are led to do things to help our communities and to help others who are going through challenges.
Yesterday morning very early, I got a call from one of my best friends who helped me to create and run our tiny, but successful nonprofit for some 15 years, providing exposure and professional development for physically challenged artists. Barbara Williamson is a paraplegic lady I met more than 15 years ago when she was looking for help to become a professional with her own business selling her fiber arts work. It was natural that we came together to do the work we did with virtually no money for all these years.
Barbara Williamson, “Buddha’s Garden,”
one of three pieces left because they are in an exhibit in another town
Barbara was shot point blank by a felon when she was in her mid 20’s; the bullet missing her heart by one inch, and leaving her permanently physically challenged. She was approximately four months pregnant at the time, and miraculously, the baby was born early, but survived, so today she is a mother and grandmother. All these years, Barbara has been a productive fiber artist, a writer, and she has contributed so many things for her community and for others in need.
The phone call was short; she, her caregiver, and her dog had to evacuate their town. There was a huge fire coming up the mountain in the valley below her home. As we tried to hear the news throughout the day yesterday and today, we heard that the hospital has been destroyed (all patients evacuated) two blocks from her home and the fire is blazing through the entire town. My friend is presumably safe for they got out early, but all of her artwork and her sewing machine and everything else had to be left behind. This is some 15+ years of art quilts that have been in many exhibits including international ones, and which we were preparing to sell on a website we were creating for her.
But they were more than just that. They were the reason she has survived cancer, a burst artery, a stroke, and any number of other physical challenges through these many years. There are tears in my eyes, but there is joy in my heart, for what is taken from us today will live on in our memories over the many years. Perhaps I have impacted her life in a positive way, but she has brought so much more to mine.
I remember that my mom had more “mom-isms” than probably most of the moms on my block. If you don’t know what a mom-ism is, your mom probably never had one, but you might ask her what mom-isms her mom or grandma used to use. A mom-ism is when you make a remark, such as “Oh Mom, I can’t.” And your mom replies, “Really? Did you know that there is no such word as ‘can’t’ in the English dictionary?” Or perhaps she might say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Think back on some your mom or grandma might have said. I know some of you have some in the back of your memory. They were intended to have us not give up easily, or perhaps guide us in some other area of life. The quilt that is painted and stitched below is one of my mom’s mom-isms. I would say something like “I just am not sure if I can do it,” or perhaps “Mom, I am afraid to do it,” and she would reply, “Oh, take the bull by the horns.” I have no clue where these mom-isms came from, but they were definitely an important memory in my youth. I will look forward to seeing some of yours. Perhaps you have pop-isms, or grandma or grandpa-isms. And you know, these worked too. Look how worried this huge bull looks compared to the little cowgirl. Have fun remembering!
“Take the Bull by the Horns” by Anne Copeland
This photo is a baby girl named Anne, and it is some 76 years old approximately. Oh how she loved to be read to aloud, or how she loved to “read” her own little books. There were never enough books, and her favorite person to read to her was her Grandma. She was still sitting on the floor next to her Grandma in her rocking chair. And Grandma would tell little Anne stories to capture her memory and to make her days memorable.
I dedicate this story to my friend Jennie, who teaches preschoolers at a private school back East. Her favorite way of teaching is reading aloud to the students, something they all love so much. She combines it with so much creativity. One day, she was asking the children if they wanted to have a new story, and instead of telling one child who was talking a lot, she told the children if they wanted a story to say “Ravioli, Ravioli.” It changed the climate immediately and all the children began to say that.
I am so glad I grew up loving to read. To this day, it is perhaps one of my most wonderful adventures in life. I hope any of you who have children will take the time to read to them as much as possible. Let them pick out books from the library. And teach them to ask in funny ways such as “Ravioli, Ravioli!”
Just what IS accidental art? Doesn’t everyone who paints or does mixed media or art quilts or other art forms have to plan everything out ahead? How can it be art if it is not “designed?”
Have you ever watched a child creating art? Children don’t plan their art. They just start making lines and marks and coloring all over the page and generally using their full imagination. There is a freedom and spontaneity that you cannot help but enjoy, even if you are a professional artist or person who doesn’t care for art. It reminds you of some part of yourself that many people lose as we grow older and have to deal with the everyday issues of life.
This is my favorite form of art. All of these pieces were created in a matter of minutes, often pulling scraps from my friend Jamie Fingal’s fabric scrap can or my own, and using a glue stick or pins initially to put down whatever pieces I found. Honestly, none of these are planned. They just came to be born as I allowed myself to go into my childlife, just playing and having fun. They are all in various stages as I was making them. The flowers with the frog were from my boob prints, and so much fun to play with. I don’t think any of these took me longer than 15 – 20 minutes to create in whatever forms they are here. There is no attempt to “match” anything, to be precise, and even the stitching that comes later on to finish them is just wherever my hand feels like guiding the machine. I don’t need to put colors in the “right places,” or worry about whether it looks like it is “supposed to look.” The striped “cat” below was just a scrap of fabric I found in exactly the shape it was. We used to give little blocks like this to friends who perhaps hurt themselves in a fall, or maybe had surgery. They just become something as we go along, but there is no thought given to trying to create any particular thing.
Courtesy of Pexels.
The life of a child is magical. It is almost unbelievable that something that starts with an egg and a sperm can grow into something so complex and full of so much potential. They are sacred.
I have worked with children for more than 15 years as a substitute paraeducator, instructional aide, and teacher in various California districts. These days have been some of the best days of my life. Every time I get a new child or a classroom full of children I feel as though life is giving me the best gifts a person can receive. My children have been all ages of special needs – physically, developmentally or emotionally challenged, or a combination of any of those things. But I use the word “challenged” instead of disabled because disabled suggest that a person is unable to do things, which is far from true, even in the most severe cases. With consistent assistance, the children CAN learn at some level.
In one of my classrooms as a paraeducator, I served as a one-on-one for a little boy who was autistic and nonverbal, and he had braces on his ankles and feet. He also had to have special liquid frequently to help with his digestion. Although he had these challenges, he was generally cheerful and seemed to have a good sense of his own abilities. The only area that was a challenge was when the children went outside for their exercise.
The braces made it difficult for him to walk very fast at all, and running seemed out of the question when the aides would play a sort of baseball with a big rubber ball and “bases” leading to the home plate. They would throw the ball and the children would run from base to base, trying to get a home run. The little boy I had charge of seemed to see this as a time to “watch” as the other children ran. When his turn came up, he would stand watching, but not try to move forward. This day I took his hand, held it tight, and encouraged him to keep going. We managed to get through all the bases, and at last made a home run. We had two more turns, and each time I held his hand tightly, encouraging him all the way.
Soon we were sitting in the grass resting as the game was over. I turned to him and told him “Wow! We made three home runs!” Suddenly he grabbed me around the neck with both arms and began to hug me until we both fell over. I knew it meant he was so happy because he sensed his victory.
I will never forget that day. As he got into the car and his dad began to drive him home, he reached out with both arms and threw kisses at me. I will always have a smile in my heart when I think of that child.