Art has been an integral part of my life since early childhood. Like most children, I enjoyed drawing and sharing my pictures with family and friends. I was drawing, painting, or doing something artsy almost daily. By middle school, my art was being selected for public showings. I was honored when a painting done in high school was placed in one of the offices of the then new Mental Health Department building of the DC Government in Washington, DC.
Then came college. I had chosen a career in education not art. Was this my mistake? Not really. As a Black female in the early 1970’s, becoming a teacher was a safe and respectable career choice. Besides, I loved working with children. So, after four years of college and armed with a Master of Arts in Special Education, I used the arts (music, poetry, and art) to support my classroom lessons. I found ways to bring more art into the school and support community art. Although art was still there, on the ride with me, my personal expressions with art had taken a back seat in my life.
Imagine how my skills could have progressed had I not stepped away from my art for forty years. I don’t regret my years in the classroom, but I wish I had spent some of my leisure time continuing to nurture my artistic side. Here and there during those forty years I’ve had special requests for a piece of art which I accepted, but again, these were not my personal, introspective expressions.
A few months ago, I pulled out the canvas and bought new paint. It brought great joy to my heart. Don’t push your interests aside. Always make time to do the things you love. Check out my original art at http://betweennaps.net/art .
Well, it has been almost two months since my official retirement date. It didn’t seem any different until last week. As a school teacher, I always had summers off for vacation. This summer was just as it normally is for a summer vacation other than everyone asking me what I was going to do now and what it felt like to be retired. What did they mean? What was I going to do… anything I want to do or nothing at all. Isn’t that what retirement means… ceasing to work?
Anyway, last week summer vacation ended and students returned to the classroom. Now, retirement is real! Now, I feel fully retired. I miss the cheerful greetings and hugs from returning students. I miss getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of new students and creating ways to use the first to overcome the latter. BUT I don’t miss early rising, late evening, and bringing work home. I don’t miss thinking about going to work sick because it’s easier than making lesson plans for a substitute to follow, especially knowing that you will probably need to teach or reteach the material you left because the substitute decides not to follow your plan. I don’t miss working lunches. And I don’t miss the meeting where teachers are introduced to the next educational trend.