I’ve decided that this year of new beginnings is a year that I leap into the void and trust that I will be caught. I’ve done this before, not often and only when there was no other choice. Leap or die. I was indeed caught, every time, and my life has been better ever since, defining moments all. So, while I am not faced with that kind of pressure, perhaps in some ways this leap will also save my life.
At the age of 41 (2000 I’ve been back on my own for 5 years) I moved in with my parents and went back to school full time. Since my alcoholism had robbed me of the opportunity to go to school when most folks go, they were willing to help me. That experience is in my top five experiences along with getting sober and into a real recovery. Not only was I going to school to learn a trade, web design and development, but I got to take lots and lots of art classes. I had discovered that I was okay at embroidery and could sew but I still hadn’t learned faith in myself, certainly not in other artistic mediums.
I’ll never forget realizing that I am an artist, at heart, in my soul, and that I’m not half bad. Late nights with the stereo blasting getting filthy with pastels. Pure Joy.
And that I’m not the only one who thinks so. I always thought I couldn’t draw and I wasn’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops. The day that my art teacher walked in the room and began reviewing our final projects pinned on the wall will live with me forever. She stopped in front of my work (it was not signed, no real indication of whose work it was, she had not seen it) and I could feel her inhale and then exhale, aaaahhhhhhhhh. She stood for at least 10 seconds with her back to the class. She then turned to the class and without looking at anyone said, “I don’t know why this person thinks they can’t draw.” She knew it was mine after all.
Then she topped it off with this. She was not only teaching at the community college I was attending but at a big name art school that costs way too much money here in my city. The dean of the expensive school asked her why her students were getting such poor grades. She took my work and the work of two other students and said to him, “THIS is 4.0 work. Two dimensional sparkly unicorns and fast cars is for junior high. THIS? is art.” My apologies to the sparkley unicorn crowd, she said it, not me.
My heart grew 10 sizes that day and just writing this makes my chest swell with pleasure. Not in arrogance. But in finally realizing what humility really means.
See when I got sober in a treatment center in 1995 I equated humility with humiliation. I wasn’t the only one by a long shot. When we were told in group that we needed to find humility, in unison we pretty much said, “No thanks, had enough of that thank you very much.” But we didn’t know what it meant. Wikipedia defines it thusly:
“Humility is the defining characteristic of an unpretentious and modest person, someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others.”
But they left out the best part of all. Humility also means not thinking you are less than or of less importance than others. You are worthy. You matter. You rock. In my 12 step groups we consider humility to be the art of seeing yourself “right sized.” All of you. The bad and the ugly and last but not least, the good. And when that teacher sighed when she looked at my work I finally felt like I wasn’t a piece of crap. It was a defining moment in my life. It changed everything. She knew what a struggle it was for me to leave my box of mediocrity and darkness and less than. Her sigh helped heal me.
Where am I today? I like to think that I’m at least closer to the humility that I strive for. I don’t think of myself as the best artist ever nor do I want to be that. But I do want to be the best I can be. I want to be openhearted. I want to be an artist among artists, a worker among workers. I want to be good enough. I want my work to bring joy to others. I want to fling my arms out and let spirit fill me.
All of that brought me to where I am today. Last night I cut out the applique motifs for 20 new bags, 10 new checkbook covers, 3 pillows. I’m considering hats and hoods. I’m hoping to have at least part of this ready for Fires of Lughnasadh and all of it ready by Concentric Cirlces. Both of these are events in July and September put on by a local group, OLOTEAS. Twice a year they let us merchant our crafts at no cost. Have dayshade will vend.
By that time I hope to have an online store open (looking at shopping carts now thanks to Foxchild). So my expected date to begin will be sooner than I thought, not 2009 but 2008. I can hardly wait. I’ve had 270 hits on my witchvox page in one week, probably because I am new, and I hope that it will generate some interest. But I think word of mouth will be most beneficial to me and having stuff for folks to fondle this summer will help a lot.