New Year Happy

A happy collage I made this week

It’s always lovely, isn’t it, when you receive appreciation and recognition for just being yourself. Recently I have been given some truly generous compliments about my teaching presence, and the fact of the matter is, guiding a group with spirited joy and earnest enthusiasm is just – me. It’s what truly makes me happy. Sure, it’s a skill that I have leaned into and honed with practice and experience, but it’s also something that’s been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember. Literally, I’ve been showing, sharing, encouraging ever since I sat my baby brothers down to play school when I was just beyond toddlerhood myself. Before I was out of elementary school, I was gathering kids on my parents’ back deck in the summers for crafts and cookies, and I’ve continued a vocational life that has always had me in and around the classroom, most happily when I’ve been co-creating with learners. Teaching visual arts, language arts, appreciation of great literature and ideas, craft arts, the art of knowing oneself – that’s where I get to be my self at my best, where I get to be a hawker for happiness, a salesperson for self-expression, self-appreciation, and self-awareness. Even the decade I spent as a literal salesperson was, for me, less about the financial bottom line and much more about selling with heartfelt enthusiasm the how-to and the why of the process the educational software I was offering allowed for (More reading! More exposure to the art of great books! More ways to access the deepest joys of life!) Truly though, once that decade was behind me, I was able to return a more direct connection to teaching, making, learning, inspiring – just being me, and it has made my spirit sing.

So I’ve just read with the deepest delight about a kindred spirit, in a book that is itself its own sort of extraordinary magic. Make Meatballs Sing; The Life and Art of Corita Kent by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Kara Kramer is as bursting with joy, color, and creativity as I feel when life is at its very best, and I am doing what I love. Like Corita, I want to share strong and elemental expressions of hope and joy, clear and compassionate calls for justice and peace, and happy and humorous messages of living with…everyone!

I look forward to those opportunities in the year ahead. I am taking on more responsibility for programming and development at Paint Love, I am continuing my work with children and their teachers at First Congregational Church of Pasadena, serving in lay leadership capacities at North Decatur Presbyterian Church, and I have just become a member of IEATA, an organization that supports expressive arts facilitators like me. Happy New Year!