The first day of the new year! It is amazing how turning the page of a calendar can change people's mind set but at the beginning of each new year there is a renewed sense of enthuasiam . Every day is a miracle! Each new year, month, week, day, minute, and second brings new hopes, dreams, and possibilities. It is as if there is a clean blank slate waiting to be painted; bold colorful images appear as we live our life to the fullest. One way I live my life to the fullest is by expressing myself creatively, whether drawing, painting, or writing. Writing is an immediate way for me to make sense of my life and give situations meaning. Writing is my love and my passion.
I have always tried to be creative in some way every day. It is a freeing experience to come outside of yourself and display what is inside. I can even remember as a young child working on expressing myself creatively. Before going to school I spent my time watercolor painting each and every day. When I asked, my mom would help me get water in a cup, my brushes, paints, and the paper out. I would sit at our kitchen table and paint for an hour or longer, sometimes I would even go outside and paint in nature. I was so content in my own little painting world.
Then when I five years old, in kindergarten, my first school experience, we were given coloring sheets with scenes, characters, and objects on them and we were expected to color inside the lines neatly. I did not want to color inside the lines on the coloring sheets - before school I had been given free expression before with crisp white pieces of paper to create my own figures, characters, scenes and still craved that freedom. So I would scribble all across the front of the coloring paper and turn it to the back to draw and color my own picture. My teacher would walk by and tell me that I should take my time and color neatly. I resented her greatly. Many days at school I sat out in the warm sunshine watching my friends play as I colored my trees purple, the sky pink, the grass orange, and well ok the sun could be happy yellow. Of course then I was told that the trees were green unless in autumn, the sky was blue, the grass green, and then she said slyly that I colored the sun the right color. After she had told me the "correct" colors for everything I can clearly remember telling her that she had just said to color inside the lines, but not with any specific color. In that class I was not free to express my self and neither were the other children. I was miserable.
Once this same teacher passed each child a handful of craft sticks to create something. So we were just given the sticks and not told exactly what to create but to make anything. I intently began to put together my structure. When the time was up she began to collect each of our creations and put them on another table to dry. She came to each child taking their assembled craft, making positive comments to each of them. I was still busy putting my finishing touches on mine. She came to me, looked down in horror at my craft and with a small sarcastic laugh said, "you used too much glue, it's a mess, and what is it?!" I looked at her with wide eyes and asked if she did not like my abstract art work. She looked as shocked as I did, whether it was from my comment or from my creation, also whether she thought I was a smart ass or if I was really asking her, I still don't know. Which I promise I was truly asking her if she liked it or not. I slowly looked around at the other craft stick creations: houses, stars, fences, even a couple of flowers. I sat there with my face growing red and hot as I thought my art work was not good enough, not like everyone else's art.
I could not wait to get out of that class! As the year ended I was relieved. That fall I entered first grade and had the most wonderful teacher ever. She was nurturing to all the students in the class and we were learning to read, add, and subtract, we did not have much time for coloring. I loved first grade! I still keep in touch with my first grade teacher.
I think that it is ironic that I now teach kindergarten. I am sensitive to the small fragile personalities that are just beginning to blossom in my students. If a student can not truly color inside the lines or form their letters I work with them on fine motor skills to help them develop this ablitity. I don't ridicule them, I simply work with them, giving them space; they make small steps over and over again which in the end produces great growth and confidence in the student.
I will work each and every day to live my life in a freely creative way, which then puts me in sync and rhythm in other areas of my life. Also I see that my experience in kindergarten, when I was five years old, had to happen because if not I may not be a teacher and I may not be sensitive to other people's creative pursuits, or thankful for my own. I charged on painting, drawing, and writing, always listening to my own creative heart and soul. May everyone live in pursuit of the things that bring them happiness!