Friday, September 27, 2019

Mind Clutterz: old thingz and new thingz

I have been feeling the pull of the blog lately.  Until the last week or so, I have had so much noise in my mind that I haven't been able to clearly focus on almost anything.  Even things I need to get done, don't.  

Retirement - as I indicated earlier- isn't as smooth sailing as one would come to believe.  There is a lot of your self confidence and self worth tied up in your profession, especially one that you have to be fully committed to- heart and mind- like teaching.  I have missed the people and I have missed the kids.  I subbed once a week ago and it was fun, but I determined that the advanced art students should not have me in the building yet. So I am waiting a few more weeks.  

A new gig- so oddly and fortunately- I have a former student (who I adore by the way, he was a memorable and favorite of mine) is the editor at the newspaper here in our county.  He asked me, when he did that amazing article about me for Teacher Appreciation Week, if I would be willing to do some photo assignments.  And I was and I am and I did!  I have done quite a few things now, things I have never done  much before, like shooting football games, lining people up for formal group pictures and taking pictures specifically for the paper with our demographic in mind.  It is interesting and super fun.  I have always loved learning new things, and this is cool. And new photography gear #ftw!!

Speaking of learning new things- for reasons far beyond actual comprehension I am using Duolingo to learn Italian and relearn German.  I had done some language learning a few years ago on Rosetta, but now I am going in a little more deeply.  For whatever reason if I am feeling anxious, I can sit down and plod through Italian for a while and then make myself feel good about my intelligence by zipping through a few German lessons.  

An aside here:  I can testify that if you want to learn a language WELL, start young.  My class in Clinton Schools (WI) was the last class to have German from 4th grade on through High school.   We had a German teacher who came in I think once a week or so when we were younger and then you didn't have to take it after 6th grade.  I think. Hard to remember.  In Jr. High and HS it was a traditional class.  I kept taking it through HS, and was not smart enough to take it in college because I was sick of it by that time.... so I tried taking French which was an epic fail- I passed the class but omg, what a nightmare that was.  All those people yakking on in French, so you knew they had it in high school.  I did not.  Anyway, as I go through the lessons, the German that is, I am fuzzy on vocab, but for whatever reason much of the sentence structure is right there.  I don't think about it, I just know it.  Because I had extensive education in it when I was young....  Italian is hard, you guys.  lol  But I am working through it.  German- which is not a particularly simple language to learn- is easy for me because I had it in my formative years.  It is crazy for schools to be cutting languages... but I digress.

Anyway, I have been taking photos and cleaning up my gardens, and generally enjoying the fall.  This little post satisfied my need to write for the moment and so I guess I will finish up a few things before I go to the football game here in a little while.  Trying out the new lens and all!  It's a beast of a lens but it will be perfect for the challenging lighting conditions.  Good times!  A new way to find my joy.  

Bis sp├Ąter, findest du deine Freude!
Arrivederci 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

In waiting

Thank you to the people who reached out to me, even though I told you not to.  Lol.  I am grateful people don't listen. HA

This is another "private" post, unadvertised.  I haven't done my brother's post yet, I only yesterday started to truly feel like myself.  I am highly anxious today, but I suppose that is to be expected.  Tomorrow is the service and frankly, I am tired of crying and being sad and upset.  I know this is normal, but I don't want to be normal, as usual.  But that makes no difference, what I want.  I am what I am and I feel what I do.

I have had a few people tell me that, and I really do listen.  Even if I seem like I don't.  I do pay attention.  And I know a couple of them like to be right all the time, so there it is again.  You were right, I will be fine, but it is ok to be sad and cry.

I think I have cried more in the last 6 months than the last 6 years.  I know that is true.  Again, when life throws you some of the biggest highs and lows of your time on this earth, all in the same week in some cases, you are going to have some emotional stuff coming up. 

So, I am making plans- creative plans.  For a workshop or two, and more travel, and some concrete and mosaic work....  and of course the photography.  And next summer- more travel....

I really wish I didn't feel so damn anxious today, I just want to go and do it and hold my grandchildren and be with family. And then start to see where this all takes me....  and find my joy again.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

NOT good

This is a fast, down and dirty post.  I am not sharing to Facebook, I will write a better post later.  I am NOT doing well today.  I always am doing well, my optimism is the core of my being....  but the events of late have knocked me fucking over.

I have had such a mix of good and bad, of highs and lows and now insecurity and fear and grief and sorrow...  I am haunted by not being good enough, by thinking I have done everything wrong, though back then I did the best I knew how and I can't regret my decisions of years gone by.  But the thoughts are making me second guess everything I have thought, I'm full of the fear I am not good enough and always always too much.

I am not asking for phone calls, or messages or sympathy.  I just think you should put out your ugly side once in a while.  Then maybe the joy will follow some time.  Hopefully soon.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

more thoughts...

One would think that one would be ecstatic to be retiring, but I have come to find out that it isn't as easy as it appears. 

There are several weird mind things that are going on here- in reality, you are really an expert at your job when you are ready to retire.  I mean, I feel so successful at teaching most things, but the painting series I do with the students is totally rocking effective....  I am referring to the hs kids here of course- but the same goes with the littles- you know what you want them to be doing and you know how to get them there- it is just picking out the projects that will be most effective for that group of kids.

Next of all- I don't know about all of you all, but I am pretty sure I am not old enough to retire.  My birthday begs to differ, but I seriously feel like I have only just started a few years ago.  It sort of feels like cheating.  I have never felt (and some say acted) my age, and I think hanging out with teenagers every day gives you an altered outlook on life.  These are some fine people that I am teaching, don't for a moment believe the negative people in the world who do the "the kids these days" thing.  Guess what - the old people said that about you too- the world does not stay stagnant and it is a different world from when we were growing up- you have no idea what these kids do.  And they are fine humans, who happen to be trapped in some serious hormone overload at the moment.

I made the decision REALLY fast and I haven't had a lot of time to acclimate myself to it.  I have embraced it but I haven't fully had it integrate in me.  I am looking forward to it, yet it has defined such a big part of my life and it is so weird to think I won't be doing it anymore.  It is a relief and a seriously terrifying idea this whole being done with your career.  I'll adapt and I will stay busy, but I am looking at the time in front of me this fall and wondering how I will react.  Fortunately the summer is a buffer and I will just let the fall happen.

I am a person who has to process by talking out loud, and I am more than a little worried I am driving my closest friends crazy.  I want to leave them alone, but I feel totally afloat and a little afraid....  good thing they are so patient with me.  I am very lucky.

I- for better or worse- have a countdown going, something I refused to do before this year.  I just didn't want to know how many days of school were left, I didn't want to think about it usually.  Time goes too slowly if you count things down, I thought, and that is true to a degree.  But it also makes it possible to really embrace the day, live in the moment and try not to wish your life away.  I tell my high schoolers to not hurry their time in school, that some day they will realize how good their time here actually was (for most of them) and I am trying hard to take that advice.... and find all the joy  that I can while I am at it.... but somehow I can't help saying- Is it June yet?




Sunday, April 28, 2019

Another life event is on deck

I know....  it HAS been a long time.  It has been an interesting early 2019 shall we say.  One life event leads to another and sometimes you are some place you weren't expecting....

The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.
C. S. Lewis


I have sort of let it be known lately that I am retiring at the end of the school year.  If  you would have told me at the beginning of the year that I was going to be done in May of 2019 with the career I waited so long to get and love so fiercely, I would have looked at you askance and tilted my head and rolled my eyes at you....  I can't yet would have been my answer.  But, a sad twist of fate came up- my mom's death and subsequent settling of the estate- gifted me with something I hadn't expected.  Retirement.  Basically I will have enough to pay for my insurance for a few years and with the catalyst of some situations in the teaching profession that I may or may not talk about at some point in the future has caused me to make the decision.

That particular moment of change was the culmination of many factors, not the least being that two of my very best friends and colleagues were going to be retiring- the Mad-science teacher, Laurie and my buddy, the band teacher, Pat.  I had a hard time imagining my life next year without them- especially mornings with coffee without Laurie.  But I was working on that visualization, and was settling in to it.  Then the school calendar came out and teachers have to report in 2 plus weeks before school begins.... which is ridiculous.  And my former idea of 3 years out before retirement became one year.  Then a situation arose and I decided on the spur of the moment I was done. It was a traumatic event in many ways (for me only) ...  then I had a couple of conversations at school- I was crying (this is how I handle stress- what can I say?) and they were talking me down, and then I had lunch with the MA and Laurie, and they told me exactly why I could and should indeed be done.  I believe I was told that someone was glad they wouldn't have to listen to me complain about meetings- staff and otherwise- any more... hmpf.  But he has a very valid point.  There was no reason of any sort to keep me working in an increasingly difficult situation.

Fortunately those are two very calming people in my life who coached me through the initial decision- even though I had really already made it.  But I needed their words and validation and steadying influence that day.  Then another person very close to me continued (and still does- YOU'RE DONE) to offer words of calm reflection, advice and support.... I have a few of those people in my life and I am SO grateful.  And then I have my dear Mad-Missouri friend who tells me how much I am going to love it.

The next few days were a rollercoaster of giddy relief and teary regret.  I have never ever doubted I made the correct decision, I just wish I didn't feel like I was deserting my kids.  Especially the HS kids.  It took a full month of being on the edge of breakdown to talk about it without crying.  I sometimes still do- I love my job.  But it isn't the job I took when I began this career.

This winter was hard- between my mom and being sick with influenza for a LONG time, and a few other personal things and the freaking weather that kept me cooped up- it was very difficult. And of course tax season REALLY sucked this year, people.  The retirement decision did not make me a more stable individual either.  Lol.  But I am feeling better all the time, and I, once again, am redefining my life and heading in directions that I NEVER thought I would be going in.

There is a lot more that can be said, and I will in subsequent blog posts....  I have many related topics.  And I have a couple celebratory vacations coming up too- and you will have to stay tuned to what happens next.  I have a few things up my sleeve.....  Including my very own retirement party!   Like I said- topics to be covered soon.

I have been posting a bunch of oddities on Facebook and Instagram, definitely helping me come to terms with this- the whole Wroger and Wrachel craziness, but the ceiling tiles and the senior pictures and the Eagles are giving me so much joy.  The memories come flooding back and I have been getting messages from so many students of the past.  I love talking and reconnecting with them- I hope to see them soon- Might have to arrange a Flambeau-rama meet-up time or something?

Anyway- I have also been taking photos (like that is a surprise)- so the above photo is for attention only. Well, maybe not- that picture and the quote are very, very apropos.  Which is of course why I chose it.

So much joy has come out of some serious heartache- and as I take on this next adventure- you can be sure I will be taking pictures and making art, probably writing as well...  and who knows what else.  Change is challenging, but the best things in life are hard won, waited for and anticipated and sometimes they come out of the blue- you HAVE to recognize them when they appear so you can embrace them and get the most joy possible.




Thursday, December 20, 2018

Gifts from my mom


The day before my mother died, some one randomly asked me if I was artistic all my life.  Did you always like art things, even when you were young like the elementary students?  I had never thought about it like that, because I don't remember anyone ever saying I was artistic.  But I do know that when I was in 4th grade my mom taught me how to draw horses and that was it.  That was a defining moment of that part of my life.  

This is my mother wishing I hadn't been given a camera! Lol

When I start thinking that through, there are several concepts that pop to my mind.  First of all, apparently my mom knew how to draw.  She was very creative, though she would never have said that out loud and she never defined herself as such.  I can see the proof of that as I think back through my childhood, when she was able to do things as she wished, she could transform a room, sew clothes, knit things, and even did hand photo coloring.  Her work was not displayed prominently, but if you knew where to look her subtle influence was everywhere, while my father's taste were loud and apparent. Second, if she took the time to show me how to draw that first horse, that means I apparently was interested in art.  I remember that I drew a lot, and I tell you it wasn't because of the series of (mostly) bad art teachers I had- but that is for a whole different post someday, or not. I know I practiced and practiced and got attention for it from my peers.  Then only a few years later, she gifted me with a camera.  

I can't imagine why she didnt want us sneaking up on her with a camera
My mom gave me so many gifts that I share with others.  Many of them  came to be through the luck of genetics and many were from the way she lived.  I know my gift of art was a combination of her and my dad.  They were both very gifted people in many ways, but when you spend a good part of your life with a lot of little kids and not a lot of money, you don't have the luxury of creating.  For my dad that came later in life and for my mom, it was sprinkled through out in tiny little pieces. She didn't have a lot to work with (money-wise)  but my mom shared the gift of time and teaching with me- I remember where I was and what she showed me so clearly and it opened up a whole new world. And so I learned to draw.

Mom and Dad and 

My mother didn't like having her picture taken, which is why there are not a lot of them for us to choose from as we begin this final stage of her life.  She took some of the pictures, of course, but when she got me a camera when I was about 12 years old, she usually managed to avoid being in them.***  I wonder if my mom had any idea how she opened up a new world to me when she gave me that little film camera?  It was one of those flat ones with the little bulbs on the top that had 4 sides?  I took so many pictures with it, most of them just bad snapshots, but once in a while I would get a good one and it would give me enough reinforcement to do more.  Plus she kept buying me film and flashbulbs when there wasn't a whole lot of money to spare..... so I started to learn how to take pictures.


Debi and mom and Rosie 

My mom really didn't like to cook all that much, but when  you have 4 little kids  within 5 years, that is what you end up doing.  She also had a variety of other people that she cooked for for various reasons, plus the farm house we lived in had plenty of room for all the relatives that descended on us on any given holiday or celebration, which we loved.   When I  showed interest in learning to cook you can bet that I got a cookbook for Christmas.  I believe the year before I had gotten not one but 2 Easy-Bake baking sets (note- not the oven, which I was a little irritated about, just the cooking sets- we used the big oven, which in retrospect was fine) and thanks to Uncle David for stealing my moms thunder on Christmas Eve, when he gave me the same exact set that mom had  under the tree for me.  Whoops.  I was thrilled to get the second one, let me tell you.  My mom stepped back after making sure I wouldn't burn myself or the house down and let me at it.  Other having ingredients on hand, she rarely intervened.  I was allowed free range of the kitchen.  Eventually it was not only encouraged but expected, but that is how we worked together on things.  Idk what the rest of those deadbeats (lol) did while I was cooking, but they at least had to help with the dishes. She encouraged me to experiment, to try things and rarely did anyone complain.  My mom always was in the background if I needed help and bailed me out more than once...  She might have gotten mad, but I sure don't remember that.  I was free to try.  And I learned to cook.



My mom took care of many, many people. The farm house had a bathroom on the first floor, which was not the case in many houses back in the day, she helped rehab a lot of people.  She also didn't have a job outside the home, which also was not unusual.  My mom was raised by very loving and giving parents, and so she continued that legacy.  She cared for my Grandma Kutz with diabetes at times, a few of my uncles,  later in life my dad, fed a great uncle and his son for 2 years when that uncle lost his wife.  She did so much for them, and I never really felt resentment in her.  I know she got exasperated and annoyed, especially with my grandma, her mother-in-law, but she never really complained.  She opened the house to her parents who at times would stay for a few weeks during corn picking time when Grandpa Oberley would drive the corn truck.  So many people, and it just seemed normal, it was fun for us kids.  I loved having people around then, they were so interesting and I knew they loved me. My mom made everything seem so normal and easy... And I learned to give myself to others.

July 27. 1957
As I mentioned above, we were for the most part, the party givers at our house.  I am not positive how my mom felt about this on any given day, but my dad loved having relatives around.  Our farm house was the family house, where my dad's brothers and sisters grew up and it was pretty big.  And so with a huge living room, dining room and kitchen it was the logical location for get togethers.  I have so many many memories of these parties.  We would have food cooking on the stove, the aunties would bring in the pies and salads and we would store things on the counters, on top of the washer and dryer, in the fridge and out on the steps in the unheated garage.  Little kids were running around and when we got a little older, my sister and I would do "fancy" things and serve people trays of snacks and such.  Again my mom let us do this, bought the things we needed, allowed us our chance to try new things, while she worked in the background making turkey or ham or whatever else needed to be done.  She was so good at orchestrating those meals.   I remember sitting in the kitchen after dinner, listening to mom and my aunties talk, going into the living room to find an uncle to sit by and get hugged, playing with my cousins, surrounded with love.  And I learned how I fit in.



We had a huge garden when growing up, something my dad took particular pride in, and I know my mom was not all that thrilled with.  However, we grew the food, mom got us out in the garden early in the morning before it got too hot to weed it and keep our dad from yelling at us.  She had us all pitch in at least part of the time with the canning and freezing of all this, and while we complained we helped any way. It was a pain, but we would shuck corn or snap beans or dig potatoes and talk and laugh and work together.  My mom kept us after it. We were always hoping she didn't choose us to go into the basement where the potatoes were stored and stick out hands into that dark metal bin.  After we grew up, there was very little garden and I know that she was happy not to ever can again, but putting food up - as they say- is a memory that runs through my childhood.  And I learned about persistence.


My  mom and my favorite kitty

I was admittedly not a very pleasant teenager- in the morning particularly.  I know I was ornery as hell, and I knew that my mom sort of ignored me most of the time when I was like that.  But she tried to get us up for school in a variety of ways that included sending the border collie in to wake us up, which was awesome- and she would some days she would put her head in the door and say the dreaded words: Rise and Shine.  I hated getting woken up by that phrase.  I wonder if she did it to bug the crap out of me, or if she was trying to be positive.  I can respect both of those reasons, really. I am sure that I was not kind to my mother when I was between the ages of 14 and 18, those mornings were horrible, I just didn't want to interact -ever- until after like 9 am.  But having so much experience with teenagers now, I understand what my problem was- I was a teenager.  Years later, when I had kids- not once did she wish a child just like me on me, or roll her eyes at me or anything. She would listen patiently to all the things I wanted to complain about and I loved her for it  I talked to my mom every weekend for at least 30 years. She took my good with my bad and I always knew I could tell her everything.  And I learned about love.

Ella and grandmas
The last time I saw my mom she was very confused but she still knew me.  At least for a while- she got mixed up later and thought I worked there, but as I was leaving I told her that I was afraid  that she wouldn't know who I was.  She looked into my eyes and told me Debi, I will always know you.


I posted a couple of photos on Facebook and am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from all. I so so appreciate all of your thoughts for me and us.  They are overwhelmingly touching.  The comments from some of my former students affected me the most. My high school students that were with me for one semester or 4 years - all of them are special to me.  I love them unconditionally, I know that they are good people who just need to be accepted.  I know that they needed to not be asked to change who they are,  they just need to be encouraged to be the good person they are meant to be.  Even when they were difficult, they didn't mean to be hurtful.  They just needed someone to listen and teach and encourage, and they turned into wonderful adults.....  And that is how I pass what I have learned  from my mom along to others who need me the most.



If you know anything about me, you know that I do love my presents.  When I look back at the gifts I have gotten from my mom, I don't know how I could do anything else other than anticipate more. From a little camera and a drawing lesson, to experiencing the gift of unconditional love, the presents I have gotten from my mother are some of the most precious of all. 




*** I want to say if you do that- avoid the camera because you are "shy" or don't like the way you look or what have you- quit that.  Relax and smile and let your loved ones have pictures- they love you for you.  Not if your clothes look a certain way or whatever- no one important will care. Not a comment against my mom, I have known enough people who regret not getting more pictures of a loved one who "didn't like it".   You still have a chance- do it


Monday, December 17, 2018

Travels with Debi: Last Day in London


I left this post unfinished for a few months, life has a way of evolving into things that you so totally don't expect. I have experienced some of these things- some totally amazing :)  and some very sad.  Undoubtedly you will hear more.  But for now, a finish to my trip....
Dingoes in the house!  



The huge greenhouse with some amazing plants.
As I finish off my travel stories, I have to say this was one of the most delightful and at the same time terrifying times of my life.  Lol. I wish I wasn't so tentative, but on the other hand, that doesn't stop me from doing much of anything.  My sanity just suffers for it.

Inside the greenhouse, I believe this is the palm house
And this, boys and girls, is where chocolate comes from
This last day in London involved a super side trip to a marvelous garden called Kew Gardens.  This place is HUGE and we barely got through a third of it I bet.  It was spectacular- the buildings, the gardens, the grounds....  but it did get pretty hot that day- well into the 80's.  Made going into the succulent and desert gardens a bit challenging, but it was all worth it.


I am pretty sure these are lotus blossoms
Part of the Princess of Wales conservatory collection
I love seeing these! A type of water lily I believe
I didn't take a lot of photos here, I really was enjoying my time, plus the sun was so strong the exposure was tricky.  That is ok, it was a wonderful day. Traveling to Kew on the train system was a training experience for me- if you remember from a previous post, I had to take the Tube for an hour to get to the airport....
Serious Japanese maple envy 

The greenhouses were spectacular, as were the grounds.  That is one of those places that I need to back and see again- so much of London I didn't get to experience.


Those roses, though


I wish I had taken more time photographing this




Loved the little vignettes that were everywhere



I regret not writing this post closer to June, but that is me.  I am a procrastinator.  but hey, at least I got my calendars done in plenty of time this year.  And didn't pull any bonehead moves like having it printed with white numbers on a white background.  That I don't even know how it happened, other than I fiddled around with things a lot last year...  I started downloading pictures way way earlier for this one, and paid attention to such things.  Goodness.  I might have a couple "art" calendars left and possible one abandoned house one, so if anyone wants one, let me know.

I can not begin to thank my hosts enough for the amazing trip I had back in June.  I think of it often, and when they post on facebook or Instagram I relive those moments again.  And I am so ready for more travels and I know that I can do any form of transportation I need thanks to the help from my dear friends, Anne-Sophie, Mark and Jonny.  They hold special places in my heart.  

Conquer your fears and find your joy.  Be brave, be ferocious, give it your all and give up control.  Life will give you those unexpected joys when you stop trying to direct it in any one direction....  if you stop trying to control your journey, you just might get where you always wanted to be.