Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Seeking Balance

Crescent moon, shattuck, dyon, and
a hollibaugh/pepper/tipple mash-up.
First: the eye candy! Caroline completed two tiles for last week's Diva Challenge, #119: Ebony and Ivory. This challenge was all about balancing black and white. I love these tiles, and how different they are from each other.

We are both excited about the current week's challenge, Tangleation Nation: Bales. Hopefully I'll make the time to complete the challenge this week despite all the things I have on my plate. It's a busy time for me. Read on.

Pepper, sand swirl, bunzo, jetties, Rick's paradox, bales,
angel fish, dl nebula, sanibell, inapod, pweeko, jest, cadent,
featherfall, and mooka.
You may or may not have noticed that I have been out of the loop, out of blog-mode and Diva Challenges for a while...I have been quiet and seemingly unengaged. The truth is, in a quest for balance in my life, I'm in the midst of closing a significant chapter. It is almost done, but I still have some loose ends to tie up. And it has monopolized my time and attention for the past few months. Specifically, I am walking away from my position at the elementary school where I have been honored to be an art teacher on staff for the past 7 1/2 years (I was hired mid-year, at Christmastime, 2005). It's not that I don't want to teach there anymore. It was a fabulous job in an amazing classroom with students, families, and colleagues that I adore! It is an emotional parting. Some days I feel like I have made a terrible mistake, but deep down I believe that I am doing what I need to do. Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions...sometime we have to let good things draw to a close. This is one of those times.

It boils down to this: I am now the mother of two teenagers. (Caroline's brother, my only son, turned 13 this month.) This is, of course, a temporary state: teenagers grow up all too quickly and leave the nest to fly on their own. Quite simply, I have limited years left with my kids here at home with me, and I want to be free to make the most of them. When my husband and I began our family, we were not planning for me to be a working mom. It just happened when the perfect opportunity presented itself to me. So I thought I'd give a a try. And I loved the job. BUT: it turns out that balancing my personal life (motherhood) with my professional life as an art teacher within the confines of the demanding and ever-changing public school system is NOT one of my superpowers. After years of trying to establish such balance, I have not been able to make it work to my satisfaction.

I want for "back-to-school" season to be about my son and daughter, not about my classroom. I want for the Christmas season to be about my faith and my family and the full range of joys of the season, and not have my time, attention, and energy be monopolized by the International Children's Day extravaganza that my elementary school produces each December. And I want for the end of the school year to be about celebrating my children's achievements and about honoring and thanking their teachers, not about completing my grades, returning student artwork, and completing my end-of-the-school-year checkout list, which included the overwhelming task of packing up the art room for the summer. So this will be the last time I need to clean out my classroom; I am passing it on to another art teacher. This is a very difficult transition for me...yet so very exciting! I have so many adventures that await me! That is, once I have succeeded in removing my enormous treasury of "stuff" from the art room...boxes and boxes of books, stacks of posters and visual resources, multicultural treasures, file cabinets full of documents & lesson plans, tons of personal supplies, tools, and materials (I counted 13 pasta machines, not to mentional all the cookie cutters and clay tools...and that's just for polymer clay, a tiny portion of all the media that I've taught over the years!). Not only do I have to remove them from the classroom...I have to find somewhere to put them all! Aaaaaaack!!!!! I don't know where...my house is full. So: my first adventure will be excavating all my overflowing storage areas, pitching what I can and organizing that which I feel the need to hold on to. The first word of "creating order" is "creating"...and I am a creative person, so I definitely see organizing as a creative challenge. Woo-hoo! It's time to let my inner neat-freak out to play!

Making this major change in my life, once I get the "stuff" situation under control, will allow me to focus on so many ideas that have been percolating in my imagination for years. I will be establishing a personal studio for Caroline and I to work in. YAY! With regard to tangling...freedom from the school system will give me the flexibility to organize some Zentangle classes in my community. I am sooooo excited about that! So stay tuned for details. Working out a community teaching schedule is a challenge that I have not been able to meet in the past...but now I can seek other venues in which to do what I love (teaching) without it taking away from quality time with those that I love the most.

I hope you'll join me on my journey and cheer me on as I establish new routines. Including paying more attention to this blog...as well as another blog that I am so excited to be taking on! More about about that in my next post. ;-)



  1. Amy, you darling girl. This post made me cry...and cheer. You've made one of the hardest, but the wisest decisions of your life. When we seriously, thoughtfully weigh our kids in the balance of life against, well, anything, then the anything comes up short. Though they don't know it and frequently don't like it, nobody needs their mom more than teenagers. May God richly bless your selfless mother's heart. "He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose" - Jim Elliot

    1. Ann, your words mean more to me than I can say. Thank you.

  2. Difficult and exciting at the same time. Enjoy your journey!

    1. Thank you, Trisha! I find it so fitting that this Black & White Balance Challenge came during this very week. Of course, it was Caroline, not me, that was able to make the time for it...but that, too, is fitting! It'll take me a while to find my balance; it's not going to happen overnight. But I'm fine with that as long as my kids are thriving.

  3. Amy, Change is a difficult thing, but this is one that you won't regret. You are right about the teen years flying by and I am so glad you are able to take this opportunity to spend quality time with your kids. You can't get this time in their lives back so I wish you all the blessing these years will bring to you and them! Looking forward to hearing more about your studio, Zentangle classes, and your full time live with teens. Hugs, Sue

  4. Oops...should say "full time life with teens".

  5. Thank you, Sue. I am so fortunate to have this option, and I want to make the most of it. Change is indeed hard for me--I used to embrace it, and now it just wears me out. But that's probably because I am a bit out of shape--something else I'll be working on! Thank you for your words of support. Hugs back!

  6. Amy what part of Tennessee are you in? I am in Chattanooga and would love to find someone eles around here that like to play with zentangles.

  7. Hello Karen,
    I am in Knoxville, so we are not too far apart.