Archive for the ‘retirement’ Category

Reflections….

SusanQuilt3I am attending a writing salon a couple of times a month to work more on my craft, as well as new work on book two. Here’s my reflection on the prompt “All in a Day’s Work.”

My days have an interesting new rhythm to them as I pass my fifth year of retirement from teaching. With hubby’s surgery this winter, art was put on hold in favor of surviving each day of recovery. Now, though, every waking hour is filled with planning, creating, discussing, making, ironing, marketing. The hats change by the hour. I will admit, however, I do not miss the multitude of Sundays filled with grading papers and  planning lessons over the 40 years of teaching.

Division of labor is taking a new turn. More of the online work of sales, mailings, and organization is going to hubby so I have time for significant creating and sewing. He is also creating on a more regular basis, as that is something in our partnership that he can do on his own – I get to do the clean-up while he admires the fabulous fabric he has created.

There are a lot of venues I need to handle, from pattern design to new website opportunities to all the sewing and finishing of art pieces. It can get very frustrating at times – at least once a day – as I want to take a break, but then I feel guilty that I’m not dealing with the myriad number of things. Actually I brought this on myself. Since we moved back to Vermont in May last year, we have been searching for marketing opportunities. Despite the time off for medical issues, we have been very successful at creating new opportunities for ourselves, and now we have a new problem – not enough artwork for all the opportunities.

I think the “day’s work” has an additional new meaning, aside from rhythm, as I am even more aware of a fixed income and the need to make funds last four to five weeks, depending on the fluctuating Social Security days. The “second Wednesday” can be anywhere from the 8th to the 14the of the month. This month is a perfect example – today is the 8th…SSI has to go 5 weeks.

Positivity seems to be my key to keeping anxiety attacks at bay. I send positive thoughts to the universe, write my monthly abundance checks, and plug away at the work. I understand art as a driving force, now that I have significant time unencumbered by the demands of the classroom. I create now because I want to, I have to….these pictures arrive in my mind and they need to be born and nurtured. I look at my calendar and smile at the blocks of unstructured time awaiting me and my machine.

What’s interesting is that I still feel guilty about taking time off to relax. When school was in session, I would be too exhausted to do anything for art, except in the summer months. Then it was two weeks to recover, a few weeks on vacation, and by the time I was in creative mode it was three weeks till school started again. I did some of my best work the first summer I didn’t have to work during the vacation, and I often think if I could have continued to create at that pace, I’d be further along in my art-making. It’s hard for me to take time to sit in a chair, enjoy the breezes, and read…or listen to music…or just be quietly by the water.

A friend went to teach in Vienna and at one of the professional development meetings the presenter gave everyone a 100 centimeter strip of paper. Take off the years on the lower end you have been alive. Tear off the years at the other end that represent average life expectancy. What you have remaining are your productive years. She wasn’t happy, as she was the oldest person in the group, and her strip of paper was pretty short. While it seems at times that 40 years of teaching has been forever, at the same time it seems like just yesterday I boarded a plane from Vermont to Maui and my first teaching job. Now I feel like I am just under 20 years to my goal, and I want to be as productive – as guilt-free with no regrets – as I can.

The other piece I’m seeing is that as the years dwindle down and the desire to create gets stronger and more unrelenting, the vision issues become major in my mind – and in reality. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the ‘what-ifs’, regardless of how hard I ry to stay occupied. When honest with myself, this is probably why I started writing again – the technology has improved so much that I will be able to do what I want with fiction without being able to see a keyboard.

I need every day to be productive…and I accept that that can mean I spent several hours enjoying a good book…or putting a computer jigsaw puzzle together…or walking the Charlotte Town Beach with my hubby – after sewing a fiber piece to canvas and adding a hanging system. My day’s work is enjoyable, exciting, and enviable.

Ramblings for the Month……..

Evening Moon

Evening Moon

Lots of thoughts kind of rambling through the head these days, main one is that my novel IS DONE!!! (Insert happy dance!) I’ve set up a page through webnode.com to talk about various items related to the politics within the novel, as well as things I’ve discovered in writing fiction. I’ll post it when I’m ready to reveal it for comments. In the meantime I have my last round of editing to do, and then it’s query letter to literary agents. I rethought the ending at least five times, and then I said start writing and see what happens – let the characters talk to me, like they have been doing the whole time.

Another activity has been planning and packing for our move back east. I need me my four seasons! Since I’m retired, I don’t have to go out in the bad weather! We will need to revise how we shop for food, as in the winter months we need to be prepared for days inside. This has all led me to thinking about places to travel in the winter. We may just hop Amtrak to come west during a cold January. I’ve started surfing, and I stumbled on this site on Costa Rica– a place on my bucket list! One look at this place and I’m ready to pack now! Give me the ocean, water I can admire, some unique things to do, and a great place to hang and I’m there!! Las Ventanas del Mar – the ocean view looks spectacular!

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The packing for this cross-country move has been interesting. We are downsizing even more from our previous local moves, planning on replacing some furniture when we find a new apartment. I realized my hutch wasn’t important, although I love it – it’s the mementos inside from years of being together. Today we donated tools, stationery, and other odds and ends to Live Theater Workshop, which has provided many years of enjoyable theater experiences. The best one to date has been “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) Revised.” Loads of laughs and great visual gags. All 39 plays in 90 minutes!

All the art stuff – books, supplies, finished pieces – that’s what is really important, and they will be packed about two weeks before the move. I don’t want to look at empty walls and not be near my sewing machine for too long. Which brings me to another thought – Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours. If you are going to be a professional and really great at something, you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice. I am so far from that! But I will say that the past year has definitely improved my free motion quilting and design skills with the amount of time I’ve been spending on my art. My days have settled in to a nice routine, and I no longer worry about keeping track of what I accomplish each year during retirement. Yoga, writing, sewing/quilting, sketching with pen and ink, walks – a very nice schedule!

 

Reflections on 2014

AQ7
First, I have finally realized, after nearly three years of yoga, that if you seriously approach a daily practice, you will see results. After two-plus years of farting around with yoga, I started to fight through the depression this fall and discovered that I was firming up, getting stronger, and seeing progress. Now I’m doing a daily practice of movement and then trying to incorporate some restorative yoga in the evening before bed. What a difference it is making in how I feel – and the fewer number of times I need to go to the chiropractor! My yoga instructor has been a blessing.

Second, better living through chemistry. After being convinced my depression was something else, like a whacked-out thyroid, I broke down and when to the psychiatric nurse-practitioner. My OB nurse practitioner and my endocrinologist wouldn’t give me a new prescription. In talking with him about the various meds I’d been on, turns out none of them were really a therapeutic dose – which is what happens when you don’t use someone trained in treating depression. I cannot get over how much better I feel – physically, emotionally, mentally.

Third, I don’t need lists, and I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. As an obsessive list-maker, I would brain-dump on a regular basis and then try and get as much accomplished as I could. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and so much of it was small stuff. What needs to get done does get done. I’m not holding myself to all kinds of goals like in the past. My days are settling into a very nice pattern of yoga, quilting, designing, and writing. I am content, which is a feeling that takes some getting used to.

Fourth, I will keep writing, whether it be the blog or essays or continuing with my series of novels. I’ve learned that writing fiction – and the editing process – is much different from nonfiction. I like pulling all plot pieces together, and it is my way of dealing with all the craziness in the country. Since I joined a weekly writer’s group – whose sole purpose is to write for two hours – I have realized just how productive I can be. While I’m looking forward to joining a critique group in Vermont, I see the need for a “writing for the sake of writing” group.

Fifth, I did enjoy the math consulting. It still pisses me off that people running that business didn’t do what needed to be done, like training new people and doing the needed marketing. I realized I don’t want to do much more than the occasional part-time gig in consulting, because I miss not having my time to myself. The first 4 months of the year were tough, as my projects got put on hold (I STILL don’t have the seasons pattern finished). I will look for more math tutoring in Vermont, but I won’t overdo it.

Sixth, I battled with my body for control of my health. This will be a continuing battle for me, but the cosmic two-by-four finally made a dent when it comes to losing the weight – pneumonia a second time, stomach issues, bad knees, torn ligaments – and a lot of these related to what I was and wasn’t eating. Health is my word for next year. Now that the mind is in better shape, the body is following behind. And the more yoga I do, the more I realize how much I need to do, if I am going to take care of my knees.

Seventh, I need to make a difference, one person at a time. So many little gestures to others this year made me realize I can influence another person’s day, and hopefully I can continue to make those little gestures that will help on a global level.

Good bye 2014 – you’ve been interesting!

More Random Ramblings…..

KathyNida Yes! One of my favorite art quilters actually does exist beyond a blog!!! Kathy NIda (long i, as I have been pronouncing it wrong all these many years) is an artist I have been following for well over a decade, and it’s not just because she uses our marbled fabrics in her art quilts. She is one seriously cool lady – and amazing teacher to boot. We finally were able to get together on our last trip to San Diego, as she was also on school break. What a fun two hours! Laughing, lamenting, giggling, telling stories, talking shop – a fabulous time was had by all. Even better, I got to see one of her works at Visions Art Museum, and by far the best in the exhibit, which I didn’t really care for, especially after having seen the exhibit of fiber at the Mingei (yes, Kathy, everyone is right – you MUST go see this show!). But it was so cool to see the actual art quilt up close and personal, as I am in awe of her technique. Here are a couple of photos shamelessly borrowed from her blog (kathynida.com).

Here’s the quilt being dried after a washing (something about pet hair….) – our fabric is the pavement. Second one is a closeup. I so loved seeing an actual quilt of hers, because her process is so intricate, and seeing in person how it all came together is fabulous.

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Now, about the exhibit at the Mingei at Balboa Park in San Diego – one of my favorite museums – the emphasis is on “every day objects,” and this time the exhibit was two brothers, William and Steven Ladd, who work with beads, fabric and boxes in developing labor intensive, meticulous and abstract work that expresses their shared memories of family life in Missouri. )from the website) While some of the work I didn’t “get,” I was in awe of their use of unusual materials. This is from their website, explaining their “towers.”

Towers
A Tower is a stack of approximately 24 hand sewn boxes placed into a specific configuration.  Towers are often constructed of fabric, found materials, and board.  Each box in the stack measures approximately 9” square and can be closed or open.  When all of the boxes are open, they are  laid out into a specific grid-like configuration.  Textiles and found objects are meticulously sewn into the boxes and often resemble organic structures such as trees.  The Tower originated as a convenient way to stack and store boxes of the brothers meticulously constructed objects.
Each Tower has a story attached to it that is rooted in Steven and William’s shared memories.  Volcano, 2008, explores memories of extreme exercise while sharing a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Explosive muscle building and marathon running evolved into forms that resemble volcanic structures.
Volcano, 2008
Archival board, fiber, beads, metal
Closed 13.25 x 19.875 x 18.875 in.
Open 39.75 x 19.875 x 8.5 in.
These are examples, and the top is a detail – needles, pins, metal ants, rolls tapes and biases….a feast for the eyes!
Ladd1
Ladd2
Ladd4
Ladd5
Ladd6

52 Sparks, Week 2 – Appreciation vs. Approval, Plus FMQ

 This week of 52 Sparks had a really interesting question that I pondered a bit. The question: How do you appreciate yourself? I had to think long and hard about this one. I think I was confusing appreciation with approval, and it took me the longest time over the years to not worry about family approval. I needed to start appreciating me for me, and what I did and succeeded at because I was pleased, not someone else…..kinda rambling, but I hope it makes sense.

Appreciation: I go for walks to think about what I’m doing, I take time off to read – some times days at a time to just immerse myself in some books. Mostly, though, I appreciate myself by giving myself free rein to make art. And with retirement, I am taking more time to appreciate what I’m learning and creating. In fact, three new commissions over this week. It is just so delightful to quilt away for hours (with the occasional back break) and see the progress.

That said, here’s what happened with art this week. Last time I had the stencil traced on to the green fabric in preparation for my first whole quilt. Now all I need to do is square it off and bind it. I LOVE IT!!!! I NEVER thought I would be able to free motion a whole cloth. Yay me!

So here they are – better pics when the binding is finished.

 All are Superior Threads, Bottom Line in bobbin, Silk Kimono in background, and Fantastic variegated in the design.

 

Reflections

It’s been an interesting time for reflection this last month, as it’s been an emotional roller coaster of a year. This time last year I was excited because I had decided to retire a year early, in May of 2012. Three semesters left felt do-able. However, I was also still stuck doing lesson plans every Sunday for most of the day. Yet I told myself it was better than the previous year, because I wasn’t spending as much time week nights marking papers, since I had an additional prep period each week.

Then came January 8 and the Tucson shootings. I had almost convinced hubby to go to the Congress on Your Corner, but by the time we were finished with his chiropractic appointment, it was too late to head over. There but for the grace of God…..Like most Tucsonans, we were glued to the television all day, through the NPR reports that Gabrielle Giffords had died to all the aftermath.

By Sunday afternoon I was working on the Art From the Heart website as a way of dealing with this tragedy. To date we’ve had artwork from 14 states, and some amazing artwork it is. President Obama came on Wednesday, and hubby and I sat transfixed in our living room, listening to his speech. On Friday I faced another challenge as a teacher – the Westboro Baptist Church had said it would boycott Christina Taylor-Green’s funeral, and then decided to boycott my high school instead for their ethnic studies program.

Here’s where I realized how much teachers are also first responders. It had been a hellish week, trying to get teenagers to understand what was going on, and how to respond in a nonviolent manner to a group like WBC. You can read about it here, here, here, and here.

Events like this make you really question so much about your life, especially when it appears to you to be a close call. The depression began to sneak up, slowly, and everything at school just became more intense. I began to think about leaving the classroom in May. After all, it had been 40 years. The end of February we attended some meetings with state retirement and made the decision that May 27 would be my last day as a teacher. That made me smile.

March and April are blurs pretty much, just existing and coping with the depression. I was reading on a blog by Dale Anne Potter about how positive she was and how many great things were happening to her. I emailed and got the information about Cocreating Our Reality and practicing the Law of Attraction. On May 1 I was determined to enter my first 100 days of this challenge being positive. You can read about that here. This really was the beginning of the turn-around for me. I finished school grinning from ear to ear during that last month, driving teachers I worked with crazy.

I wrote my Abundance checks with faith that everything would work. And it did. These seven months of retirement have been wonderful. Some health challenges, but hey, who hasn’t? The marbling business has picked up, great things are happening, and I’ve been able to create some new art. Two successful seasons of 100 days and working on the business – doing things – and creating art  that I hadn’t been able to do while teaching full time.

But December was a melancholy month for me, which was a change after the past six months. Some things weren’t right. The vision had gone in one eye, I had started a new set of 100-days, but the motivation wasn’t there. The weight issues got me down almost immediately. In retrospect I think it was the consumerism and blatant conspicuous consumption (yes, I know….redundancy….) that weighed on me. This led to some decisions to go a very different route next year with gifts – making donations in family’s names to nonprofits they support. Giving back, rather than giving to.

Along with that, the continued violence around us….it seemed like no matter where you turned or what you watched, there was violence all around. I can’t watch the news anymore, as I just get too upset. Movies and television shows are full of gratuitous violence. People are unkind, peace seems so far away, and our politicians – and those who are supposed to lead us – aren’t doing their jobs. I find everything about this country – and the world – to be so topsy-turvy. Nothing is right, we can’t seem to learn from our mistakes, and our country is lost in its original path. Part of me wishes to withdraw completely, and the other part of me wants to make the changes. I look ahead and see no hope…and 10 months of a VERY LONG election season.

So now it’s New Year’s Eve. I need to look ahead, as we are having some great things happen for us. We are making fabric like crazy, heading for an overnight at a king suite in a local hotel so we can do planning for the first quarter of 2012. Tutoring clients are coming in, finances seem to be assured, and we’re both feeling positive. I know there will be decisions ahead, as I think 2012 is going to be a pivotal year. But right now all I can do is all I can do.

Here’s wishing you and yours peace, happiness, and prosperity for this coming year – and whatever else you would like. Life is good, and we need to embrace it!

Day One, Season 3

  I chose my “Explosion” piece for today because that’s the kind of excitement I feel starting this new season three. Seasons one and two of Cocreating Our Reality were eye-opening and exciting, and for the last few days I have been building up to starting a new journey today. First, I am so blessed to be retired and able to work on art when and where I want to, for as long as I want to. I get to spend every day with my hubby, and life is pretty much wonderful. Health problems – of course, who doesn’t have them at our age. But – that’s not stopping me from living a great life.

I discovered over the last two seasons when it was time to evaluate my goals, that I hadn’t really stretched myself – or thought big enough. So I have been pondering that for the last week or so. What is it I actually want to do?

First and foremost, kind of came to me last night in the moments before sleep, is probably the one most on my mind. I need to take this season and concentrate on me. It sounds selfish, but it isn’t. I have health issues that really need to be addressed, and for so many years they went to the side as other things – students, work, hubby – took their place. If I expect to be as creative for as long as I want, and get out and be politically active, and write – do all the things I want to – than I need to focus on my health. So that is goal number one for this season: take the cholesterol medicine, take my vitamins, watch what I eat, get out regularly and exercise, track my food intake, get some yoga teachings, get my blood readings where they need to be. I actually started thinking this way a few days ago, and I’m pleased to say the exercise has already increased, as well as having a bit more control over appetite.

A second goal is tied in to all this. I am getting a second opinion on my vision issues and will work to find strategies to help with the depth perception and balance issues. A new doctor’s appointment is scheduled for next week Thursday, and I have a teacher friend to talk to about some basic yoga stretches. I always knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, I need to learn to work with the new limitations.

Overall, for the first time, these two goals seem very positive. One hundred days from now, March 10, I expect that I will have been enormously successful at these first two. That statement alone is a major change for me. It’s very positive, rather than using the word “try.”

Business-wise I have some very specific goals.

Number three in my list is to solve the newsletter/collectors’ information issue. I am, as was said to a friend of mine, “leaving money on the table.” This has to be a regular business goal. I am considering taking Alyson Stanfield’s “Cultivating Your Collectors” class in February. That will depend on a number of things, primarily finances. I am good at reading and implementing, and since I accomplished four of Alyson’s goals in I’d Rather Be in the Studio!, I should be able to accomplish at least three this new season. So: newsletter, portfolio (which we will need for a major event the end of March), and I will look through the list for at least one other. Newsletter once a month should be definitely do-able. A collectors’ newsletter once a quarter should be reasonable. I’m sure there will be others to add here.

Number four is searching out wholesale suppliers for cutting back basic costs of making marbled fabric. As of yesterday I have a new wholesale account with Kona Bay fabrics, as we use their colored cotton quite successfully. We are looking for wholesale sources for premium white cotton, silk/satin ribbon (like Offray), and probably some other materials.

Number five is ramping up our Etsy shop, our Fine Art America galleries, Cafe Press, and looking in to Red Bubble, Three Sisters, and at least one other online selling site. My overall goal in all this is to be able to update these sites once a week, as well as include items from these sites in our soon-to-happen newsletters. I’ve tried setting monetary goals for Etsy and Ebay, and they are very fickle, depending on the economy. I do tweet my Etsy and Ebay offerings once a week, which certainly drives traffic to the site, but I don’t see it converting. However, I know that it is only a matter of time, as is the case with this blog. I am about to hit 1500 viewers per month, so I know it is consistency. (Concerning the blog…when Facebook changed its latest set of operating, my blog numbers dropped. Turns out, on exploration, Networked Blogs was a casualty and needed to be reactivated. Once that happened, I saw numbers increase again…..I am amazed at how net-savvy we need to be these days!)

Art-wise I also have some very specific goals.

Number six is to enter a major show with new work. The deadline for this is mid-February, and I am already hard at work on the first of two pieces. The fabric has been created, and the ideas are flowing. Here’s just some of the fabric…..

Unpolished red satin

If I get accepted, great. If not, I will have two new lovely large art pieces for our body of work. But I am putting out to the Universe that this will be show-worthy art.

Number seven is to create the kit for Marbled Seasons. Yesterday’s blog post showed the first of the four small quilts/table runners. I used to have several patterns, all of which I sold the rights to. So I just need to make more. For this goal I want this set of kits completed, and two new ideas for pattern kits, plus a rewrite of my Polynomial Quilt pattern – which I used the quilts for that very successfully in an adult algebra class to teach multiplying, and it was highly successful.

Number eight is to be completely prepared – except for minor loose ends – by March 10, for StashFest at the La Conner Quilt Museum in La Conner, Washington. We have been invited to participate, and it means marbling about 400 fat quarters in the next three months…..another reason for looking carefully at wholesale outlets! This is an interesting goal, because after our last guild presentation, I put out to the universe that it would be fun to travel and do demos in the Southern Arizona, southern New Mexico area. Well, two days later I had this email…..as Dale Anne Potter, my muse with Law of Attraction said, I was open to the possibilities.

Number nine will build on the previous. Develop a letter/sample to go to local guilds for demos and classes. I think just the development at this stage, because we will be focused on making fabric for Washington.

Number ten, under the category of Miscellaneous, comes continuing to work on Art From the Heart, a site devoted to spreading peace and nonviolence in the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. We had two new entries this last month, and I am hopeful for more.

Now that I have these written, I have to chuckle in that I was concerned about trying to get my goals coherent for this season. These are more detailed than the past two seasons, and they will certainly stretch me.

So Day One – I’m going to sew, work on some lists, and get ready for a small craft event on Saturday. Plus, it’s the holidays, and I want to “do more good” this year on a daily basis. May you have a really awesome day!

Plans for the New Year


I realized that I ended Season Two of Cocreating Our Reality on November 19. I have been so busy sewing and working on projects – and being positive – that the day went by. December 1 is coming this week, and I’m planning to start Season 3 that day. One thing I have learned is to try to be more specific with my goals, and yet not limit myself within the goals. I also need more goals, both creatively and business-wise.

So how did I do?

* Enjoy life through a couple of trips and dinners/other social engagements with friends: San Diego, Austin, Houston, New Orleans. Absolutely! We went to Sedona in July, San Diego in August, Santa Fe in September, Sedona in October, and Prescott in November. We are planning to head to San Diego in two weeks. Obviously a new goal is going to be continuing to get a trip in a month – in fact, TWO are scheduled for March.

* Finish “Artists Revisited” class, complete with the new quilt. Finished the class, the quilt is probably half done, and it is now awaiting sometime in late spring to finish it – there are two major pieces I am attacking for a show deadline in mid-February.

* Help with Tikkun Olam show at the Jewish Community Center. The show was very nicely staged. Didn’t sell anything, but had a lot of really good feedback.

* Plan for additional income each month through the business; the goal is to beat the previous month (August should beat July, and so on). We are marbling more often – at least twice a month – and generally selling all the fabric. Etsy has picked up, and a few other things are working, including a commission for 31 fat quarters. We have far exceeded what we did for income in all of last year, so we should end the year in very good shape.

* Take three tutoring clients in mathematics. Instead I accepted a position teaching college algebra one afternoon a week – 4 hours, plus prep time. About the same amount of additional time, and about the same amount of money. Way easier on the travel and schedule.

* Update<a href=”http://artfromtheheart.org” target=”_blank”> Art from the Heart</a> website and make plans for entries for the first anniversary of the Tucson shootings. Three new works of art have already been added, and more people are  beginning to talk about the site.

* Sewing projects: Tikkun Olam, Wayne Art Center, Betty’s commission, small rhythm piece, fish quilt redone, deer quilt finished, three additional quilt projects to be determined. No Wayne Art Center. Most of Betty’s commission is completed, the rhythm piece done, the fish quilt completed, the deer quilt finished, and three projects have been determined, all of which have been started.

* Complete the first three action plans in <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>I’d Rather Be In the Studio</span> by Alyson Stanfield. In fact, I did four. I need to attack the portfolio goal over these next 100 days, as well as get in gear on newsletters.

* Maintain goals through the Multiple Streams of Income class and set new 90-day goals. Did this – will set the new goals through Season 3.

* Market the gift basket through Marble-T Design and sell at least four. We’ve sold 3 so far, so good on us! We’ve got stuff for two more ready to go.

* Break 200 pounds. Did not come close. In fact, I have yet to step on the scale, which I will do tomorrow, as I really begin to attack this. What I noticed is that I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this, and nothing has happened that is positive. So I obviously need to rethink how I look at this. I am going on more than half my life being overweight, and something has to change. Either I accept myself as I am now, or I change into what I want to be. More meditation, a diet “sponsor,” a food diary, regular walking, and some journaling are on the list.

I do like being able to see concretely what has been happening. That’s one of the reasons I like the blogging. This is a definite way for me to keep myself accountable.

One goal so far for the new season: the Free Motion Quilting Challenge, which will begin in January. I’ve got lots of other ideas, so I need to get things finalized for the start on Thursday, December 1.

Suggestions?

Working on Goals – Revisited

  Retirement is amazing – all the time to create art and work on the art business.I’m very busy, one one of the things I let go was the notion of substitute teaching during retirement. Nope, don’t want to lose a day to the classroom and grief when I can be making art.

Spending the money to redo the studio was an excellent investment. It means we’re serious, plus the studio is so inviting – we WANT to be in there all the time. And once I started adding fresh flowers to the studio – well, the feng shui has been very conducive to creating.

I am certainly getting things done, but what I am finding is that I need to move to getting larger chunks of a goal done within a few days, rather than dragging it out over a couple of weeks, with just doing a piece here and there. I need to get it off my list, and I think this will work.

That said, one of my goals for this 100 days is three of the action plans in Alyson Stanfield‘s I’d Rather Be in the Studio! So as I was looking over Action Plan 1, I realized I have done pieces of this before, but not with these particular questions. I’ve looked at my target audience, my ideal customer, I’ve looked at overall goals, but never really defined success itself.

So that’s my task today. Alyson lists 20 areas to ruminate on concerning how you visualize success.

* Production of art: I want to make at least three major pieces (Gaia weavings) a year; spend time each week in the studio revising, finishing, working on at least a dozen smaller pieces. So far for this second half of the year, I think I am on track – I already have three smaller pieces just about completed, and one new major weaving sketched out.

* Quality of artwork: It’s very important to me, now that I have the time, to take some art classes, primarily studio art as opposed to art history (which I still would like to do). I want my work to be excellent and gallery-ready. I may still pursue a couple of show venues, but that’s not as important to me as it was. I want to continue to learn new techniques to include in new artwork. Both hubby and I are really looking to improve our marbling skills.

* Exhibition venues: As I said, not as important to me to enter juried shows. I want to find a couple of galleries to carry my work, beyond the website. I am entering a local show (not juried) for the possible connections, as well as seeing if I can make what is in my mind actually happen in the piece.

* Teaching venues and opportunities: hmmm, possibly, but not at this moment. I’ve done a number of local gigs over the years, but never really went prepared with stuff to sell. Maybe something to consider after I have all the other business pieces in place.

* Travel: oh, yeah, and not necessarily for business (but we always visit galleries). I want to get at least one big trip in each year. We always visit museums and galleries, so outlets for our work, as well as new ideas, are always part of our travel. We even have promo literature to take with us.

* Home, Studio, Environment: The studio makeover was critical, and it will more than pay for itself in productivity. We’re happy with our apartment and locale, although eventually we will move East again.

* Spirituality: I am practicing the principles of the Laws of Attraction and Abundance and I have been extremely pleased with my whole attitude change. I am reading Native Wisdom for White Minds by Anne Wilson Shaef, as I love the saying of our indigenous people around the world. And nothing beats standing and wondering at some amazing site in nature.

 * Health: major goal here, as I want to be around for a long time. I am taking steps to do what I need to, and hopefully with this 100 days I will see some good success.

* Leadership Roles: kinda done with this. That’s why I retired. I’m leading myself to success.

* Published Work: hmmmm. Something to think about, just not sure how I can turn the marbling into a successful book. Seems like the books that have been written about marbling and projects haven’t lasted long. And I’m not sure I want the pressure and deadlines of a book contract. Been there, done that.

* Visits to the website and blog: Numbers for the blog have been steadily increasing since I got back to blogging. The website has stayed pretty static, but I am not doing significant marketing on that yet. I’ve done some small revisions on the website, I still need to add new work, and I need to think through the purpose of the website. I want to see the blog traffic translate into sales.

* Subscribers to the newsletter: I am so lacking in this. I thought I had it under control last summer, but school hit and my time was no longer my own. I have signed up with Mail Chimp and am busy importing the addresses of subscribers so far. I want a schedule of every three weeks, but I need to spend time seriously looking at the content for the newsletter, plus be VERY prepared for this year’s holiday season.

* Social Media  connections: you can read about this progress on tomorrow’s blog. The only thing I haven’t seemed to master dealing with is Twitter.

* Sales of my book: Nope, but I’m going to change “book” to “patterns.” This is an area for long-term development. Two quilt patterns art in progress, and I need to refine my Polynomial Quilt pattern.

* Sales of my art: Definitely a big goal. I want our art business to help provide for travel in retirement. My immediate two-year goal is $1000 a month from the business.

* Grants received: another hmmm. Something to think about on down the future. I do have experience writing grants, so on down the road I will look at this.

* Articles by me: I did get paid abut 4 years ago for a series of articles on a quilting site. This will go on the long-term list of things to explore, as I do enjoy writing.

* Commissions: just finished my first big one, and I certainly want more. To this end I need to develop and promote my contacts and collectors lists. I need to put on the long-term list to check with the local and state  arts council for both grants and commissions.

* Public or private collections: not quite sure about this – something to think about.

* Licensing: this is a major one, and I have already identified some collections. I need to begin fleshing these out till I have at least 10 developed, and then I’m going looking for an agent.

* Volunteer work: I added this one, as I want to donate time and art to a local organization called Ben’s Bells. Very worthy, and I want to help. Also, I want to continue the work for Art from the Heart (see top right of this page) to help promote peace.

If all of this intrigues you, you can pick up Alyson‘s book. WELL WORTH the investment in yourself and your art.

 

 

 

 

 

100 Day Challenge – Season 1

Monday was the 100th day of Season 1 in the Cocreating Our Reality Challenge to practice the Law of Attraction and Abundance and bring more into your life. It has been a pretty amazing 100 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have been more than converted to positive thinking and goal-setting for what we would like to attract into our lives.

I started by setting some goals. I really gave some thought to these, as I tend to blow off this part of an exercise. What I have realized as these 100 days went by is that I dreamed too small. I am now thinking about a new set of goals for these next 100 days and Season 2, and I want to think bigger – I WILL think bigger.

The goals for the first season:

Order storage and redesign the apartment for better creativity and “flowing” work space; well, I redesigned the studio and spent money to buy better storage. The difference is amazing – more productivity, better sense of energy flow through the space, everything has its place, and I am more productive. In fact, I have an organized marketing notebook that seems to be working to guide me through what I want to accomplish.

Break 200 pounds by August 8; hasn’t happened. I have spent more time working on being positive about my body image and what I really want to accomplish with this goal. I am trying to be positive. I have spent over half my life overweight, and I am not expecting miracles, but I know healthwise this has to happen. So I need to get rid of the negativity in that last sentence and expect miracles. I KNOW I can do this.

Dream/think regularly about money coming to me; this took a while for me to work on. I am not used to thinking about money coming to me all the time. Usually it’s about how I need to have enough money to pay the bills. This is a major mental change. And there is money in the bank, the bills are paid, and two trips are planned. That Law of Abundance check only took one month for me to see how it works. I am hooked on those checks. I also am learning to recognize when my thinking is somewhat pessimistic about money, and I am trying to change that vibration.

Set up tutoring goals; I updated my Linked In profile to reflect the tutoring, and I have had business cards made, as well as asked for some recommendations for my skills from Linked In. I have been putting off a brochure, primarily because school is just now starting. I have realized that I am not at all enthused about either substitute teaching or even tutoring because it would take away from my time on my other pursuits. Definitely no subbing in the future for me, but I need to rethink the tutoring.

Plan my life after teaching (retirement); this is working very well. I have had to change my sleep schedule since I don’t need so much sleep, which has been challenging. I am marketing, sewing, designed, taking art classes, reading – all the things I said I wanted to do.

Get back to blogging on a regular basis;  I’m doing this pretty successfully on this blog, not so much with the art blog and the weight loss blog. But the focus for all of this is to build the art business to help support retirement (which seems to be happening), so I am focusing on this blog. The numbers have grown from just over 500 in June to over 800 for the last 30 days. Definite progress.

Make conscious plans and activities to work for peace. This has to become a priority for the next 100 days. I haven’t done anything this season, but I have been thinking about what I want to do. Now I have to implement the plans.

NEXT SEASON’S CHALLENGE GOALS, starting Monday, August 15 and ending November 19:

Break 200 pounds.

Enjoy life through a couple of trips and dinners/other social engagements with friends: San Diego, Austin, Houston, New Orleans.

Finish “Artists Revisited” class, complete with the new quilt.

Help with Tikkun Olam show at the Jewish Community Center.

Plan for additional income each month through the business; the goal is to beat the previous month (August should beat July, and so on).

Take three tutoring clients in mathematics.

Update Art from the Heart website and make plans for entries for the first anniversary of the Tucson shootings.

Sewing projects: Tikkun Olam, Wayne Art Center, Betty’s commission, small rhythm piece, fish quilt redone, deer quilt finished, three additional quilt projects to be determined.

Complete the first three action plans in I’d Rather Be In the Studio by Alyson Stanfield.

Maintain goals through the Multiple Streams of Income class and set new 90-day goals.

Market the gift basket through Marble-T Design and sell at least four.

And so it goes……

 

 

 

10 Things I WILL Miss About Teaching

While retiring is going to be a joy, there are definitely some things I am going to miss about teaching. So here goes:

1. The Kids. Even the class from H*** this year had its good moments. The kids keep me young, they keep me laughing, and they’ll believe just about anything you tell them. Case in point: Nicole a year ago asking me where zombies go when they die. Despite my trying to get across to her that zombies don’t exist, she kept asking, saying “Hypothetically.” So I finally answered “They go to algebra heaven.” And she was fine with that answer.

2. The challenge of teaching so many different subjects and learning so many new things. Over the years it’s been high school American History, AP US History, psychology, literature and writing, grammar, earth science, basic math, middle school social studies, elementary gifted programs, middle school math, and finally high school math. I’m a walking Jeopardy board.

3. Mathematics, particularly algebra and geometry. After some dismal experiences in high school, I have relished understanding the ins and outs of algebra and geometry, and I will miss the opportunity to continue to improve my explanations of how algebra really works.

4. The Kids. I am in touch through Facebook with so many former students, and I just love watching them grow and have families.

5. Student theater. I did this for 15 years, thanks to one of my first mentors, Sue Ann Loudon. From Carousel to Oliver to Music Man to Peter Pan and numerous small plays in between, I loved every moment, and I have the pictures and tapes to prove it. But that’s a job for someone much younger.

6. Conferences, especially when paid for by the school districts. I loved my time with the art partnership with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. A great time at the ASCD conference both in Baltimore and Anaheim – and if the principal had approved our plan for taking kids to the Getty, so many more would have benefited. To think it all started with the National Association of Gifted and Talented in Portland, and included being in DC the night of – and day after – the 2000 election for the International Dyslexia Conference.

7. The creativity of planning a successful lesson. When it goes right, there’s nothing better.

8. Being “on stage” and having a good time with the kids during lessons. There’s all the voices and chants and little dance moves, the quadratic formula to the tune of Jingle Bells, and all the videos.

9. The “Big Projects.” All the plays, World Peace Day in April 1972, Model UN in 1973, the Shakespeare Festivals with 150 kids, the Learning Lab, and many more.

10. The Kids and making a difference in their lives. It took me a long time to realize that this is what I was meant to do.

10 Things I WILL NOT Miss About Teaching….

I will no doubt spend some time in reflection over these last 40 years in some form of public education. I found an interesting editorial I had written about 8 years ago that I will probably recreate here. Mostly this week it’s been about things I am not going to miss.

1. Short lunch periods. Some of the schools I’ve been in had 20-minute lunch periods, which makes it tough to have any kind of a leisurely lunch, especially when you factor in having to use the bathroom and set up for the next class after lunch. I still eat fast at lunch; it’ll be a hard habit to break!

2. Lack of accountability on all parts. Teachers – there are so many in the profession who shouldn’t be there. I find myself at times taking shortcuts just to survive the daily grind, and I lose sleep over it. Students who do not take responsibility for their work and behavior. Parents who let kids get away with anything they want. Makes me scared for the future….

3. Spending most of Sunday doing lesson plans and marking papers for the coming week. I don’t see myself getting depressed anymore on Sundays, trying to get ready for the week and resenting upwards of 8 hours spent on paperwork and lesson plans.

4. The next “new thing” – everything old is new again….Professional development, for the most part. If I had stayed, I would be taking Essential Elements of Instruction for the third time in my career – doesn’t matter that I can prove I have taken it already, and that I use the information when I plan classes. I am also spared Restorative Practices and Circles……

5. “Teenage drama.” Especially from the girls. Oy, teenage girls and cat fights and gossip. Perhaps not as bad as middle school level, but I have to keep telling myself the frontal lobe is not completely developed…..

6. Sagging pants on the boys. Do you realize just how stupid we think you look? And grabbing your crotch to hold your pants up makes you look even more like an idiot….

7. NCLB – good ole No Child Left Behind, that has managed to remove any joy from learning completely. I can prepare kids to pass tests with the best of them, but that isn’t an education.

8. Bathroom on a bell schedule. I gotta tell ya, bathroom breaks with 90 minute classes? No wonder teachers don’t get all the water they need in a day. If we save it till we get home in the late afternoon, then we’re up several times at night.

9. Unresponsive school districts and wacko state legislatures (yes, Arizona, I’m talking about you…). This is the worst time in my career for teacher-bashing. I’m tired of no support, large class sizes, out-of-date technology, especially when we are evaluated on how we use the technology.

10. Whining students. No more “do we have to?”, “that’s too much work,” “I didn’t do it” and ad nauseum.

Ah, retirement!

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