A friend who is struggling with health issues sent me an email saying she had spent a sleepless night up rocking and asked for my reflections on rocking. Upon my first reading I set this question aside not sure how to answer. This was one email among 225 emails waiting for me after a week away taking my son all the way across the country to college at Penn. While I was away my beloved dad ended up in the emergency room and resulting in a pace maker procedure, this all converged on my fifty-second birthday – my feelings were so balled up – full of worry and concern and unknowing. That is all to say that when I first looked at the email about rocking I couldn’t see how to connect with the query, I had other things to think about. A couple of days later I returned to the email and the following spilled out and I think it has everything to do with enduring, and worry and being and comfort and all the things that make this human journey rich and hard. So for your reflection here is my answer to that email:
The rocking chair for me has always been a comfort zone, from my own childhood sitting on my grandma’s lap she rocking and reading the old oak chair creaking on the wooden floorboards it has been a comfort, a prayer. I have that same chair in my home now rockers resting on the wooden floor. When I had a crying baby my own mama taught me to sit in that chair with my babe and rock and count to one hundred because you can do anything for that long and if the babe is still crying then you start counting to a hundred again because you can do anything for that long. Now I have no babe to rock but my own self needs rocking sometimes and the rocking chair and my mothers simple wisdom come back to me sit and rock and count because you can do anything for that long and then the counting and the rocking clears the mind and opens the heart and you really can do anything you can face anything receive anything be open to anything both great and small, wondrous and worrisome and wearisome. A deep creak, creak, creak like a heart beat like a breath, solid and real something to hold on to something to count on…. one, two, three, four….
PS My father’s pacemaker procedure worked wonderfully and he headed home Tuesday reportedly pinker than he has been in some time and ready to rock and roll. My son is thrilled and thriving in his first week at Penn – it was hard to leave him on the east coast but not hard at all to feel the thrill and joy he exuded as he launched into the solo adventure.
The School year is beginning to wind down here in the west where school starts in mid August and ends in late May. My whole life I have been tied to a school schedule. My father was a teacher and school administrator and I am a teacher and parent so to me summer means – change of pace, a chance to breathe. I am deeply involved with one week of summer camp here at the Ranch but other than that I float around the edges, and that’s fine with me. It still annoys me a bit that my husband’s pace doesn’t slow during summer and in fact gets more intense but after 18 years of conflicting schedules I have just begun to find my own way. I like the way that working in schools gives a natural beginning and ending each year with space for reflection, and with the new school year a new beginning a new chance to create and inspire. This year is particularly poignant as the beginning of a very big ending is barreling my way. My only child will graduate from high school in a couple of weeks; he’ll spend the summer with working and hanging with friends then off to college on the east coast in the fall. I look to the beginning of the end with a mix of joy and sadness. I’ll miss my sweet boy in my life everyday but I am thrilled for his adventure ahead. And while part of me grieves for this ending another part rejoices for the beginning of a beginning that is just ahead. Now I’ll be an empty nester! What will I do with this new identity? I feel a strong urge to step out into something new as I launch my son I want to launch myself. For practical reasons I still need to work my two jobs as elementary art teacher in Healdsburg and resident artist at The Bishop’s Ranch but there is an itch to branch out.
I have set my sights on a new form of teaching. I am developing a online class that I hope to offer by mid to late July. The first class will be a basic introduction to the ArtRage app that I have been using for much of my art this past year, and then I intend to develop some art journaling classes using the app. I took an online class from Jane LaFazio, who is a remarkably prolific art journal and mix media artist and teacher extraordinaire (Jane’s Blog), I took her introduction to watercolor art journaling class and used my iPad instead of traditional medium to see how that felt and to get some inspiration and tips (the shoe painting is from that class). I found it immensely helpful, and am working hard this summer to get my own classes launched so let me know what you think and any online class suggestions you might have would be lovely. I’m going to try to get back on the weekly or more blog posting pony… thanks for coming with me on the ride as I approach some awesome endings and beginnings I’m glad you’re out there.