Friday, January 30, 2009


Another week down. I look forward to each weekend with great expectation but I fear I am wishing my life away when I should be enjoying each day for its special blessings.

As a young girl I used to think "when I am a teenager I will be grown and then my life will begin".

Then as a teenager I thought "when I get married then I will really be an adult and my life will be perfect".

The years rolled by and I married and became a young wife and I thought "when I have children then my life will be complete".

Then as a wife and young mother I thought "when I can have a house of my own with enough room for my children to run and play and have their own space then my life will be easier and I will be content".

Then as a home owner, wife and mother I thought "when the children are grown and married I will have my life back again and have time to do all the things I have put off doing".

Then my children grew, married and I had everything I could ever dream of including a job with responsibilities and then I thought "Saturday will be wonderful. I can clean out my crowded closets, wash my many clothes, organize my over crowded pantry and start a new painting, watch an old movie on TCM and read that book I have so little time to read, visit with my children, grandchildren and family and find time to go shop for groceries."

And it was not so....
but it is good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Looking Pretty

Today as I stepped outside of my classroom into the outside world one of my students called out to me from nearby, "Hi, Mrs. Royal. You sure look good today."

Now...I am no dummy!

This was afternoon and I know I look tired and the hair that I have severely pulled back this morning is now trying to make an escape from the combs that are holding it back. The wiry gray hairs that I can no longer deny are popping out all over my head, the lipstick is long gone with nothing but a faint smile left over, I am still carrying the extra weight from the past year and my clothes are no prettier today than they were last week when I wore them. So how do you explain the random compliment?

I am the teacher; he is the student.

But nonetheless, it brought a smile to my face, reminded me of my own children when they were young and cute....still are cute...not so young anymore (sorry, kids). My baby turned 30 this past November. My oldest grandchild will be eleven this year! Whoa!

When Caleb was just three or four he saw his grandmother returning home from a day teaching first graders. From across the parking area he yelled out to her, "Grandma, you look so pretty today!"

What a charmer! By the way, he is still working his charms on the older ladies and at least one young one!

But that aside, it also brings to mind my experiences as a high school student. I was taking freshman English with Mrs. Groce, who unfortunately possessed the sharpest nose I had ever seen which in my opinion on first encounter made her pretty weird looking. Looking back now I realize that she must have been a fairly young woman at that time. I don't remember much about her class but I do remember that by the time the year ended I loved her and thought she was one of the most beautiful women I knew without even considering her actual features.

Truly when you love someone you view their heart, the inner beauty of a person shines through...the reverse can also be true.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Art of Boredom

Years ago a friend of mine , the mother of five or six children each about 2 years apart made the comment that sometimes she loved to sit and listen to the clock tick. We all laughed when she said it as if we all understood exactly what she meant but as the years have gone by and our lives became hectic I began to understand that statement on a completely different level.

There is something magical about listening to the clock tick. Something comforting....comfortable....calming....a music all it's own.

The fear of boredom is epidemic among my students and it spreads among them as fast as the news of the latest fight in the hallways. The kids are selling this attitude to the parents who are clamoring to keep the kids occupied with every minute of their awake time.

I used to take it as a personal insult when a student of mine would look up at me with dull eyes and state "I'm bored". The first year of teaching I worked to make activities more fun, gave them more choices, tried to keep them more involved and worried over it all. But soon I began to notice it had nothing to do with me or the activity at hand but rather the student himself. I can still remember the worst of those students who complained of boredom with a vengeance. There was something lacking in them....the ability to find contentment in the absence of entertainment, or the twiddling of fingers or ....the doodling in their minds...they lacked creativity! Now I smile as I give them my pat answer to "I'm bored." and say, "you bring that with you. It is up to you to learn how to deal with that." There is something special in the quiet moments of the day that allow you to stop and reflect on the day, or let you mind just go blank and use your eyes and ears to communicate with you or let your imagination run wild. There is nothing to be feared that is for sure.

I was sent a link recently that expresses just those ideas. I hope all you mothers, grandmothers and teachers out there will stop and read the articles linked below in the quiet moments of your day. It may help you to raise more creative, happier children.
The Blessing of Boredom (Click on Title)
And don't neglect reading this one either.
The Joy of Boredom. (Click on Title)

I hope today you find time to cherish the moments you can sit and relax while you listen to the sounds of nature, children talking in the distance, laughter.....the ticking of the clock.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Teaching the Arts

It is a quiet morning...the end of the first week back at school (after the holidays) which must be the longest week in the history of education!

I pray every morning that I can get through to my students, inspire them to learn, bring out the genius in them, all while they behave themselves in an appropriate way. Even so sometimes teaching art to a large group of high schoolers is like herding a bunch of cats while a bunch of chimpanzees are loose among them .

Now that most of the boys tower above me and whose voices are deeper and louder than mine it is a most challenging job for an old woman which I think I have become (most assuredly I am to them whether I am or not). For the most part I am very pleased with my students but every now and then there will be one or two who want to buck the system and have to be exterminated.....I mean....ah, dealt with. But nonetheless I have students whose art works are turning out to be wonderful. I would like to share some of their work with you so you can see what students are doing in their classrooms when they put their minds to it and sometimes while they are not but happy accidents will happen and a persistent art teacher is usually present keeping in mind that sanity is not always necessary when teaching art. These are unfinished works so if there is a large blank space it is probably just the area that they have not gotten to and the white of the paper is showing through. As they become finished I will post them again so you can see the final results. (Actually, by teaching I am helping keep Caleb in business because when they finish their work the parents are so proud of their darlin's they rush down to Caleb's shop and have it framed. Yeah!)

Art I students are working with collage. Collage being the use of found materials like magazines and advertisments. My students have been instructed to tear up the magazine pages into little pieces and glue them into place. This is a challenging project because it requires searching for pages with the color you need and then merging the little pieces together in such as way that it gradually changes the values as is necessary. And since my budget that has not seen an increase in the last sixteen years although the enrollment has more than doubled and class size increased by 10 students on average recycling is not just environmentally responsible it has become necessary.
The following pictures are all art I students work and the last picture is a close up of the one before it so you can see how the artwork is created.

Roosters Zebra

Parrots Waterlily Detail of Waterlily Below

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Lake of Expectations

I dreamed a dream.

It was a well lit evening with the wash of color across the evening sky, just the remnants of the evening sunset and there we were, the family I knew as a child running around playing and the sounds of laughter and people talking in the distance . And Clint as he was before the accident crippled him for life and I fishing in the Lake of Expectations that mirrored the wash of color from the skys. Occasionally we would glimpse movement below the surface. Our lines danced out onto the surface of the water and back again in rhythmic movements time and again fishing on the surface with us just enjoying the moment.

Suddenly Gary, the child as he was before his accident was beside me saying,
"We are leaving now. I need my turkey you stored for me in your freezer."

And there was the car loaded with all of the family members smiling, laughing and waving goodbye, ready for the journey.....I handed Gary the package I had stored in the heart of my freezer for him and cried and said it was too soon to go, please stay a little longer. But they couldn't and all smiles and waves left me filled with happiness and sadness all merged into one,
standing there next to the edge of the Lake of Expectations watching them drive away.

Life is short.
Our lives are all rolled up, intertwined with each others, the past, the present, the living and the dead, the healthy and the lame.....
Suddenly the time has passed and we are looking back on days gone by.
Days roll into years and years into decades.
The fairness of this life is that equally none of us have any guarantees, any assurances of more....all we have is the moment we are in. Like the cup we choose for our morning coffee. We pick up a cup thinking it is a perfect cup for the occasion and we begin to fill and then we see that it has some flaws, a little crack in the lip, a little chip out of the inside of the handle that rubs my finger just so it causes a little irritation but not enough to stop me from drinking. I add whatever I choose, sometimes, it tastes a little bitter and sometimes, it is sweet but it still gives me a little buzz when I drink it.

So at the start of this new year consider the moment.
Make it count.

Love others,
Smile at strangers,
Give assistant to someone who needs it as you see it.
Make time to see those you love,
Say the words "I love you".
Be a reflection of Christ,
Choose to be the person you know lives in your heart.

Happy New Year!