This Summer required extra Weekend Therapy to unpack everything we went through the last two years. When it started, I was still feeling floored that we had shut down the year prior, let alone the ups and downs of the most recent school year.
So I took pictures, traveled a bit, walked around aimlessly, rode my bike, binged TV, obsessed over listened to true crime podcasts, hung out with the kids, talked to my counselor, and watercolored. I think it accomplished the goal of coming to terms with all of the transitions, and I felt ready to finally start to hope and plan for the year ahead…however unpredictable it might prove to be.
My own counselor is helping me realize that we often think of self-care like we can put rest in some reserve for later when our lives explode again. But alas, it’s not so easy! Self- care is an ongoing process, and in the down-time of summer I’m learning to use my energy to process the past, and develop sustainable self-care habits for the busy future.
Anywho, at the end of the day (or summer) I have a cautiously optimistic readiness for the school year and a big ol’ pile of photographic and art prints! I went the summer taking pictures of my watercolors and then gifting them to people who will find them meaningful. And after ordering some magical giclee prints, I’ve decided to motivate my self- care practice by starting to sell them!
More to come on this if I can ever for the life of me figure out the interwebs, but if the site looks a little different it will be a sign I’ve figured it out!
Five purchases later I have two 35mm Minoltas that actually work and I am OBSESSED! Despite weighing 10,000 lbs, I yanked those suckers all over the place with me this summer and I can’t be more happy with how my pictures are starting to turn out!
It take a second to develop (I don’t have a local lab so I’ve been using darkroom.com), but there is something really lovely to learn in taking pictures with a 35mm camera. You’re in this cool spot, with a cool shot, and looking through that viewfinder knowing that your picture may or may not turn out with these old broads. What does that mean? You are so much more involved in the picture because you also have to be present to remember the moment since there’s a good chance you might not get it back! Bless, you can take the hobby our of the, er, the counselor out of the–whatever, you know what I’m trying to say!
With practice, I can also tell that I’m improving on reading the exposure and aperture and focusing and whatnot. But guess what? No need for pressure because you have about three weeks to develop and check in on your progress. You either have to go with it or put the camera down.
This Summer was such a needed rest. I tried to really be conscious about allowing myself to process the crazy year behind and the uncertain school year ahead. The cameras were a perfect way to check my efforts and force me to slow down.
So here’s the deal: when your 19-year-old kid asks you to do some plant-related business with her, you don’t ask questions. As is true for many parents, we are in a new phase of kin bliss following the tumultuous years in which I thought my teen might be a sociopath my child was claiming her independence. After years of careful grooming, my daughter is in her first new place and has embraced my love of all things houseplants.
Being that making is my therapy, it has actually be a really awesome outlet for me to have a reason to craft plant-related things for our little endeavor. While I am the middle-born-flower-child, she is the first-born-rule-follower-turned-rule-maker, making us the perfect pair for a little entrepreneurship!
You can check us out on Facebook or Instagram if you’d like, under Plant Plug 757! In the meantime, I’m crafting up new plant-related goods with rope planter covers for the last few days of my Spring Break!
I’m participating in my second linocut print exchange! This one is inspired by a student from a couple of years ago. The title is 8th Grader, and I drew an image of her that haunts my mind often.
She would sleep on my office couch during times when her home was particularly unsettled. She had more life experience than me and taught me a lot about struggles that had previously felt so far away from my world- intense familial drug use at young ages, assault, generational prostitution, addiction, abuse, and the many things a family will go through to get by. I have unfortunately had many students who live in crisis, but her situation was a different universe of normalized trauma. She never disclosed these circumstances as complaints, they were peppered throughout our everyday communication. It was no different from other students who stop in daily to tell me about their relationship.
She disappeared to Florida, had said she would be fine once she could secure a financial set-up like her mom and the trucker. I think about her almost daily still. I miss being able to put eyes on my students to see that they’re still safe, or still there.
I returned to work last week, ready to tackle the last semester of the year. The first day back is often lacking a little energy with everyone break hangover so it’s always a nice catch up day in the Counselor’s Office, save a couple of years from leaving estranged and divorced parent visits and rapid enrollments for a clean cut. Luckily for me, my teachers are awesome and open to classroom visits right when we return (my last holiday gift for them to return to a little hold). These 8th graders are now entering the realization that they will be moving on to High School and making the big transition.
Having been on the 8th grade hallway a couple of times now, I’ve noticed that 2nd semester has this veil of docility to it. The students are really spending more time processing what is about to happen in their lives than talking! The lull is a double-edged sword though. Even though they’ve grown a lot, the quiet doesn’t mean the kids are magically matured into silence, it typically is a sight that they are FREAKING OUT. In fact, that becomes my leading question- “you’re feeling out. What’s up with that?” And they just nod and sniffle. A lot.
This transition is one of my favorite parts about working in Middle School. It’s biologically a changing tough time, and we get to act as bumpers to get them to their next phase in High School. I try to give them as much information about what they can expect, but the biggest thing I can do is teach them to be open to experiencing change and let go of trying to fight what they wish was true and just roll through what is.
I try to incorporate this into all of my interactions with students. From class choices, to friendship squabbles, to parental relationships, I remind students that they are always changing. “What were you like in 6th grade? Are you different?” Is always a go-to for them to remember that as time keeps moving so do they, and it’s ok to change.
Hello hello! It is still feeling like Summer here, but the bags under my eyes are a giveaway for September! What a great year start it has been too. A new school, New challenges, new kids, New team- and I have loved every second. I’m still missing my lovely and homey old school, but the change has helped me get over the ABANDONMENT of my newly high schooled babies. They are thriving, of course, but I still look for them in the hallways.
My latest blog post with the Free Spirit Publishing Blog is out! In this one we tackle young women and depression. Such an extremely dense topic, right?! As a kid observer and feminist, this topic hit close to home and I have so many opinions on it (the poor editor probably had to have a night-cap after sifting through my ranting!). The big message I wanted to send on young women and feelings in the eyes of society was this: just because it’s accepted, doesn’t mean it’s right. Take a look and let me know what you think!