An Overdue Thanks to My Elementary Art Teacher

My sixth grade art teacher told me to pursue art, but I was more interested in math, science and sports. Sixth grade though was one of my life’s pivotal years; why? At the end of the year a boy received the “Analytical Math” award and I only received a “Math” award. I felt it was indicating a boy was better at thinking through a math problem. I won a math award without the word “analytical”. Hmmm… yet through grades 7 – 9, I had female math teachers. I continued my love of math while truly falling in love with science. Eventually I pursue teaching grades 7 – 9 science! Sports took center stage then in my young life too with basketball and tennis. Art was not anywhere in my head.

At college, I pursued science and sports, but needed two of three electives: theater, music and/or art. I completed the music requirement. After signing up for art I discovered I would need more than $100 worth of supplies. Yikes, I did not have the financial resources to make it happen, so I took theater. I did doodle and sketch at various times in my life… I played Varsity basketball and 4 years of field hockey which was an amazing experience!

Recently though, I remembered my sixth grade art teacher encouraging me to pursue art so many years ago. What is that ….60 years ago … and I am just now getting around to spending art time!?! My pandemic-created activity of birdwatching and bird photography prompted my interest in knowing what a bird looks. Thus my sketching began. Often receiving eBird info from Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, I would see nature journaling, sketching, and watercolor and acrylic painting on-line classes being offered. So I took some of the classes and realized I was able to learn more about my own sketching and painting ability. 

I am unsure how long I will continue with my art work, but at this time I really hope to at least express my gratitude for the art teacher who did make a statement, so many years ago, for me to pursue art. As a retired educator, I know those statements from teacher to student are powerful. No doubt this art teacher said the same to others and they did indeed follow their art in a more timely manner than me …  yet that is the power of a teacher’s influence! So thank you to my sixth grade art teacher! Thank you to all educators encouraging others to do their best and/or to try new activities … those nudges can make huge differences in ones life.

Have you nudged anyone recently? It need not only be a school teacher as we are all teachers one way or another! So nudge someone you think could benefit from a nudge!

My sketch of an ovenbird as seen in a magazine.

Americans, What Road Will You Travel?

With oaths taken by Mr Biden and Ms Harris, to begin their term as President and Vice-President of the United States today, the time has come for all Americans to educate ourselves about numerous issues and to communicate to our elected officials the importance of solutions and needed productive action! It’s not just about the pandemic and needed vaccines distributed, but also undoing some of the past executive orders that put many people and our environment on the wrong track. It’s about providing accurate, honest information no matter the topic, unity and progressive action in our country’s democratic ideals, and caring and supporting each other equally in all dimensions of life.

We as Americans have a long road ahead in reaching the wanted and needed goals. Our standing in the world has been tarnished and sure to be a subject of discussion among fellow travelers when tourism returns to places around the world. Our global environment requires our participation in climate issues and assurance that all countries around the world receive vaccines for the current pandemic. Hunger, loss of businesses, jobs and homes for so many people will need a robust economic recovery to address these needs. None of these issues will be solved overnight, but productive action must begin. We need to be aware of the details so we can participate in and help put solutions in place. It’s a long road, no doubt, but it is one headed in the correct direction. What will you do to help? What elected officials will you encourage to work toward positive action and solutions? Where will you look to be educated about issues with accurate, honest information? America is our country and we should want it at its best for all. So, what will you do to help?

Horchata…is to drink and enjoy!

I am creating a new habit, especially when looking for a beverage break while on a bicycle ride. There are plenty of coffee stands, yet I think I have discovered a real treat. Horchata!

I had no idea what it was, but when the vendor said “cinnamon”, I was willing to give it a try, and have been drinking it ever since. Oh, did she also say the rest of the ingredients?

The authentic Mexican horchata is made during a process that seems to take a few hours to prepare…no wonder I will always buy it when on the road…soaking rice, almonds…and pouring through cheesecloth and adding cinnamon. Actually, I have no idea how to make the drink, but it is delicious.

Give it a try some day, especially if you enjoy cinnamon!

enjoy this drink...horchata!
enjoy this drink…horchata!

Delicious to the last drop! Enjoy iced on a warm day!

Four Minutes of Stillness! How to Achieve It…

I have heard it said many times, slow down. Or, rest is as important as exercise. And I have even participated in 21 day meditations where each meditative time is about 20 minutes… and they were a challenge! So why can I not turn my brain off? Why can I not be still for a few minutes? What can I do to solve this so I have the health benefits touted with meditative practice … although I actually would not mind going to a mountain top!

The years I backpacked alone in the Adirondack Mountains, or jogged/ran long miles during my 5km, 10km training days, or cross country skied on fresh snow at golf courses before others arrived, or whacked the crap out of a golf ball on Sunday mornings during my high school principalship years… those were the times my mind was still! Now, I am loving every minute of tennis, bicycling and volunteering, but I am not having moments where I can turn my brain off. And I decided that I really do need to solve this personal dilemma….so….here’s my plan……

Each morning I use my Mr Coffee maker and brew a cup of coffee. Simple. So, during the time the coffee brews I will focus on my breathing, and only my breathing until my coffee is brewed…I think the brew time is about 4 minutes…. What do I have to lose, nothing! And I always gain my cup of coffee, so it seems like it could be a win-win. Does this mean I actually have to do it for 21 consecutive days before it is considered a meditative success? or a crazy start to a habit? or simply 4 minutes of silence in the kitchen?

I hope I have success for 4 days; now that would be a start! Yet I will brew on and can always come back to the morning coffee/meditative challenge…or maybe I will take up running again?