More about Me
Welcome! I'm an artist, art teacher, amateur genealogist, gardening and photography enthusiast, animal and wildlife advocate and independent researcher in Virginia.
I've lived in this general area most of my life and I used to hang out--as a teenager--at the private school where I now teach. I guess this shows that I haven't strayed too far from home over the years! I was one of "those" types during high school--you know, the art, music, drama, literary magazine, philosophy club sort. I really haven't strayed too far from "home" over the years in those ways, either!
I graduated magna cum laude from Bridgewater College in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where I earned a BA in Studio Art and had elective credits in just about everything else. To me, a liberal arts education is like a smorgasboard for the mind. I'm intensely curious, I've always loved to think, and I've always loved to learn. Still do.
I worked in a therapeutic rec field with elderly and handicapped adults for several years after I graduated from college, and it was a wonderfully rewarding experience. One Halloween, the residents and I wrote and acted in a short play and invited preschool children to the nursing facility to see it.
After my sons were born, I stayed home until they were both in school. During those years I did a LOT of commissioned artwork, designed and marketed cross-stitch kits (with retailers in three states), and first began learning about computers, while doing recordkeeping (from home) for small businesses. I also went back to school to become licensed to teach Art in grades K-12.
I started working in a public elementary school in 1992, and since 1999 I've taught art at the private college-prep school where the movie "Toy Soldiers" was filmed! I started this website during my first year of teaching art there, and now, thanks to the support of visitors who make purchases through links on these pages, most of my web hosting expenses are covered.
So those are the basics about me, but as I have grown older--and hopefully wiser--and as I've watched my sons and my students grow up, move on and become adults, I have felt a growing concern about the health and well-being of our fragile planet and her inhabitants. More and more I've found myself asking, "What can I do to make a positive difference?" or "How can I help to turn this around?"
I come by these feelings honestly: I'm a classic INFP on the Myers-Briggs personality test (as many teachers are), I've always been deeply and eclectically spiritual, and I've always asked big, big questions. As a result, my passionate, curiosity-driven need to know and understand is a fundamental part of who I am.
As I grappled with these questions, slow but significant life-course adjustments began. Some "adjustments" were anything but slow: sudden insights and unexpected events sometimes triggered paradigm shifts which changed my inner landscape in an instant. Such "lifequakes" caused considerable--and very uncomfortable--cognitive dissonance, and I've found that it takes time to process and fully integrate these new knowings and understandings into new paradigms.
While I obviously have not been to the moon as Edgar Mitchell has, his statement resonates with me. We often do not realize--without some time and distance--that what seemed to be a very small shift in trajectory at some point in our life has resulted in our being at a very different place. My fundamental, core self has remained the same, but how I choose to express my Self now (as a result of changing paradigms) is very different:
* I am far less likely to remain silent when I see things that I feel should not be. I make phone calls to politicians and other representatives, I sign petitions, I speak out, I speak up and I get involved.
* I have changed my retirement investments. If I absolutely disagree with a company's products, policies, politics or practices (especially if these are related to real or potential environmental impacts), why would I want to support them? Why would I want to earn money from them?
* I no longer watch TV (with the exception of Create), eat red meat or consume much processed food. As much as feasible and affordable, I buy fresh, local and organic, and each year I try to raise at least some of our food in a home garden.
* I support organizations such as KIVA, a non-profit that offers people around the world a hand up, rather than a hand out, through $25 loans.
* I relentlessly research issues that capture my attention. I question everything, think, document, examine, explore, test, cross-reference, "connect dots," and learn.
* My camera goes with me everywhere, and these days I do far more photography than artwork. My appreciation and respect for Earth and its inhabitants have led me to photograph birds, bugs, blossoms, bats and beauty as often as possible.
* I have NO idea who most of the people are on the covers of magazines I see in grocery store checkout lines, but I can tell you the names of the numerous species of birds that visit my yard and I know most of them by their songs. My favorite bird book is this one:
* I have not had the opportunity to travel the world, but since 1992 in the two schools I have worked, the world has come to me! It has been my joy and my privilege to get to know young children or teenagers from South Korea, China, Vietnam, India, Russia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Madagascar, France, Brazil, Lithuania, Spain, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and others. Jimmy Carter said, "We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams." It has been my experience, however, that the individuals within this mosaic have far more similarities than differences. I treasure each piece of the world that has touched me through the lives of my students, and these beautiful, totally art-rageous kids have truly enriched my life. ♥