grit & grace & going back to school

What a season it has been. I had my first full time schedule for school this semester in which I took 5 classes, while still working full time. Looking back it was probably one to many, but it was a learning curve, pun not intended (ok maybe a little intended). As I sit back and reflect on it all after having some space from those final few weeks I am really proud of myself for gritting through what I signed myself up for. There is a beauty in that, perhaps not the glamorous kind, but I’m becoming less and less concerned with that type. No, it’s more the kind of beauty that is birthed through hardship, the kind that is won by sheer force of will. The kind that often gets ugly at times, and has you sweating, and bending, and lifting heavy objects that are far heavier than you thought you could lift. This is the beauty that you claim for yourself, not the one that others may or may not label you with.

It’s a great feat to accept a challenge, one that you know will be daunting, that turns out to be even harder than you ever imagined. That is what going back to school has been like for me, and I am sure most can relate to that feeling of not fully knowing what you’ve gotten yourself into. In fact, that kind of sums up what being an adult feels like most of the time, but a big part of life is growing and evolving, and the time felt right to start going back to school. I had no idea what I wanted to go back for to be honest, so I started with things I thought I would enjoy and this led me to the art department. Looking back now feels like I had planned it all along, and I’m sure the part of my subconscious that is less self conscious and more trusting of the universe was guiding me a little. But I want to make it clear that there has been a big big part of me that has been scared along the way, not knowing what I was doing, only knowing that the doing would lead me to the figuring it out. Most of the big and important decisions in my life have felt like making a choice was far more important than the actual choice I made. It was taking action, even though I was scared too, that propelled me on my way to great new things.

Great new things are scary! But you know what? They are also wonderful, and they make you a better person. They help you discover things about yourself you may not have even known were there. That’s where the real beauty is. So I signed up for a bunch of art classes, and bought a couple hundred dollars worth of art supplies and just kept showing up to class. Each week felt like I still didn’t know what I was doing, but each week I got a little more ok with that feeling. And that made me realize that maybe that was the point of it all. At least while I’m still in the discovery part of it, and isn’t that what school is suppose to be? My drawing teacher told us on the very first day of class that academic drawing is not fun, and that we would not be making good drawings in the beginning. In fact, they would probably be terrible. But he also told us that the point is not knowing what you’re doing, and doing it anyway, and learning small tricks, and getting a little better until finally you build the skills you need to start making things that look like actual things. What makes us so afraid to learn? I’m not sure exactly when it happens, but there is a moment for all of us when we start believing that we need to already know something in order to do that something. I call bullshit, on myself and on you too. This belief does nothing for us, and actually does a lot to hinder us.

This spring semester I took drawing 1, design 1, color concepts, art history, and my second english credit. I learned a lot about art obviously, but I also learned a lot of new ways of thinking. I learned problem solving in ways I had never conceived. I learned how to plan and organize concepts before diving into a creative endeavor. I learned what type of learner I am, and just as important I learned my shortcomings and weaknesses as a learner. I learned that making things with my hands is when I feel most engaged creatively. I learned that writing about what something means to me is still more important and easier for me than talking about what it means to me. But I also got better over time at talking about my work. All of this discovery has fed my creativity that has spilled into my work and my personal life as well. It’s been such an incredible experience that has made me organize and prioritize my time and energy better. Being busier with something that is feeding your soul will make you make time for it. You begin to feel fulfilled, and therefore you can decide what things you can give up to make more time for those things that fulfill you. For me in this time in my life my family, my health, my school and my work have become my main focus and priorities.

As I write this, I am sitting back home in Arizona taking a well deserved break from school and work to visit my family for a couple weeks. I plan on going back to school in the fall, though I haven’t set my schedule yet. I wanted to take some time to think about what classes I want to take while also making my schedule at work accommodating to me, to my clients and to my family time. For fall I really want to focus on giving myself more of a balance. One last thing I want to leave you with that I’ve learned by going back to school is that if you want something, you have the power to get it, and it does not have to look like anyone else’s way of doing it. This goes for work, for relationships, for school, for life in general, you can create the life that you want. The first steps of doing so starts by asking a ton of questions. The least important of which is how, the most important of which is what + why.

kindly, cara

 

Color concept painting final project

My favorite drawing from this semester

My favorite design from this semester

 

 

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