Living a Life

img_5719

I’ve been thinking about my life lately, like who I am and when I figured that out..

The hard answer is that I don’t think I knew until a few years ago. I spent most of my life trying to be someone I wasn’t, and that’s not a pretty admission.

But I do remember the first time I experienced something that would help me on this path. I took a recertification course for teaching. I signed up for programming, and I’d never seen a computer. Back in 1985, there weren’t many, but I was intrigued.

I spent the first three weeks complaining– about the difficulty, my lack of understanding, and my frustration. And then one day it clicked and I wrote a program that worked.

From that day on, I realized I loved solving problems and being creative. I began learning again, first as a teacher and then as an instructional technology coach. When we had problems with our school network, I’d stand in front of the cables and routers, trying to figure the problems out. When I wanted to start blogging, I called the only teacher in the county I knew who was doing it: Will Richardson. We installed Manilla software on the server, and we were up and running.

When the school needed a webpage, I taught myself HTML. When my second computer died, I finally learned how to trouble shoot it myself instead of following the directions to reformat (and lose) everything.  I began connecting with others online, learning both how to be a better teacher and how to use the power of a group. A few years ago, I decided to explore letterpress printing. Because I’d learned to build a community online, I knew I could reach out and get help. Now, three years later, I am printing and running a small business.

I say this not to pat myself on the back but to point out how long– 45 years– it took me to learn that I love being creative. I love to learn. I love change.

The last few years I’ve embraced the idea of solitude and quiet, realizing that more than anything, I like to be alone. And that’s ok.

My wish–for my grandchildren and for all the children–is that they learn about who they are and what they want from life at an early age. This comes from play, long talks, empathy, and kindness. Wouldn’t it be lovely if children spent the first few years of school learning to get along and getting to know themselves instead of being pounded with homework and stress?

From Will: It would make more sense to focus simply on nurturing and supporting the learning mindsets that kids already bring with them, rather than forcing them to adopt a “school mindset” that has little connection to their real lives.

Self-acceptance, learning to ignore the ego, and loving one another, these will grow a happy life. Everything else will fall into place.

 

Home and Jane

cardpink

This Jane Austen quote appeals to me, but it was a friend who asked me to make a gift card for a friend. Shhhh, that’s all I can say at this point, and I can’t reveal the back.

It’s fun to be challenged to learn new things– like printing on the back of the card, which means lining up everything.

My next challenge is two-color registration. Stay tuned!

The Itinerant Printer

logo

Fredericksburg can be a lonely city when it comes to letterpress printing.

This is one reason I am so excited that Chris Fritton, The Itinerant Printer, is coming to visit for a few days.
We’ll get to talk about printing, his travels, and have a chance to see his work. I plan on learning all I can from him. And we’re having a Meet and Greet so you can learn, too.
Here’s more from his website:

The Itinerant Printer will visit letterpress printshops across America throughout 2015 & 2016, producing unique prints at each venue culled from their idiosyncratic collections of wood type, metal type, cuts, ornaments, and polymer plates. These prints will be mailed back to followers and supporters of the project as postcards (and care packages) from the road.

The project intends to capture the spirit of the analog revival, send real samples of it into people’s mailboxes, and convey the ethos of the handmade to a broader audience via social media, and as a culmination, result in a coffee table book that features photos all of the prints, printshops, and people from the adventure.

It is also about reviving that sense of adventure in printing, along with the analog sharing of information. It’s about going out into the world, seeking work based on your skill set, making something with your hands, and delivering that object to someone. It’s about an exchange of ideas, of techniques, of information, of style, and of the consummation of all those things: prints.

Chris Fritton is The Itinerant Printer – check out his full bio here.

For more on the history of Tramp Printers, check out the info here, or just peruse this poem by Robert W. Service:

A Race of Men

There’s a race of men, that don’t fit in
A race that can’t sit still.
So they break the hearts of kith and kin
And roam the world at will.
They range the field and rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far –
They are strong, and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of things that are
And they want the strange and new.
They say, ‘Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make.’
So they keep on going and each new move
Is only a fresh mistake.

– Robert W. Service

 I know. You can’t wait to meet him, right? Stop by Water Street Studio on Feb 26 between 5-8. We’ll be printing, talking, and we’ll have refreshments, too.

“Printing…is the preservative of all arts.” Isaiah Thomas

 

The Waiting

IMG_3953

One of the benefits of getting older is realizing that one has less time ahead than behind. I am beginning to come to terms with that.

The other realization is we can’t wait to “be picked.” Actually I learned this almost 12 years ago, when I first began finding and then creating community online. Nearly every opportunity I’ve had– professionally and personally– has been because I reached out and said “why not?”

Whether it was starting my running blog in 2004 and finding myself in a solid community of supportive runners, or reaching out to an online teaching community and spending years learning and growing together, these moments when I say “pick me” usually result in a fantastic experience. Most recently I made a connection with Mary Anne Radmacher, and we are going to partner on a small project. As Mary Anne says, “everything is possible.”

Not every opportunity comes to fruition. But that’s ok, too. Because if we never try, we may wait forever.

I’ve not always been the first to put my hand up. As an introvert, my tendency is to hold back and hope someone finds my work. But over the years, I’ve been able to put my discomfort with being discovered aside. Rejection isn’t easy, for sure. Nor is failure. But I know if I want to move in a certain direction, the only one who can get me there– is me.

It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.” Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you–that Prince Charming has chosen another house–then you can actually get to work. ~Seth Godin