The month of May has been what one might call overfull; we’re in the midst of moving, working with contractors to plan a major renovation of our new house, finishing the homeschool year, arranging the kids’ academic plans for the fall, and celebrating birthdays and various music performances. And where am I this week? At my parents’ home across the country, spending time with my lovely mother as she recovers from surgery. (She’s doing great by the way!)
So there’s a lot on the table right now, and my mind and heart are full with the prospect of new chapters and ideas. Last week I met with our public school district’s superintendent face-to-face for the first time, and she and I had an exciting conversation about project-based, child centered learning. I’m looking forward to working together with her over the coming year to try to help open our schools to more progressive education approaches. I’ll share more in the coming months about this, but for now, just know that our meeting was delightful, and I feel more optimistic about our chances for making positive changes in education than I have in years.
The move we’re making represents a refreshed perspective for our family. For the past seven years, we’ve lived in a large, new construction, traditional American “dream” home on a two acre lot about 10 miles south of town. Though lovely and spacious, the home limited social interaction with our friends in town and our involvement in the community. The land took a lot of maintenance, which represented hours of time spent doing things like cutting grass and weed-eating and battling thistle. The home also felt free to help itself to the majority of our budget.
We have chosen a new home that is much smaller, older (1926), more affordable, on a cute and manageable lot, and in close proximity to everything downtown. It represents our renewed commitment to community-centered, sustainable living that better accommodates our creative pursuits. To live creatively, sometimes you have to throw out convention. Actually, most of the time you have to throw out convention.
And this brings me to Neil Gaiman. He gave a fantastic commencement speech this month at The University of the Arts. He talks at length about his own untraditional journey as an author and artist. He encourages the audience of artists to follow their creative dreams and avoid the more conventional life/career paths (unless, of course, those paths help them in their creative journeys). He above all tells his listeners to simply “make good art.” This will be my renewed mantra as I invest myself in our new community, homeschool, and advocate for better education. I will tell myself this every day: “make good art.” I hope you can find the time to sit back and listen to the speech; perhaps it will help renew your creative vision too.