- Recumbency: I spent a lot of last year with my foot in plaster. The drawing diary I kept then became a great source of comfort: I was never sure what would come out, but it grew into a dialogue between myself and my other self: expressing things I didnt know were of concern. It was a self-supporting practice that became a companion at an uncertain time.
- Gratitude: Now living a limp free life with huge gratitude, not just for the NHS that performed my miracle fusion, but that blessed group of practical friends and family who filled the breach, I find my outlook is changed: staying a teacher until I'm let out to retirement pasture is not my plan after all: I feel my career has another chapter to it yet.
- Teaching Art to children with special needs is a privilege: they dont have to meet national standards in their subjects and so get to learn how to paint their feelings, delight in exploring art materials both sensory and visual, express discontents and sometimes be very articulate about heavy sadnesses that make them feel old and worn through. As my experience has grown, my watching and listening have become the more intuitive means of teaching.
Those few months of reflection last year have shown me that retraining as an art therapist is something Ive been growing increasingly ready for..
- The state we're in:There is a mental health crisis, it has touched us all in some way over the last few years. For many lockdown was compounding and terrible: I saw this with friends, their children and many of my students. My heart goes out to those still struggling. There is insufficient funding to support this crisis, and there needs to be a revolution so that mental health services can provide to more people, especially children with support and coping strategies for their lives to come. (Post pandemic and pre Climatic change: is there a harder time in history to be a young person?) I would like to be part of that revolution and believe in its importance in strengthening our society. I hope to find work in schools, community centres, hospitals or a public service provider, maybe I will find private work. I hope to try all by and by. My sense now is a fierce certainty that art, used therapeutically, is a deeply powerful method to support and reveal.
- The Training: I have a place on the Advanced Diploma in the Therapeutic and Educational Application of the Arts at the Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education London which leads to a further 3 years to complete an MA in Integrative Arts Psychotherapy. But students must fund the course themselves. At 9250 a year for 4 years I am facing a huge bill that my part time teaching will not meet. So, I am asking you, my dear friends, for your help to find some of the money for this course.
- And in return? Every donor may choose a drawing of their choice from an exhibition of drawings made by me in a drawing extravaganza that I intend to embark on at the marvellous Tring Natural History Museum.
- The exhibition (site and date tbc) will be a celebration of these animals, of my phenomenal friends and optimism in the face of a new future. I'd draw you, but I'm just not that good at likenesses and the stuffed animals are less likely to complain.....
As Robbie says in the book Bewilderment by Richard Powers:
No one ever really does anything by themselves