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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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Is there a school with good administrators? I have never met them with 2 exceptions. As soon as they get into an administrative job they forget what it was to be a teacher (or maybe they were so bad at it they became administrators for lack of anything else). Then they go in and try to justify their big salaries by making busy work and forgetting that (or maybe they never knew) teachers usually know what they are doing. We have tons to do without their busy work and inane decisions. Maybe instead of cutting teachers when the budgets shrink they should cut administrators.

I love everything about the new journal. And since taking FTB, that is also my very favorite bookbinding stitch. I love it more everytime I use it!

Hang in there with the school thing. Even though I would not blame you for wanting out, if all the good teachers leave, what are the kiddos left with? Very sad, everywhere.

Love you and your blog and have taken all your classes (they're the best!).
I worked as a professional in our NHS - also a difficult 'machine' to be a part of. I loved the patients but hated almost everything else so in the end burnt my boats and just left - I am married but was the biggest wage earner and we had no debts.
A year on I couldn't be happier - poorer financially, yes - majorly so - but the time has been so restorative - time to just be and to bring up a new puppy! I recently applied for and got a part-time job near my home (walking distance) and am looking forward to starting it - I say follow your instincts.

1 year leave of absence - that would be so cool. That were on my wich list too, one can only dream. Instead I safe all the money I can spare to retire early. I hope it will work out for you with the 1 year. Would that be awesome. Make some of those awesome journals for sale - I´m sure it would help too ;-)

It seems to me that all large organizations flip, at some point, from being focused on whatever their original goals were, to self-protection, -promotion, -aggrandizement........... The original goals are lost in a sea of "necessities" that have everything to do with self-preservation, rather than anything to do with the reason the organization came to exist in the first place. As long as the organization lives on, what it actually *does* becomes totally unimportant to it.

When the organization does something as important as teach the children......

Very scary.

I salute you for doing the best you can for these needy kids. It's a very hard job!

Sending you coral-, lemon-, and aqua-colored, tea-scented good vibes, with plenty of hole-punching and gluing on of interesting stuff.

A year to experiment sounds heavenly. I hope you can make that work. I can't imagine doing what you do but I am familiar with soul sucking jobs. Starting to formulate my own exit strategy. It's just a spark of an idea now but I'm starting to lay my plans out.

How do you explain the obvious to people who just don't get it? I've found that to be an impossible task but every once in a while I give it a shot. A year without pay may seem like a risky thing but there is so much you can do - like make us another class! Or two! We can be your monkeys....

Mary Ann, I am a strong believer in sabbaticals - paid or non-paid. 6-8 weeks is just not enough time to recharge. I took a 6 month sabbatical midway through my teaching career. I found the energy to finish my textbook and other creative projects. When I returned I did so with a renewed love of teaching.

First I must say I love your new book or journal or whatever-absolutely beautiful. And I hope you will find many hours of enjoyment and contentment within it after "fighting the war". What a shame these"adults" forget what it is like to be children, children who deserve the best environment in which to learn. Seems to be a problem all over this country, especially in big cities. God bless you and those like like you who still care. Thank you!

I feel your pain Mary Ann. I work in a conglomerate with similar issues. You go girl!!

I am so looking forward to reading (or hearing about) that script you're going to write. That story you're going to star in.
It's your turn!

I'm so looking forward to reading that script you're going to write for yourself.

Keep up the good fight. Then take the time you deserve. It's your turn!

All our systems are broken, not just the schools. The world crumbles around us and we must begin to make make a new one. A year to experiment. So valuable and precious. When our souls begin to crumble with the system it's time for alternative action. Life is short. It's also sweet. Your happiness if of utmost importance. I know you will find your way. You may stumble and fall, however with so much support you won't have time to hit the ground. You are special and oh so creative. It's time to soar, Baby! xoDonna

Whooohoooo!! A year without work sounds absolutely lovely!! I too am quitting my job as a social worker within the next month or so because I am just worn out... down to a nub. I am not sure where my boat will row next but I know I need some breathing time to find my next clear stream. You are doing an amazing job as cat herder and its a brave thing to step off your worn path and just see whats next!!! I'll be right here with you reading along.

I'm sure most of your readers can sympathize with your sentiments (myself included) but I'm also curious about your students. I'd really like to know how your school year progresses, and how well SunTzu works in the classroom.
For your sabbatical, I do have a suggestion: organize trip /workshop in Mexico. I'm sure there would be plenty of takers among your readers ( me, too). I love your travelogues, and always thought I'd like to join you on one of your trips. I'm just saying :).
Anyhow, wishing you the best, and cheering you on from the sidelines

Tina - lay those plans. ill be laying mine right beside you!!

oh mary anne. you must do that for yourself. this is the very same reason why i left teaching many eons ago. the bullshit was just too much. it managed to suck the joy outta teaching for me. hang in there girl. take your leave if you can. it'll do wonders for your soul, your spirit, (you know, all those cliched words you love so much!!).

I'm (we're) all a part of your army, and we'll follow along with whatever unfathomable plans you devise. xoxox

I lost my job last November. Fortunately for me at the time I had JUST purchased two of your online classes. HA! Who knew that I'd have almost a year (so far) to PLAY PLAY PLAY!! While losing your job isn't a blessing, so to speak, I secretly think it was divine intervention. I certainly can't travel (I travel vicariously through your blog posts) or spend money (with no job) but money does NOT stop my play time. I've carved out a rather large portion of my very tiny 3rd floor apartment exclusively for art. I learned to knit socks (over 30 pairs so far...need a pair??) and have bound and filled at least 10 journals (thanks to your tutelage)and read about a book or two a week. BLISS?? Yep. I was just applying for a position at a local school system (I worked as a para for 8 years before I got a job at Planned Parenthood which I loved, but lost) but I read your post and laughed!! I'm almost 50. do I really want to go back to that???? I can't tell you how much I heart you.

Although I didn't comment on your last post, I thought about you all day yesterday. Oy. Although I never taught, I spent the bulk of my working career doing admin in nonprofit organizations. All the horrible things you said and feel about the people you have to work with (the adults) were just what I had to live with as well, for the better part of 40 years. I especially related to your escape fantasies. I had them for years. Which is kind of how I got to rural Humboldt County from Los Angeles over a very long period of time.
Were I you, I'd definitely go for the LOA next year. And definitely early retirement. Life is too short to spend any more of it than necessary doing what we don't want to have to do. Just this morning I was feeling so blessed ~ although I had no support in my life except what I could pull together by working (really, this is true, no family support et al), and although I live now on a pauper's amount of social security, I am truly free. I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. I've finally gotten my lifelong dream of being left alone (to my own devices).
Hope today is a better day for you. But if you're like me, once you've made a decision to make a big change, it'll be a real challenge to get through the day-to-day until then.
xo

I retired from the county board program in 2003. Worked with adults with disabilities. I had too they say you know when to retire and I did, my soul was dead, not dying, dead. Lucky for me I was 61 so I could actually retire. I have worked part time since then and this will be the first year with no job. I have less money but am happy and I would do it again. Think of what else you can do and don't forget about mental health leave, like before the end of the year. Your system sounds like mine and it isn't any better but I am better and that's what counts. Love ya. By the way, that's my favorite binding and the only one I use.

Take that year off and teach art to grown ups. See what happens. I dare you. Let your fans here invite you to their cities where you'll travel to teach. And meet new people in person. Give bear hugs. Fall in love with everyone you meet. It will save your soul. Think about it. xoxoxoxo

Oh, yeah! Love that comment from Judy Wise. Meeting you live for a class would indeed be heavenly. Best wishes to you from OC.

Just wanted to say that you inspire me. Love that you are able to carve out art time and time for self care for yourself, despite the enormous amount of stress that I know all educators are under.
I wish I could go and live in Norway or even the woods for a week.
Sigh.
Anyways, love your blog, keep it coming.

You know, as a teacher too, when I have bad days it's ALWAYS the grown ups who cause it, and always the kids who make it better again. Even teenagers. But a sabbatical is a great idea too!

yes, yes, yes to a year off, early retirement, yes to both! life is short we are never promised more then today! live your life, love the life you live! anything else, is cheating yourself. the whole wide world is calling your name, i know you can hear it even over the all the noise. listen with your heart and be FREE!

Oh that just cements the reason I am a stay at home person. And danged thankful I can do it too. The percentage of adults I had to work around in my life made me physically ill. I'm sure the majority of parents who's children are in your class have no idea what luck they have drawn at getting you for a teacher. Even though you are saturated with the troubled of the lot, they are very fortunate to have you. I will be lifting your sanity and your classroom up in prayers over the school year. And remember you have an open invite to the prairie :)It's peaceful, wonderful in the Spring, lots to explore and only one siren that blasts a few moments at 11:00 Wednesday mornings to remind us all that the week is half over....that and it's a tornado warning but we wont go in to that....

Peace

I agree with Judy Wise....I have met so many wonderful teachers attending art retreats such as ArtFest. I will be going to italy in three weeks with a teacher I met. Every two years or so she has a class in Orvieto as part of the adventures in Italy travel group. Check out the blogs of Mary Beth Shaw, Regina Lord, LK Ludwig, all have taken the leap to live the life that permeates their spirit, creating.....

You are a treasure. I first heard your name at the airport in Seattle. I was commenting on the beauty of a journal a lady had and she said it was the result of taking an online class with you. I was hooked and have been traveling the world with you ever since. I am celebrating a year since being diagnosed with bi-lateral early stage breast cancer. So far I am cancer free, but I realized how fragile life cam be, so I RETRED, started collecting my Social Security and plan to make the most of everyday I have left.

My bags are packed for your next trip, cannot wait to see where we are going. We have never met in person, but I count you as a kindred spirit and a dear friend .

My husband retired early nine years ago after 35 years of teaching. Had he stayed to take a full retirement our monthly retirement check would be more but the stress might have killed him first. Our district is in a rural area but his reasons for leaving were the same as what you are experiencing. I say take the year off but if you can hang in there for the five and take the early retirement you may be glad that you did in the end. Being on the other end of it my husband would tell you that the monthly retirement check is what made it all worthwhile. It was also important to him that if something happened and he passed away that I was covered by that retirement so that was a consideration you may not have. To be honest when he first began teaching in 1968 he loved his job but the last 8 years were not the best part of his work life.

I love teachers. My parent were both teachers. I have two kids with autism and I help another young man with ODD and all kinds of other acronyms. The teachers they have had have always been the best and I am so thankful for them. Teachers deserve so much more!

I tried to do daycare at one time, but it was not the kids it was the parents/adults!

My parents were able to retire early - it is worth it!! And take that year off. Sounds like a great plan!

Ugh. The reason I left corporate America: the micro-managers and those expert at being experts. I couldn't stand it anymore. At my last full-time gig, I saw the exit door and took it. And I haven't looked back. I won't say it hasn't been difficult at times—because it has—but I kept my sanity. I can't handle days filled with unnecessary meetings and pettiness. I agree with Judy: get out and teach grown-ups. You're perfect for it!

WOW. That is just sad. I wish you the best, Mary Ann and your gain (perhaps a year's leave...even if unpaid) will the be school system's loss.

DO IT. Concentrate your energy. Hoard your strength. Devise those unfathomable plans. Teach another inspirational online class. You have so many fans behind you.

OMG Judy Wise,,,,, you are so wise. Mary Anne, you must have an IRL workshop... promise us you'll think about it. and i agree. it will change your life, and ours. xox

Rock ON, sistah! Might you want to come to Albuquerque New Mexico and give a three day workshop here? Might I offer you a sweet place to lay your head and my fantastic organizing skills and SusanW's wherewithal?

Sabbaticals should be built into the public school system--wouldn't that be lovely?

What about a teaching exchange to another country, perhaps? Where do you want to go next? Switch jobs, switch residences. Experience the school system abroad as a teacher? A different environment can do wonders, as you well know.

It is difficult to make these decisions when the reality of a pension plan to contribute to, mortgage, cat food, car payments and paper purchasing is looming.

I love what Judy Wise said.
(also, don't forget to come to Canada)

We can all start a billet system to put you up in our version of Moss cottages throughout the lands when you come to teach.

J

you all feel so much like my very own personal verizon team. i am so bouyed up by all of these BIG ideas. thanks for always being behind me. and with me. i appreciate you more than you know.
big love. xo

A leave of absence sounds nice...I'm sure you've heard of this and may not even remotely work with ODD, but Whole Brain Teaching has some different to me ways of managing a classroom. Just a thought. I'm in a small, under-funded private school, but I have the gift of knowing everyone who is teaching or on staff truly wants to be there. That is such a blessing. Of course, the pay is minimal. It is exciting to hear/read of your options and ideas percolating in your noggin. Time will tell.

Your book is gorgeous. You keep cranking out those gorgeous books. My mojo was gone for a couple of months, but looking at your last book makes me want to jump into action again... Love your stitching on the spine. If only the previous owner of the book could see it now! Taking a year absence sounds good. You are not burning all your ships behind you that way... And yes, if you give more classes, I will be the first one to sign up!

Mary Ann, you are going to be just fine. You just are. They can't get you because you are invincible. Gird yourself with your sword and put on your armor, slay those dragons and keep your head high. You can do it, girl. We are all behind you, cheering you on and ready with words of courage and love.

Your binding is great. I think that one is just right for a book that size. It looks sturdy enough to hold it together. Good colors, too. I see growth in your book making art and in your journaling, too (not that it wasn't good to begin with, but we all want to grow, don't we)

Be sustained by your loyal fans/friends/sisters in art.

Here's an idea. Write down all the terrible attributes of the system, Name names. Use colorful language. Include what you think the admin deserves. You get the idea. Take the paper out to your lovely outside room. Burn it. Bad feelings going up in smoke won't change things in the real world, but it is very satisfying.

Explore Fulbright teacher exchange programs. Soon. Deadlines for the next academic year are probably right upon us.

I love your description of your district. It could be mine. Is it endemic of all school districts? I don't know. I also wanted to leave early during a particularly bad
year but I hung in there. I figured out how to buy years that I had taken out of the system a long time ago, and will retire this year. So investigate that
year of absence, but hang in there. Things might improve (last year was one of my best), and you can retire in five years. You love your kids and that
will keep you going. Also, like you, I had a trip every summer that helped me get through the year. I'd start packing in March. I'd pack and unpack and pack
again. It was a meditation! You are not alone! Those of us who teach, understand.

Mary Ann, I am planning my escape from the corporate world within the next 3-5 years. It's unfortunate that in so many institutions across our country the leadership is in such bad shape. It's doubly unfortunate that the kids in your school district will lose out and not have you as a teacher. But, whatever you choose to do, if you do it with all the energy and enthusiasm and love and gentleness and color that you have shown here you will be wildly successful. I am completely certain of that.

Glad you're loving those kids. They will benefit from being with you this year. They will.

I totally get it. I feel the same way about my corporate job. At some point you start re-evaluating your life, what is important, what gives it meaning. When you start feeling like an empty shell, a shadow of what you know you can be, it is time for a change. I've been contemplating that for some time myself (although, sadly, I'm am far from retirement). I come back to your blog time and time again, not only for your art but for your approach to life. You are an inspiration and I know that whatever you decide, you will be AMAZING! On that note - have you ever thought about opening a paper store? We have a great one, Hollander's, here in Ann Arbor. They have a big old printing press and specialize in book making classes.

I've been reading your last posts...reading and thinking...and thinking...of what to say to you. It seems that you have come to a crossroad in your life and that is a good and exciting, if not scary, place to be. We are responsible for our own happiness and in the end we can choose to stay in an untenable position or find a new path. God knows you have enough courage for any for any 20 people I know and enormous artistic talent to top that off. There is NO doubt in my mind that you will succeed in anything you choose to undertake. Take it from a professional bridge-burner, that is not always the best way to proceed. For what it is worth, I like the idea of a year-long LOA to test the waters and see if that truly is the direction you want to take. You will never be alone with whatever decision you make because there are just too darn many of us who love you!!

Hi Mary Ann! Yes to taking the year off for sure! You could travel the country teaching art classes and you would be a sell out (in the good 'kinda way!) Just be sure to put little 'ol Grass Valley down as your number one stop...I think your class is sold out already!!

I wish in my heart that those at the controls would start to really *see* their teachers as people first, with respect and support, I feel very fortunate to live in an area that still sees the value of education, not that we don't have issues but since my kids started going school out of district, the first impressions I got were from all the amazing teachers and the administration behind them. It's an art based school so that maybe is part of it, but I was impressed again and again by the district, more money being spent on the nuts and bolts of education rather than the bureaucracy and bs at the top. I don't think it's the nutrition triangle that needs to be turned on it's head but the paper pushers who just get in the way and are eating the souls right out of their teachers. Good for you Mary Ann. For caring but also for giving yourself permission to follow a different path for awhile. Nothing wrong with that option, blue skies and a dusty trail to wander. Ponder away and in the meantime enjoy that tea. Looks super yummy and I love anything with coconut in it. YUM!

I had never heard of that disorder, until my sister (an elementary school teacher herself) told me about it... I can only imagine how difficult that must be! and in general, the gigantic bureaucratic machine of a school system administration has got to be wearing on anyone, over time. (including those administrators; if they realize it or not is another story.) I've been reading your blog for a few years now, and I KNOW your kids are lucky to have you as their teacher-- I'm sure you'll make the decision that is best for them, and for you.

I took a leap of faith last year and left the job I'd had (and loved, for the most part) for 12 years. I was so scared to submit my resume to a new place, so many fears, so many insecurities, but I was truly dying on the vine at my old job.
I got brave, sent it in, and got a brand new job in a wonderful place, with great benefits and fantastic people...who knew that life could begin again at 50? Life's too short to be unhappy where you work; make those plans, girl! XOXO

Just had to check back in on you today, and what an amazingly wonderful bunch of comments. It's sad that so many are so unhappy in their jobs(I used to count myself among them, largely for similar reasons:administrative bungling, etc) I looked for and have found reasons to be happy everyday as I felt I did not have any other options. Reading your blog, with your true enjoyment of life/art/cats, has been uplifting to me, and obviously many others. You are a very talented, generous person and how very smart and brave of you to be considering a life altering event. A year would be an awesome gift to give yourself. My best to you in whatever course of action you pursue.

PS Your journal is lovely!

Mary Ann Moss, I wish you had a journal caravan - we would love the opportunity to journal with you here in Indianapolis! Your fans appreciate you and all you have to do is just keep on being you. Maybe the Universe is knocking louder this year to get your attention that it's time for change. There is a big, wide world full of adventure (and friendly faces) that awaits you!

I'm wondering if any of "us" live close enough to your school to volunteer in your classroom?

Before I taught I volunteered a lot in an elementary school and loved it-I know the teacher whose classroom I was placed in appreciated the extra help/hands--16 years later and she still calls me and tells me how much she appreciated that time. It had quite a profound effct on me I must say, both the students and her generosity of spirit to let my own skill group flourish within a classroom setting.

I helped her prep for class, did individual one on one with kids who needed help with reading skills, led craft projects, photocopied, made posters--anything and everything.

You know when someone has a new baby and a group of friends sets up a schedule to deliver meals....maybe volunteers could deliver themselves to your classroom?


I left my previous job because of all the hassle that came with the merger of three (already quite big) schools for visual arts. I'm not a teacher by the way, I was a media librarian (now archivist). With the merger came the feeling of working in a glass box where you're being watched and critiqued all the time but have no room to move or adjust. It was nerve wrecking to everyone. More people became burned out in those years than ever before. I felt I had to leave before it would get to me too. I still miss the wonderful students and my dear coworkers, but I'm not sorry I left. Listening to former coworkers tells me the situation has not improved that much over time.
Now I have a way less stressful position in a beautiful environment (beautiful island yadayada), but at the same time the art bug is growing and growing and what I love versus what I have to do to make a living keeps frustrating me from time to time.
It's not the job's fault this time and there's a lovely atmosphere where I work, it's just me trying to balance the wants with the needs. Or maybe one set of needs (paycheck, rent, electricity, food, clothes on my back) with another set of needs (lots of reflection, solitude, art time, exploring, reading, being in nature).
If you can afford to take a year off I would say: go for it! An experience is worth a hundred times any wages you can make. I would love to follow on your blog how you get along during such a year. I wish I could afford it myself, I would do it instantly. Alas, the financial situation is not so glorious to allow that to happen though. I'll just keep dreaming and devise some unfathomable plans (love that phrase!). ;-)

That used to happen to me when I was in the classroom...if you were a strong disciplinarian, you got ALL the kids..lucky you. I managed to stick it out 37 years, but the last 12 were out of the classroom as a tech specialist which was much easier needless to say. Hope your year goes fast kiddo!

Everyone I know who is a teacher says they have to keep the blinders on to ignore the administrators that make their life hell and do what is right for the kids in their charge. With the "No Child Left Behind Act" totally tying everyone's hands makes no sense either. I don't know why the admin want to put all the challenging kids in one class. It really doesn't help anybody, unless they are also willing to double or triple the number of aides or other helpers. I remember what a frustrating year my son had when the admin decided to put all the non-readers into his 4th grade class because the teacher was bilingual and all the non-readers were Hispanic. That class slowed to a barely moving academic year for him. He was reading at high school level at the time and needed to be challenged in all subjects but got nothing except being bored. So he acted out in class and got in trouble for that. We asked if he could go sit in the 5th grade class for math and reading but the teacher actually said what would he do when he was in 5th grade then? We moved him to a private school for the next two years, where he could move at his pace quickly through the material. You will know when you can't do this anymore unsupported by the admin.

Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers as you make these important decisions and changes in your life.

My sister-in-law, who was a gifted and amazing special ed teacher for 14 years, was driven to resign by the' dysfunctional, broken machine' of a school district that she worked for. The losers were the children, and my sis-in-law, of course. There was an expression being bandied about at that time about how "excrement" floats. We both thought it was descriptive of the school district administration and, most especially, the principal at her old school. All of this leads me to my beginning thought: I feel your pain and I am sorry.

I hope your year off comes true. Plan more online classes, write a book, make more downloadable labels...I'll sign on for whatever you care to share. There has to be another way for you to exist and for you to flower.

xo

Miss MAM, sorry to be a day late. I would kill to take a trip with you. So I hope that's something you are mulling over.
IMHO, a year off would be fantastic beyond words. You would be able to take in some non-teaching adventures but most of all after a year, no matter how you occupied yourself during that year, you will have gained perspective and insights into your life. I can't overestimate the importance of getting perspective. I myself took a year off when I was teaching (a million years ago) to get my masters. By the end of my schooling I realized I no longer wanted to be a teacher and I went into another field. I also took two years to go live in another country. Very low pay, teaching in a private school, but great experience and great for airing out the ol' burnt-out brain. And I was only in my late twenties then........and now I'm 63. I say go for the year off or a year teaching somewhere else if you can get some sort of exchange thing going. Having said all that, I would not underestimate the value of the health benefits I assume you're getting on your job and the salary you earn. If you decide against a year off, then I would encourage a 5-year plan so that you can retire early. I had a 5-year plan to move to another state, which I did do 23 years ago. In addition to a 5-year plan, I encourage you to put a little more money away each month than you think you can afford, right now, by automatic deduction from your paycheck. You won't miss it and you won't be pissing it away on things like food and cat litter (just kidding). But, seriously, you won't miss it. A 5-year plan will give you structure, goals, and will also make it easier for you to tough it out in the school system IF that's what you decide to do. You are a fabulously talented, smart, wise, funny, creative human being and even though we've never met I want to keep going on your journeys with you. I only hope that I can someday go on a real trip with you. The sooner the better, as I'm not getting any younger! Oh, did I mention that Paris would be my number one choice of destinations?

I worked in the school system as as assistant and one year I worked in special ed at the freshman level. One of the most memorable experiences due to the kids... NOT the fellow teachers. I was amazed at how adults let their egos direct their responses to the kids. Such a shame.. so I know your frustration. Now, about that binding... is that one relatively easy? I must look that one up. And I love the simple touch of rounding the corners on the pages. Love it all!!!

I am thrilled to think that you might get to take that year off or even leave early and pursue your dreams. You are so frigging talented. That's a technical term, JSYK. Anyway, I know you'll make it happen. You are unstoppable!

When you number your journals, do you count the travel journals or are they separate? When you made number one, did you know it was number one, or have you retroed your numbering? Not that it matters, just wondering in print (rather than aloud). The temporary ones could be 13.5 or 11 1/2. Strangely, I just realized that I have named my little pamphlets, but not anything else. Nor numbered anything. Never occurred to me. But now this is giving me ideas. I like ideas. I suppose I could title them all. Grand pompous titles implying significance and meaning. Oh, irony. I like irony too.

Me too, left teaching because of the blob at the top. Excrement floats! Oh so true. Mary Ann, there are a lot of good ideas in these comments. Ideas like seeds planted in your mind. Surely something is taking root and starting to push it's way up. I await what you come up with.

It is beyond appalling how teachers are treated in this country!! When Are we going to learn to revere them as the Japanese do??? have you looked into private schools in our area for after your leave of absence??? A few of your fabulous classes - on line could help get you thru a year!!!! Sign me up now I don't care what the class is called- I know from experience, it will be fabulous!!!

I am so glad that there is a sabbatical of sorts available to you. If you can at all swing it, financially, then this will be a wonderful way to see if you can craft a new life with, relatively, small-er-ish risk. You truly have 'je ne sais quoi'; your writing, your painting, your books, your way of looking at the world, your humor, your photos, and yes - your teaching skills. Which are being underutilized by a machine right now. You have something very special, and it's high time that it comes into the spotlight. I have a little saying that I have lived by for a while now. "Always take the boat" - if you have a choice between taking a boring way, or taking a boat to get anywhere..take the boat. If a life-boat comes along, then you definitely have to take that. I saw you on those fjords, out there on the deck, wind whipping through your hair. Take the boat, MAM, take the boat! Even though I've never met you in person yet...I (like your other dear reader who mentioned it too) think of you as a close and dear friend. You are loved.
In another thought - how about a 'subscribers blog' - one where we pay a subscription to you and get to read your blog? Our Artist in Residence, as somebody else said. And don't forget, you have a lot of connections that you may not realize you have in the mixed media world - how I found out about you was reading Teesha Moore's blog when she was taking your class and raved over it. A Teesha endorsement is a strong one indeed. I know she's written before that she's love to have you come to Seattle and teach. Your friend Pam is way connected...you have some powerful friends as well as us chickadees.

Peace and Prosperity coming your way. Whatever you do will be exactly the right thing. You have the right heart for it.

After reading your post this evening...I thought this might be the right time to tell you that when I have a crap day the thing that get me through the day and get me excited is knowing I can sit down, sign into ROD or FTB,and get lost in the class and my piles of vintage ephemera stuff... So please keep your chin up and reach out when you need encouraging... Crystal

A good friend expressed the same sentiments about her teaching job more than 15 years ago. You need a break. Don't look back - run, or hop, whichever makes you feel best! Your journal is magnificent. Just think how much growth a year of creating and introspection will bring, and how many new choices you will have. If you are in a place to afford it, go for it!

Just wanted to send my virtual hugs...I feel your pain, I work for a very large corporation. The madness is everywhere. Your art has inspired me in so many ways, it helps me wash off all the negative energy that I pick up at work. Just jump, your wings will grow on the way down.

lizzie bo bo ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha grand pompous titles implying significance are NEVER a bad idea. i dont number my travel journals. and i have other journals i havent numbered. somewhere in my nutcracker theres a reason for all this. but i cant put my finger on it at the moment.

I agree with all the posts here. I just wanted to add my voice. Your blog and your honesty and spark have all helped me through a difficult time when I moved across the world to live in Hong Kong. Since I discovered your work, I feel so lucky to use that experience and take note and play and fill my art journals. If you take that LOA, you're more than welcome to spend part of it here. In the long term, I think you should open up a coffee/art house/studio/ paper store filled with all the amazing ideas and products that bounce in your wonderful brain. Just make sure you ship to Hong Kong!!!!

The book is just overall awesome! The view of the front cover is reminiscent of the sun setting on the ocean. If only you could work at our school and you could be a Tarver Dolphin. You'd love my school but you might hate the weather, lol.
Marissa

Good luck with a difficult decision, Mary Ann, and know that we are all thinking of you! BTW, your new journal ROCKS! That is my favorite binding too!

That's lovely! Does that binding have a name or is it your own invention?

lynn,

not my invention, but using it to bind multiple signatures is my idea. its called sewn chains. i teach it in my bookbinding journaling class FULL TILT BOOGIE. it was originally an embroidery stitch i believe.

Always good to take a break, if you can swing it. Lots of pros and cons, but what a lovely replenishing of your spirit it would be. Good luck with your decision.
And as always, the journal binding, pages, images, techniques are fabulous. :)

Heck ya! that'w worth a lot!!

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