When I was growing up I wanted to be the next Charles Shultz. It wasn’t that I adored “Peanuts” although I was an avid fan. It was because I thought he was a creative genius in his story line. When I informed my parents of this they attempted, without success, to hide their rather shocked and horrified faces. The mere thought of their youngest being a comic strip artist apparently took them by surprise. I was fairly persistent though, and from that point on instead of buying a paperback on our weekly jaunt to the bookstore – I bought how-to books on drawing. I practiced and practiced. I bought paint by numbers, drawing pad, pencils, etc. and threw myself into my thought of becoming a child prodigy artist. My mother, on the other hand, was just as persistent in her goal to dissuade me from this course I had chosen. She gently discouraged my art, while pushing math and science at me. At some point her whispers became louder than my goals and I met defeat. I packed up my sketches and to this day I have no idea where they are.
It was around this time that I discovered I had a decent singing voice. I tried out for the Madrigals at my junior high and was accepted on the spot. This started a wonderful time in my life that eventually culminated at my winning a scholarship to go to Interlochen (http://www.interlochen.org) where I spent two fantastic weeks studying voice and performing. That experience changed me forever. My music professor told me I really should have been there as a mezzo-soprano – not as the soprano I had won the scholarship for. She was not very kind in her dismissal of me and I was struggling the rest of the day with finding my place at this camp. I attended an operetta that evening and was throughly blown away by the performance. It reaffirmed my love of the arts and I gained some of my confidence back – vowing that I would make the best of my stay there…. professor be damned.
I dallied in other aspects of performance arts about this time as well – I started out painting the scenery for plays at our high school, and ultimately ended up performing in them myself. My writing had taken off as well and I had several short pieces published in a few magazines. In taking my college exams, I exempted out of freshman English classes, but I took a few anyway because I really wanted this specific course that was taught at MSU. My parents, however, had been a rather driving force in my life and there was no way they were going to let me major in performance arts or anything of that nature. That was something you only did in your spare time, and I would most likely outgrow. They again pushed Math and Science at me – I started out majoring in Engineering and ended up with an Accounting degree. I was miserable. I am not placing fault on my parents, they were truly trying to push me in a direction they felt would make me successful in life. I just found the whole thing tedious and boring. I did, however, discover martial arts in college and that became my passion for the next 12 years. I only gave up teaching because I became pregnant and it became increasingly difficult to throw people with my cumbersome body.
Ahhhh… the childbearing years. I gave up a lot of myself and my preconceived notions during this time. Becoming a mother was entirely different from what I expected and I’m glad I had the chance to thank my mother and give her my appreciation before she passed on. Having my children awakened my creativity again and I found myself delighting in finding ways to entertain them (and myself). As they got a little older and started developing their own interests my daughter discovered ballet. I began researching schools and chanced upon the Elizabeth Williams School of Dance (http://www.miss-liz.com). Vivian had been taking classes there for a year when I noticed the sign up sheet that said adult ballet was also offered. I came running out to the car where my husband was waiting and I eagerly asked “Can I?”. He kind of got that deer in the headlights look and said “Sure, why not?”. That was when I began my quest to become a ballerina. That was 4 years ago – but it has opened so much inside me. I have progressed through the classes, and although I have a LOT to work on I am fairly decent at least of picking up movements. Since that time I have had the chance to get back on stage again – and coming up soon I will be singing publicly as well.
For so long I fought what was inside me. I realized yesterday that I AM AN ARTIST…….. and I. Love. It! Yes, I am going to be the one wearing skull and cross-bone ballerina flats to class, and letting my long red hair flow when the moment calls for it. I’m going to sing and dance as if no one is watching, and listen to the applause when I am through. This is a glorious life!