Contributed by April Blogger of the Month, Letty Watt
“She woke up one day and decided to quit cleaning her house and start decorating her soul instead.” Zentangles
For years I taught, played, created, and dreamed with children from raising three of our own, to the hundreds of children, whose lives touched me as they discovered the joys and journeys to be found through literature and the arts in our libraries and classrooms. My imagination, for what children could achieve and for how I could help them, reached beyond the textbooks and filled me with energy and reward. Students created life-sized dioramas and other forms of expressive art to explain a book; used puppets to tell stories; wrote and illustrated poems to show their understanding of an author’s works; demonstrated the art of storytelling. A giant albatross built from the hands of teachers and students at Jefferson Elementary showed the influence of author Jennifer Dewey. Like it’s mythological self, it hung in that library for nearly twenty years. Then after thirty-five years of teaching, my well ran dry and my soul ached for something new.
My first year of retirement found me on the golf course on nearly every day that ended in “y.” The bursting energies of the warm yellow summer sun energized my withering body. Then the bleakness of winter set in, and I felt like a growling bear, not quite ready to hibernate. Still my soul ached; I missed the children; I missed their energies; I missed my imaginative self who created and shared ideas, but a pitty pott can suck the life out of even a strong-willed person.
Two years passed, and one day I glanced at the muted pink walls of the bedroom turned library and smiled, for there on my own wall hung a lonely “wild thing” with no Max around to create a wild rumpus. I bounced on the bed hoping to wake him up, but still he sat. Sometimes “art” needs inspiration, so I became Rodin’s Thinker. I pulled out my puppets and talked to them. Feeling the comfort of “art” around me, I soon began to imagine who I might be now that time did not tick by with the sound of bells.
On my bookshelf I discovered a copy of The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. Within a day my journey began. On yellow pads of paper I wrote and wrote and wrote, with no ending and no correcting. Joie de vivre began bubbling up in my soul. When my husband came home for lunch, I read aloud my stories. I asked him to bring home more legal sized paper in various colors. Instead, he came home with a brand new computer, for me. It didn’t matter that the words flowed without form or plot. It only mattered that I wrote something every day.
My blog was born, a book half written, and then we moved. It jolted my heart to leave, but within a year my ‘Art Gecko’ room revived my spirit and the words once again flowed. Our house seems dustier now than in years past; the furniture doesn’t get rearranged during frantic surges; the laundry piles up and is often ignored until I look up and laugh.
Decorating one’s soul requires imagination and time. It can tip the scales from heavy to light, and give color to even the dreariest of days.
Writing soothes my soul and clears my mind. I began writing my weekly blog, Literally Letty, with the purpose of building a repertoire of stories for telling aloud, and experimenting with style. Now I write because stories, hidden in the recesses of my mind, are begging to be shared.