Runs with Scissors… and persistence!
Here I am again, taking a break from running with my scissors to spend time on the Penny Black Blog. The studio is fresh and airy with the windows open and the April breezes blowing through. The azaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom where I live, thanks to the April showers.
And just in time for full blown spring, the Little Bit of Sunshine release is now available in the Penny Black Store. As much as I love sneak peeks, they make it hard for me to wait for the new stamps and dies. But, as always, the Little Bit of Sunshine release was worth the wait.
If a stamping fairy godmother happened to land on my craft desk and offered me three crafty wishes, one of them would be to conquer the technique of water coloring. After several failed attempts at doing this Light Touch cling stamp justice, I switched to my Pigma markers and applied the color directly to the stamp, and then stamped onto the cardstock. I thought I would add a little Asian touch using part of a Geometric diecut.
The Bookmark die set comes with three smaller dies allowing you to decorate your bookmark in several themes. But for this bookmark I used the Folk Flower die from the new Little Bit of Sunshine release to decorate. What a gorgeous intricate die! I chose to use white cardstock with just a dusting of pink on the flowers, but you could use any number of colored papers to create your garden. Two of those Folk Flower diecuts would cover a card front and make a lovely textured background.
The Butterfly Dance cling stamp is a very large stamp that includes an incredible amount of detail. I prepared my white cardstock by blending Memento Luxe inks and drying with my heat gun. I stamped the Butterfly Dance image using VersaMark ink and heat embossing with white. I then cut the image to fit a standard card front. This stamp would be great to use for mixed media projects. I stamped the sentiment onto vellum and added some dimensional butterflies. One can never have too many butterflies!
Chapter 3: Back to School, Eventually
During the weeks of winter break before the spring semester started, it became obvious to me that my giving up working and returning to school was creating stress on our newly formed family. Mr. RWS was seeing his savings disappear; the teen aged boys at home were having difficulty adjusting to another parent in the house; and I was feeling guilty for consuming family resources during such a time of transition for our family.
No one asked me to give up school. It was a realization I came to between semesters. It would take another two years of full time attendance to finish. Those two years were high school years for my teenagers at home which would include their band and sports events. The two little girls that became part of our family needed time and attention on the weekends they stayed with us. The dream was right, the timing was wrong.
When I announced I would not be returning for the next semester, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the men in my family. I must have been very convincing when I told them this is what I really wanted because they declared we were going out to dinner to celebrate. I kept my sad feelings tucked away and consoled myself with knowing I was capable of doing college level work and if only things had worked out differently I could have been a college graduate.
And so the years went by. I went back to work, this time for the State of Wisconsin and began earning retirement benefits and a salary that became the golden handcuffs that made leaving for any other career a bad idea.
But the dream would not die. One day I was again sharing with a supervisor who had become a mentor, the sadness and disappointment I felt about not finishing school. I guess she had heard this tale of woe often enough that it caused her say to me, “Judy, you either have to go back to school and finish or stop talking about it.”
It was like a sharp blow. I had been talking about going back to school for so many years it had become a part of who I was. And the idea of not being able to do that anymore was too painful to contemplate.
I looked at our family situation and realized that the 7th and last child at home (both of Mr. RWS’ daughters eventually chose to come live with us) would be finishing high school in five years and then it would be her turn for college, not mine. If I didn’t go back before that happened, I would never go back. I signed up to purchase a U.S. Savings Bond each payday and began stacking them up.
After three years of saving I had enough set aside to enroll in Concordia University’s evening program for returning adults. No teenagers allowed! Classes were held on the nearby National Guard base to allow those members of the military to advance their careers by earning a college degree. We were all managers in our work life and were pursuing a degree in Business Management. It no longer made financial sense for me to change careers and become a teacher. This had become a purely personal goal.
Concordia University accepted all my credits and allowed me to earn thirty more by documenting life experiences equal to classes in their catalog (no small project).
I needed to take 15 three credit classes to graduate. Classes were held year around and it would take me almost two years to complete my studies. Best of all, because the classes were held at night I could continue working.
It had been more than ten years since I last dropped out of school and I was determined that this time nothing was going to stop me. Not even my breast cancer diagnosis and lumpectomy which took place on a Tuesday. I was back in class that Wednesday.
When I think back I don’t know how I managed to work full time and attend classes and do homework for the six weeks of radiation that followed my diagnosis. It had become do or die, now or never. I do remember being so exhausted that I was worried about being able to attend a son’s marriage. I skipped the rehearsal dinner in order to marshal enough energy to dance at his wedding.
Well, what cancer couldn’t stop, my class in Statistics almost did. With vivid memories of my difficulties with word problems in remedial elementary math, I began my Statistics class with great fear. Even Mr. Math Major husband was unable to penetrate the dense area of my brain where math ability was meant to reside. It took tutoring by my sister-in-law who somehow was able to explain things so that they seeped into my brain.
While my classes took place in a small classroom setting with about 25 classmates, graduation would be held at Concordia University of Wisconsin’s main campus in Mequon, near Milwaukee. It was my goal from day one to walk across that stage to accept my diploma with the hundreds of traditional students who would be graduating.
Eventually the day came to pick up my cap and gown which I arranged to do on my lunch break. I proudly hung that gown in the entry to my work space for all to see. I would have worn it for the entire week if I could.
Family and friends were in the audience when, finally, at the age of 57, mother of seven, cancer survivor, I walked across the stage and accepted my diploma.
It was finished. I had done it.
Look at the size of the amazing Floral Butterfly from the new A Little Bit of Sunshine release. I chose to use white cardstock for my butterfly, but imagine the possibilities if you created your own colored papers by blending inks. Pure white would be great for wedding or sympathy cards, too. I used the “amazing” die from the OMG die set, so this card will be used to recognize a friend’s recent completion of her graduate studies.
The retro telephones are from the Birthday Tweetings cling set. Here they convey congratulations and excitement for a job well done. I stamped the phones first on the white cardstock base with black ink and then heat embossed the images in white on black cardstock. I added some color to the set stamped on black with Copic markers, fussy cut them and popped them up with dimensionals.
Be still my heart! The Little Bit of Sunshine release includes seven mini sets of adorable children images. This stamp is called Big Shoes. I’ve colored her with Copics and did some masking to create the patch of color on the front of the card. When I thought I was finished the card seemed too monochromatic so I blended some Luxe green inks on cardstock and cut out two trees using the Trio of Trees die set. Now this little sweetie can head to the shade and take those shoes off for a bit. These images are perfect for coloring in any medium.
Cooper is going to have a sleepover with his friend Deuce this weekend so Mr. RWS and I can join friends for a day trip to visit Helen Keller’s home and a Frank Lloyd Wright house near Florence, Alabama. He stays in a lovely home, complete with a dog park and a gorgeous lake view. We are so thankful for the couple who treat him like family when we are gone.
Before I go I will share with you my remaining two crafty wishes. After conquering water coloring, I would ask for a sense of color to rival that of Jill Foster’s. And I would tell that fairy godmother there is no need for a third crafty wish. Running with Scissors on the Penny Black Blog is a wish already granted. What about you? What would your number one wish be if the fairy godmother stopped by your craft desk?
It’s time to put away the scissors and say good-bye until next time. Now that I’ve shared the tale of being a late blooming college student, I may have to depend on life itself to provide the next story. I appreciate (am addicted to) your comments and enjoy seeing your work in the Penny Black Circle Flickr Gallery.
Shop for today’s featured Penny Black supplies:
- Card No. 1: 51-195 Bookmark, 51-233 Folk Flower, 51-110 Flickr and Flutter, 30-350 Sentiment Collection
- Card No. 2: 40-449 Light Touch, 51-130 Geometrics
- Card No. 3: 40-444 Butterfly Dance, 30-283 Snippets, 51-132 Flights of Fancy
- Card No. 4: 51-234 Floral Butterfly, 51-215 OMG
- Card No. 5: 40-431 Birthday Tweetings, 51-222 Yay
- Card No. 6: 30-359 Big Shoes, 51-208 Trio of Trees