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audacity of asking–mentors part1
I asked. How can I be of assistance? Well, I probably asked it in another way. But those 6 words transform "can I help you" removing the negative the "you are helpless, you need help, here let me tell you how to do this" completely out of the picture. what is your dream? what is the next step toward your dream? how can I be of assistance? sometimes the answer is "just listen" sometimes we can stitch together our own dreams. I asked the student panel at the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) conference, what we as SAQA could do to help them out in their art lives. Instead of just talking about ideas, I thought I would do what I can as an individual to help promote and support the future. so here is a multi-part answer--and yes, this is just my opinion. There is definitely so much I will reveal on this topic, please indulge me with your patience... I thought about the mentors that I have had. Ones that I learned from and ones that I learned lessons from--sometimes seeing what doesn't work is more valuable than what does work. Mr. Wilson, my high school trigonometry teacher I totally forgive you, I think that by telling me "don't worry this is the last math class you will ever take" you were not evil, but were approaching this from your perspective, your world, you life. In the last year, a group of teachers asked several of us female engineers about early influences that helped us study math and science. I bucked at the memory that you probably helped influence me, completely unintentionally. You kinda creeped me out a bit too, not so much your greasy hair, dark clothes, and lisp--all that I can ignore--what really creeped me out was your attitude. Honestly, that might not have been your fault either. When we talk about privilege, we don't always see that there is a curse to having privilege--a responsibility to go beyond. Sometimes that can be seen by others, sometimes everyday heroes take that responsibility and do great things, quietly. From you I learned the importance of attitude, the audacity of attitude. Attitude which needs to be balanced with compassion. Math is not a disease that we are able to tolerate, math is one of the building blocks that gives power and strength. What if we incite a love of mathematics in the world? Lucky for me, earlier in my life, my love of math and science was strongly encouraged--Mrs Raitt in 1st grade with her bouffant hair, snakes and mice in the classroom--mow she was a big part of that influence. We did math in a physical way--blocks, and actual items in our hands--not just numbers and concepts on paper. Matlide Diego I'm not the first. My mom's second grade teacher scared her with multiplacation tables, so much so that mom ran out of the classroom to find her sister. Later that teacher and my mom became great friends, in and we used to visit her, and I even named a doll after her. Remind me to tell you about Tilde my doll and Matilde, my mom's mentor. Oh, and yes, I'm the kid of 2 teachers--well, one teacher and one engineer who has taught. I know that mom will have some good corrections to my story, and to my spelling. I love that! I welcome the hot pink scribbles on my text from my friend and editor, MKOK. Why, cause it makes me stronger. Its the heat. Transmuting me (I'm the coal, or carbon) So when times are tough for others, I can't take their heat away, they need that heat to transmute themselves. But I can be there, sometimes our presence is the best gift we have to share. The audacity of presence. I like the word audacity, with all it's syllables, you can't say it fast, you have to slow down and take your time with it. Yesterday, my mom was looking at her phone and starting to cry--I walked over and gave her a hug thinking that she had just learned of someone's death. Sorry, but it's the age of my parents friends and family members that brings about that inevitable end to our worldly existence. Transmuted. No, it was me that made her cry. Well, it was my words, the story I wrote of her mom. I hadn't said those words directly to her before--they were my words for me, and for this journal writing that is my blog. Mom appreciated my perspective. We each have our histories, my parents didn't share certain stories when I was a child. Their job was to raise us to be independent. When I said it wasn't fair that boys sports got more attention than girls sports, mom didn't agree or disagree--she encouraged me to write a letter to the newspaper. Wish I could find that article now. Might be available in microfiche.