Shadows laid to rest

About seven and a half months ago a combination of circumstances including a decline in my mental health saw me leave my last full time role and the teaching profession frontline for the final time. My last visit to the school buildings was a surreptitious trip to collect my belongings at about 7 in the morning before staff were about to avoid meeting others except those supervising my visit.

Since then I have spoke with many of my ex pupils, some of their parents and some ex colleagues. The school premises however were an area I had no reason to return to, but had a shadow for me,

Today I ran a stand at the school’s Summer Festival. I was on the school grounds again but in plain sight. I found out about the event from friends involved in the school. I contacted my ex headteacher to see if he and staff would be ok with me being there, his reply was positive.

I did not take much financially, but got to raise awareness of my art work. The key for me was that the shadow of creeping back into school is now laid to rest. I found it very touching that after 35 weeks of the school year my 10 week stint was still significant for a number of pupils who have had several staff since. 

There will always be others who will not want to communicate, I respect this but today was another significant step for me. I continue to have nightmares where teaching situations go “wrong” and it is going to take a long time to finally let go of my teacher role after 28 years plus,  I hope it does come sooner rather than later.

Dear reader, have you had circumstances where you have laid a “shadow” to rest?

Advertisements

I believe…

I am now happy to use the word artist to describe myself after a very successful Purbeck Art Weeks 2017 fortnight – to see more re detail please read the posts on Http://AndyKnillArt.wordpress.com .

In 16 days 252 people visited my Open studio, they spent over £400 on art that I produced and I worked 16 consecutive days – not a pattern to repeat too often.

I would like to thank my blog followers and especially old education teacher friends for their support in my “new life”.

Dreaming…what’s it all about?

I awoke at 06:30 in a slight panic and need to escape my dream, not the first time and I am quite sure not my last since I left teaching I have quite frequently had bad dreams about me failing in classrooms / teaching because of Poor discipline or breaking down mentally / emotionally. I have left, I am not going back to a classroom ever again because I know I have lost / used up all my mental resilience. I find myself talking to visitors to my art studio at the moment about my mental health ran out, came to the end of its tether.

My brain/ memories however won’t let go. I had the messages of support from ex pupils and colleagues. I k ow that most of the time I did a good if not excellent job but no more. That last statement still saddens me as I came out because I fell apart for a range of cumulative reasons.

Please do not offer me spiritual / religious belief based answers to my dreams because I will not be able to cope with such theories.

In reflecting, I realise how quickly I feel on edge in situations where I feel I have let others down. I must allow myself some space, forgiveness and aim to let go of things and thoughts, but it is not proving easy. Since I started essentially a new direction in my life officially on January 1st 2017 I have had several crises of confidence. However, at the same timeI can recognise that I have had many successes from:

– Glimpses of Brilliance (GOB) diary – loads of positives on most days

– I can do and am indeed more than “teacher”

– I can cope with things not working, mainly

– peace and quiet are actually pleasurable and I do not always have to be doing

Many thanks to those who continue to be supports and / or reach out. Some people. I have met in 2017 have found it odd to hear that I have mental health issues, but I can assure them that side will become apparent  at times.

Andy

– 

Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW) 2017

Well my biggest art adventure has started. On Friday May 26th I transformed a painted outbuilding shell into a working art studio. The dream of using our rustic outbuilding was achieved. So now I have a workspace to use. Admittedly if it is to be used in the winter it will need heating as it has the ambient temperature of a cave especially when the door is open six hours a day to welcome visitors in to my “open studio”.

I have artwork produced in the last four months (on Wed. 31st) in four exhibitions, I had a piece in one previous exhibition and I also have a range from greetings cards at £2 each to original pieces at £150 to offer. It has been a very productive time. I am now producing individual one off original hand drawn cards as well as my printed offerings also based on my art and photography.

My AndyKnillArt blog (https://andyknillart.wordpress.com) now features a weekly update but for the duration of PAW I am doing a daily blog to share how the experience is going.

If you are interested in any of the artwork please contact me on andy.knill@gmail.com, I am keen to widen my sales area which so far extends to Belgium and Qatar as well as Dorset.

My latest Art update . . .

https://andyknillart.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/andy-knill-art-news-update-18th-may/

Reflections . . .

This blog has had a more retrospective / reflective role in the last 8 months as a new beginning fell apart and an alternative new beginning started. Last night I sat and read through all the posts from August 2016 to April 2017. It was good to see how low I had become and I was able to see that even on #rollercoaster days where my mood varies that I am in a better place.

So, how is life now we are in May:

This weekend I do my 14th and 15th shifts at Wareham Boat Hire – I have now manned the business on my own a couple of times and successfully set up and packed away. I have had a go in all of the boats except the SUPs which have rarely been out so far. I have learnt routines, how the various types of equipment work. I have a better knowledge of Wareham and am able to help visitors with questions. I really enjoy my days by the river in our sun trap. I have been fortunate to have only had one shift rained out. Last week Anne , while visiting, asked how I would score the job out of 10 for how happy it made me feel – my answer 19 !! Yes it is that good. At the end of the day I go away relaxed with nothing extra to do. I have started to paddle my own SOT kayak too in Swanage and on the River Frome. I will do more of this as it helps me when guiding our clients.

My artwork – I enjoy it but the being commercial aspect has caused variations in my mood and self doubt to come thundering in. In the next 16 days as we head into Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW17) I will:

– collect exhibition piece one back from L’Artishe gallery in Swanage

– drop off pieces, exhibition sheets and labels at Etches fossil collection in Kimmeridge, Verges piece for RSPB Arne and Corfe Castle canvas, prints and cards at Rollington Barn for PAW HQ exhibition. I will also have pieces on show at Art Workshop in Swanage

– make my home Open Studio (22) ready to receive visitors with signs, a silk flag, old examples of work and new pieces developed through the 16 days of the art festival.

– I must just enjoy the experience of chatting about my work, mental health linked reasons for starting. A lot has happened since the end of January, yes all that time ago!!

So life has enough to keep me busy. In addition there are family linked tasks that take up attention to. If you are in Dorset over May 27 to June 11 please pop by between 10 and 4pm for art stuff and contact me about other times. We have some guests booked but others are welcome.

This week some things have knocked me off kilter but now over 130 days into my GOB diary keeping only 11 have ended as being below ok. I don’t always dismiss the negatives now and some of those dominate my thoughts but every day has positives of some sort and there is clearly another side to me apart from teacher and I have a future worth living. Those two aspects are huge compared to where I was mentally just a few months ago.

Alternatively there are also weekly news updates about the art work on AndyKnillArt blog.

Wow, didn’t know about this….

Checked twitter feed last night to find this picture sent to me.


So after some tweeting, linkedin messages later, this morning I have a copy of what was said about me.


Yes turn your screen or head but don’t crick neck. I have thanked my likely nominators and am now going for afternoon / evening trip to be at #gaconf17 #teachmeet and #beermeet although I will be on soft drinks to drive back tonight as working in the morning.

Very honoured to have my contribution recognised like this. 

Meanwhile….

Part time job for Wareham Boat Hire means I spend lots of time splashing about in a river moving boats and talking to a wide range of customers. 

Artwork is going steadily in build up to Purbeck Art Weeks – see http://AndyKnillArt.wordpress.com for separate art blog. 

Mental health generally good – now been keeping GOB diary for 110 days and 102 are positive.

Life is much more relaxed, frequently fun and quirkiness encouraged.

How far can one’s life change?

On 24 August 2016 I moved to the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. My aim to start a new teaching job, live in a dream property in a fantastic part of the country. To rediscover more time to spend with the family, to get outdoors and to regain more stability in my mental health.

About 7.5 months on plans have changed but my life has changed so much and for the better too. If you regularly read my posts this will repeat some points from previous posts.

I moved to live alone while issues to do with our family home in Essex were resolved. I was in a beautiful house, surrounded by countryside but only 15 minutes from work. The weather was generally good to start with. The job offered much. However, it didn’t work for me on many levels and it didn’t help my mental health at all.

Living alone was a shock after so long – 25 years. Lack of communication with no landline, mobile signal, or broadband was a big upheaval for someone who spent so much time networking and communicating with others online. I developed work resources using online contacts and sites previously. Now I was forced to go cold turkey and I didn’t cope well with it. I would joke when ringing friends and family from nearby country lanes where I could walk to get a signal that all was ok. I genuinely didn’t miss tv and now still only watch a few programmes, often recorded first. The contact gap with familiar voices however was much harder.

Work, well there was a lot of change and the above aspects that were already impacting on my mental health were exacerbated by my limitations in not being able to do much work from home, something I had relied on previously. I admitted some of this but not the true nature of my thoughts as I feared being removed from the post. The only harm I would have done would have been to myself but my moods were on a much steeper rollercoaster than previously and the dips were frightingly threatening to my own mental stability. I also hid this from home, a mistake but I loved the area and knew the house had potential for the family. Unfortunately I got to the point, linked to previous experiences, where what I saw as criticism became a stick to beat myself with emotionally and a path to recovery got to the point where it was no longer an option. I had to make the job work or teaching and I would separate at last, that scared me as I did not perceive that I existed beyond my label as teacher. Well in November after the family had been here a fortnight the job crumbled – I did and I lost teaching as part of my life. I still have bad dreams,sometimes even nightmares about educational settings normally a jumble of places I have worked. It will take a long time to let go fully as 28 years and a term took a lot from me.

So what has changed?

I live in a beautiful house with three other family members – my wife, younger son and mother in law. Everyone has now settled in and we are starting with the better weather and lighter days and evenings to get outside and work on the garden more. The house has the services (still no mobile signal) that It lacked when I moved here. We have grown into it.  I would say we are all happier generally for the experience and look forward to seeing more how the area changes through the seasons.

Work – I am now working as an artist, I endeavour to sell some of my work, I have a Facebook page, an art blog. I have signed up for classes, craft fairs and the local arts weeks later on. I have met many very generous local artists and crafters who are willing to share experiences and advice on resources and services. Also I have a part time job that involves being in and out of water in the River Frome at Wareham, I love that aspect. Work is not stressful as before. I still be the chance to use my teaching skills when helping coach juniors at the Swanage Sea Rowing club.

Anne,  my wife and I have spent more time together since she moved down five months ago than we probably have throughout our marriage of 24 years as I am not working 60 hour weeks, lots of my work is done from home. It has helped our relationship which is now in a better place. I know Vi my mother in law much better and at 95 she continues to be an inspiration in her vitality. My son Charlie and I have had more time to go and do things together which I hope isn’t too much of a bi d for him, I enjoy it.

Fitness – I was told I could join one club when I moved here, the fact that at a few points  I have been there six days a week didn’t impress but it has brought me a much fitter health. I have made many new friends and I love that training has now moved back o to the sea after a winter on the ergos in the rowing hall.

Mental health – thank you to my new GPs at the Corfe Castle surgery who have been very supportive, alongside the great Swanage Depression Support Group whose company I enjoy bi-weekly. Being able to shed and share has helped a great deal and they have commented on how much I have changed from my start in November. New acquaintances have even been surprised that I have a mental health issue as I do t present that way currently.

In the last week I have reflected that I have made more friends here than in the last 27 years. I am happy. I love my surroundings. I continue to learn new skills and things most days. Life has a future, I don’t know completely how it will be but there will be ways that don’t involve creating extra stresses.

If you get this far please comment or say hi on social media, in the street….

New place, making links

When I first came to live in Doraeti had a very difficult initial two months without family, with very little furniture. I had a job that fulfilled me but circumstances meant that when I wasn’t at work life was hard to cope with. I was reminded of this today after a comment on one of my posts by Mell.

I responded to her comment and offered a chance to meet Anne and myself after our art workshop in town. Indeed we did meet and were able to share some links, names that.  Might be helpful. Mell is blogging at Mell. See her posts, I hope that we can help her as others have helped us to settle into the community.

It’s a Friday post again – two week gap this time

So tomorrow is my first Craft fair and trying to sell my work to people at a formal event. If you read this on Saturday – Rempstone Road, Swanage- St Edwards Catholic Church hall from 10 am to 4 pm. Come by and say hi.

This week has been busy with a visit to see my Dad in Kent. It included a trip to Langdon Cliff above Dover Western docks. A sunny day but slightly breezy so we had lunch inside. Then a coastal drive back theough Kingsdown, Deal and Sandwich. Then ice cream sundaes for three adults at Morellis, it was fun.

Traffic to and from Kent included congestion and alternative routes through the northern New Forest on route to and the SouthDowns returning. The visit to IKEA in Southampton, although useful was probably a bit too much. So Wednesday was a tired day.

Acrylics workshop this week included the mixing of coffee grounds and paint- it will be interesting to see if the pieces smell of coffee once dry next week. A disappointing survey on the property we are/we’re looking to buy so some replanning needed. In the evening a social gathering linked to my support group included a range of songs live by Emily Maguire, the niece of our host – a very touching range of pieces.

Thursday I built several items – wire frame carousel and put cards in it,Alex drawer unit for art supplies from IKEA that includes new full range of promarkers colours. Also have browser for fine art prints. Finished bathroom unit that Charlie had started but became stuck on- a bit more force and problem solving but took hint and volunteered to try. Inevening rowed for first time since Three rivers on 4th March. Rowing at 2 onstrokeside was different, only one crab and a quick pin change showed how practice drills help.

Today a variety of retail visits and preparation for craft fair tomorrow – I will report back on this.