Saturday, February 07, 2015

Saturday Morning Art

With my schedule, art has taken a back seat. This morning, mostly caught up on school and related activities, I chose to spend a couple of hours playing in Photoshop Elements. I took the pictures last weekend up at Amicalola Falls and played with them a little--basic editing--but I wanted to have some fun today. Here are my favorites:

Most of the editing is my own manipulations, but I did play around with some actions by Greater Than Gatsby's Three Nails Collection.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Sunset in North Georgia

Disappointment is part of life. But now and then, I capture a sunset and remember that it really isn't about me or what I want. It's how I respond to whatever God allows for me. That's the important thing.

I'm learning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Saturday, January 03, 2015


2015 looks to be a significant year in my life. I turn 50 in February. I complete my M.Ed. in May. I will hopefully find a job at a community college and begin work on a Ph.D. I will continue to sing with the Georgia Symphony Choir, will craft and create as time allows, and improve my skills as a photographer. I will continue to run and lift weights to keep me healthy and strong. Daughter #2 will graduate and be on her own. Daughter #3 will continue her studies on the KSU campus. Daughter #1 and her husband will celebrate their third anniversary, and who knows whether they will decide to begin having children of their own?

I intend, as last year's word stated, to be a better friend, a better wife, and a better human being.

All that said, this year really does represent a new identity for myself, and I'm not yet sure what that looks like.

As a student and researcher, I thrive on discovery and innovation. As a parent, I release my children to their own lives, hoping they will find their way home again. As an employee? I don't know, since that teaching position still eludes me. Grandparent? I can't even imagine, especially since Daughter #1 lives five hours away. Friend? I hope to find that balance of companionship and support without falling into my usual habit of pushing away out of fear of rejection. Seems silly to fear rejection at 50, but I do.  I'll keep working on it.

So, in this new season of my life, who am I? What do I want to be when I grow up? This year, 2015, I hope to figure that out. It is a time of change in every possible way. Who will I be a year from now?

We shall see.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Grandma's Pattern

For years this pattern has evoked childhood memories of visiting my Grandpa and Grandma Cook. It wasn't a pattern I would choose for my own everyday dishware, but Grandma loved it and Grandpa made sure she always had a full set.

When Grandma died just before Thanksgiving, I knew the only memento I would ever need was one piece of Franciscan Desert Rose. I learned about back-stamping and the history of the pattern before looking for a piece. Grandma started her collection in the 1950s, and probably hadn't gotten replacements since the 1990s, so I knew I wanted to find something within that time frame. It turns out the company started it in the 1940s in California, going through a couple of company changes before being sold to Wedgwood in the mid 1980s. Manufacturing moved to England until 2003, when Wedgwood sold and manufacturing relocated to China.

As with most vintage items, the older pieces are the most valuable. I was able to collect cups and saucers dating from the 1950s to 1980s. Each daughter received a cup and saucer. I kept eight so I could have a full set. I found serving bowls from the 1960s from my brother who had a special relationship with Grandma. I received the 1958-1965 range sugar bowl and creamer for Christmas. The teapot was a fabulous find. It is in great condition, but is obviously well-loved by a previous owner. It is dated March, 1947.

Now on my counter top, the tea set always reminds me of my Grandma whose love language was acts of service, whose refrigerator was always stocked with Pepsi, and whose pantry always had a few of my favorite cookies tucked away.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Cactus

My Christmas Cactus is glorious this year, but I wanted to get a shot that was a little different. I took this picture near the Christmas tree (okay, one of the 27 trees) and used a slow shutter speed with a wide open aperture to get the back-lit bokeh effect. I then used a Kim Klassen overlay to create texture and a vignette action from Greater than Gatsby.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Honored and Humbled

Tonight was truly inspirational. And humbling. I knew back in August that I had received a scholarship from the Leitalift Foundation, but I had no idea until tonight just how significant it was. I have joined the ranks of a very few educators in Georgia to be recognized for passion and determination in spite of obstacles. In my case, the obstacles came in the form of age and financial need. The passion, however, was what the scholarship committee saw. I had no way of knowing, but my desire to make education about the students again caught their attention.

But it's true. I am so fed up with a system that makes test scores the sole measure of a child's worth. We have ceased as a society to value creativity and independent thinking and problem solving in favor of some "objective" measure of knowledge. The problem is, teenagers are too smart for that measurement. They know how to game the system. They become expert test-takers, but retain little actual knowledge because it isn't relevant to their lives. Their learning happens outside the classroom where they are sometimes subject to ideas and processes they may not be cognitively ready for. But as a society, we have forced them there. School is boring. The tools of business are largely ignored in the public schools; worse yet, they are often blocked. We live in a digital world, but the education system is locked into a formula devised in the 1950s and last updated in the 1980s. We may have standardized tests, but we are not standardized individuals. To reduce anyone's value to a test score is wrong on every level. 

I was expected (unknowingly) to say a few words about my passion and inspiration. Because so much of my feelings on education were articulated by Madeleine L'Engle, I quickly pulled up a quote that became the centerpiece of my moment on stage:

"The creative impulse can be killed, but it cannot be taught...What a teacher can working with children, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I'm concerned, this providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations." (A Circle of Quiet, 1972)

My passion as an educator is to fan the flame of creative passion, of excellence, and of delight in learning. This passion is not at home in the current public school space. My goal, then, is to offer a point of view that is student centered, practical minded, and relevant in the long term. My hope is the my work going forward inspires those who follow to rebel against a culture of standardization in pursuit of something greater: beautiful individuality that leads to innovation, excellence, and independence.

Me and Denise, 2014 recipients
Denise and I both received this scholarship. She is a single mom who already has an MBA but felt compelled to get her Master of Arts in Teaching with an ESOL (non-native English speaking students) specialty. We are both driven and determined women who are motivated even more now to give back by pursuing excellence.

I received a certificate saying, 
" The Directors of the Leitalift Foundation unanimously selected Stephanie Loomis to receive a 2014 scholarship. Leitalift scholarships are granted to women who have exhibited an extraordinary desire and commitment to enriching their lived through furthering their education.

Leita Thompson founded the Leitalift foundation is 1956 with her own earned funds as a working woman to assist working women find a fuller life. Clarice Bagwell was Leitalift Foundation President until her death in 2001. The spirit and tenacity of these two women are behind this scholarship grant.

The scholarship recipient by accepting this grant commits to do her best to accomplish her education goals in this coming year."

Challenge accepted, with gratitude and humility.

Thank you Clarice Bagwell/ Leitalift Foundation. With the Lord's help and blessing, I will prove myself worthy.