Archive for May 15th, 2013

Speaking to Debb VanDelinder's class-- GC MyersI spent several hours yesterday at a local school, Southside High School in Elmira,  speaking to a couple of Drawing and Painting classes, trying to give them an idea of what it is like to be a professional artist.  I was there at the invitation of their instructor, Debb VanDelinder, who is a highly accomplished artist  in addition to her work as an arts educator.   I am not sure if the kids in her classes realize how talented she is and how fortunate they are to have her instruction and advice.   I will have a posting on her work in the near future but you can see her wonderful work at her site, debbvandelinder.com.

I’ve given a number of talks over the years, many of which I have described here.   Speaking to captive high school classes is always a little more daunting than speaking before a group of adults who have made a choice to attend.   There are always a number of kids who are not thrilled to have to sit and listen to an old guy talk at them for eighty minutes and most of the kids who are interested  are hesitant to speak or ask questions.  But both classes yesterday were pretty attentive and when questions were asked, they were insightful, based on keen observations.   I left very impressed with both classes.

My main purpose in speaking with them was to show them that someone with a background very much like their own could follow their dreams, overcome obstacles and attain a degree of success by following their passion.   I tried to really impress on them the need to practice excellence in everything that they attempt, that  by giving a committed effort at every step of their working life, even at that first menial job,  they are setting the groundwork for success at that thing that they ultimately want to accomplish.   Success is usually based on small steps forward and requires consistent effort and commitment, even when the end goal seems nowhere in sight.   Every effort is a rehearsal for  excellence.

I pointed out the many crappy jobs that I held in my own journey but I don’t know that I impressed enough on them that I have had many failures in my life and that  they are to be expected but that there is always some lesson to be learned.  If they recognize that lesson they will move past the failure and move closer to that thing that really seek.  I wish that I had spent more time on that as well as on plain and simple goal setting.

Setting a goal puts you on a  course, if only a vague one. This was personally brought home for me when  I was looking at some old journals that I had kept in high school when I was about these kids’ ages.  I thought I had went through my adult life stumbling blindly until I fell into the good fortune of my life as an artist.  It sure felt that way.  But reading in my journal I came across an entry that laid out a couple of things that I hoped for in my later  life.  At that point I wanted to be living happily with Cheri ( my high school love and longtime wife) in a cabin in the woods and to be an artist of some sort.  It seemed like a small goal to ask for when I had written that over 36 years before.  I had  long forgotten ever writing it, that’s for sure.  I didn’t realize until I came across this that I had somehow lived that dream , that I had subconsciously set a course that would somehow lead me to my goals.

Just having an idea of where you’d like to eventually end up allows your mind to set the wheels in motion.

My hope is that all of these kids set their own goals and somehow attain them.  They don’t have to be huge.  They just have to give them a sense of happiness and  accomplishment.  If only one of these kids gets anything out of the words I spoke that helps them move closer to their own private dreams, then yesterday was a good day.

Thanks, Debb, for allowing me to speak with your kids.  And to the kids, thank you for your attention and questions.  I’m rooting for you.  Work hard and be happy.

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