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Adulting, Art Journaling, and the Joy of Adult Education

Adulting is hard. Taking a break doesn’t have to be.

By Meggan Cirrincione

Okay, I have to admit that I have always been one of those people who, when hearing about adult ed classes, has always kind of assumed they were more for “older people.” Older than my frame of mind anyways, which clearly has been struggling to come to terms with my own adulthood. I would secretly scope out the small colored flyer that comes neatly tucked in our little local free shopper paper to see if any of the classes sounded interesting because I am a nerd who is always curious about these things, but it had never really occurred to me that I should perhaps venture outside my little bubble and try one of these classes. There was always some excuse: too busy, no time, not creative enough, not old enough (oh wait . . .), what if I’m the worst student in the class, what if, what if.

Thankfully, I abandoned all reasons to remain a hermit and decided to give one a try. I resisted disciplines like Basic Tree Care, Weed Control, or Winterize Your Yard and Landscaping. (I mean, I would hate to step on my husband’s toes and cause any disturbance to our division of labor that might require him to shift to something equally scary like laundry or dishes. Adulting is hard on all of us.) And even though technology changes faster than I can keep up with, I still come from an internet and computer generation, so things like Google Basics, Apple Devices, and Beginning Computer weren’t as relevant to me, but I appreciated seeing them after recently Facetiming my 80 year old grandparents for the first time. (Grandma and I visited while my three and a half year old and Grandpa made faces as each other.) I perused the numerous bus trip opportunities such as elk viewing at Slippery Ann or The Moss Mansion Christmas tour, but what peaked my interest the most this time was KellyAnne Terry’s Intro to Art Journaling class. Two nights for two hours. I figured even with little ones at home and a busy job, I could make time for that.

When the first evening rolled around, I was coming out of a pretty tough day to be honest. It was easy for me to start second guessing if this was a good idea. As I walked into the high school art room to a handful of unfamiliar faces, my mind was still reeling from my day, and I all I could do was resign myself to the fact that I had already paid, so I might as well wing it. I am so glad I did. There were a few people who had done other adult ed classes in the past and a few people who came with friends, but I felt right at home as my student instincts kicked in, and the desire to learn and try something new outweighed my stress and uncertainty.

I had heard of art journaling as a trendy new stress reliever, but I had never really considered myself to be artistic or very creative for that matter so this was a giant leap for me. KellyAnne put my fear to rest right away explaining that stick figures were a legitimate part of her skillset. She had several of her beautifully done art journals to share in spite of the stick figure situation, so this gave me hope. She reassured us all that what makes art journaling special is that it is personal like any journal, and sometimes it won’t even make sense. No pressure or expectations, just create whatever comes to you. This was very liberating, and I knew I was sold when art journaling was explained in her handout as “a visual conversation with yourself.” I mean, we all talk to ourselves a little anyways, right?!

Murmurs of quiet conversations, soft music, and the occasional tip from KellyAnne filtered the room as we began playing with the watercolor and acrylic backgrounds,. Her breakdown of the class and introduction to the different products in the kits she put together was easy to follow even for the most novice of students such as myself. As the librarian at our local public library, she also provided the class with some very unique vintage paper products making the experience even more intimate. The kit itself had everything one would need to make art journaling a regular practice. In the week that followed, most of us found ourselves going through old cards, letters, magazines, scrapbooking materials, and other things just lying around because as KellyAnne mentioned, art journaling is the perfect way to repurpose these items or commemorate what otherwise ends up in dusty old shoe boxes. The two classes flew by as we each jumped into working on and creating our own little artful memory.

The class was like a rite of passage into a special little fabric of the community I didn’t even know existed despite living here five plus years. The class was a good reminder that even us grown ups still love to learn and try new things. One of the best parts of the adult ed experience was getting to learn about and share a part of someone else’s passion, a passion that is contagious. We each created pages unique to us that spoke to our individual experiences or mood of the day, but we created and learned together. There was a sense of “collective joy” in this shared experience that was very powerful, relaxing, and just good ol’ plain fun.

I highly recommend giving our local adult ed classes a shot, especially when you are looking for things to do in the colder months. Most classes are about $20-$30 with some costing a little more for materials. (Our kit for art journaling was $25, but well worth it for all the materials we received.) Most of the classes involve fun, stress-free experiences like cake decorating or beginning ice skating, but there are also many practical opportunities such as CPR classes and how to’s. Anyone 16 years old or above can take most adult ed classes, but there are some opportunities for younger kids as well. (That’s right, contrary to certain people’s preconceived notions, these classes have a lot to offer younger people, too!) The fall classes start wrapping up in December, but keep an eye out for the winter (February-March), and spring (April-early June) offerings!

For more information, check out the adult education page on the Lewistown Public Schools’ website, the KXLO-KXCM radio website, or on the Hidden Montana events page. To register for a class, contact the Central Montana Education Center at 535-9022. I hope you have some “old school” fun!