My niece, Michelle Stevens has been in school for much of her life. Of course, she went through the normal public school, at which time she discovered her amazing talent in the area of art. She also discovered that she was an excellent teacher. Put the two together, and you have a career. With that goal in mind, Michelle set out right after high school to study to become an art teacher. If you think that doctors go to college a long time for their degrees, you will find yourself amazed about the length of time an art teacher has to go. I suppose it is partly the double major, but when you think about the fact that teachers need 4 years, you will begin to understand just how much there is to learn about art. Michelle has been in college for a little over ten years now…but that study time has come to a close. Michelle will wait to march with her class, but with the end of this semester, came the end of her schooling, and her Bachelors Degree. She is done, except for one last day of student teaching today. What a great birthday present that is!!
I’m sure that there must be a feeling of, almost disconnect right now, because Michelle has been in school for so long. Nevertheless, there also must be feelings of elation and even relief, because the long years of preparation are over, and she can start her career. Michelle is going to make an excellent teacher, and I know that any child she teaches will be very blessed to have her for their art teacher. Her abilities are amazing. I’m not sure what grade Michelle will be teaching, or if she will be teaching multiple grades. She will stay in Spearfish, South Dakota, probably substitute teaching for the rest of this school year, and then I have learned that the plan is possibly to move back to Casper, Wyoming and begin her career here. I know that we would all love that, but I also know that people have to go where the jobs are. I just pray that the jobs will be here for her, because I know that her family would love having her back home so much.
It’s funny that an artist really must get dirty and messy to craft the beautiful pieces of artwork they make. I never really thought of Michelle as being one of those people who would love to get dirty, but I kind of think she is. I guess it goes with the career. I haven’t had the opportunity to see all of Michelle’s work, by any stretch of the imagination, but what I have seen is beautiful. I think that every artist has their personal favorite works, and while I’m not sure which one is Michelle’s favorite, I have a favorite of her works. It takes me to a place of peace. A place I love to be…the outdoors. It makes me think of a hike, and coming up of a bench where you can look out over the countryside and drink in all it’s beauty. It might be a simple sketch, and maybe Michelle doesn’t even think it is beautiful, but I do, and they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so there you have it. Today is Michelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Michelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Kids are always doing goofy little things, and my niece Michelle is no exception. When I asked my niece, Lindsay, who is Michelle’s cousin/best friend/partner in crime, to give me a little dirt on Michelle for her birthday story, little did I know what I would hear. When I think of Michelle, I automatically think of Lindsay too, because they were practically inseparable as kids, and while they live a good distance away from each other now, that distance has not changed their friendship at all. As little kids, they decided to make up a special language for themselves. In the end they made up several…and they both knew exactly what the other one was saying. I suppose that it might be because their languages were logical to a degree. Lindsay explained one language this way. My name is spelled Caryn, so in their language it would be Caong Arong Yon Nong. Now that’s a pretty long version of a name that isn’t really that long, but that would be the name anyway. The girls understood each other completely, and their favorite thing to do was to go to Walmart and walk around talking to each other in their secret language…just to see the people around them looking at them like they were crazy. They enjoyed that so much that they spoke that language for two years.
No matter how inventive these girls were, the one thing they couldn’t imagine was enjoying a Bologna sandwich. Their grandma, my mom fed her kids and grandkids a lot of Bologna sandwiches through the years, and whenever she fed them to Michelle and Lindsay, they would take the Bologna off and throw it in the bushes in the back yard, and eat the sandwich with mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles, and they decided that they kind of liked it…and they thought Mom’s taste in sandwiches was bad. I’m sorry, but I beg to differ. Mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles…I don’t think so, girls. Still, it’s a wonder the bushes didn’t die, because…let’s face it, Bologna isn’t plant food. Michelle, is however, a very good cook, and in their senior year, Michelle had a free period right before lunch. She would go home and make lunch for Lindsay who would come over at lunch. It was a fond memory of Lindsay’s from that year. Another fond memory is the day that Michelle and Lindsay kidnapped, Lindsay’s little sister, Kellie and made her ditch her class. Kellie was a little freaked out about it, but their mom, my sister, Allyn was a good sport, and didn’t kill them for it.
Michelle is seldom called Michelle, because she has a number of nicknames. I don’t know if these date back to the secret languages or not, but Lindsay has long called her Mash Stav…don’t ask me why or what that means, because it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just one of the goofy names they used. Lindsay also called her Meechelle, my Belle. Lacey, Michelle’s little sister often called her Mish Mash. They couldn’t go with any of the normal nicknames, like Shelly or anything, because that would be too…normal. And not to be outdone, Michelle had nicknames for Allyn’s family too. Lindsay became Lance, Kellie became Killay, and Allyn became Lynnie…and there are probably many more that we haven’t thought of.
Michelle is a very intelligent person. She has moved to Spearfish, South Dakota to finish her education, before beginning her career choice of being an art teacher. She is an incredible artist and will be an amazing art teacher. She is also a very fun person, who is a friend to all. While she does feel lonely and homesick sometimes, she likes the Spearfish area, and especially the lack of wind. We miss her too. Today is Michelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Michelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every year when our annual trip to The Black Hills is over, I feel a bit of sadness. I always hate to see it come to a close, but this year is a little different. This year it feels like we are leavig something behind…or rather, someone. My niece, Michelle, who is the daughter of my sister, Alena and her husband, Mike, has moved to Spearfish during the time that Bob and I have been on our vacation. She will be going to college at Black Hills State University in Spearfish for the next two years, so she will live there for at least that long. It’s strange to feel like we left something behind, when we didn’t even see Michelle on this trip, but still that’s how it feels.
I remember when Michelle was born. She was a teeny little girl with beautiful eyes. She loved to laugh and made everyone around her smile. With every smile, her eyes danced and her whole face lit up. Michelle was one of those bubbly people who was a lot of fun in any crowd…and yet she was not the type of person to be conceited in any way, and hurting anyone’s feelings was just not her style.
Michelle has always had an artistic flair, and it is that ability that has prompoted this move. She wants to teach art, and to get her degree she must switch from Casper College to a University, in order to get the rest of the needed credits. I believe she will make an excellent teacher…or an amazing artist…if that is what she chooses to do, but the thing that I find very odd, is that she should still be this little girl in grade school. Where have the years gone? Michelle simply should not be old enough to be living on her own…in a different state!! But, she is and all those little girl days are over for her.
Yes, as Bob and I head home from our vacation, it feels like we are leaving someone behind. That’s because we are. It is little Michelle, who is not so little anymore. She didn’t come over with us, but nevertheless, she is staying behind in The Black Hills to live, work, go to college, and start living her own dreams. For many of us, it is a sad day, because we won’t be able to see her smiling face as much as we used to. For her, it is a bittersweet day, because while she wants to chase her own dreams, she will also feel the twinges of homesickness for a while, and she will miss her family…sometimes terribly. But, she will be fine. She will get used to being away, and the homesickness will ease. All we can ask is that she remembers that we love her, and that she remembers the way home.