Ironically, I was baking a pan of pastitsio, a Greek dish my daughter Mikayla introduced me to, when my personal essay titled “Baking Projects: Needing, Rising, and Letting Go” suddenly appeared in the acclaimed online journal The Rumpus. (See: therumpus.net/…/baking-lessons-needing-rising-and-letting-go/) The essay opens with a description of Mikayla’s effort to bake her second batch of croissants from scratch. The rest of the essay is summed up in the kind words that appeared in my dear friend Camille DeAngelis’ (@cometparty) Twitter feed: “Beautiful essay by @debkacolson about body image, shame, and living (and baking) her way towards self-love.”
Tracy Strauss, my editor at The Rumpus, believed in the work and helped allay my fears about revealing my long history coping with Poland Syndrome. I am grateful to her and to my long-time writing partner Susi Lovell for her ongoing encouragement as I have grappled with the larger project of a memoir told through essays, vignettes, poetry and photographs. The manuscript for the memoir is complete and is currently out in the world seeking a home.
Last but not least, I would also like to mention another dear friend and remarkable artist, Rivka Simmons, who agreed to let me use her colorful collage-paintings of female figures for the essay. Her artwork, including the piece on this page, can be found here: rivkasimmonsart.com.
In the winter of 2013, I was honored to teach a free creative writing workshop to a vibrant group of older adults through the South End Branch Library of Boston. The workshop included poetry and flash fiction and was funded by a grant from Lifetime Arts.
Founded in 2008, Lifetime Arts is a nonprofit organization that serves to inspire and engage America’s growing population of older adults. Their mission, as stated on their website (lifetimearts.org/about/) is “to encourage creative aging by promoting the inclusion of professional arts programs in organizations that serve older adults; to prepare artists to develop the creative capacity of older adult learners; and to foster lifelong learning in and through the arts by increasing opportunities for participation in community based programming. Our approach releases provider and participant from outdated stereotypes that define older people as needy, incapable or frail. While we partner with and advocate for creative aging initiatives that serve all people within this range, we focus on serving independent adults interested in exploring creative expression in a social group setting.”
Lifetime Arts has included me on their “Creative Aging Roster” of teaching artists who are “trained to create and deliver meaningful programming for and with older adults in a variety of settings.” The organization recently contacted me with a request to update my profile as they prepare to launch their “new look” later this month. The new Roster will appear on June 21, 2015. I am thrilled to be included with a network of talented teaching artists from across the country. To see the Roster, please go to: lifetimearts.org/roster/