Reflections on London

Gabrielle Gleeson | Guest Reporter

“How was London?”

“Hey, it’s the world traveler! How was your trip?”

These are constant greetings I have received since coming home. Some truly want to know, others are just being polite. But here is the uncut version I wish I could sit and tell everyone.

Let’s begin in March 1991.

High school graduation was just two months away. Mrs. Heck, my favorite high school teacher, is pushing for me to go to ECC and major in art. Without the impression, guidance and impact of my beautiful high school art teacher, I would have never pursued art, or have interest, talent or love for the art world.

So I did it! I applied and went to register. I was enrolled—the first in my family to go to college. Then came: How to pay? We had no money for college, so I would have to pay for it myself. I decided to work for a year so I could save up money and then go to college.

Then I met a guy, fell in love, got married and had a baby. I thought I should be practical and go to business school for accounting.

I would not change a thing. Shane and I have built a beautiful family of six: one girl, three boys and they have been the center of my universe for the last 24 years.

However, as many committed mothers do, I put away my dreams of studying and creating art.

20-some years later, my second child had graduated high school. With two in school and two in college, my “mom” duties began to lighten and I found myself time to read, to think, and to relax (sometimes).

In November 2016, I resigned from my HR/payroll position at Hermann Hospital with the opportunity. My husband suggested I take time to figure out what I wanted to do. From working since the age of 14, having four kids to having no job and no kids at home during the day—my house had never been so clean.

By December, my home was a Christmas wonderland. Every gift was wrapped and under the tree by Dec. 16. All of my T’s were crossed, my I’s dotted, and nothing was out of place. There was a huge void: what should I do with myself?

On Christmas morning, I was presented with gifts that my four children went shopping together and bought. Canvas, paints, brushes, sketch books, pencils—art supplies! I hadn’t touched such things for years.

Christmas passed, and the gifts and decorations were put away. I put the pile of art supplies in a nice pile in a corner of our bedroom and continued with our daily lives. My husband made the first push: he said God gave me a talent and I should pursue it.

I enrolled for Spring 2017 classes at ECC with much support from my children and husband. It was an old dream made new again.

This brings us to the present: March 2018 Spring Break trip to London.

The words evade me, or perhaps there are not enough words in the English language to reveal the true feelings of such a monumental experience in my life.

In London, by day two, I began to find “Gabe” again. It has been a long time since I have felt that strong, independent girl. She has a love for art, dreams and desires that were different from motherhood.

As those strings were cut, my heart began to fill with old dreams, which were perhaps appreciated more with life experience.

The pace of London was thrilling—to rush for myself, to get from point A to point B of entertaining glory and beauty at every turn.

Sitting in a room full of Monet at the Tate was beyond all hopes and dreams, and completely inspiring. My heart soared. Every moment in that room moved me and brought tears of joy and complete awe.

London gave me a gift of validation for my return to school. It gave me strength, inspiration, and motivation. London brought that young girl that I had tucked away back to life.

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