This I Believe

Elizabeth - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on December 4, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

In this day of “No Child Left Behind” legislation, with high stakes tests deciding how well children are being educated, being a teacher is a stressful occupation. I teach 5th grade and have colleagues who suffer from anxiety attacks, are on various mood-altering medications, or have regular appointments for stress therapy. I believe in the therapy of rubber stamping. I have my own stamping retreat, once a bedroom, now my crafting room, where I create cards and gifts to give to friends and family.

During the week, I am drained from teaching the copious state and district standards, while working with challenging students, overbearing parents, and exacting administrators; however, on the weekend, I can go to my stamping room and recharge. While I am cutting, pasting, stamping, and coloring, I relax. If I am especially tense, I will embellish a card with metal eyelets, requiring the use of a hammer and setting tool. Hitting the setting tool with my hammer releases tension from the work week and a lovely card is created. When I construct many cards with the same design, the repetitiveness of the process soothes my stressed-out psyche. Additionally, the satisfaction from completing a beautiful piece lifts my spirit and makes me smile.

My stamping room is nicely furnished with a copier, paper cutter, laminator, design-cutting machine, storage cabinets, and stacks of drawers filled with inks, papers, scissors, glue, paints, punches, and embossing powders. Floor to ceiling shelves hold boxes of stamps, crafting magazines, design books, ribbons, eyelets, buttons, and items to decorate. When people see how much I have purchased for my stamping, they sometimes shake their heads. I agree with them that the cost of furnishing and stocking my stamping room is substantial; alternatively, I think about the expense I have avoided by not needing the services of a professional therapist or prescriptions to soothe my nerves.

My “drug of choice” for handling the stress of teaching the standards of learning is found in ink, paper and rubber stamps. As with all medications, there are some possible side effects: I cannot pass an arts and craft store without stopping; my fingers are frequently black and blue; I cannot throw away small pieces of paper, empty mint tins, or those CDs that come free in the mail with the latest version of AOL, because each one, with a little creativity and ink, can become part of a card, a piece of jewelry, or other artwork worthy of sharing; sleeplessness may be due to late-night designing sessions. Finally, stamping is definitely addictive; however, I choose to continue this therapy, for I believe rubber stamping keeps me mentally balanced.