Retired teacher continues to teach through books“Mistakes are a wonderful, credible way of coming up with something better,” said Millie Garside. However, there is no mistake that Garside has abounding artistic talent. In addition to being an art teacher for 30 years and a successful artist, she is also a self-published writer and illustrator of three children’s books.
By: Stacie Kimball, Alexandria Echo Press
“Mistakes are a wonderful, credible way of coming up with something better,” said Millie Garside. However, there is no mistake that Garside has abounding artistic talent.
In addition to being an art teacher for 30 years and a successful artist, she is also a self-published writer and illustrator of three children’s books.
Garside grew up Millie Becker on a farm near Belle River and graduated from Jefferson High School in Alexandria. As a child, she had many experiences and adventures on the farm. That is also where her art abilities blossomed – hand creating her own paper dolls.
She attended graduate school at St. Cloud State Teachers College, receiving her degree in comprehensive art education.
Garside’s teaching career took her to three different districts in Wisconsin over the next 30 years, teaching art to children of all ages.
It was during those years of teaching that she gave serious thought to writing.
“It was part of my bucket list,” she admits. “I never have assumed that I can’t do something.”
Upon her retirement, Garside and her husband, Dick, spent their time enjoying traveling, each other, and their family.
In the second year of retirement, the artist in her was calling. She began painting again to assess her skills – to see if they had diminished.
“Millie the teacher was teaching Millie the artist,” Garside declared.
By the end of the following year she had enough artwork to hold art shows and had completed the illustrations for what would be her first book. These paintings depicted a personal childhood misadventure with the horses on the farm.
Now that the illustrations were complete she wrote the story to go along with them. Garside hesitates to admit that her writings come to her in dreams.
“People have told me I should keep a pen and paper by my bed to write down ideas, but I don’t need to because I can remember them.”
In 2008 Garside had her first book printed – Stay Away From The Horses, a book directed primarily toward 10- to 12-year-old girls.
“All little girls go through the horse stage,” she said.
One hundred copies were ordered, and they sold fast over a two-month period.
It was around that time that Garside was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, giant cell arteritis (GCA). Since there is no known cause or cure for the disease, treatment is the drug prednisone.
In the onset of GCA she went through a period of sleeplessness. During that time, a poem simply came to her. That poem became The Dizzy Sow – a book teaching children to be patient and disciplined with their parents. This book, printed in 2009, was again written and illustrated by Garside.
Near the summer of 2010 she scratched the back of her leg and developed sepsis – a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection.
While hospitalized, Garside’s artistic talents would not be stifled. Thus, her third book, How Benny Bested the Bullies, was created. This book addresses bullying and abusive behaviors.
The story is set in Indochina. A young boy named Benny is tormented by three older boys. The character of Benny is actually named after an Indonesian doctor that treated Garside.
In the book, Benny receives guidance in something his grandpa always said: “Look to the animals for advice.” Animals have played a significant role in all three of Garside’s books because she feels she has always watched and learned from animals.
With the support of her husband, family and hospital staff, she wrote and illustrated the entire book from a hospital bed.
Throughout her continuing struggles with GCA and sepsis, Garside has remained positive and looks at every instance of her life with purpose and reason.
“I have always loved and appreciated life,” she said. “It’s just now each moment is a miracle. I wake up every morning and thank God for the day. And, I laugh a lot. I am so happy.”
The Garsides currently reside in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
As if three children’s books in four years weren’t enough, Garside has written two more books that have yet to be printed. One, Late Night Musings, is a compilation of 10 short stories and eight poems. The other is an adult mystery novel called Lighthouse.
For more information about Garside’s books or to purchase copies, contact her by phone at (920) 219-9738 or by e-mail at email@example.com.