Coming out of the fog…..

As I come out of the fog of the last three years… I realize I am planting myself. Again.

“Which way do I turn?”
It is self evaluation time in the life clock world. I have gained so much
wisdom, measured outside of BFA’s or MFA’s. So the re-entry into “where
do I fit in?” turns into a threshold of “What really matters?”.
This past weekend I was jolted – to dare greatly!  Being a follower of Brenè Brown for quite some time, my Sunday morning turned into afternoon as Iwas delivered in front of my soul, via a conversation between me and myself, precipitated by Ms. Brown.

Wisdom:
In 2012 I participated in an Arts and Aging workshop that shared this very powerful statement:  By the year 2025 over half of the population will be over the age of 80. That is a pretty weighty statement. And it is real. That’s ten years and counting!

In spring of 2013, I was an artist in residence for over 240 sixth grade students at a local elementary school. Each student learning first hand, the basic elements of throwing a bowl on a potters wheel.
Observation: Every student was engaged and had a positive experience.

Last December I returned to the same elementary school to repeat the program, with a slight twist. The agenda being inclusive of all students: experiencing first hand, throwing clay on a potters’ wheel. That spells out to Kindergarten through sixth grade.

I was gifted the full attention of every student. No matter the age. Students shyly dipping their hands into a muddy bucket. Sparkling eyes looking directly into mine with ‘yes, I feel it!’ Smiles of lightheartedness planted on faces that just hours ago were echoing adversity and challenge. Infectious giggles coming out of sixth grade boys whose hands are full of fine clay slip.
It is testimony to the profound opportunity I have been given. Offering students of every race, creed, physical or mental challenge, and every home environment – engagement – with the other side of the brain. The opportunity – to play. To think differently. To dream.
It didn’t make any difference what dynamics they were bringing to the table. They were engaging the other side of the brain.
Here I was, observing our future world in the current school system. Diverse. Moving. Struggling.
Observation: Arts in the school systems are evaporating like rain in an Arizona rainstorm. (My analogy of course.)
Or more direct to the point: Our school systems are backpedaling into it’s own future by slowly and surely removing the arts from everyday curriculum.

The creative minds necessary to propel us into a global future are being starved of the creative process, by ‘standards’ that squeeze creative learning into one forty minute class per week. Shoving requirements on top of an already minute increment of time.
Not surprisingly, there are schools who have eliminated creative learning time/art classes all together.

Challenge:
So why bother? What value does creative learning have?
The answer is simple. It is the process of looking at life through a different lens.
From angles of color, depth, uniqueness, and imagination. Stretching the brain to its full capacity. It is a vital learning process that nurtures the ability to look at life’s questions from all angles, to come up with unique and intuitive options and solutions.

These students will be addressing questions like: What does our transportation system look like? How do we stop global warming? How do we eliminate diseases? How do we improve the quality of cultivation and embrace healthy food production? How do we harness energy that is non-threatening? How do we define technology as it evolves at lightening speed? How do we create a smaller carbon footprint? How do we stay connected?
These are the heavy hitting questions that they will be addressing as we age.

We are creating our own future with the students of today. It is truly that simple.
The year 2025 is approaching quite quickly. So what are we going to do about it?

My head swims as I re-acquaint myself, navigating through files like an octopus
with tentacles, fumbling, feeling, stumbling over plans I had put
together. “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.” seems to be the common echo I
hear in my head. However three things come to the forefront.
One: Creative expression runs through my veins. And under my fingernails. That part I can’t break away from.
Two: I think I was born with this passion of connection. Inclusive of the elders and the young ‘inspired’s’ out there.
Three: My soap box hasn’t lost it’s foothold. It is still sturdy. Grounded.

So maybe I should start there…and dare greatly.

Living life fully,

Michelle

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