Once upon a time I was an educator of young learners. For more than a decade my creativity took the form of curriculum design, parent education and classroom management. Though it was a rewarding career it was also deeply exhausting work. When I left teaching I was so burned out that I completely distanced myself from that part of my life. I no longer wanted to be associated with teaching or education. I didn't know it at the time, but that separation was a necessary step towards clarifying my wholeness and purpose outside of a predefined career.
Over a five year process of slowing down and allowing myself time to heal and recover, I reconnected with the teacher in me. I learned that teaching is a core part of who I am and isn't confined to a classroom setting. The teacher in me is the part of me that writes to discover and makes art with intention and meaning. It is the curious part of me that explores open questions and seeks to understand the how and the why of things. Teaching is the part of me that loves to learn and share my learning in a way that ignites curiosity and encourages self-discovery. It is the part of me that can't help but connect others to meaningful resources and prefers to ask questions that allows others to dig deeper. I am realizing the teacher in me was there before I became a teacher and continues to shine in the classroom of daily living.
I am in the process of writing a book as a way of integrating what I've learned through mindful exploration. The deeper I dive into that project, the more I realize how much my life as an educator has informed my creative work. All those years of designing curriculum and exploring ways to excite young learners became a template for how I live my creative life. I can't help but merge my daily explorations into creative offerings with a larger purpose. I can't help but want to share what I witness and experience in a way that ignites other's sense of wonder, attention and curiosity. I can't help but create as a way of exploring deep questions and cultivating meaning from the world around me.
If I were to give a name to my current work, I might call it educational art. I might call it my creative curriculum. I might call it mindful field notes. Whatever it's called, it is evolving and my newest offering feels like the beginning of what is to come.
How to Be a Mindful Explorer is a culmination of my mindful explorations. It is an art poster of seasonal invitations intended to ignite curiosity and invite others to explore small moments within the natural world. Whether you live in an urban landscape or surrounded by wide open spaces, Mindful exploration is as accessible as your desire to step outside and pause with sensory attention. Some of my most wonder-filled moments have occurred while pausing amidst the city noise...looking up at a passing cloudscape or in the sense of hope alive in a single dandelion seed head peeking up from a city sidewalk. Everyday moments are so ripe with opportunities to harvest beauty, wonder and gratitude.
I am hopeful that this art offering will bless the walls of classrooms, offices and homes— a reminder to look up, zoom in, breathe deeply, and move more slowly through the magic and beauty of this world.