Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. - Rumi

Friday, November 25, 2011

Clay – getting complex

I have written about clay and children in a previous blog entry.  I realize it is time to write more.

The great thing about using clay for representational work with children is its malleability.  If a part isn’t working then a child can smooth it and start over until it is the way he or she wants it. 

 Another of my favorite experiences with children 4 and a half and up is making what I call vessels.
I call them “vessels” from my time in art school in the clay studio where ceramicists were building these vases and huge cylinder shapes.
This basic technique teaches coil making and ball making, which are fine motor skills.

Clay also supports fine motor development through the processes required to make self portraits with Clay. Making a portrait in clay requires using the
scoring tool kind of like a pencil or pen. The child draws on the clay similar to ones on a piece of paper, making eyes, nose, mouth and being able to smooth the lines with a finger if not to the child's liking. Using clay to work in a relief style (clay as a piece of paper) helps the drawing development. 

Another component of complexity with clay can be to have the child draw what it is they are going to build.  For example here is a butterfly a child drew and then broke down the shapes of the butterfly before connecting them. Working like this provides children with a slowed down process where they can take the time to do the steps to go from a one dimensional media (drawing) to a three dimensional media (clay).
Clay is a media that works for all ages and stages.  It is a favorite of mine.  I learn as I manipulate it.
I hope this gives you some ideas.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Giveaway

I have carried this piece of paper around for a very long time. Now I pass it on to you.


A big word. G- R- A –T- I- T- U- D- E.

grat·i·tude  (grt-td, -tyd)
The state of being grateful; thankfulness.

[Middle English, from Old French, probably from Late Latin grtitd, from Latin grtus, pleasing; see gwer-2 in Indo-European roots.]

Thankfulness.  Another word, like gratitude.
Everyday I try to practice gratitude for everything I have in my life.  People, things, experiences that help me grow. Comments like: you did a great job, that’s nice…. 
I strive everyday to let the people in my life know I appreciate them without any expectation. 
It is a strange thing.  We all have a certain amount of “wanting it to be about me” in us.  I want this, I want someone to say I am so great or did something great. 
Many of us didn’t receive enough accolades as youngsters to feel filled up.
How can you give something you didn’t receive?
I for one have discovered that if I just think outside myself, think from another person’s perspective, “how would I like to be treated” and act accordingly things are better.

Back to gratitude. At a certain stage in life I think in order to move forward with self development some thankfulness is in order.  We have roof’s over our heads, food in our mouths, clothes we like wearing, a measure of comfort. This alone is worth being thankful for.  And then there are our families, whether they are the ones we are born into or the ones we create. 
We are all here to have a human experience. 
And we get to make a choice. We always get to make a choice: to be kind, thankful and grateful or to be snarly, mean and ungrateful.
It’s that time of year. Fall. The holiday season where we gather with our families and friends. The weather is cold, the trees change the color of their leaves, the earth signals change to us. I am thankful for the seasons. I love fall. The colors of the leaves falling on the trees are exquisite and breathtakingly beautiful to me.
I am thankful.  I am grateful. When I feel fussy about things that aren’t happening how I would like, I try to focus on something I am grateful for and that’s how I flow through my hard times. And all times.
I try to think of as many things to be thankful for as I can. It calms me. Can you think of five things you are grateful for?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sixty Posts

Artwork for Education
J, age 10 School in California

Wow! It is hard for me to believe I have posted sixty entries.  Actually sixty one.
This month marks a year of me staying in this process of writing.  I know some months have not had so many entries, but I kept going.
Sometimes I was not sure what I wanted to say.  Sometimes I knew what I wanted to say and it was either too personal or I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on record that I said that.
Either way, I am happy with my progress.  I am happy that I stuck it out.  This blog is one of the joys in my life. I love writing. I love thinking about writing and I love that I have a record of the whole year of my life.
I have found that if I just say what I feel, can relate to and have passion about, it comes through in the words.
I have discovered from seeing what I have written what is important to me.
Women’s rights, children’s rights, fashion, being present in one’s life, art , parenting and love.
Now that I have a year of writing under my belt will I continue the same way?
Do I want to try something new? Was the style I wrote in challenging enough for me?
Well, now I can think about those things.
For now I am going to dwell in the joy and happiness of having stuck with this project for a whole year.  Has it changed anything about me? I think so. It has helped me be clear about how I feel about many situations in my life: How I process change, Learn about my idiosyncrasies.
I think getting to tell some of my stories helps me heal, and hopefully gives my readers something to ponder. We learn from each other.
Ideas going forward: photos, words, thoughts. I don’t know.
I  like the open-endedness I have, it gives me creative freedom: I like that the best. I love thinking about the image and the quote that best support what the blog entry is about.  I love it. It works for me.

George Orwell (1903 - 1950), "Politics and the English Language", 1946

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On the joy of little people (Young Children)

My life has been surrounded by lots of little people.  Little people being those between the ages of 2 and a half to three.
For the first time in a long time I am in a classroom.  Wow! What energy.  What beauty. What delicious presence of mind. Right here, right now.
I have always loved teaching. I feel like it just comes naturally.
But the babies, well it’s a new arena. And I love it. 

How do you teach two and a half  year olds?
Very gently.  Their brains are still developing, at a fast rate.

How do you inspire them to learn?
They love stories and storytelling dolls, using dolls to tell stories. Sing, move, laugh, love being in the moment with them. Ask them questions.  Wonder with them.

What kinds of things are interesting to two and a half year olds? Everything is interesting to a two year old.  They want to try everything, see everything, touch everything, do everything.

These are questions I ask myself. Before I just get in there and do it.

Do they like to sing? Yep, they sure do. it’s one of the best parts of the day.
Do they like to move? Yep they sure do.
Do they require patience?
Yeah, they do. don’t we all.  That doesn’t mean it’s easy, just yes.

One thing that I realize is important to two year olds is getting to do jobs – helping with things in the classroom.  They like to help, I think it gives them a sense of importance, of contributing.
The thing about young children, in my opinion is their brains are growing at such a fast rate, they are absorbing information and experiences.  They are learning to be automomous, to think for themselves, to be aware of themselves and others.  They are learning all the time: what they like and don’t like: colors, food, music, books… the list can go on.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trusting Intuition

“One of the major causes of illness in our society is
ignoring our intuitions” -  I think this was Christianne Northrup from Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

Mariposa corazon
acrylic on wood

I have had the scrap of paper with those words on it in my bathroom for probably 13 years. 

I have heard it said that it is important to trust one’s gut instinct.  That animals pay attention to the signals they get when something doesn’t seem right: they run away from trouble.
But humans: oh no: this doesn’t feel right or something is wrong, but will do it anyway.  Like women that attract the wrong kind of man, and know it and do it anyway or do work that isn’t satisfying or don’t speak up for themselves when they know they should like me.
Well I think the principle of trusting one’s instinct can apply to many other situations in life.  However, that doesn’t make it easy. It can in fact make it harder. It means one speaks up when it’s tough, it means excepting responsibility for one’s actions, being willing to change and it can mean peace of mind (a good thing).
I find when I follow my heart or trust my judgement (another form of trusting my instincts) things are better for me. With regard to my children, I have found when I do pay attention to my instinct I make better choices for them and me.  When I work with children, I find trusting myself to pay attention to the details and my intuition has often been more successful than paying attention to my brain.
In daily life it is important to be centered as one navigates the terrain of different people and situations, from driving to work, stopping anywhere along the way, at work and on the way home. 
I have not always been good at trusting myself in regard to things related to me.  That has gotten me in some sticky situations. 
From a spiritual point of view,I think trusting one’s self is as important as breathing.  Paying attention to one’s self, how one feels on the inside and how one is processing whatever event is going on is healthy for the body and soul.  It’s when one doesn’t listen yucky stuff happens.  For some people dis-ease begins by not following one’s intuition, listening to one’s gut, trusting one’s self knowledge. And let’s face it, there isn’t a single person on the planet that hasn’t been in a challenging position with another person or persons.
I think a key to trusting one’s instincts has also to do with knowing one’s self.  When you know yourself, hopefully it makes one less inclined to do something not right. 
In the book the Secret, there is a page of quotes has to do with focusing so much on self growth that there is no time to judge or critize others.  I translate that to focusing on oneself to the extent one can trust one’s instincts and flow through situations and life.
Marianne Williamson wrote a book called AWoman’s Worth.  It is one of the few spiritual books I read from cover to cover.  Life is going to challenge us.  It is what we are here for.  How we do it is all up to us.
 Trust yourself.   Trust your intuition. Know your worth.
Statue at Ojai Foundation