“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” Pema Chodron
I’ve started a new teaching job, I’m in a new town and at times I feel overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity of everything. It’s as though I’m spinning in constant motion with seemingly little direction. Chaos runs rampant. In a moment of silent reflection, the words of a colleague and school counselor came drifting in to my thoughts, anchoring and reminding me of the truth, “I am enough, I have enough, I do enough.” My personal expectation exceeds the reality of what is expected of me as a new employee. I need to remind myself that small, incremental steps are enough at this time and that movement, whether in circles, zigzag’s or erratic movements, are all essential parts of the whole establishing a foundation for my future. I’ve realized that finding and making order eases the chaos and keeps me focused on manageable tasks with immediate results that calm my soul and quiet my over-active mind. In my classroom, I’m busy organizing the resources and materials so I know what is available as I plan curriculum down the road. I’m organizing the plethora of information I’ve acquired into folders. I’m also setting time aside each week to meet new people on campus so I can get to know my community, my calendar is small blocks of events but these all become parts of my new life. I’m making order (and hopefully efficiency) out of chaos with each small act.
This idea of building blocks inspired this collage and the process of painting, cutting and gluing gave me insights into what supports me the most in times of change—organizing small parts into a whole. Like all my reflective art-making activities this was an intuitive process. I painted the background choosing colors that created a “muddy and murky” background. I dug through my box of collage materials—random bits of paper, scraps of menus, old greeting cards—and found myself cutting small squares and placing them on the background to create order out of chaos. I placed a few angels in the squares, as I always welcome help unseen in my life, especially when in need of assistance and direction. There are spaces without squares, representing something that has not yet been put in to place. The use of text, imagery, color that emerged through the process gave me a sense of calm and order, of knowing that with work chaos can be arranged and order can be found. The process of painting and collaging slowed my over-active mind and created stillness, if even for only a short while. What would your sky look like if you wrote a poem, painted a picture or created a collage?
As the weather of chaos, creates storms, lightening, wind gusts and blizzards, what does your sky look like? As a teacher, how do you become the sky and let everything else just be the weather?