Teaching enriches my knowledge of clay and hands as much as making my own work. I cheer people on as we have synchronized incremental epiphanies. Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different now if in high school I’d chosen to go into cheerleading instead of drama. My voice is really loud, I love physical activity and team work, but I detest competition (and turnips).

Today a client said, “you’re so positive all the time!”  Having a naturally judgemental personality means that I have a ‘way-things-are-done’ and I don’t easily abide deviations – unless there is just cause.  My teaching technique includes very few rules, one of which is: we have only positive needs discussions about our (and others’) work, as opposed to making negative comments. For example, sometimes people say things like, “my painting is terrible”,  or “I’m not creative.”  Not only are these comments dead ends, they also have the insidious and infectious capacity to bring people down.  If someone says instead, “I wonder how I can improve this?”, or “Creativity is something I can really work on” that is a call to look for more options. The brain is open, the heart is hopeful; that’s the state in which we learn. When we deride ourselves (or others) it causes a part of us (and them) to shut down – it’s just an instinctual reaction to being attacked.  When we ask a question instead, it clears away the judgement and carves out a space for imagination.

Because I struggle with this constantly, I am so eager to relieve others of the burden. One’s inner dialogue is not subject to the same scrutiny as our spoken words, of course. We can say anything to ourselves inside our heads and it doesn’t have to make sense or even be true, since no one else can hear it. Changing that inner voice is a challenge I take very seriously by deep breathing, mindfulness, and exercise. But it’s hard work and on going until my life’s horizon I’m sure. I have a lot of room to improve here.

I ask my students to speak positively about their (and others’) work as well as their needs because I need to learn how to do that too.  I ask my students to be mindful of their posture at the wheel, because I need the same thing.  As my clients let me know what they need, I become more aware of what I need.  I think that’s the whole idea of hermeneutics, but I could be wrong.

We help each other up, we help eachother climb the mountain. I climbed Mount Katahdin this weekend and it taught me plenty like: I’m not afraid of heights after all, sharing the same pace with others is therapeutic, doing life threatening and physically challenging things scours my mind and rinses out my body, also I love my boots.

Here’s a link to the flicker feed of some photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/98615006@N04/

This one is my favourite:

Climbing together

Climbing together