The teacher in me gets to come out this month. I’m preparing for one of my small group encaustic workshops. With 17 years of public school teaching in me it’s hard to let go of creating a learning environment for others.

A question I’m often asked from people interested in taking the class is

What kind of experience do I need?

I smile and respond, “None at all!”

It seems like a silly question for me until I realize I ask the same question when I approach something new.  It could be a dance class, music lesson or an art fair; any endeavor where other people are involved and a perceived judgment situation exists.  I’m aware of not wanting to be lesser than, a burden to the class or teacher or embarrassed by my lack of knowledge or experience.  I suppose I want some reassurance from the instructor that I’ll fit in and be accepted by the group.

Despite these assurances there is always a tremble in my legs or in my stomach.  Now I know from my work with the Chakra Series, that the location of the pain is associated with an energy center (chakra) in your body.  A tremble in my legs means I’m not feeling stable.  I can’t find the ground and there is a disconnect.  So I put on a pair of red pants and breathe into the Earth.  I know this sounds all wooey, but it works.  It helps my mind focus on an action oriented solution rather than dwelling on the fear.  Deep breathing acts like a drain cleaner for the body; pushing out the collected gunk.

And yes I’ve been in situations where my experience is greater than the level of instruction.  I can choose to get upset, pull boredom into my being or leave.  Truth.  I’ve done all of those things.  The challenge is to flip that mentality.  Fact.  The greats of anything always practice the basics of their field.  Or, I could help another in her learning which always satisfies me and deepens my learning.  These situations are more of an emotional ego challenge than a technical one.

I think about all of this when I prepare my classes.  I create a space of teaching and learning where we can do our private work in public.

As Philip Pullman writes in Part 1 of his new trilogy The Book of Dust:

“Asta became an owl and perched on the prow, her feathers shedding the water in a way she’d discovered when she was trying to become an animal that didn’t yet exist.”



PS:  I have one spot left for my workshop on September 29 and 30.  Email me if you’d like to join us or get on the workshop list for the next one.