3/24/12

Balance in Life, in Art, in School. . .

From my American Heritage Dictionary, one of the many definitions of balance is "a harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or elements as in a design."

More conciously each day I learn about the importance of balance in my life, family, body, art and school.  A few years ago, I was really dedicated to my yoga practice and I felt a balance in other areas of my life as a result.  Yet, life of course has a way of tipping the scales.  Family needs increased and my regular yoga practice was see-sawed up there into the sky and is waiting for me while clouds and time pass by.  Now, after over a year focused on finding solutions for one child's struggles I am trying to regain balanc in my family and my life.  This blog is a part of that It is a way for me to take something that set me and my life off balance and turn it inward and outward to create new harmony.

Similarly, I think of the day I set out with a tiny watercolor set and a mini art book I had constructed intending to capture some images at a horse farm down the road.  As I painted, a drop of dark paint splotted on the picture in progress on the cover of this book already constructed.  I could have tossed it aside, as ruined but instead I imagined the splott looked rather like a horse's eye.  I painted the horse's head around it, cropped in the foreground of the picture.  I have it still and bring it out sometimes to remind my kids what can be done with mistakes, or accidents, or unexpected events when painting, creating, or living.  I find I can still find balance, harmony, but I must be ready to adjust my weight when necessary.  Creating and living are very much the same really, aren't they?

Raising our children is a big part of my creating and living and balancing right now.  And when I think about how my son's school experience set our family off balance it occurs to me that perhaps our small town school lacks balance as well.  I see teaching as a creative, evolving practice made up of many working parts (that include people).  That is a difficult balancing challenge for school leaders, that requires a lot of listening to what the parts are telling you, flexiblity because rigidity doesn't move easily, and creativity since unexpected situations are likely to occur.  I know school can feel like a harmonious experience if all the people and parts are aligned.  If you have some going one way and some the other,and  maybe a gear is the wrong size, not lined up, or the teeth don't fit, the machine will be off balance, the school will be off balance, just like our family was off balance.

Where there is not harmony, and the machine is malfunctioning, there is often noise.  Sometimes the noise is very quiet, but it is still there getting in the ear, promting a look around to see what's the cause.  I would love to be the perverbial "fly on the wall" to see what the noise is and where it is coming from.  I could hear it before any of my son's difficulties began. There is so much that I can't see or hear from my perspective as a parent and so much I wish the school could see and hear from parents and children.  There is just too much noise in this machine right now, it is out of balance. 

As in yoga, finding balance in schools, life, art and family is not likely a quick fix, but will involve a continuing practice of listening and responding.  It will require finding or being open to creative solutions.

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