I’m about to start my 17th year of teaching, but this year is the first time I have ever started in the middle of a pandemic. I know I speak for gazillions of other teachers who are experiencing heightened anxiety and fear. This year is going to be incredibly difficult. It is going to require out of the box thinking and patience and flexibility. We will be forced to rethink everything we have held as steadfast truths and pedagogical compasses. We are going to have to learn to let things go.

Alarms have been going off in my brain for about six weeks. They started as a slight buzzing that I pushed off as a minor nuisance and have since escalated to a howling that can only be described as painful moaning. I’m not good at letting things go. I take the time to do things right the first time so that I don’t have to change things on the fly. I create a plan and I follow the plan. I never throw out a perfectly good plan and start over from scratch. This year…there is a lot of letting go on the horizon.

Enter into the picture learning to let things go…

A few months ago friends were visiting and I wanted to have a fun art activity for us to do. I picked up my first ever pour painting kit from the local craft store. Instead of spending hours on line finding the perfect kit and then researching all the best ways to do pour painting, I decided I was going to wing it…to let it go wherever it went. 

I quickly read the instructions in the kit and off we went. Mine turned out very much like the images I had seen all over Pinterest. My friend’s turned out very much not like that. I was super excited by my results and incredibly inspired by my friend and how she pivoted when her painting did not turn out as planned. 

I told everyone that I was hooked on this painting gig, because it was so fun to layer the colors and get something so cool as the result. A few weeks later I did it again, but this time I tried the colander technique. Instead of flopping a cup of paint onto your canvas, you pour your paint through a colander and let that create your pattern. I had layered a lot of colors, but when the paint dried, it had not turned out anything like I thought it might. I still loved the results, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be.

A friend reached out and asked if I could create something black and white for her daughter’s birthday. I was up for the challenge, so I layered black, white, gold, silver and then the tiniest splash of red. The result reminded me of Gustav Klimt’s famous painting “The Kiss,” which is anything but black and white. 

The next day I was back at school for meetings and I popped by to see a friend of mine in her office. She mentioned my paintings and I told her how it was so therapeutic to not know what something was going to look like when you started. This friend knows me very well and also how much of a control freak I am. She did not miss a beat when she said I need to do a lot more painting, because the practice of letting go is very good for me! I went straight home that night and created the piece that I eventually sold to my friend as a gift for her daughter. It did not turn out how I thought it might, but I loved the result regardless.

There will be much more painting in my future! 

Stay tuned for how I learned to let go by letting my friend convince me to draw with my left hand. 

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