Two weeks ago, I found myself re-inspired to take up blogging regularly again. I put two posts up within a 3 day period. And now, a mere week and a half later, here’s a third, squeezed between grading student papers, getting a load of laundry out of the dryer, and grading student dictations because it’s the least brain-intensive grading task that I have on my list. This is life as a teacher, especially as I find myself arriving at the last week of the term before finals. Cue burn out. Granted, when teaching 7-week intense terms on a year-round schedule, burn out does not confine itself to finals week. It’s an almost daily fight. However, over the last 3 and half years as a teacher I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that the only way to beat burn out is to feed my creative side.
I believe that God has made us complex creatures, not fully logical, not fully creative, not just introverted or extroverted. That being said, when I find myself in a situation when only one part of my personality is being exercised, something inside begins to wilt. In a job with mostly logistical demands and a limited sort of creativity focused on the accomplishment of a task (e.g. make grammar interesting/meaningful/fun!), I find that it’s easy to neglect the side that simply wants to contemplate and capture beauty for beauty’s sake, which almost always reorients my heart to the One in whom beauty and the ability to appreciate it originates. That irrigates the heart. However, with a teaching and grading schedule crowding my mind and time, it’s often hard to make time to actually stop and look. Nourishing that part of my soul often seems more like an indulgence than a necessity when I weigh it against getting enough sleep and having comments on that draft ready for students the next day.
That’s when community comes into play. It’s hard to explain how helpful it is to not be alone in this quest to properly nourish the soul. Over the last several weeks, two like-minded coworkers and I decided to do something about this. As we all enjoy photography and design, we agreed to form a “club,” for lack of a better word for describing our joint venture, focused on photography projects. The goal was to create projects that would give us the “excuse” to prioritize time for creative pursuits and also to give feedback on our work to push each other toward better photography.
Now, we’ve just started and are still figuring out exactly what to propose as good projects. The first week, we simply came together to share previous work, and for the second, we agreed to collage one of the pieces that we had brought the first week.
For this next week, our task is to take pictures around the house (an easier task for a group of teachers during finals week), either of creative elements in our decor or trying to see creative ways of viewing what often is rather commonplace. The themes we’ve started may be rather simple, but it’s a start, and a good thing to work towards. That being said, should anyone out there have ideas for other tasks, please feel free to share!