Years ago when I was finishing up my master’s program from Endicot College (Beverly, MA) in Arts and Learning, I had to present my final project to my cohort.  As part of our finals, we were encouraged to express our journey through an artistic form.

During my journey, I discovered that I was an artist.  Maybe not one you would pay to see… but I was a creative being and when allowed the time to PLAY: to explore mediums, discover new ways to do things and interact with others going through the same process, I was developing my own skills and becoming a curious and well-rounded learner.  Not to mention, I was finding a bit of myself through that process as well.

I was Feeding My Flame.

The flame became an image I kept going back to: a collection of swirling red lines, always changing, always growing…  And so when it became my turn to express my journey not just in words on a paper but more deeply through an art form, I danced with my own flame (a red veil) and together we showed the story of how my flame had been fed through the arts.  (For music, I spliced together some great music from Alice in Chains, Disturbed and Stone Temple Pilots.)

Years later, as I work on my CAGS degree in Arts, Leadership and Learning from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, I am visited by the flame again.  During my last class, we were given studio time to create a cover for a journal we would be using.  I grabbed some scrap papers from the collection of materials to use and found myself creating my old friend the flame.  I hadn’t looked at her in a while.  With work and kids and life rushing in, I hadn’t given myself that chance to PLAY, to create, to feed my flame very often.

But this time when I made my image of the flame, it was different.  Down at the bottom, I put two sets of googly eyes: one for each of my young children.  You see, now I have a different purpose for feeding my flame – my kids.  I want them to see me create and discover the world around me.  I want them to see me play, dance, make music, tell stories.  That is so important.

It’s important for me to feed my flame now more than ever, because I want my kids to find their own!

As teachers, it’s the same thing.  We need our students to see us be creative beings, to model behavior that is curious and creative.  This is a very important step in becoming a teacher who integrates the arts into their teaching.

Tonight I am hosting a Teacher Field Trip to a Greek restaurant where we will eat great food, listen to live music, watch a belly dancer and then dance ourselves.  Last night I worked diligently into the evening making the favors: mini scarfs for the teachers to hopefully use as well as a mix CD of middle eastern music (including Greek, Arabic and Armenian tunes).

As I was sewing each seam of each mini veil, I was thinking back to my own first veil, my red flame and how it has been folded and tucked away in a closet for so many years.  It’s time to take it back out, both figuratively and literally as a means and a reminder to create again.

It is my mission to continue to reach out to teachers and help them feed their flames so that when they bring the arts into their classrooms, it is real, it’s from their own experiences.  It’s a challenge yes, but it’s so worth it!  We all need to stop every once in a while and take time for ourselves to feed our own flames.

What are you doing to feed yours?