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Chasing Down The Muse: Slowing it all down

Warm weather! What a treat! The change gets most of us out and doing, doing, doing. We just cannot seem to help ourselves, especially living in this beautiful environment. As I watch the lazy circling of a Cooper’s hawk overhead, though, I think of the advantages of sometimes slowing things down.

After more than a week of illness, I was pretty slowed down by the time the past weekend came. Still, the idea of “slowing down” our teaching processes really didn’t sit well for either my teaching partner Suzette or me. We were struggling with the concept.

Friday had come, and we were readying the space for teaching a workshop for Spring Into Art at the Sawdust Art Festival grounds here in town. Having done this class together several times now, we pretty much have it down, even though we always seem to have new ideas, skills, materials to demonstrate, and more. As we were setting things up, we talked about the teaching process — as we always do. What worked in a consistent fashion? What didn’t? What would we like to try?

One of us must have said something about “slowing” because before you could even think the word we were off and running. Funny way to start slowing, wouldn’t you say? How would we do this? At what moments in the teaching would it be most appropriate? Advantages? Disadvantages?

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By the time we were set up our very loose plan consisted of nothing more than, “Remind me to go slower, OK?”

Saturday dawned crisp and cold and with the sun rising over the lush hills. I had awakened early, my mind racing with thoughts and plans and ideas for the weekend workshop and even beyond. This slowing thing was gonna be tough. Racing mind and slowing just don’t seem to mesh. I started by reminding myself. Slow. Breathe. Relax. Let go.

I sat down in a sunny window to watch the morning unfold. The goats were bleating across the canyon on the still verdant hillside. Crows set up their raucous morning shouts to the day. A nearby dove cooed, its call easily translated to “slow down … go slow …” For the moment, I got lost in the slow. After a while, a glance at the clock said it was now time to get moving.

I love teaching. It is such a wonderful opportunity on so many levels. A chance to share knowledge is not the least of these and there is so much to share. Two days. Could we balance “slow” with the needs of teaching? As I entered the room I was still questioning this.

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Now, with another two days of a wonderful teaching experience at Spring Into Art behind us, I am still struggling with slowing, but have been convinced of its benefits to that process. Students still produced some phenomenal work. The energy was still great. An added bonus was the amount of personal work Suzette and I achieved through the course of slowing down.

In the workshops, as in life, there is always too much to do, too little time. The lament will just not leave; no matter what, it will linger. At the end of the weekend, we had a few minutes remaining so I asked how the timing had been for the students who took the workshop. I worried that they might feel they had not gotten enough “bang for their buck.” I need not have agonized at all. They, too, felt much had been gained in the process of slowing.

And so, I come to this moment realizing that there will always be more to do than I can. There will inevitably be myriad things left undone that I will wish to do. As long as I can stay in the moments, enjoying them for their fullness and observing how things are taking place, I win. I believe more gets done in the slowness much of the time. Funny, isn’t it?

If you would like to slow down and do some fun art play with Suzette and I, there are still a couple of spaces in our Mixed Media Playtime workshop March 27 and 28 at the Sawdust Grounds. We’d love to spread the “slow.”


CHERRIL DOTY is a local artist, writer, and counselor who strives to enjoy life to its fullest…even if it means slowing down to do so. You can reach her by phone at (714) 745-9973 or e-mail cherril@cherrildoty.com


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