Lately I’ve been doing some thinking about the experience that occurs when one is really IN the process of one’s desired art form. Some people/athletes call this “the zone”, whereas others like to refer to this experience as “creative flow”. Last year throughout Learning Initiatives this term came up occasionally; more recently I’ve been thinking about what exactly it feels like to be “in the zone” in my chosen vocation.
One of the main reasons I chose to go in to teaching has to do with the creative aspect of the job. I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I was sixteen years old. At that time I was fresh out of a long term relationship with my former passion, rhythmic gymnastics, and actively seeking my next “thing”. I saw teaching as an opportunity to make a serious impact on the world, while having a fantastically creative time doing so. My first “in the zone” moments in my teaching career happened on an almost daily basis during the first year of my B. Ed at UVic. I was fortunate to be placed in a cohort that just meshed so well (shout out to my OC2 peeps!). For the most part, we all got along and we laughed together every single day. I remember feeling on top of the world that year and cruised through that experience with flying colours because the people involved just made life so joyful! I knew that if THIS is what the teaching world could be like, then I wanted it ALL!
Fast forward a handful of years to the present week. This week the phrase “I will what I want” has been popping up in various places and catching my attention whenever I see it written. I’m a firm believer in being clear with one’s personal goals and intentions and voicing those things out loud and in writing in order to will them to happen. When I saw the posting for my current teaching job (high school dance) I said out loud to my computer: “That’s my job!” Now, it’s important for me to state that I’ve said this a few other times about different jobs in the recent rounds of postings and as things unfolded I clearly didn’t get all the jobs the I claimed to be “mine”; however, that being said, I still think it’s important to state out loud what I want because somehow that practice always leads me to the best job for me.
I went out for Thai food with a close friend last night, who also happens to be a teacher, and she asked how things were going in the high school dance studio. I couldn’t stop talking. I couldn’t accurately describe to her how great things are in that studio after only three days of working there. There are some serious “in the zone/creative flow” experiences happening around the clock for me these days and I feel completely liberated in my teaching practice because of the freedom my students and I have to move, dance, leap, create and choreograph all the live long day (or for eighty minutes to be more exact, which actually feels like the entire day compared to a middle school timetable!)
Yesterday, feeling the moment of inspiration from my students, I asked them to write me an exit slip before leaving the studio. The question I asked them was, “Why do you dance?” Now, keep in mind some of these students have been dancing for their entire lives, while others only started this year – we have a wide range of skills and capabilities in our studio, which I love. Here are some of their answers:
- “Dancing is poetry, a release. No other art form makes me feel this good and this alive. Dancing makes me feel like I have electricity coursing through my veins and everything else falls away”.
- “Every time I get on my feet I forget everything else”.
- “I dance because I love music, rhythm and freedom. I’m not a “dancer” exactly, but I love it just the same…” (I love this one because I feel this student’s honesty is likely how most people feel about their own dancing, yet he/she chooses to participate anyhow).
- “I dance because it’s a stress reliever and helps me escape from anything I’m dealing with in my life”.
- “I dance because I love it – I plan on dancing until I die!”
- “…I get inspiration and joy when I’m dancing”.
- “I dance because it’s fun and because there really isn’t a right or wrong”.
- “I dance because it’s a way to express myself, the way words can’t describe”.
- “When I dance I don’t think about anything else other than what I’m feeling” (From a student in grade 9 – wow!)
So, it’s no wonder I’m feeling all inspired and loved up by this new job of mine, check out these students I get to work with! They get it. They know exactly what it’s like to be “in the zone” or to be full of “creative flow”…it’s the reason they signed up for this elective dance class to begin with. These students come to the studio filled with life and energy; I wish you could be me, sitting on the floor, listening to their conversations as they filter in to the studio and get ready for class. No matter what is going on in their lives, there is joy in our space as soon as they enter the studio.
And to wrap this post up with a cherry on top, guess what happened yesterday while we were practicing our leaps and jumps? Everyone spontaneously sang along to the music at the top of our lungs together. My head and heart almost exploded from the level of awesomeness in the room. This has only ever happened to me once before in my years and years and years of working with kids, but these kinds of moments go down in my personal history as the “Yeah – you’ve got a pretty sweet gig, girl” moments.
My long time friend and incredibly talented artist, Elyse Dodge, was recently featured as one of Vancouver’s up and coming
artists on VanCityBuzz (she’s number 24). Check out what she has to say about her experiences with creative flow: