Monday, September 14, 2015

Make space to become creative.

When the Seattle Public School teachers started grumbling about a strike a few days before school started I talked to my teacher friend Kate about it. She schooled me on some of the issues, one of them being a decent amount of recess. Actually the teachers are only asking for a half-hour of recess which, if you ask me, isn't really decent, but it's a lot better than nothing.

We are heading into the fifth day of a Seattle Public Schools strike and, while I am getting a bit nervous, maybe even slightly scared of what will come, I fully support the plight of the teachers for more money, more control over testing and evaluation, and more RECESS. We don't think about recess much as adults. We grow up and it's time to go to work. Most of us squeeze in play time and don't give ourselves much of a chance to let loose and shake off our worries like we used to on the playground during recess.

I recently listened to a podcast by a neuropsychologist named Rex Jung who studies creativity. We cannot be in a constant state of knowledge acquisition, he says. We need to give our brain a chance to check out a bit, to have recess, in order to spread out and open up, to put things together. This is how creativity comes to us.

The teachers' strike comes at an interesting time for me. I planned The SweatBox remodel during this first week of school, after a busy summer filled with child care duties, knowing that I'd have lots of time to be at the studio-- working, planning, organizing, getting shit done. And I am, but this strike, and some of the teachers' motivation behind it, reminds me that part of getting my brain into a state of creativity-- making the new schedule, choosing the best paint colors, placing the art--- means shutting it off a little bit too.

During most of the year I use my Yoga practice as my recess. Or I go for a run. But when I'm very busy, like when I'm cramming a pretty significant renovation into 10 days, those practices fall away. "This is time limited," I tell myself. "After a week I'll be back to my regular activities. I can hunker down and be all in for this remodel until it's done. " I can do that, but should I? After hearing that podcast and listening to the teachers' share their passion for balanced learning through this strike, I'm pretty sure it's not the best approach for me.

On Thursday the contractors are grinding down the floors of the studio. It will be messy and loud. Today Darrell, my wonderful, very creative contractor said, "Laura, on Thursday and Friday it's going to be chaotic as hell in here. Take your daughter and go to the ocean. Turn your brain off and don't think about this project for a few days." That sounds like a really good idea. Unless, of course, there's school.....

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