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Hello Spring!


Spring always feels like a new beginning -- maybe especially in the Northeast. With the increased sunshine, the warmer weather, and friends and family getting vaccinated, it seems that life can finally become fuller again with visits and hugs and all that makes life worth living!


I noticed that I haven't posted since October -- where has the time gone? I have been especially busy during the pandemic and I am grateful for the extra work and connections online that have helped me manage an especially dark winter.


Supporting teachers: During the fall, I tried to support my friends and colleagues through a Facebook group and it was one way to offer yoga and mindfulness virtually. I was looking to cultivate a supportive community -- one where everyone could contribute. The Facebook group turned into an online community of art teachers in January and February -- the response was so overwhelmingly positive that I am offering the training again in April and May and possibly again in the summer. Teachers worked through their stress with mindfulness, art and yoga and the visual results were stunning! Here is one of Shannon Gagne's combinations of images.

In her reflections, this is what she wrote about the image on the left:


"When meditating and visualizing this [week's] prompt I thought about what I look like from the outside and what I am feeling on the inside. Because I am presenting mostly to students on a Google Meet session the person I see most in the screen is myself. The students mostly have their cameras off. When I presented with challenges they are mostly connected to technology or the problem solve is within the technology concerning research, materials, communications. When a things are in my control, organized and I am prepared I picture a strong and beautiful spider web an organic system of connectivity and being in the moment connecting with others. When things are not going well - I feel sucked into the vortex of technology- the literal and figurative "web" inside the technology and I am stuck I become the food in the web and am not present. I have been trying to get outside to exercise as much as possible - I found a frozen spider web over a bridge and captured this picture and layered it in a photograph of myself working as I must look most of the time to my students and family."


Becky Manuel and I offered an "on-demand" presentation for the National Art Education Association in March where we offered ways to encourage mindfulness through art for our K-12 students who are just now coming back to public school after a year of protracted isolation.


Theresa Manus offered this timeline and reflection of her own journey through the pandemic:


"My timeline travels from left to right and follows the escape path of a peace dove. In the beginning of the pandemic I felt trapped, confused, scared, and unsure. Very much like a caged bird in a dark cave. Finally, I was able to shine light (the sun) on my feelings and use my resilience, adaptability, and flexibility to move through these feelings and move into the light. As I moved forward I was supported by my family (trees) and friends (rocks). I also was able to feel close to my parents (hearts) even though they are no longer alive. The rainbow signifies where I feel I am now- happier, colorful, and full of energy and life."


She also offered this about the effects of her participation in this group and her work with students:


"I have started integrating so much of this with my students! We have done projects inspired by this course, guided meditations, class discussions, and even listened to music shared here! My students and I are building a relationship and they are starting to open up. I think it's because they finally believe I actually care and I'm so excited to make this connection! They've been so quiet and they're finally talking!"


There is still room for a few more teachers in this April/May run of the course. The cost is $150 and the 7-week program is packed with resources from art/yoga teachers and a school psychologist. The return to school may be a bumpy road for both teachers and students. Make sure to take good care of yourself through the process! In this course you will learn how to:

  • cultivate a supportive community

  • reduce stress and anxiety

  • welcome calm

  • understand the neuroscience connections between yoga and good health

  • maximize your resources

  • develop inner strength

  • reflect and develop new goals for your health and well-being

If this sounds interesting to you and you would like to participate, please get in touch with me at focusedyogajs@gmail.com. There are 3 spaces left for April/May.


All the best to you this spring,

Julie

Melissa Hronkin's timeline



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