Georgia O’Keeffe, slow learner

Happy 125th Birthday, Georgia O’Keeffe. Here’s my humble homage to you.

Not convinced that Georgia O’Keeffe was a slow learner?

Consider how she honored the deliberate and intentional slowness in her work. In her own words:

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

Consider her reflections on her own  learning.

“I said to myself, I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me – shapes and ideas so near to me – so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down. I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught. ”

and her advice to other slow learners.

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.”

Troubadour Hope Chest

Troubadour Hope Chest

It provokes. It challenges. It lures. It’s beautiful. It contains and protects hopes and dreams. It takes up space. It’s practical. Every home needs a Troubadour Hope Chest

A couple of weeks ago I met with friend and fellow slow learner, Tricia Postle.

Together Tricia and I formed a group we call COTH or Creativity-On-The-Hook. Once a month, we meet for tea, state our intentions, and report to each other on our progress. See earlier entry.

During our first meeting, Tricia shared the details of her intentions: her to do lists, her  goals, her best intentions. I didn’t want to say anything at the time, but most of the items on her list felt dull and ordinary, full of duty and obligation and all those good things necessary to support and nurture Tricia’s brilliant creative projects.

But then Tricia started talking about how  she wanted to someday travel as a troubadour musician. She spoke about rhythms, the songs, the traveling, the Persian rugs, the tour mobile, the demands of composing in the form, the possibility of a postmodern gypsy caravan. When she spoke about her future life as a troubadour, her physical presence transformed. She sat straight up. Her eyes brightened, and her voice lightened. Her visions of self as troubadour literally pulled her forward. There was a passionate woman in love with her future, speaking of longing and desire, sitting at the edge of her seat.

That’s when the idea came: why not invite some of this passion and desire into the everyday?  Why not bring something physical and real into our homes as a reminder of what is possible?  Why not use this container as a repository for carefully selected objects that bring us closer to a future we want to live into?

After some searching, Tricia now has her Troubadour Hope Chest.

In an email, Tricia says:

I like that it’s empty, I like that it’s there. I rearranged the studio so that it’s visible from all points. It seems to glow and make the rest of the furniture recede. In short, every household should have one.

Questions for reflection:  What’s calling me forward? What kind of future might I create from my own longings? What kind of hope chest might I find?

learning as water

Does learning flow?

Does learning follow a cycle? What contributes to our learning? How does our thinking get dammed up?  What is the source? How might we distill our learning? What bubbles up? What sinks in? How is learning like the the water cycle? How does learning transform us? How do we transform the way we learn? How is learning deep? How is learning shallow? (Is one good and the other bad?) What happens when we get our feet wet?  What’s the risk of diving in? Do you want to swim in the deep end? Are there floods and droughts of learning?  (Is one better for us that the other?)

Does learning come in tides, in waves? What kinds of monsters lurk in the depths of learning? How are communities of learning like tributaries of a river system? Do we sink or swim?

“Is he a dot or is he a speck?  When he’s underwater does he get wet?  Or does the water get him instead?”
from They Might Be Giants’ “Particle Man” Flood

a slow learner’s bill of rights (draft 1.0)

You have the right*

To learn

  1. To learn about how you learn
  2. To learn as slow and as fast as you choose
  3. To rearrange your room (house, garage, life) to make room for your learning
  4. To claim space, time, and money for your own learning
  5. To learn from people who fascinate you
  6. To learn beyond school
  7. To be challenged
  8. To learn from people who fascinate you
  9. To ask for and to receive help
  10. To learn in quiet and without interruption with serious intent
  11. To learn in noise and mess with playful possibility
  12. To make a mess and not have to clean up right away
  13. To learn what is valuable and to value your learning
  14. To choose your own team of teachers, coaches, mentors, advisors
  15. To work with people who find you and your visions fascinating
  16. To work with people who are fascinated by your brilliant visions and will hold you accountable to do what you said you would do
  17. To be witnessed
  18. To focus
  19. To make a difference
  20. To make media
  21. To invent media
  22. To study with your heroes
  23. To experiment
  24. To experience
  25. To test your limits
  26. To contribute
  27. To change the world
  28. To create your own curriculum and to stick with it
  29. To change your mind when it doesn’t work and start again
  30. To study in community both near and distant, familiar and exotic
  31. To savor the erotic nature of learning
  32. To learn from mistakes
  33. To join the community of practice of your choice
  34. To join the professional network of your choice as a contributor
  35. To make learning a priority in your life
  36. To pay your dues
  37. To incubate and hibernate
  38. To be in action and produce measurable concrete results
  39. To learn how to discern between the time for #38 and #39
  40. To work with people who have some distance and perspective and can help you with #40
  41. To dabble
  42. To dive in deep
  43. To cross disciplines
  44. To learn what no one can teach
  45. To learn so that you might teach others to learn
  46. To learn new ways of learning that work for you
  47. To practice

* I know this list is incomplete and much is redundant. Comment, and help make it more better.