Healing Arts- One Thousand Cranes

Origami Crane

Origami Crane

Creative energy is something that tends to permeates beyond a moment and into more universal time. The last day of classes before the Christmas break often brings unpredictable behaviors from my high school students. One of my girls had already mentally checked out and was; to put it politely, “uncooperative with an attitude” about being on task for the class ahead of her and it was only the first class of the day. I get the lack of motivation on the last day of classes before vacation, but the negative almost hostile attitude was completely unnecessary in the season of good will.
I keep a little pack of square ornamental origami papers in my drawer for those very rare days. It is a little pack of creative magic and it is used for restoring the spirit of peace in my immediate realm.
Origami is an ancient Japanese art form of paper folding. One can make anything with a single piece of paper simply by folding it with three creases or a hundred, maybe more. I’m no expert, but I do know how to make a paper crane. I learned from a Japanese man when I was a third grader. Ever since then it’s fascinated me and I can make paper cranes with my eyes closed, maybe even in my sleep. My Christmas tree in my first apartment was white lights with white paper cranes and red ribbon bows.
But I digress, back to the magical papers, I pulled out the packet of paper and sat next to my attitude challenged student and told her the story of One Thousand Cranes and the belief in Japanese culture that if someone ill received one thousand cranes from people who cared about them, then they would be granted one wish for good health. (I figured she could use it, because she had attitude sickness). I then proceeded to make a crane. It took all of two minutes to do. I handed her the packet and offered to show her the steps. She spent the rest of the hour making paper cranes. It was not the original task, but it was still a creative one and my peaceable kingdom was restored.
I mentioned earlier how creativity permeates moments to more universal time. The next day I received notice that my sister’s dear friends had a medical health crisis with a child in their family. The sick boy’s father is Japanese and the customary request for one thousand cranes was attached. So were directions for the origami crane. I’m sharing this story not to solicit cranes, although I do plan to put my fingers to work immediately. I share it because the art form of origami is beautiful and a fascinating aesthetic. It even lends itself to the worlds of mathematics and science, ever wonder how they devised a stent for opening clogged arteries or got giant mirrors into space by rocket? Hint- folding.
Within 24 hours I was touched by the story of One Thousand Cranes twice for two entirely different circumstances, one to teach about healing with a focus on a young girl’s mind and the other was a request to provide positive, creative, spiritual support for the healing of a young boy’s body. Creativity is pretty powerful stuff.
Your assignment today is to go to your library and take out a book on Origami or look up instructions on the Internet. You can use any thin square paper or go buy Origami paper. Start with a very basic folding pattern and work your way up to a crane or any other wonderful design. I know that the diagrams are not always easy to grasp initially, but use the right side of your brain. The diagrams are actually quite accurate once you let your “right mind” do the reading.

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Impossible Things

“There is no use trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. ”When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”- Lewis Carroll

 

   Okay, so where am I’m going with this? Just think about it. Impossible things! When I was a kid, everything seemed impossible, so it was so much more plausible that impossible things could happen. What does impossible mean, anyway?

impossible adj. 1: incapable of being or occurring 2: hopeless 3: unacceptable 4: objectionable

   Already its definition is open to interpretation. I think that the first definition is what most people take for meaning. They use it in the form of “I can’t”. Imagine that. Since when did we get so sure that impossible is a matter of fact? If that were the case, cell phones would never have evolved from a sci-fi communicator in episodes of Star Trek. Who saw that coming? I’ll tell you who, people with imaginations who don’t believe in “I can’t”. Nothing is impossible if you believe and yes, Santa and the Easter Bunny still come to my house. Really.

   So, what is you’re ‘impossible’ thing? I dare say it’s your attitude and a lack of imagination. One thing is for sure, if you exercise the right side of your brain, you can certainly enhance your imagination. Changing your thoughts about “impossible” can also work for changing your attitude. Bah Humbug or buy hamburg. See how silly it is and I don’t even eat red meat. But it works even on a serious level. I can’t can become ‘how can I ‘ or  ‘I can’? 

   Make a list of your impossible things, pick one and see how many different ways real or wildly imagined that can make it so. I once believed that it would be impossible to see snow in Las Vegas and did you read the news this week?  I didn’t even have to do anything for that! But even if it were 80 degrees and dry, how could I make it snow in Vegas?- maybe paint it in a picture or create a film set with a fabulous special effects crew or make a snow globe with a casino is it. But sometimes an impossible thing happens whether it’s in our real power or our imagination. Who would think that man would step on the moon or pigs would fly? Just wait, you’ll see.

 

 

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I Am A Compass- Creative Paper Dolls

 

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Well, I am. I explain to my students that my job as a “teacher” is to help them find their way. How they think will center them as they find their bearings or ‘true north’ on their own journeys through life.
So there I am, a paper doll, holding my own compass. That represents my physical being. You will also note that I have another compass as my halo. That is my mind & spirit. The rule is as long as we don’t cry, we’re not lost. So true. Also note other symbols- butterfly wings and birds that represent migrations, so eminent in the natural course of life. My shirt is a map of the Northeast US, my home The half globes make up my tiered skirt represent everywhere else I’ve been in the world. The pinwheel sometimes takes me where the wind blows.
The sun, moon and stars represent celestial navigation and also directional time, as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. The Northern Lights are another reference to True North. I actually saw them once. Magical. I’ve also seen the Southern Cross, but that’s another story.

Make your own Metaphor Paper Doll. Write out I Am …….. and make a list of images that give symbolic representation. Trace any paper doll shape and find images to cut and paste (glue stick) from the Internet. Print out a photo of your own face to glue in place. One other example a student made was I AM A Protector referring to his being the oldest sibling. He used a turtle shell to represent a shield as his main body. He also used words instead of weapons, as he believes in peaceful solutions. This is a great exercise in creative self expression.

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Creative Intelligence

   I recently had the great fortune to hear Walter Wick of the “I Spy” and “Do You See What I See?” children’s books published by Scholastic at the Connecticut Art Education Association conference. You know his books with pages of found objects, toys, keys, alphabet letters and more with a rhyming text that entices the young readers to find specific objects “hidden” in the assortment of shapes.

   Mr. Wick shared an interesting story of his own struggles with education as a kid. He told of one too many poor report cards, when he finally gave in and said to his mother, “I must be dumb” to which she replied, “You’re an artist; you have to be intelligent to be an artist.”

    He said it changed his perception of himself. He pursued his strengths as a photographer with confidence. If you haven’t seen his books, check them out. He creates visual puzzles of objects hidden in a crowd of other objects. Sorting props on a light box led him to the idea. It became play and he starting photographing them. He uses math, physics, history and language arts in his work so skillfully, because they are connected to his thinking style and his passion. He utilizes the subjects he couldn’t master in school where square pegs are supposed to fit in round holes. So, I share this story in hopes that any one reading it will see that sometimes we put too much importance on what we should excel at and not enough at what we do excel at. Mr. Wick also said that years later when he told his mother how her words affected him, she didn’t remember saying them. 

     Take from this story what lessons you will, but I hope that they will be lessons in questioning what constitutes intelligence, understanding how words can make a difference and resurrecting that part of you that might have died when you thought bad grades in school meant you were dumb. In my opinion, we’ve come a long way in education, but there are still a lot of folks out there that don’t understand that creative intelligence is connected to everything we do.

     Try a creative exercise a la Walter Wick. Arrange random objects on a horizontal flat surface and photograph them from above. Try different arrangements and make a series. Better yet, carefully lay them out on your scanner. Just remember that the scanner sees them from the back side, so flip them to the side you want seen. Exercise your creative intelligence. Have fun.   

 

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Living a Creative Life

Living a creative life is not a lifestyle reserved only for those born with innate talent. Creativity is about every aspect of life. Typically, it is perceived in the action of an artist putting paint to canvas or perhaps a potter magically pulling clay into a vessel. It is also about using words to describe a picture in the mind’s eye and about putting pieces of an jet engine together that will lift tons of metal off the ground using physics and imagination. It’s inventing games and solving problems.   

Creativity is imagination put into action. Think of how many ways one person can express thoughts creatively, but why does it often stop there? Why not take action on those ideas?  Many adults forget the magical phase of discovery and invention in their own childhood. The good news is that it’s not too late. It can still be nurtured and developed. I’ll talk about how in upcoming posts. I’ll challenge you to put your imagination into action. Don’t think you have one?  Hang around here, you’ll surprise yourself.

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