First of all, John Maeda's class should come with a warning:
Completion of class may cause awakened passion, insomnia, vigorous researching and writing, loss of appetite, a heart-rate of 180 BPM while laying in bed, crushed doctrines, and [if you keep digging] Enlightenment!
A little back story...
Before I enrolled in John Maeda's class, I was looking for a creative community to join in Norway. I came across this MeetUp group called "Find Your Passion & Make A Living From It." The group coordinator included a TedTalk by Scott Dinsmore and it was all about "finding your legend." See a pattern?? Yeah, self-development/awareness is my JAM! Anyways, in the talk he recommends a book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, so I went to Amazon to check it out. In one of the reviews, someone mentions that The University of Pennsylvania provides a survey of character strengths that is offered for free under their Positive Psychology department for research purposes. After an intense/introspective 40 minutes, I received my results (you get your top 5). To my surprise/prediction, my top strength was "Capacity to love and be loved" follwed by (2) Curiosity & interest in the world (3) Appreciation of beauty & excellence (4) Love of Learning (5) Gratitude.
As the emotional person I am, I had to let that all sink in and get a good cry out for the beautiful accuracy. This was me to a T!!
(1) I moved halfway across the world away from my family & friends to be with the person I love in a culture and language I knew nothing about, but even that hasn't stopped me from nurturing those relationships. I make it a point to write letters/emails and make phone calls, probably now more than ever. Love
(2) After graduating and a year of working a full-time desk job, I moved halfway across the world to pursue my dream of living in France. It's now or never! Curiosity
(3) I graduated with a B.S. in Graphic Communication. Appreciation of beauty
(4) I discovered Skillshare a year ago, just by digging deep into cyberspace. Yeah, I'm one of those people who keeps a million tabs open ;) Learning
(5) Travel has taught me to stop talking and just listen. This world is bigger than myself. My views/opinions aren't the best. I'm still naive, as are most people (even if they don't care to admit it) and I love that. There is SO much to learn! Gratitude
But these discoveries aren't an easy thing to accept in a hypercommercialized world that is telling you power and owning MORE, MORE, MORE is what makes you happy. Money makes the world go around, does it not? So, now what?? How can I use my character strengths in a way that helps me discover my next step?? Well, oddly enough, that's when I received an email from Skillshare about John Maeda's class! Spoooky, right?! I still get goosebumps thinking about it. So I took John's advice and started "interviewing" people who inspire me and they consisted of: Oliver Jeffers (writer & illustrator, fine artist), Roo Panes (musician), Andrew Bird (musician), Wes Anderson (director & screenwriter), Coco Chanel (fashion designer), Walt Disney (what didn't he do?!) & this amazing design studio in Vancouver called Giant Ant. That's when I saw a pattern! They all have/had a passion to tell heartfelt stories that make this world a more beautiful place and they used their special talents as a platform to send those stories out into the world.
The digging didn't stop there, OH NO! I discovered that Giant Ant created a video for The Dalai Lama Center for peace and education. In 2012, they launched a bold new vision towards creating "a vibrant culture of peace & dialogue where caring communities nuture compassionate, thriving, socially-responsible children who rise to challenges and opportunities of the 21st century." They call this movement "Educate the Heart." And that, my friends, is where my journey begins!
Questions you want to explore, that make you curious...
Can teaching heart-mind well being improve the quality of life in children?? Can educating the heart better prepare children for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead?
Relevant facts and historical examples, that gave you strength...
"A landmark study of over 270,000 students found that social & emotional learning programs strengthen social & emotional skills as well as improve overall attitudes & behavior. They also saw an increase in academic scores by 11%."
Many books are written on the subject. Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl is an expert in applied developmental psychology and an excellent resource.
Discoveries you hope to find, or have made...
"To reduce hatred and other destructive emotions, we must develop their opposites --compassion & kindness." - The Dalai Lama
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." -Aristotle
Now, in the 21st century, we have the unbelievable possibilty to unite people of all cultures and religions to learn and share a universal language, love, by joining people of the heart AND mind to create a loving environment for the people of the future. And that, I firmly believe, is a cause worth fighting for.
My next step...
1. Create a vision board of my steps toward educating the heart in children, which might consist of images referring to:
2. Getting my teaching credential
3. Sharing this vision with the MeetUp group I'm seeing in two weeks and possibly gather volunteers to create heart-mind workshops in the local community. Will need to research much more in the meantime!
4. Continue to develop my design studio, but change the focus from me towards giving a voice to issues that matter, that are of the heart, just as those who inspire me have done.
I'm thinking something along the lines of this portable vision book made by Jean Van't hul of The Artful Parent blog:
Can you say, full circle?! I don't know if these incomprehensible series of events were an act of fate, synchonicity, serendipity, the stars aligning, or as John Maeda calls it, Discovery. But I am totally flabbergasted at the way all of my digging, soul-searching, and relflecting, has finally given me the cause I have been actively searching for these past 6 years!
To all of the people who have been directly & indirectly guiding me, thank you and I love you.