Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

Inspiration Point

Posted: May 25, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”

Jack London

I appreciate all the verbs associated with inspiration: get inspired, be inspired, stay inspired, to inspire.

As an educator, I require a steady supply of inspiration, for my students and myself. Like the heliotrope sunflower, I bend toward inspiration, eager to get closer.

Naturally, reading offers endless marvels. I just started a fascinating book, one that came my way via a recommendation from another artist constantly seeking inspiration, Austin Kleon.

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“Black Out Poem,” by Austin Kleon (with reflection of Samantha)

I follow Kleon’s blog and have read and admired his books, Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work. Quite happily, I also own a piece of his original art work, a prized possession bought for a song. One of his “Blackout Poems” hangs in my living room, perpetually intriguing. Most of my guests admire it, though a police officer—called to respond to a break in—did not seem to care for it. My niece Samantha, who recently visited, apparently saw something of herself in its expression of the desire for impetuous recklessness.

The book is called Daily Rituals, an expansion of a blog by Mason Currey (a blog becoming a book: intriguing). In it, Currey outlines the day-to-day schedules of some of the most revered artists and thinkers.

I am an inveterate scheduler myself, keeping no fewer than four calendars. A friend once confessed he had three. I said, “Sounds like you forgot to count the one in the kitchen!”

How reassuring to be reminded all people who accomplished great things were still, fundamentally, people, meaning they ate breakfast and had to bathe and dress and visit their mom. The quotidian increases unity; we all must live day to day.

Daily Rituals underscores the importance of reserving space on the calendar for artistic endeavors, whether writing or any other form of self-expression. The book also reveals the crucial importance of consistency for all who succeed in creating meaningful work (artistic or otherwise). The need for a productive routine ought to be reinforced.

Artists want to work; they want to devote time to their craft, often to the detriment of everything else. A musician friend of mine pointed out that I’d never play guitar really well because I have too far many friends and social obligations. When it comes to music, I really am best left as an enthusiast.

We can all act as conduits for inspiration, perpetually sharing new discoveries. I marvel at people’s abilities, particularly the stamina and determination of innovators who worked in and through difficult circumstances.

I contemplate the city of Chicago, my home, overflowing with imagination. When I take a moment to admire my city, from out on the lake especially, looking back at the spectacular skyline filled with skyscrapers of every silhouette, I reflect upon its hidden beauty: all of it was made by people: architects, engineers, designers, craftsmen, artists and laborers constantly creating for the past two hundred years.

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Given the time and skills and resources and determination, people can build remarkable, stunning, incredible things. The shared human experience that infuses life and art ought to amazes us all.

Look closely, and creativity reveals itself to be a fundamental part of everyday life; admire the perfectly set table and consider who laid your place with such care, perhaps it was even you.

Take the time each day to be inspired, and inspire.

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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

This Tuesday’s Google Doodle for Teacher Appreciation day offered an awesome opportunity to ponder the power of tremendous teachers everywhere.

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How cute is this?

As a teacher, I have the good fortune of working with extraordinary teachers. My colleagues in The College of Liberal Arts at Robert Morris continuously inspire me and my teaching practice. My fellow teachers are exciting, creative, funny, and smart. Naturally, all of the regular Turtle bloggers top my list of coworkers whose contribution I hold in high esteem (MSJ, Paul, JJS, Dr. Stern, Mick, Ellen). Many more colleagues in the College of Business, Health, and Design impress me with their ability to encourage and empower their students every day.

My past teaching life in Ohio, Florida, and elsewhere in Illinois was equally enhanced with wonderful educators who helped form my curriculum and understanding, many of these past coworkers remain among my most trusted friends.

My personal experience with teachers has been rich and varied. Most of my closest friends currently are or have been teachers (too many to list; we teachers stick together!).  Over the years we discussed, at length, the countless joys and frequent frustrations teachers endure.  Ultimately, teachers are my tribe.

Thinking back on my most memorable teachers calls to mind not precise details, (who taught me fractions? I have no idea). Instead, the larger lessons emerge, and with them the recognition of the ways they suffuse all that I am and do. To honor the teachers who shaped my life, I contemplate and celebrate the knowledge they so generously shared with me.

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Mrs. Debbie Bernauer was an incredibly kind and supportive third grade teacher. The woman went so far as to attend one of my softball games. This compassionate commitment is typical of the best elementary school teachers who devote a marvelous amount of their time, talent, and energy to the children they teach with boundless love.

In Middle School, Mr. Johnson taught the behaviors of critical thinking and the importance of the preparation a good education can provide. A history and government teacher, his favorite phrase was “There’s nothing constant except change.” This sort of philosophical wordplay stayed with me across the years. His side job as a farmer no doubt helped underscore his tendency to address the cruel realities each life was bound to encounter.

Many of my teachers at Brecksville-Broadview Heights high school are still vivid in my memory: how extraordinary!bee

My long-suffering Math teacher, Mr. Sycz, worked tirelessly to help us grapple with geometry, algebra, and calculus, which resulted in a much easier encounter with college math requirements.

My choir teacher, Mr. Valley, was a fixture throughout all four years. Choir class concluded my day, and I still highly recommend singing every afternoon. His enthusiasm for music and the program resulted in the growth and development of remarkable range of musical opportunities. He expanded the choir, band, orchestra, and song & dance team, the delightful “Music in Motion” in his time, long before Pitch Perfect made singing cool.

Mr. Chordas’ intense approach to education was endlessly inspiring. A brilliant history teacher, he also taught a psychology elective senior year that offered an intriguing peek into the life of the mind.  The biggest impact on my learning was a result of his model of excellence, curiosity, and openness.

Mrs. Ford was the woman who helped me love language and literature. She planted the seed for my future in teaching. In her class, we read widely, the classics: Milton, Chaucer, Shakespeare; moderns and contemporaries: Steinbeck, Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, and Alice Walker. Conversations of the texts, followed by writing copious journal entries molded my thinking and my life. I’ve kept a journal ever since her class.

In college, I learned from many different teachers, all of whom knew a great deal, but I did not make the effort to develop a meaningful relationship with most of my professors, the exceptions being Kathy Fagan and Christopher Highley. No doubt the sheer size of The Ohio State University makes creating a personal connection more difficult. I regret not having sought ought my professors for advice and guidance.

In graduate school, the bond between professor and student evolves. The exchange of information tends toward a cooperative learning of equals working side by side. At Cleveland State University, I had the benefit of an extraordinary English Department filled with professors who were thoughtful teachers and accomplished writers: Dr.  Neal Chandler, Dr. Leonard Trawick, Dr. Daniel Melnick, Dr. Rachel Carson, Sheila Schwartz, and the brilliant Dan Chaon.  At Kent State for MLIS, my thesis advisor and favorite professor, Dr. Jason Holmes, guided my every step, a kindness for which I shall be forever grateful.

Teachers create an incredibly positive impact on the individual and the world; I remain humbly in their debt and happily among their ranks.

Cue Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.”