Deciding on a topic for my quarantine art series, I tend to take a minute to listen to what the universe is showing me. I felt drawn to the garden this day…and the beautiful leaves of the mullein plant.
Courage, health, love and protection.
These are things we are all hoping, praying and wishing for during this quarantine time.
Mullein represents all of these things. The leaves of this plant used to be placed into little satchels under one’s pillow to keep away nightmares, and to attract love, health and protection. In fact, it was believed that wearing mullein would ensure fertility, and also keep potentially dangerous animals at bay while in the wilderness. Mullein was also used to help treat respiratory problems, and can be used as toilet paper!
The universe speaks through all things… mullein being synchronistic to COVID-19 in so many ways! Reminding us that nature provides all of our needs, if we are open and willing to listen and receive.
Every day I wake up to the sounds of the earth blossoming, and I can feel myself mimicking her song.
Blossom means to develop, grow, mature and evolve. How fitting of a title for this moment.
Everyday we are being challenged to evolve past our preconceived notions, and things we thought we knew. We are being asked to mature in ways we might have always sidestepped. True growth happens in the shadows, in the spaces between.
Yesterday I posted a blog about how I found a red-tailed hawk… well I have to correct that, and after some further investigation it was actually a Great Horned owl.
The message from the red-tailed hawk was so important for me yesterday, and its amazing how the universe continues to speak to us no matter how we are perceiving our surroundings. Sometimes we overlook or over analyze things, but the universe is always speaking.
The Great Horned owl has a similar message… but one that I needed to hear today.
I have started this new quarantine art series from inspiration to take time to be in nature creating art every day. To help ground myself, while going through the emotional waters of this quarantine period.
The Great Horned owl feathers carry the power of the ability to connect to the quietude of the Divine. In the silence, you will find the support and solace you seek.
Facing our fears and seeing our shadows is the theme of 2020. The Great Horned owl lends enormous support for seeing into the shadow of our own unconscious and finding the fears and secret desires that motivate us.
Great horned owl spiritual meaning relates to fiercely defending what you believe in as well as staying strictly loyal to where you are most at home. So perfect for this time where we are forced to stay at home and really commit to where we give our loyalty.
The owl will teach you about the wise use of warrior power and the amazing gifts of strength and courage. When you turn these gifts to focus on facing your own fears, you’ll reap the most reward.
Even though I was incorrect on my assessment of the bird skull I found the other day, the universe spoke to me with exactly what I needed to hear in each moment. This is what happens when we are open to receiving and are actively listening.
This has been by far one of the most dynamic and intense moments in our lives.
Drawing out every emotion and every trigger from our darkest parts.
We are finding ourselves reacting to things at such a raw level.
What do we do in these moments? We dig deep, look deep, and pray. Pray to our Gods, pray to our earth, pray to ourselves… where is the peace in the unknown? How do we get there when everything is dark?
Hope. We have to keep faith that this trial is a blessing in disguise. That what comes from this will be the most beautiful gift you have ever received, and never could have imagined.
Grace. We have to find gratitude in every breath. Deep breaths into self, and full breaths out, releasing all that is not for our highest good. In the moments where everything feels like its too much… like we can’t go any further, the universe always sends us a sign, a gift.
The other day I went for a walk through the woods here at Burns Valley Herbals and Retreat. I have been finding this week to be particularly difficult to navigate through my emotions. The unknown is nerve racking. Except for when you find the gift in it.
On my walk I came across a dead red-tailed hawk. The bones and feathers showed themselves to me, as I asked for clarity. I was gifted the skull and feathers, as a reminder of my role as a leader.
The Hawk represents a messenger in the Native American culture. It often shows up in our life when we need to pay attention to the subtle messages found around us, and from those we come into contact with.
The hawk’s gifts include clear sightedness, being observant, messages from the universe, guardianship, courage, wisdom, illumination, seeing the bigger picture, creativity, truth, experience, wise use of opportunities, overcoming problems, and focus.
The hawk is a bird of the heavens, arranging the changes necessary to prompt our spiritual growth. When accepting its presence in your life, you will be asked to surrender/give up anything that doesn’t honour the integrity of all life. Although hard work is involved, the rewards to be reaped are great, far outweighing this.
This was SO the message I needed to hear… the universe always provides when we are open to receiving. I am ready to focus on creating sacred space for self exploration through creative expression.
We are in week 4 of online e-learning through Schoology, using Google Meets for virtual meetings.
First I have to say how grateful I am to work for Baltimore County, and to work with such amazing educators. The BCPS visual arts office enlisted the help of my department chair and other art educators to create amazing lessons for our students. We are so fortunate.
The past 4 weeks have been a roller coaster.
As a teacher I have to keep up with my 300 students, who post 3 times a week, grading and giving feedback. It is a lot of desk work, a lot of time spent at the computer.
I miss being in my classroom. I miss interacting with my students face to face. I miss the conversations we have, and seeing them light up when they come up with an idea for their project, or when they figure out something and are proud of themselves!
Art is such a hands on interactive activity! I am learning to navigate the balance between the digital and the material experiences. But let me just say again, I really miss my students.
I get to do virtual meetings with them once a week, every other week for 30 mins. It is challenging to build relationships with 20+ students via a Google Meet in a half an hour. So far I have met with my A day kids twice, and my B day kids once. During our meetings, we have shared something interesting about what we’ve done since we’ve been quarantined, which took all 30 mins!
When my students tell me what they’ve been doing with their time, the majority of them say they are spending A LOT of time doing homework. They have expressed a huge amount of stress from the amount of focus it takes for them to get all of their school work done. Aside from the workload, students have also mentioned they are doing a lot more physical activity then before the quarantine! So that’s a positive!!
Teachers are not to use the meeting time to do new learning or direct instruction. We are to be building relationships and allowing time for students to check in. Part of me wishes I had more time with them so we could do a fun art project! There are a lot of layers to this though…not all kids are in the meetings, not all kids have materials to create an art project with and we have a limited about of time.
Also most of my students do not want to turn their cameras on!! I love seeing my students, so I ask them to please turn their cameras on so I can see them! It’s not the same teaching to a bunch of uppercase letters in colored circles!
I have also been leading google meets for my green club kids!! We have been learning about different edible plants and watching the fruit trees grow!
Aside from teaching my students, I am also assisting my own children in their school work. Doing both is challenging, but we are making it work!
Luckily my kids school has streamlined things on google classroom and my children are starting to really get the hang of everything! We have meltdowns every now and then… but it’s a lot more manageable then the first week!
Overall… we are doing it. We are handling it, we are learning and growing.
Just a reminder that is not simply electronic learning, this is emergency learning.
Be kind, be compassionate, be easy on one another…
There is much to be excited about Burns Valley Herbals and Retreat this coming year. Even in the midst of this COVID crisis, we are planning and preparing for a beautiful summer filled with amazing opportunities to gather, learn and create!
Brenda is a lover of the earth, and grows medicinal herbs which she blends into teas, steams, soaks and more. Brenda loves to share her knowledge and passion for plants! She is also a huge believer in the power of the earth to heal.
There are so many amazing things to do at Burns Valley! Check out a few things we’ve been up to! Taking hikes, making art, setting up gnome and fairy gardens, playing disc golf, saving a woodpecker that flew into the window, collecting cattails, doing a puzzle, playing board games, hanging out by the fire and cooking! This is the perfect space for my mind, body and soul.
The first 3 days off of work because of the coronavirus came and went.
On Sunday I thought about how I would handle the next day. Was I going to get up, business as usual… or was I going to take the well needed rest.
I decided to take it one day at a time. So on Monday, I woke up without my alarm, around 6:30 am. I decided that it was the perfect day for me to start with yoga. I love being awake before everyone else, and watching my Sara Beth yoga on youtube! I really enjoy her flow.
After yoga, I had some coffee and read a book. It was nice to be able to sit still and quiet for a little while. However there has been this underlying unease… a type of energy that is constantly on… buzzing underneath it all.
When my kids woke up we did school work, and made art!
Two weeks off of work, for social distancing purposes. So I stayed in the house, finished reading the Alchemist, and am working on finishing Mitakuya Oyasin. I am also working on Braiding Sweetgrass.
I worked on a few paintings, did printmaking with my daughter, and cleaned and organized the house.
We also went for a run on the trail, and a hike in the woods.
The grocery stores have been hit or miss. In Pennsylvania the Giant wasn’t too bad… but when I went down to Maryland and their Giant was empty! It’s very interesting to hear how different areas have different reactions to the quarantine.
I have been taking it one moment at a time, trying not to over schedule anything, but also not just sitting around doing nothing. Though sometimes I catch myself sitting and staring. Thinking about what’s going on with the world!
What if we don’t go back to school in 2 weeks? There are rumors of more quarantine, of longer time off of school, if not the rest of the school year… there is so much to process.
Today I emailed all of my students… letting them know they can message me any time. I miss them. I can’t imagine not going back to school for the rest of the year!
I could tell students were really in shock and didn’t know what to do. They were quieter.
Today I spoke to them about what was happening, and shared where the online art resources were located for them to do over the next two weeks. These digital resource folders were uploaded to each class, and they are for practice only. If students want to use them over the 2 weeks they can, but they are not mandatory.
We discussed how things might be longer than 2 weeks, and we might have to go to online learning if that happens. They’re responses were, “That would not be good. I can’t focus at home. I won’t ever do any work! I need accountability. I’ll get distracted by Minecraft!” Its funny to me because when everything is normal they don’t want to be in school… but when presented with the opportunity to not being school, they realize they might not have the self control to keep learning up to their potential!
Well then shared with them again that the best thing for them to do right now is to take care of themselves mentally and physically. To take time to rest and breath, not allowing themselves to be overwhelmed with stress or fear. Using art to help you express how you’re feeling and how your processing this new experience. I encouraged them to keep a journal about it all, and to spend some time creating art that represents this experience for them.
Also I mentioned they should eat less processed sugar if they can help it, since it does not help their immune system. You should’ve heard how almost every class responded to my sugar comment! It was amazing how defensive they became. So many students said, “What?! Oh No! I dont think I could do that. I love sugar.” If they only knew how much better they would feel if they had less sugar in their diet!
After school was over I realized I needed to take my plants home with me, because there would be no one there to water them for 2 weeks. So many things I had to consider and contemplate today. Even before going to the grocery store at 4pm.
When I parked at Shoprite, I knew what I was getting myself into. There wasn’t too much missing when I arrived. The bananas were gone, and so was all the rubbing alcohol, peroxide, toilet paper, and bread. The rest of the store was pretty much stocked. It was so weird.
And then I went to stand in line… and I had to go pretty much halfway down the aisle to get to the end of the line. I waited in line for about 40 mins at least. Everyone was very friendly and polite. Helping each other find what they needed and waiting line while having small talk. It was nice to see people being kind.
Today went well, but was also very overwhelming.
The amount of information, what ifs and questions I had to process today put my mind on overload, and being around all of those people in the grocery store added a level of emotions that were tough to balance.
When I got home from the store all I wanted to do was sit by myself alone, and cry. Releasing all of that tension and energy back into a neutral space of love and balance.
Being alone to process what we experience and feel is a very important part of learning and growing… of knowing thy self.
The energy of this experience is quite new… so slow and steady is the only way to navigate.
The fog was really heavy as I drove in to work today.
With the message from the governor last night, everything seems a little more surreal.
While driving into work, my mind bounced around between many different thoughts: what was today going to be like? Will there be a lot of students out? Can we even get anything done? Should we even worry about school work? How can I make today a less stressful day for myself and my students.
Coming into work, the halls are less crowded… the teachers are all in shock… so surreal.
What do we even do? Just keep moving forward… steady.
I found out this morning that I will have to upload and share teaching resources with my students while we are on this 2 week break. I am not sure what the looks like exactly… will I have to teach all day? Will I just have to grade work? Will I have to be available if they need me for something? Are students simply going to complete the work at their own pace?
So many questions, not much answers at the moment. It seems that things are slowly dripping down to us.
The students cleaned their lockers out this morning. Our morning art meeting was canceled due to an emergency leadership team meeting. The visual arts office of BCPS uploaded files to our resource page labeled COVID 19 remote learning, at home resources. I am not sure yet what I am supposed to do with them.
With class about to start… I am sitting here deciding… do I have the student continue to work on their projects as normal? Or do I do something “special” for these special times?
I think we will explore our emotions through a group project I did once, where students received cards with emotions on them and they had to work in groups to create a piece of art that represented that emotion. Groups would guess one another’s emotions based off the artwork!