Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to School

Throughout my college and grad school years, I had a real sense of what my long-term, short-term, and immediate goals were. I knew when the semester would be over, and I knew what I expected to learn or accomplish in that time. Now, with no advisor to inform my next steps and no professor with a syllabus to guide my journey through a course, it's really up to me to decide those things. Since I got so much from the structure of college semesters, I decided this fall to create a course listing of 10 courses and developed a semester syllabus for each of them. Essentially, I determined what things I want to spend my time and energy on for the next few months, and I found a way to share those goals with other people.

Five of the courses have tuition fees. One is the Basic Music Composition course I'm teaching at the Rice University Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, and another is essentially advanced composition lessons. I intend to take time for my own compositional endeavors as well, of course. The other three courses with tuition are the workshops I offer through Envision Coaching Solutions. The Power of Connection is on the calendar for October, and I'm in the process of locating a venue and scheduling the other two. I'm looking forward to how these workshops will evolve, and I am excited about being able to share skills and knowledge in a way that empowers other people to claim a meaningful vision for their lives.

The five free courses are a way that I'm basically doing that in my own life. When I was able to quantify what I want to create and learn over the next few months, I was also able to open space for partnership in those efforts. Basically, I advertised my "course offerings" to people I know, letting them see what I'm going to be spending time on and inviting them to join me. I've been thinking about how those courses fit together and why those particular topics are important to me personally.

Flow is a book I've been intending to read for awhile. I put it on the course schedule to invite others to read it at the same time and hopefully benefit from what it has to offer. It's about moment-by-moment creativity, which is something I strive for in my own life and want to encourage in others. I see it potentially informing how I coach coach and compose and connect with others.

The Artist's Way is similar is some ways. I expect to learn and grow as a composer and a coach, and I will have a chance to bear witness to the creativity of others in the group. This book is much more of a workbook than Flow, and its author, Julia Cameron, is an extraordinary creativity coach.

Since I know I'll be viewing and thinking about horror films, I included Morality in Horror Films in the fall semester. This has actually turned into a very compelling project for me. I expect a book to be created in partnership with the other participants, and there will be a lot of exciting lessons in organizing the project, over and above the entertaining subject matter.

Another activity I intended to keep on my calendar is a regular in-person role-playing game. For several months, I have been researching how role-playing games can be a tool for personal and organizational development. Unfortunately, lessons learned in a game typically do not transfer to real life. So, I have been working on developing tools to bridge that gap. Essentially, I believe that the opportunity for people to benefit beyond the fun of playing an imaginative game is too great to ignore. So I am dedicating time this semester to exploring Group Dynamics and Creative Strategy in Role-Playing Games.

Finally, I included in the fall semester Basic Ritual Craft. Much has been written about the importance of ritual, and how ritual can add depth of meaning to life events. We use ritual to celebrate all sorts of special events like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and promotions. It's been an interest of mine for some time, and I have created some rituals for use in previous jobs. I've been accumulating resources from many different perspectives, and I want to do something more with them. I don't know where this one will lead, but I am glad I committed to set aside time for it.

So, I am headed forward with a structure that has worked for me in the past. I don't know how it will work out, but it is an exciting venture filled with things that matter to me. And I am able to explore connection with other people in all of it. The biggest shift for me is that I have accepted that I am at the helm of my own life. Kind of a big deal I guess.

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