This summer, I taught my first workshop. It was a fabulous day, I had fun as did my students, many of whom remarked that they would not have known it was my first teaching experience, had I not told them at the end as we gathered for a joyful group photo.
After much mental hand-wringing and many studio hours of planning and prep work, I went in well-prepared. Relating to my students, meeting them where they were in the moment had (thankfully) proved easier than I had expected. It was such a success that I immediately began planning my next workshop, this time planning on three days in the fall. Then, unexpectedly, my enthusiasm waned.
I had begun to sense that familiar feeling in my gut - the one that gets my attention by making me a little queasy every time I think about something in particular. It's not an "I'm scared" feeling - heck, I'd already worked through that with the first workshop. It's more of an "I really don't want to do this" feeling.
So, introspective me grabbed this by the collar and examined it more closely. What I discovered is that I was feeling like I'd taken a wrong turn, that I had distracted myself by accepting this opportunity – and was further distracting myself by jumping in again. I realized that I had been building a nice momentum and rhythm with my studio practice and that my work had been growing by leaps and bounds because of it. However, the (many) hours of planning and prep that the workshop had taken up had interrupted that flow and now, I found myself struggling to get back on that track – while beginning to think about the next workshop.
Ah, there it was.... I realized I wanted – that I needed – that strong studio practice at this time in my career and that the workshops were taking up too much mental space and far too much of my time. I had always had teaching in the back of my mind....but right now? It didn't feel right, so I knew I had to let it go. And when I did... Wow, I felt sooooo much lighter.... More evidence that it was the right decision.
I am grateful for the teaching opportunity that presented itself, for the experience, for what it taught me. But in the end, I realize that just because I can, doesn't mean I should in this moment. It'll be waiting for me down the road...as my next art life.