May 02, 2011

Learning Never Ends

by Mary Alice Carnes, Community Relations Manager

I felt as if I was dancing around the Maypole this weekend. Near the end of my Saturday yoga class our instructor led the full class into a tight shoulder-to-shoulder circle. The class was so big we had to work our circle around a large column in the room. She instructed us to create a “wave” by mimicking only what the person to our left did. She then began a series of poses that fanned around the circle. I did pretty well using my peripheral vision to see and execute chair, forward bend, and sun salutation poses. Not bad I thought ...then I lost my focus when I looked up and followed the instructor’s pose instead of the person to my left. I realized almost instantly I was out of sync.

Suddenly I had a flashback to my drama class back at W. B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. Influenced, I think, by a field trip to Houston to see Marcel Marceau, the great French mime, at the beginning of the school year our teacher Betty Hughes led us through six weeks of mime exercises. The training strengthened our core and taught us to concentrate — long before I understood that I had a core and that it had to be trained...a lot.

Our choir and drama classes at Ray High collaborated every year to present an annual musical and we prepped all year long for the spring performances in May. Mrs. Hughes led us through countless mirror exercises, working us hard to control and mold our bodies into vehicles for storytelling. Actually breaking up in laughter was so much easier than becoming a master mime. My favorite exercise was miming Mrs. Hughes, dressed in her black leotards, as she led us in pose after pose after pose to the sounds of Broadway musical overtures. There was no room in this bunch for “jazz hands” and at some point you could actually see the waving wheat of “Oklahoma” as we flowed through the combinations. It didn't dawn on me until years later that Mrs. Hughes used this training to strengthen us as a team and how each one of us contributed to the whole performance and production.

What have I learned since high school? Class never ends and learning doesn’t either. I’m still learning new skills to help with focus, concentration and strengthening my mind and body. When I can, I attend professional development training in marketing, social media, fundraising and other nonprofit issues to hone my skills as a member of a nonprofit organization. I value more than ever contributing to the teamwork of an organization to accomplish meet our mission.

I haven’t danced around the Maypole in quite some time, but I do celebrate the season and embrace that life-long learning is necessary and fun. What training do you do? I would love to hear what fun and interesting learning supports your life and work.

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