Put down a finger if you take pills daily.
Put down a finger if you sometimes forget to take those pills.
Put down a finger if typical pill sorters remind you of hospital stays, your grandmother's kitchen counter, or the florescent lighting of a CVS.
Put down a finger if you like fun things.
Now throw that thumb towards the sky because I have some good news for you today in this Art Moment update!
This month, I attended a workshop with Thredd, the creator of Pill Joy. Pill Joy sells cute, fun, colorful, magical, spooky-if-you're-into-that pill organizers they've made by hand. And when I tell you they are game changing... I mean, just look at them.
These pill organizers start off as the basic ones you're used to but Thredd figured out how to get things to stick to their plastic exteriors. They experimented with all types of mediums before figuring out what works to adhere all kinds of "toppings" to the little compartments.
Thredd started making these organizers for friends but then the business took off as more and more people wanted to brighten up this neglected corner of our healthcare.
If you want to know more about Thredd's story of Pill Joy, check out this news segment they were recently featured on.
This month, Thredd offered their first in-person workshop where they took a small group of us through the whole process of decorating our own pill organizers from boring to absolutely joyful. I was lucky enough to snag a seat since I've been following Pill Joy on instagram for a while now.
I didn't take a single picture while I was there because I was so busy being present in the learning and sharing space Thredd created that night at Fat Fancy. But someone was taking pictures! And you can see me in some of the shots Thredd shared on their instagram of the event.
But since these Art Moments posts are all about me being inspired by someone else to create more art, let me show you the pill organizer I made with Thredd's help in the workshop. I'm calling it the Unicorn Convention.
Given the opportunity to select from Thredd's amazing collection of toppings, I went full Lisa Frank and chose rainbows, unicorns, sprinkles, and of course glitter. And let me tell you, I am obsessed with this pill organizer. Who wouldn't want to attend this party???
Getting to meet and work with Thredd, a fellow queer, disabled maker, has inspired me to look around at my daily habits and see what else could use some joy. If I've been overlooking my pill organizer this long, what else am I not seeing the potential in?
I'm going to keep thinking on this challenge rather than forcing an answer right away. For now, I'm just going to be grateful for Thredd's creativity in thinking this up and generosity in sharing it with us. Each time I smile at my pill organizer (seriously, who thought I'd be doing that ever), I'll try to remember that joy can be infused in the little, necessary, every day things too.
This is the first fall I didn't go back school in more than 30 years. *Insert record scratch here*
I thought I was going to be telling you something surprising, but then the gravity of that sentence hit me. I've just broken a trend I've been sticking to for my entire adult life and most of my childhood! Let's get into it a little bit.
My teaching career started in the last 2 years of my graduate degree when I accepted a teaching assistantship at the University of Maine. I was taking classes in Feminist Literary Criticism and teaching Composition to first year students, making a whopping $12,000 a year and getting my Master's tuition waived. After the first semester of dividing my mental space between feminist criticism and first year composition, I had an epiphany. Though I'd grown up loving reading (and I still do!), I found I loved teaching others even more.
I saw the "aha"s in my learners' faces when something clicked and I was delighted. A student told me my class helped her read her first book, cover to cover in English and my heart swelled. Another student told us about his summer wakeboarding accident and I cringed at the reality but marveled at his choice of sensory details. Yet another student came to office hours frustrated and tearful and left smiling and feeling confident about their next steps and I realized the coaching aspects of teaching were pulling me in.
I didn't fight it.
I switched my focus from feminist criticism to composition studies. I wanted to be the best teacher I could be for my students and learning as much as I could was my first step. My composition courses were my favorites. Learning about how to communicate, connect, teach, encourage, challenge... I couldn't get enough. I finished my graduate program wanting to teach full time and I was lucky enough to be able to do that the next fall at Georgia Southern University in the Department of Writing & Linguistics.
At GSU, I found my passion in learning and development. I can thank my colleagues for recruiting me into the Georgia Southern Writing Project after my first year at GSU. They pulled me into an immersive, transformative, 5-week summer intensive that changed how I approached teaching and reminded me of the joys of writing for fun and community. I began as a teacher consultant and then became the go to classroom technology person and a few years later, I was co-directing GSWP with my originally assigned mentor from that first summer intensive. I loved getting to create and facilitate trainings for local school teachers and my college colleagues. Getting to learn alongside other engaged faculty was a dream scenario -- teaching and learning in an iterative way that benefits our learners directly. What could be better?
The 12 years I taught college writing in Georgia, I was able to hone my teaching skills and become better and more effective each semester. At GSU, I moved from a temporary instructor to a lecturer, then a senior lecturer, finishing as Assistant First Year Writing Program Coordinator.
All this brings me to the present... Fall 2022 and for the first time since kindergarten... I didn't go back to school. I'll have more to say about why later, but I just want to clarify that it isn't at all because I've lost my love of learning or teaching. I'm still super passionate about both. I just think there can be other ways of engaging in the learning process outside of the traditional school system I've made my career in thus far.
It's not news to any of us that learning happens everywhere, not just inside the walls of classrooms. I'm looking to explore those non-classroom spaces these days. How do we learn outside the standards; outside the defunded, asbestos-filled buildings; outside the lines? How can I jump in and impact the way others see learning? How can my passion help someone else find theirs?
For now, I have more questions than answers and that's a fun place to be! So much possibility. So many options.
I said at the top of this post that I didn't go back to school this fall... but that's actually not completely true. While I didn't go back to the classroom in the ways I'm used to -- creating a curriculum, building a course, distributing a syllabus, and teaching about a hundred new learners -- I went back to being a student and soaking up as much as I possibly can about my new options.
I'm currently finishing up a credential through ACUE (Association of College and University Educators) that is focused on Effective Online Teaching.
Though targeted to faculty educators, much of what this credential focuses on is adult learning theory and instructionally sound course design.
I'm also in the first few weeks of an Instructional Design course through ELVTR with the super knowledgeable Liana Griffin.
In this course, I'm learning that so much of my education career translates directly into the instructional design world. I'm following her curriculum to build out a course for a professional audience that will show off my instructional designer chops in my portfolio. I'm also meeting a lot of other great folks who are moving out of the education system and into learning and development. My ROI on this class is already solid. :)
So though I didn't go back to a traditional campus this fall, I'm feeling that new outfit, new notebook enthusiasm in a different way. Each time I log into Canvas for my ACUE course or Google Classroom for the ELVTR one, I get that rush of excitement that shows I'm in the right place. I'm still learning and always will be.
As long as I have that, I have all I need.
What have you learned recently? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!
In this new series I'm calling "Art moments," I'm going to be sharing some piece of art I've encountered and a piece of art it inspired me to make.
Today, I'm thrilled to kick off this series on the launch day of my good friend's new mini-chapbook! Janet Dale's ghosts passing through is available on Amazon from Alien Buddha Press. Janet's poetry is very cool and I recommend you check out this piece called "I Go Back to October 2018" for some ghosty vibes I think we might be seeing more of in the chapbook. Awesome perk of that link is that you can either read the poem or listen to Janet read it to you.
Also, take a quick look at the blurb on the back of the chapbook.
Janet Dale's debut chapbook ghosts passing through is haunted, yes, by the recursive presence of a speaker's lost beloved, their fate "always to be apart." But more than haunted, these poems are haunting--somehow spare and capacious, ethereal and incisive. Dale deftly merges physics with poetics in this elegant conceit, seeking a language that captures essence, until "not even words remain."
Haunting? Ghost(ing)? Physics? You can clearly count me in here.
Also, according to Janet herself, this mini-chapbook is 70% new material, so these are poems we can't read anywhere else. I'm so excited to get my hands on it. (It should arrive Friday!!!)
While I wait though... some ghosts passing through inspired art!
Since all my materials came from newsprint today, the contrast is a little lower than I'm used to. It was a great stretch for me, creatively. My style is more loud and shiny than matte and muted. But I think that also aligns more with Janet's cover and the image of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, GA photographed by Allison Renner.
They're both a little dark, a little mysterious. Inviting contemplation in a ghostly environment that is both natural and engineered.
So a big thank you to Janet, for the inspiration to get me back into collage today! And a huge congratulations on the launch of ghosts passing through!
If you are reading this and interested in more of Janet's work, info about the chapbook or upcoming readings, and even more, check out her linktree here. And let me know in the comments if you've read Janet's work or better yet, were inspired to make something too!
Amanda J. Hedrick
Story collector, recipe enthusiast, educator, striving for a constant input and output of all things art and learning.