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Bloom where you are planted

By Amy Nielsen

HOLY WOW that was fun!

Yesterday in the beautiful, fresh, rain-washed, summer sun, I taught my first public class.

I organized it through our County Beautification volunteer organization. They typically host classes about gardening but were looking for a way to branch out to healthy living too. My class was about eating rainbows daily through colorful foods.

I started this journey in May when I graduated from school. I operate a health and wellness education business. My job is to help people support their bodies’ daily function to the best of their abilities for their current medical and health needs. I teach classes and hold seminars.

I say this all in present tense, like I have a full roster of classes I am currently teaching, even though I just said I taught my first class yesterday. However, I have been teaching for a very long time. I have taught lots of other subjects in my lifetime, not to mention that I teach homeschool classes weekly.

So why was this class such a big deal to me? Because it was the first one that someone else, a stranger-now-friend, approached me to teach. I was planning to offer to teach for this organization, but not until the fall or even next summer, after I had a chance to volunteer with them for a while to get a better idea of what they really do. Then, I opened my big mouth.

I was sitting in the volunteer orientation meeting listening to Jane, the volunteer coordinator, talk about the future dreams of this organization and I couldn’t help myself. I raised my hand and said, “I just finished my certificate in exactly that. How can I help?” Little did I know she was looking for classes to fill the summer calendar.

Jane and I met the following week at our local park to discuss where the class would be held, what the general overall topics would be and about how long it would last.

I went home and pulled out a short outline I had been doodling with for a few weeks and went to work fleshing it out. Within the hour I had a solid concept, enough to send as a proposal. I added a copy of my very rough CV and a short introductory biography that I had written as a homework assignment for school and sent it off.

Things went a bit haywire from there. We live in a very seasonal area and it is now the shoulder of summer. Everything and everyone goes into overdrive for the next 12 weeks. Jane and I never met face to face again for this project. I will be forever thankful for my smartphone and the ability to multi-task.

We planned this event in a series of machine gun style, email-text-a-phone-a-thons in the drive time between meetings, playdates, concerts, and school. I will be forever thankful to the officer at SPAC who didn’t make me hang up in the middle of the budget discussion while directing me to parking for the Dead and Co concert.

It took me a bit longer to get a real feel for exactly how I was going to move from topic to topic and how I was going to incorporate some of the wide ranging subjects we wanted to touch on. While driving around from all of my other projects I kept working on the language I would use. I tried on several styles of presentation from straight out lecture to fun, groovy, hippie herbalist. I settled on something in between with portions pretty clinical with a few silly sparklers tossed in.

I don’t write a script for my classes. I work from an outline written on my handouts.

Oh yeah, handouts. I am a handout freak. I love to give out credited information, by that I mean I collect interesting information from lots of different places and make sure in my notes to credit back to the original source. I like to let people follow their own rabbit holes when they get home.

So handouts became my next project. I started collecting infographics, articles, images, and links for each of the topics I wanted to cover. I ended up with quite the file and culled it down to a dull roar of nine pages, including my added notes to the final version.

I finished the handout packet about a week before I was to teach but I still didn’t feel like I had the right language. It still felt clunky when I ran through teaching it in my head. I hadn’t found the key to tie it all together yet. I knew it was there, I just had to wait for it to come.

This is the really hard part. Waiting for the final key to come. In some classes I have taught, that key doesn’t come until the right participant enters the classroom. I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be the case with this class. It’s a bit scary when that happens.

I was in luck though. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning the dawn of the day of my class, in the dark of the new moon, a time of great beginnings, out of a sound sleep dream to write out exactly what I was saying in my dream. It was the key come to me in the time of prime newness.

I finished writing my notes, got down on my knees, and thanked the Universe for such beautiful words to share.

With that beginning, I feel like I have been slingshot out of my past life and into a new existence. My class was over full, extremely well received by a wide swath of population from my immediate community, and welcomed by both experienced and novice participants.

All were very supportive of this endeavor and I have several emails in my inbox asking for more information on all of my class offerings. I am so thankful that I opened my big mouth and that the county gardeners decided to help me bloom where I am planted.

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