I had the great opportunity to go to the Heart Mind Conference this weekend at UBC. It was presented by the Dalai Llama Centre for Peace and Education. 2 days of emotional education, stories and tools on how to bring the heart into the classroom. It was incredible and I am wiped out now because of it. The greatest lesson of my artistic training for me was "art is of the self" and I feel I have really put effort towards that ideal with Message in a Bottle. Taking my childhood trauma and shaping it into a theatrical piece that will engage students with artistic mediums that will capture their attention to show the emotional journey of bullying of the bully. It was a great achievement for me. The post show goal is to provide an emotional platform for teachers to talk with the students about the cycle of bullying to educate about the power of forgiveness. My challenge has been to offer the tools for teachers to make it as easy as possible. The Heart Mind Conference had many like minded people and made me feel like I will have allies in making my presentation the most effective it can be. Most of the attendees were educators. Some of the moments that really stuck out for me was the speech by Freedom Writers creator, Erin Gruwell. You can watch a TEDX version HERE. It is heavy and many of us were crying. If you ever get a chance watch Freedom Writers. Truly inspiring. We rented it from Itunes last night. Erin's speech gave me hope that teachers can make a difference. It also made me think about several key teachers in my life that helped me. Not only my high school drama teachers because I felt accepted and motivated to focus on activities that fed my soul but also Mrs. Attadia at Maywood Elementary (around 1978). I remember not wanting to go home at the end of the day because I felt safe in her class. The next speech that really stood out for me was by Felix Warneken about children's' innate altruism. This started off very academic and then he had the videos of the toddlers helping without any prodding. It is our HERE is a TEDX version. This really connected with my own experience and what I talk about in the show. Children aren't born bullies. People are bullies because they don't feel safe and feel that dominating another person will change that for them. They don't know any better and if they knew better they would make different choices. I believe this is the same for every person that makes choices that are selfish, violent or evil. Felix's research and presentation confirmed this for me. Thanks Felix. I had the opportunity to also meet and sit in with the Random Acts of Kindness foundation. A very nice group of people with a great mission. The name says it all. The greatest part is that they have resources for teachers. Just what I was looking for. www.randomactsofkindnessfoundation.org I have to thank Farah for this great gift. It was her idea for me to attend. The course was proof that I am not alone. There is a whole community of people that are pushing for the same evolution of heart based learning. Integrity is so important for me as an artist. I need to be true to my story and how my gifts can be used best to captivate the young audience within a context that they will connect with. Then there is what the teachers and institution require of me. Educators look at my work with different eyes and this conference gave me the tools to give to them to help their work. Message in a Bottle just got even better!