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Stav Papadopoulos : My Creative Mentor

My Creative Mentor

By Stav Papadopoulos

Creativity had been there all along. I had been looking in the mirror for so long but I could not see it. Maria, must have noticed it because she said, “I like the way you think. I’ll work for you!” And that’s how it all started.

I was baffled. I could not for the life of me understand what she was talking about. What did she mean when she decidedly told me she would work for me? It has taken me a year and a half to figure it out and every minute I spend with my next door neighbor, my friend, my mentor is worth it. Every session, every outing, every bit of advice, everything my creative mentor tells me is a revelation.

Maria and I are both teachers, we have known each other for almost twenty years, we have watched each other’s children grow to adulthood, we have both survived rough times but we have also celebrated happy moments for both of our families.

What she touches turns to gold

I had never thought I’d need a mentor, I had never even known one nor did I know the life-changing role one plays but I am one lucky person Maria came along at that point in my life. I don’t know what a creative mentor or coach is formally supposed to do but I know that what she has done for me is worth telling the world about.

I have seen her work very hard to breathe life into her creations; she is a highly creative person — a gifted artist — a wonderful wife, mother and teacher, an artist, a jewelry maker, a writer, a poet, a passionate lover of nature and its offerings and above all a generous and compassionate person.

‘Femme extraordinaire’

What she has accomplished in her life, she did all by herself. Her tireless efforts are beginning to pay off; her wish to touch as many lives as she can is coming true. She has already achieved so much and her work is receiving the recognition she deserves. She is a golden bright star!

And yet, rather than bask in glory, she finds time out of her very busy schedule and seeks out those who have creative potential but who need to believe in themselves, helps them define their dreams and overcome their fears, guides them, protects them, empowers them and sees to it personally that they are well on their way to success before she lets them go out on their own, and even then she looks out for them.

She is a no-nonsense girl

My creative mentor wastes no time but she makes all work seem like play. She likes to see creativity make its appearance in anything you do, whether it is teaching, crafts, fashion, decoration, writing or performing. “Theory is fine,” she says, “but what do you have to show in practice?” She has a way; she does her magic. She will sit on the sidelines and steadily and silently guide you. You begin to adopt her clear focus, organization, perseverance. It’s a matter of time before her efficiency and practicability passes on to you and before you know it, all those ideas you had in your head begin to take shape.

She plays tricks

Maria's creativity seeps into her mentoring methods. She doesn’t always make it easy. She will put you to the test so that she can see whether you are ready to fly. She will make you think, force you to look deep inside of you, bring out all the hidden negativity and help you dispel it until you are true to yourself — ‘a believer’ as she says of your talent and of your potential. To pass her test is no easy feat. She can be tricky but it’s only because she doesn’t want you to make a mistake and take a direction which will not have your happiness as its destination.

I thought we were just keeping company

Her mentoring was so generous and yet so subtle. You would think the time we spent together, was just time spent between two friends. But all the conversations, the emails we exchanged, the news she shared, the stories she told tell the story of a mentor, a teacher, who succeeds in having her student learn unknowingly. And I learned so much from her. She may have been leading and guiding me every step of the way but she made it seem as if we were walking down that road together as equals.

She doesn’t keep you in a cage

She is the epitome of a free spirit and as such she wishes all those around her to be. Perhaps her strength lies in the fact that she doesn’t keep a hold on you. This mentor strives to make everyone aware that through knowledge and self-awareness comes freedom. You are free to make your choices, free to join other nests and always come back for new creative journeys. Our creative journey is still continuing and in all honesty, I don’t want it to end.

Two years of great company and creative play later and with my new career underway, our joint work almost finished, my writing on creativity for teachers published, the books I had dreamed of writing already started, I can now unravel that mystery.

This already self-confident, acknowledged, passionately creative person saw in me what I could not. She saw in me a person yearning — aching — to express her creativity but not knowing how. She knew it was going to take a lot of work on her behalf but she did it!

(Maria Chatzi is an extraordinary yet modest talent who has been an inspiration and a source of motivation for those who are lucky to know her. I have had the pleasure of being her friend and the rare opportunity to share her passion and learn from her.) •

© 2013 Stav Papadopoulos. All rights reserved.

Stav PapadopoulosStav Papadopoulos is a life-long learner and teacher of foreign languages. She conducts creative language teaching workshops, travels for inspiration, and writes e-books and school plays. More »

Updated 1/9/14