ac-a-dem-ics • noun: courses of study taken at a school or college

art • noun: the conscious use of skill and creative imagination

The first part of this series focused on mental wholeness—how to achieve it and why it matters. That constitutes the M in the MAPS acronym. The next section focuses on the A—academic and artistic wholeness.

What is Academic Wholeness?

Academic wholeness matters because our brain, like a muscle, needs exercising. Learning shouldn’t end with high school, or even college. That doesn’t mean that we have to keep attending school in order to learn new things, though. By setting forth with intention to learn new skills, we can create our own course of academics.

My grandpa didn’t finish high school because he had to go to work to support his family during the Depression. He didn’t let this stop him from a lifetime of learning. He avidly read Popular Science and Scientific American magazines, and even built his own telescope. In addition, he read National Geographic to learn about the world, and studied his Bible to learn about the Creator.

My father carries on the tradition. At 76, he knows more about computers and networking than any of the youngsters (including me) that work at my school. Teachers call him first for their computer woes, yet he never took a college course in computers.

Contrary to the old adage, you can teach old dogs new tricks. Keeping mentally alert plays a key role in aging gracefully. Learning new skills stimulates our brains and piques our interest in life. They say that if you snooze, you lose. I propose that if you stop learning, you die (faster).

According to Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas, “When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.” In other words, if you’ve done Sudoku or crossword puzzles all your life, they probably won’t improve your brain power as you age.

Ever heard of academic and artistic #wholeness? Why are they important? #write31days Click To Tweet

This week we’ll explore ways to keep learning in order to achieve academic wholeness.

The Flip Side of Academics

academicArt, on the other hand, plays a different, yet vital, role in wholeness. I always thought that my artistic repertoire consisted of drawing horse heads. I loved horses, so I constantly doodled horse heads in the margins of my notebooks. I never took an art class, but I could tell that anything else that I drew didn’t come close to the subject. Therefore, I assumed that I had no artistic talent.

It took me years to realize that I really did have an artistic side. I still draw stick people, but I can wield a mean pair of scissors and create appliqué artwork. The camera serves as another tool of artistic expression for me. Occasionally, I’ll bring out my sewing machine and create art that way. In fact, I designed and made my wedding dress—including hand-beading and adding sequins to the lace on the bodice. Twenty-five years later I redesigned it for our oldest daughter for her wedding.

Creating something allows us to escape our quotidian cares. If mowing the lawn in funky patterns gives you a sense of creative accomplishment, call it art. For some, creating new recipes constitutes art.

I don’t consider myself an artist, but I love creating. In order to achieve academic and artistic wholeness, we need to nurture our mind and our creative side (and we all have a creative side—after all, the Creator fashioned us in his image).

For the next few days, I’ll share low-cost ways to nurture yourself and work towards academic and artistic wholeness.

Nurture Yourself Takeaway #9—Head knowledge and artistic endeavors both help us achieve wholeness.


  1. Lifelong learners-you sound like a teacher! I think I became a teacher because I love to learn. And finding our artistic side is important. Although I know drawing is never going to be something in which I excel, I am enjoying a little doodling in my bullet journal these days. I’ll never show anyone else, but the fact I can do some things I would never have tried before brings a true sense of satisfaction.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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