Back in September, Chase found the perfect tomato (?)
When one thinks of the term, language snob, they most likely envision someone like David Ogden Stiers, as he portrayed Major Charles Winchester in the iconic television show, M*A*S*H. Not many would associate me with the term snob in any context; however, when it comes to word usage, I am completely, unrepentantly, and obnoxiously snooty.
That’s right, use the incorrect verb tense in a statement, an adjective in place of an adverb, the same word more than once within a paragraph, or mix points of view in a story (i.e. switching from 1st to 3rd person and back again), and just sit back to witness my fits of indignation. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who has seen me (try to) read a badly written article in a newspaper or has watched me visibly wince as I switch off the radio because of a poorly scripted advertisement.
Now, here, is the uproariously funny part – I completely suck at grammar. I am even worse at spelling, and on top of all that, my typing skills are dreadful (I actually failed my HS typing class). I blame my abysmal memory, and my distinct dislike (disregard) for anything that is even closely related to a rule, as well as my complete lack of fine motor skills.
With all of those natural deficits (handicaps) you are probably wondering why on earth I actively choose to write,
It is quite simple, really – I adore playing with words to devise something, whether it is a piece that is utterly silly or intensely serious. The challenge of finding the perfect words and manipulating them to flow rhythmically and convey an emotion, concept, or experience is totally addictive. I occupy an absurd amount of time composing sections of blog posts, emails, website narratives, or grant proposals in my head while going about my daily life. And, then I, quite literally, spend hours composing, cutting and pasting, searching for the ideal synonyms, revising, editing, and, sometimes, after all that, deleting the entire thing and starting over. All of which would be perfectly insane, if I didn’t have so much fun in the process.
Writing and wordplay are pure pleasure – for me. I don’t need to be naturally good at every single bit of the craft to devise a (hopefully) well written piece. I can utilize an abundance of tools, available on any modern writing device, to make sure my grammar and spelling are (mostly) correct, all the while feeding my insatiable appetite for word-smithing. This is all true for any pursuit, and, one I convey to my students every day. Once you are able to verbalize what you are interested in and what you enjoy doing (at that moment in time), you can go out and immerse yourself. Search up the tools, whether it is people, written knowledge, or even YouTube videos that will provide you with the information to practice that particular skill. When you are finished with that objective, move onto the next – mastery is not necessarily the goal. Yes, it is absolutely okay to jump around from one fascination to another. How on earth will you find what lights your fire, if you are not open to trying anything, and, everything that holds even a hint of potential appeal? Join me; yes, I am inviting you to be a snob, too, in whatever field and for however long you would like. Become a connoisseur of fashion, foreign languages, farming, forestry, cooking, calculous, super-heroes, theater, music, manga, accounting, physics, biology, ecology, or psychology. Transform yourself into a social justice warrior, entrepreneur, fund-raiser, activist, or a poet. Indulge in your art. Do what makes you happy and then move on to the next thing that brings you delight. You too can create a successful, joyful, meaningful, and useful life within all of those moments of unadulterated snobbery.
We have all heard the platitudes that tout hardship, suffering, toil, discomfort, and tribulations as necessary evils to becoming a responsible, moral, and, lest we forget, productive member of society.
Contrary to popular opinion, suffering through a task, for the sole purpose of building character, is nothing but punitive and coercive rhetoric, which only brings misery - not enlightenment or riches. On the other hand, hard work, struggle, and herculean effort, when combined with personal aspirations, determination, and desire produces not only positive results, but happy, satisfied, intrinsically motivated, and genuinely innovative individuals who are working hard to make affirmative change in the world. And, who are generally thrilled to build platforms to give others a hand-up towards achieving their dreams.
When the lone reason for drudgery is simply about completing the job, or fulfilling a societal role, there is no joy, satisfaction, or creative spark to propel you onto the next challenge. In reality, misery only generates more misery – it does not produce knowledge, intelligence, strength, or for that matter, even, virtue.
Quitting is one way to definitively change course mid-stream, make adjustments, and modify your life plan when the original strategy is no longer viable. Leaving one venture behind, with intention, to seek out new opportunities, is not shameful and absolutely does not signify a weakness of character. It does, however, indicate an open mind, an ability to be flexible, a willingness to work through hardship, and often leads to new discoveries about yourself and your aspirations, as well as to the people who can provide encouragement and support.
Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps may not be physically or economically possible; however, no matter who you are or where you are from, there will always be a community who has your back. You simply have to say, “here I am.”
This week’s FAQ The one response we often hear when people first discover DRC is: We have to wait until the beginning of the next school year before we can join DRC, right? You do not have to wait until your child finishes out a year. We accept new students throughout the year. Your child can leave school anytime during an academic year and we support you to do that by writing a letter of intent and Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP), as soon as you make the decision. Often times, we are able to schedule a meeting and get them written the day you decide. If school is truly not working for your child and they are intensely miserable, forcing them to complete the school year only intensifies the misery, anxiety, and unhappiness. Giving a child the option to take charge of their education opens the doors for them to rise out of the situation that made them unhappy and begin to search out the things they want to focus on instead of dreading the things they have no interest in. It gives them the freedom to relax, to breath, to drop their shoulders and masks, and to be themselves without fear of being ridiculed or punished. We are available to assist with that transition. Schedule an appointment today.
Summer Programs at DRC Last two weeks of August
I have come to understand, over these many years, that a simple, “yes”, almost always, has the power to open up an affirmative space where conversation, exploration, and collaboration can develop into positive action. While, “no”, generally slams the door shut making it clear that there is not any possibility for discussion or investigation and it almost always invites conflict, defiance, and outright rebellion.
There are so many instances where “no” may seem to be the easiest and most painless choice (we have all been there). However, I have, found over the years, “yes”, may take more time, become much more involved, and require more thought in the beginning, but it will almost always be worth it.
To be clear, saying, “yes”, does not mean that you are allowing or condoning permissiveness, indulgence, or disrespect (i.e. bratty behavior). It simply conveys an openness to new ideas, which encourages respectful dialogue, and, in my view, will always be a win.
This concept not only works when responding to outside requests, it is also essential when you are engaged in those inner negotiations – all you highly divergent thinkers know exactly what I am talking about. I firmly believe that beginning with “yes”, gives you the freedom to explore all the possibilities, brainstorm, make errors, arrive at seemingly dead-ends, backtrack and seek out other paths until you discover the - or, one of many solutions.
Deep Root Center exists because I, quite literally, jumped in to the unknown in 2013 and out of sheer will and tenaciousness (that stubborn label, from my childhood, has paid off many times over), with the support of the Liberated Learners Network, made it happen. It was, and still is, scary as hell. I have made a gazillion mistakes and will most likely make a gazillion more. But, I knew that I needed a space where the possibilities are endless and I wanted to make that facility available for all the kids who require the kind of creative and supportive environment where they can make positive things happen too.
Now, as we finish up our 4th year, which has been filled with phenomenal growth, inspiring programs, awesome, motivated kids doing amazing things, a fantastic dedicated staff, and bevy of talented volunteers - DRC is on the way to becoming recognized as a viable educational option. To be quite honest, that really cool space, is beginning to feel a bit full, and, if the number of meetings I have had with interested families, recently, is any indication, it is only going to feel fuller. What an amazing “problem” to have!
Given all of that, as well as feeling frustrated about consistently throwing money towards rent every month that we believe could be used more efficiently and effectively towards ownership and paying our staff. The DRC board and I are looking into purchasing a house in the village for DRC. We have our eye on a couple of multi-unit properties (with the thought of renting out a unit as additional income) and are in the process of pre-qualifying for a mortgage. We will also need to raise a significant amount of cash (between 25 – 30 thousand) through donations for the down-payment. If you have any ideas, resources, or contacts within your network, who would be excited about helping us realize this dream – please get in touch. Our second venture involves developing a permanent home for the Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders Program and expanding it to be available 3-4 days a week. We have discovered during this year’s pilot program that providing kids with the opportunity to be immersed in nature is transformational in so many ways. We (everyone- kids and adults) come away from each adventure with new insights that may not be readily apparent, however, often accumulate over time and appear in the form of new maturity, calmness, or creative inspiration. The logistics include shoring up an old camp (the inside was refurbished several years ago) on my land, in Pierrepont, as a home base. Mike and I own 37 acres that abut Glenmeal State forest (670 acres) on two sides. There are abundant woodlands and beaver ponds, along with many other natural features for children to explore infinitely – because there will always be something new to discover. I have written a grant that would fund a portion of building repairs, a storage shed, and tons of equipment and supplies for outdoor adventuring and camping, as well as staffing. The budget for this project, besides this particular grant, includes significant in-kind donations of labor, supplies, and equipment, as well as private funding, and other grants that I will be writing over the next couple months. Once again, if you can help us in any way with this venture, please get in touch. As I have mentioned in previous posts, serendipity is quite possibly my favorite word (concept). I will go out on a limb here and use an ‘absolute statement’, which one of my students constantly warns me about. I know without a doubt that consistently saying, “yes” (despite the clutching fear at times), has cleared the way for serendipity to guide DRC to where it is today and towards an even brighter future.