Western culture has taught us all to seek that level of perfection, we now call “normal.” However, if we are completely honest with ourselves, we understand on a philosophical level, normal is a concept that does not, and, has never existed.
Nonetheless, we will go to the ends of the earth to try to track it down or force it upon others. “Why can’t you just be normal?” Has probably been uttered (either loudly or under the breath) by every parent at least once in every child’s life.
It is the very same notion that drives the psychiatric community’s obsession with diagnosing and then medicating our younger generations. Oh snap - your child is not behaving normally; we just so happen to have a label and (coincidentally) a drug for that.
Let’s say it again loudly for the folks, in the back – normal is a concept that, quite simply, has been created by a consumeristic society to sell empty promises and keep us all in line.
Consequently, DRC is filled with kids who were courageous enough to escape a coercive system that told them they are not good enough (there is something wrong with them) because they refused to comply or fit in. When they find us, we have to reassure them that that they are not irreparably broken. Nor are they bad, dumb, disreputable, inferior, evil, or untrustworthy. In all honesty, repairing damaged spirits is what takes up most of our time and energy. These kids cannot (are not going to) move forward until they see themselves as whole, capable individuals.
I am here to tell them, not only can we not define normal – the state of mediocrity they were being urged into is boring as hell. Who wants to be regular, when you can be extraordinary? Who would choose to be unexceptional, when you can be inspiring? Who would ask to be average, when you can be compelling and influential? The answer to all of the above: those folks who have been sold a line of bull and who work unreasonably hard to meld with the crowd.
Our consistent message to every DRC Peep - stop trying to force your beautifully unique self into the standard, and mundane box you were assigned. Live large. Embrace your idiosyncrasies. Climb out on a limb – do the scary thing you have always wanted to do. Go - play, create, imagine, invent, screw-up, influence, energize, organize, be kind, and share, but, above all, be yourself - not the someone others have told you to be.
You can, absolutely, be that wacky, out there, over-the-top, witty, quiet, contemplative, studious, experimental, observant, curious, perceptive, pragmatic, dramatic, athletic, or energetic – authentic you, who is not afraid to make mistakes, learn new things, have fun, and grow!
DRC is accepting applications for next year. We are very close to our maximum number of student members and will begin a waiting list when we have reached capacity. If your child is interested in checking us out, please schedule an appointment in the next two weeks to be sure they have a chance at becoming members this coming year.
Spring cleaning? De-cluttering? DRC will take any items (no clothing) you are shedding from your home and life. Get in touch if you have anything you would like to donate.
Summer Opportunity – June, July, and August
Every Friday, Christopher Raymo, the DRC Seedlings Coordinator, will be offering a martial arts class to anyone who is interested. Contact us for more info and to register.
Whether you can trace your joint ancestry or there are no blood-links at all, your family is made up from the people who know absolutely everything about you, but still love you fiercely. When we think of family, we usually bring to mind the folks we grew up with. Those who changed our diapers, fed us, took care of us when we were sick, and hugged us tightly whenever the world seemed to big. The one who sang silly songs and read stories to get you to sleep. The matriarch who stood beside your step-stool at the kitchen counter showing you how to peel an apple and crack an egg. The sibling who listened to you sob, uncontrollably when everything seemed to be crashing in around you, and the same one who celebrated with you when you discovered your intended path. The man who ran behind your first two-wheel bike holding on, until he didn’t, to watch you pedal wobbly down the sidewalk on your own. The woman who gave you hell when she discovered that you were unkind and irresponsible; the same one who showered you with praise when you made her insanely proud. These are your people, the ones you can rely on to support you when you are in pain, hold you to the promises you have made, and dance in the streets to share your joy.
I had the extreme good fortune to return to my childhood home this weekend to be coddled and to soak up the unconditional love from my mom and sister. It was a much-needed respite from my over-the-top, non-stop life of schedules and responsibilities, where I often forget to take care of myself. They were there to remind me that I need to fill my metaphorical cup on occasion so I can continue to do the work that has become my life.
Not everyone has the luxury of familial ties that provide that oasis of love and care in a desert of neglect. However, our human instinct leads us to seek out people who become all of that throughout our lifetime. We start developing those relationships as soon as we are independent enough to be on our own without a parent or caregiver within sight. They are our best friends, neighbors, and mentors - the elderly woman or gentleman who take us under their wing, as well as all the amazingly kind and generous people, who, serendipitously, enter our lives and change how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.
This is a reminder to re-connect with your people – whether you are tied by the blood running through your veins, or not. Love on them – remind them how much they mean to you, and that you will be there for them, always, no matter what.
By Maria Corse
The key to building a dynamic and vital community, based on respect, is to mesh individuals, who seemingly have little in common, yet are all excited about being part of that group. At DRC, you will have to take more than a casual glance to discover our multiple layers of diversity. The distinct faces that make up our community, with the exception of a few who are of Native ancestry, are mostly descended from pale, white (with a sprinkle of freckles) European stock. However, we make up for those differences, we lack at skin-level, with a wide range of awesomely, unique characters.
Because of our ever-changing population, filled with those extraordinary individuals, our community is constantly evolving on a completely organic level. Which is why you will hear me say, “no two days are ever the same here.” Our daily schedule is determined by the people who are in this space: their moods, their interests (that particular day or hour), the short and long-term plans they have each devised, as well as the over-arching goals of the entire group.
When a potential member asks, “how many days do I have to attend each week?” My answer will always be, “we are completely non-coercive, therefore I cannot tell you how often you should be here; however, if you want to feel like you are part of this community, you will be here as often as possible.”
Nevertheless, as I explained a few weeks ago, just being here isn’t enough; we also expect that you will participate, engage, and genuinely contribute positive vibes to the community. If you are here because there is nowhere else to be, or someone else (an authority figure) told you to attend, we honestly can’t help you.
That being said, there are some who really don’t know whether they are interested in joining us or not. On one hand, they don’t like public school, they are bored, and have no idea what they are interested in; therefore, it seems like it could be a good idea. On the other, some think they hate learning and have already adopted an apathetic attitude towards life in general; therefore, trying something new may seem like way too much work. This scenario is exactly why we have devised a two-month trial membership period for everyone who joins us. This offers the time some need to settle in and determine whether this is what they want or not. At the end of the trial, we will all sit together (student, family, and DRC staff), using the list of expectations and recommendations, as well as the membership contract from the trial application packet, to discuss whether DRC is indeed a good fit.
We really want to be that safe, inspiring place for everyone. For most, we are, but for others, after those two trial months, it is pretty obvious, for many reasons, we are not. And if that is the case, we will help them, in whatever way they would like, to move on to something that is right for them.
At DRC, we understand that a respectful and cohesive community is defined by its individual participants. We want to present ourselves as an exciting, dynamic, safe, fun, and viable educational alternative. To do that, we are seeking members who are kind and curious, who are open to investigating the world through an imaginative, creative, and resourceful lens, who are willing to make mistakes and own them, who want to share their talents, and who are dedicated to being their awe-inspiring, true selves.
We will be holding a huge garage sale, Saturday, June 1st, during the Annual Dairy Princess Festival. We are seeking quality items (no clothing). Please get in touch if you have something you would like to donate or would like to help us get it organized. Thanks!!
A huge shout of thanks to our good friend, Larry McGory, along with his trusty sidekick, Trish Pielnick (of Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders fame), who completed the fence barrier around the garage roof, the last requirement on the list from the Canton Planning Board. (With a week to spare, we might add!)
You may be surprised to learn that the one, and only, title that disorients me more than being addressed as, “Mrs. Corse,” is “teacher,” even when it was my technical label for ten years. That’s right, I will respond to, “Hey - You, Maria, Miss Maria (with less enthusiasm), or even Weirdo”; however, I will not answer, or even look up, if someone calls me teacher.
In my mind, to be a teacher one must, well, intentionally teach. If you are interested, here are the Merriam Webster definitions and synonyms for teacher and teach. At this point, I want to be very clear, I am not, in any way, denigrating those dedicated individuals who do, joyfully, fervently, and contently identify as teachers.
I am a decidedly independent (read - stubborn), hands-on individual, who learns by doing, but only when intensely interested in the subject at hand – not with direct instruction, rote memorization, or by reading text books. And, since I also firmly believe (based on a multitude of experiences) that authentic learning comes from intrinsic desire, developed and fostered in a safe, non-coercive, playful, and dynamic environment filled with resources and materials of the culture, as well as a supportive, mixed-age community, it would be antithetical, and, lets be honest, hypocritical for me adopt that classification.
I do, however, proudly own the titles: mentor, facilitator, and guide. In those self-designated roles, I ask a million questions, listen carefully, and make suggestions. I nurture curiosity, open-play, intent observation, and investigation by providing the resources and opportunities necessary for each individual to freely explore their interests and make profound personal discoveries. I model compassion, kindness, empathy, spirit, and enthusiasm, as well as a willingness to make mistakes, laugh at myself, and attain valuable lessons from those errors in my pursuit of life-long learning adventures. I expect that every single person I work with is willing to embrace their uniquely, weird selves, and that they are going to be dedicated to their own education, invest energy in their personal growth, work toward their aspirations, get messy, and have a ton of fun in the process.
Our stories - our combined voices are what make up this community. Every single one of us has lived a life-time before DRC (for some of us that amounts to many more years, than others). Those previous experiences inform not only our past tales, but present, and future narratives, as well. When we begin to amalgamate all those individual life-times into a shared tale, we not only discover the many differences that make us perfectly, unique, but also the uncanny mirror images that remind us of our interconnection and, yes, our shared humanness.
When I ask all of our students to think about what DRC means to them, at this time of year, I discover that many of their responses reflect similar cravings and values: comfort, family, hominess, freedom, safety, and advocacy. These are basic human necessities. We all need to be heard, to have a safe place where we are supported to be our most awesomely, creative, distinct selves without fear of being judged or ridiculed – an environment where we have the freedom to thoroughly explore what truly delights us. After some time in this space, some are surprised to learn that they have hidden talents, others realize that they are in fact imaginative and creative after having that part of themselves buried or shut-down.
Our strength comes from listening to and honoring all of our voices to create an organic community of kind, empowered, confident, empathetic, outside the box thinking individuals who know what they want and, if necessary, will change the world to make it happen.
Deep Root Center is on Spring Break this week. We will be back April 22nd.
We are in the process of planning a massive, collaborative garage sale to be held during the Dairy Princess Festival, Saturday, June 1st. Please stay tuned for more information as it comes together.