"Of course," we say, smugly, both expecting and noticing the worst - the bad behavior, poor choices, and the straight-up rotten attitude. We vigilantly seek out the things other people have done wrong with a false sense of offense and overriding one-up-man ship. We obviously know best, can do better, and then judge others for their exploits and lack of good sense. Because - we know in our deepest of knowing that by pointing out the deficits, we can surely help them become better people.
Full stop. Go back and reread that paragraph. Can you honestly say you want to live in a world created with aloofness, ambivalence, uncharitable thoughts and actions, and absolutely no empathy?
Underneath the veneer of judgment, we understand that we can't change people by punishing them or drawing their attention to their negative attributes because:
On the opposite side, when we go out of our way to expect and notice the positive in other people, they will respond positively. We also understand this concept on a profoundly personal level. Think about the times someone noticed and complimented something you were doing - or offered kindness, encouragement, and support when you were struggling. It probably made you feel capable, understood, or just plain old satisfied. As humans, we all simply do better when we feel better.
This right here is my challenge to you and myself. Actively find reasons to say, "of course," because you fully expected the best - all of the creativity, curiosity, and compassion, as well as learning and growth. Let's build the world we want to live in - together - by activating the inherent strength of kindness and empathy.
Weekly Creative Meditation
DRC fundraising efforts will be kicking into high gear over the next two months leading up to a culminating event at the end of May. Please stay tuned here and on our social media as plans unfold. To increase our success, please like and follow DRC and DRC-East. Our first online fundraiser is Thirty-One, beginning March 3rd - followed by Tastefully Simple.
Our goal is two-fold - to purchase the church in North Lawrence, which DRC- East is currently renting, and to support DRC in general. You can also help these efforts by donating here and specifying what you would like your contribution to go toward - the fund to purchase DRC-East's new home or general operations. Thank you!
Both Centers will be in session this coming week following or midwinter break. You can follow our everyday exploits on both FaceBook pages as well.
Life is Hard
Sometimes, because we are trying to be as optimistic or upbeat as possible, acknowledging the validity in those three words feels like the end of the world as we know it. But, as I have learned, by ignoring, pushing through, glossing over, or denying that unavoidable truth, I, in the end, make my life even harder.
In addition to the traumas and other regular "shit" life throws at us, we are also going on two years of dealing with a worldwide health emergency, making everything feel overwhelming - both physically and emotionally. And as per usual, the typical weather pattern of snow and ice, varied with the inevitable thaw, back to freezing again, at this time of year, is not helping the situation.
If all you want to do is stay in bed buried under a pile of quilts, with your beloved pet, snacks, and a good book - while shouting "@$#*$#*@" (choose your expletive) back at the wind that is blasting icy pellets against your window, trust me, you are not alone. Sometimes all you can do is hang on (by what feels like your fingernails), hunker down, give in to all the feelings (swear a bit), allow your mind to wander, treat yourself with all the kindness and forgiveness you offer others, plan for future explorations, and know that this season of unrelenting hardship - too shall pass.
We all understand that life is hard and that we will get knocked down occasionally - accepting it as a time to regroup and rediscover our authentic selves and trusting that all the opportunities will present themselves in time - indicates intentional growth and renewal.
We've got this! Trust yourself and the process. I'll see you on the other side.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Both Centers are closed this coming week for mid-winter break. We are working on some exciting "stuff" that will be revealed soon.
And if you missed it - DRC will have a link to weekly word game every Saturday on our FB page. Here is the one from yesterday - https://metzger.media/games/custom-word/?puzzle=52349
Traumatizing the Already Traumatized
It is unbearably hard to write that phrase, but it is, quite simply, what we, as a society, do regularly. We use coercive and guilt-inducing techniques to force people who already feel ostracized to fit into our definition of appropriate conduct within our culture. We misunderstand behaviors and intentions by personalizing them (becoming offended) and then insisting that we know what is best for the other person based on our own lives, cultural biases, and misconceptions.
It is our discomfort, frustration, judgments, and our belief that we know best, as well as the statements, "this is how it has always been done," "we can't coddle them," or "I am just doing my job," that guide our responses. In following the rules and ticking off all the appropriate boxes - we induce additional trauma loads to those already carrying around the burdens and distress of cognitive, emotional, and physical disability, as well as childhood trauma, not to mention the cultural stress involved with exploring sexual, or gender identity and expression.
Those who live with the effects of trauma can have an overwhelming, heart stopping (or racing) anxiety attack after being exposed to what we may judge as the tiniest of provocations. It happens everywhere - at home, in schools, medical environments, and housing offices, in stores, at the dog park, or even walking down the street.
As with everything else - those panicked reactions may be lessened or avoided by taking the time to get to really know the other person - their unique beauty, genius, and valuable gifts. Empathy and compassion are the missing links to almost every misunderstanding. Make the connection - listen - express an interest in their lives - find common ground - and in doing so, you will discover another person who contributes layers of dimension and wealth to your life.
It is clear that by allowing judgment-based biases, frustration, and fear to guide our interactions, instead of understanding, we continue to traumatize the already traumatized. Which, in the end, harms us all.
Weekly Creative Meditation
The Gender Closet is set up and ready for visitors from the community. The DRC Gender Closet has clothing sorted by size and type (eg. adult pants - medium) for anyone to access. It is here for anyone who needs clothing that conforms to their gender identity and expression. Anyone from the community (especially local teens and tweens) is welcome to come to the Center M & Th from 2:30 - 3:15 to peruse the items available and take what they would like. Spread the news.
We are taking donations on a limited basis including - children's clothing, skirts & dresses, & under clothing of all types (including chest binders). Please contact us before donating anything and please launder the items first.
Our Sensory Safe Space is also finished. It is here for any of our kids who need a cozy spot to decompress for a moment or two before jumping back into the non-stop action that is DRC.
We all know that tests and exams intend to assess levels of knowledge or competency within particular subjects. However, understanding what the science says about coercive and fear-based punishment and reward systems, and the varying levels of neurodiversity uncovered as we (the scientists) delve deeper into the study of the brain, the very premise of this type of assessment is flawed, from the word "go." And as with any unsound device, the data is defective and unreliable. But why?
But you ask - If we don't use tests, how can we assess everything we need to "make sure" kids know? I believe that a complete cultural paradigm shift is required. Trusting that learning is absolutely natural and understanding that every person holds a level of brilliance - is the key.
What does that look like for the 5-18-year-old set? It involves non-coercive environments packed with resources and mentors who take the time to know each student as a unique individual. And where they have the freedom to follow their interests and curiosities to wherever they lead.
In the higher education realm, a few institutions no longer use exams and grades. For instance, Hampshire College in Amherst, MA (where both of my children attended) is project-based and uses narrative reports from the instructors at the end of each semester. But yet, it has a reputation of being academically rigorous. My son spent the last year of college writing a 100 page dissertation as his final project.
To change our fundamental cultural ideals about education towards embracing a system without tests or exams seems far-fetched. Nevertheless, I believe it is the only way to achieve authentic educational equity for every individual within our society.
The DRC mission statement articulates this concept clearly. It is our "why." At Deep Root Center (DRC), we believe that all young people deserve a safe, educational environment - where they feel like they are part of a community - and where they are free to explore all the possibilities. Learning can only happen when kids intuitively understand that they are secure, accepted, and trusted to make decisions, make mistakes, and explore all their interests to achieve their ever-evolving aspirations.
Weekly Creative Meditation
And a bonus haiku - inspired by a real-time experience this past week.
If you would like to learn more about Self-Directed Learning generally or DRC specifically, you can peruse our website at your leisure. I recommend watching the videos on the "Home" and "About Us" pages as starting points. DRC has rolling admissions - anyone can join us at anytime of the year. We are here for any child who needs us.
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