Endings and Beginnings
Two days ago, we celebrated the final day of the 18/19 academic year, as well as Chase’s last day with us as a student member. He joined Deep Root Center in August 2017 and despite growing and maturing tremendously over the past two years with us, his personality remains pretty consistent with the following DRC Spotlight I wrote in November of 2017, after knowing him for a few short months.
“Thanks for the warning”, Chase responds, with a sly grin, every time someone announces they are leaving the room, but will be coming back soon. This is often followed up with his trademark observation – “fabulous.” In a place where everyone takes great pride in their word play skills, Chase is always happy to engage in any witty repartee.
This past year, Chase’s verbal jousting grew to include the statement: “this is why we can’t have nice things,” which he threw out at every opportunity, whether it technically made sense or not. It became the running joke, which everyone responded to with varying levels of tolerance. My forbearance, honestly, ended about two weeks into the run.
Unfortunately, Chase did not have the opportunity to decorate for his favorite season because we were deeply into the process of moving from Main Street to our new home at 48 Riverside. He made the best of it by decorating the cellar for one day, soon after moving in, with his entire collection.
Chase spent a good portion of this past year studying Viking History and lore. He also started creating and drawing “Were” characters; his drawing pad is now filled with these otherworldly creatures. Chase delves deeply into every subject he decides to pursue, yet on the surface he appears scattered. He has a million ideas and wants to investigate all of them, but usually ends up getting caught in the web of one or two projects, which often times remain unfinished because of the wormholes he follows in the quest for deeper understanding. When all of that intense focus and mental gymnastics become too much, he loves nothing more than to escape (at least once a day) to either Heritage Park or the SUNY Canton trail to race, run, play, and climb.
The other kids have dubbed him, “Uncle Chase,” and we are delighted to announce that he will be expanding on that role to be our Apprentice starting this August. We asked him to take on this position, due to the fact that everyone looks up to him, not only as a role model to emulate, but as another person who cares deeply about them, and who they know will advocate for them in the wider world.
Everyone needs an “Uncle Chase” – that ridiculously, fun-loving guy who will put up with your antics until you have reached the limits of even his tolerance. After which, he will smack you down to reality with a drolly, precise exclamation that reflects his innate ability to connect on that profoundly human level with every person he meets.
Congratulations on finishing your High School career, Chase! And, welcome to the DRC Team! I am looking forward to mentoring you in this new position and watching you continue to grow and mature, as you take it on with your trademark exuberance and passion.
A reminder that the DRC Fundraising Garage Sale is Saturday, June 1st from 8:30-2:00. We will be accepting donations this coming week. Please get in touch if you have something you would like to donate. Thanks!
I will be out of town for most of the month of June. I will be available through email or text.
Check out this amazing opportunity:
DRC's seedling coordinator, Christopher Raymo, will be offering Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)classes each Friday at 10am this summer, June - August. The classes will be individualized for each student and tailored to styles and technique that fits each person. The classes will be free to DRC students and open to the public for $10/class. Simple uniforms will be required. To register and get specific info about the uniforms please contact Christopher Raymo @ 315-262-7261.
School is the culturally accepted place to become educated. Yet, most of us know people who graduated from high school (some with honors) who don’t know how to write, effectively – they have no idea how to take their thoughts (spoken words) and turn them into cohesive sentences, with punctuation, that people can easily understand. There are millions of folks who sat through Algebra, and like myself (who took the Algebra regents four times before passing), could not begin to successfully solve an algebraic problem if their lives depended on it. The same goes for the sciences – despite years of Life Science, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics, a great deal of adults don’t come close to understanding the scientific process. (Hence the insistence that climate change, or, even, evolution is a hoax.) And, then, there is Social Studies (History), which accounts for years of watching the clock, listening to the endless droning lectures about the complexities of what came before us. Is it any wonder we are destined to repeat the exact same mistakes, endlessly?
Nevertheless, we are still afraid to deviate from the status quo, called school. We are petrified that our kids might not learn what they need to know to survive, simply, because that sanctioned institution constantly reminds us that young people are lazy, unmotivated, apathetic, and need to be told what to learn.
What many do not quite grasp is that our children have acquired the propensity to be lazy, unmotivated, and apathetic in response to that coercive, stifling, and oppressive environment, which only rewards obedience, subservience, compliance, and the ability to fill in a worksheet correctly, while punishing creativity, innovation, and free thought. Subsequently, in the process of getting educated, most kids have, quite literally, learned to hate learning.
Think about it, have you ever encountered an indolent, unenthusiastic, or indifferent toddler? Most likely not – due to the fact that we are all born curious, with the innate desire to create and learn about the world around us. Research has proven that our inherent motivation to acquire knowledge does not go away simply because we turn 4 or 5 – it continues throughout our lifetime, unless it is effectively shut down by outside forces.
I believe that most of us recognize the above statements, and, ultimately, realize that most everything we have individually learned has been self-directed - based on our personal interests and aspirations. We became good at something, not because we sat in a classroom and listened to someone tell us how to do it, but because we did it, over and over and over again.
To this day, I struggle with the intricacies of spelling, or, for that matter, grammar (despite the tortuous months in sixth grade we spent diagramming sentences). Regardless, I have spent years writing, relying on spell and grammar check, dictionaries, thesauruses, and that little reference book I purchased for my first English Comp, Class at Cazenovia College in 1983, all the while developing an authentic voice that sometimes (OK, often) disregards all the rules. I write because it is an important part of who I am, and it is essential in how I express myself to the world. More importantly, it quite simply, makes me happy.
It is possible to release the fear and stand up for change, to defeat this particular status quo. In doing so, we are providing every single young person the opportunity to explore the one (or many) thing(s), deeply, in their own time, and on their own terms - that ultimately makes them happy, and, yes, even, successful.
Consider this unsolicited message I received this past week from Maddi, a student who finished high school at DRC, last May: "Hey, Maria! I just wanted to say that I miss you and everybody else there! And, I wanted to say thank you, I appreciate everything you've done for me so so much, I don't know where I'd be right now if it wasn't for Deep Root❤️"
For more on this topic, you can listen to this Blake Boles podcast. He is a leader
in the self-directed educational movement.
We are also very excited about the new film Self-Taught, by Jeremy Stuart,
the director of Class Dismissed. While we are waiting for our copy,
which we will be sharing with anyone who is interested,
you can enjoy this trailer.
Don't miss it - June first during the Dairy Princess Celebration! If you have items to donate please get in touch.
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.
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