Solstice Attitude of Gratitude
As we celebrate another turn around the sun and enter into the time in the North Country when all things grow prodigiously (including children) and garden abundance overwhelms our kitchen tables, I feel an intense desire to give thanks to everyone who has offered unconditional support, understanding, and love, as well as a shoulder to lean on, and an ear for listening, also to those who have donated time, energy, and dollars to Deep Root Center (you know who you are).
I have to start with my family, most especially Mike (still my love after twenty-three years, this coming Saturday), who has stood steadfastly behind me and my decisions through these past two roller-coaster years of tumultuous, exciting, joyful, pain filled, overwhelming, ecstatic, and confusing times of pure reinvention of myself and career. I am sure it has not been easy for him to stand back and watch his life partner quit her job, weep intermittently for months on end with little or no provocation, start a non-profit, dye a purple strip in her hair, and become that weird, enthusiastic lady who will drop everything to talk to anyone about kids, personal passions, education, and self-directed learning. Mike you are my rock!
I am so grateful for my two grown-up children who live their intentions authentically everyday and are following their dreams wherever they may take them (currently to their summer work and home at Camp Unirondack and then to Hampshire College in the fall). Ian and Kenzie, you guys are my inspiration!
The Deep Root Center Board of Directors are dedicated beyond comprehension to our mission and vision. They are the sturdy foundation of morals and ideals which hold DRC to the highest standards of integrity. To put it quite simply, they keep me in line and I am indebted to them forever!
Thank you to the families who chose Deep Root Center as their child's educational option this past year. It has been my deep honor and pleasure to work with all of you and I look forward to future collaborations, offering you support, space, and resources as your self-directed learning explorations lead you to new and exciting adventures.
Many thanks to the members of the Canton Community Fund Board of Directors for your confidence in Deep Root Center's mission, vision, philosophy, and future. Many young people will benefit beyond imagination from your grant for computers and creative software to DRC. This amazing gift is also a statement to the community that Deep Root Center is a viable, exciting, and competitive educational resource for any child who seeks to live and learn without school.
A note of gratitude to Jim Snell (one of the good guys) for his willingness to provide us with our beautiful new location, by renting us a small percentage of the available space in the second floor of his building. We are still working hard to find additional, compatible organizations to rent the remaining space.
Lastly, an immense thank you to everyone who has stopped at the DRC table at Farmer's Market, has picked up a DRC postcard and passed it on to someone else, has told another family about our programs, sent their child to a DRC Workshop, forwarded and shared these blog posts, liked and shared info from the DRC Facebook page, and has brought DRC up in conversation. Keep it up!
We are building this amazing thing for you and because of you, our community!
Live and Learn
I believe that living and learning is the intersection where passion and excitement meet experimentation and knowledge. And, it is now my new favorite tag-line. It represents so much optimism, hope, and enthusiasm for life and for all the possibilities available to everyone.
I haven't always loved this old adage because I had heard it uttered too many times in a chiding tone that indicated that someone had goofed and the consequential lesson was not necessarily positive. In any case, I have, until recently, viewed this expression with distaste and unease.
Why has my perception of these three words changed so drastically? As mentioned in this recent post, I have come to realize that living involves an uncertain number of errors; those mistakes are what allow us to acquire a new understanding about ourselves and about the world around us. Blunders are essential to the very act of being alive.
This expression, however, is not relegated to the learning accessed from simply making mistakes. It also conveys the pure joy of following our passion and interests to the conceptualization of new ideas that lead us to new growth experiences.
Most of us would say we can't follow our passion, because we need to earn a living to support ourselves and our families. I watched this YouTube clip a few years ago of Alan Watts where he asked, “if money was no object, what would you do?” What if you allowed yourself to take the chance and followed your interests? Think about it ...
Now consider asking a young person, “if school and a diploma were no object, what would you do? Yes, living and learning without school really is an option open to anyone.
A couple days ago, while pondering these previous ideas that were just not coalescing into a blog post, I was staring absently out the window at the impenetrable wall of dense foliage that surrounds our house and the following analogy quite literally popped into my head: Goldfish will only grow as big as the tank they are housed in allows them to. If they live in a five gallon aquarium, they will always be smallish fish, when they are released into a backyard pond, they will have the opportunity and space to get much larger.
Now reflect on this: When we (humans) confine ourselves within cultural norms, like those pet fish swimming 'round and 'round in circles, we will only develop within those constricting ideas.
When we can ignore societal messages and live our lives according to what makes us happy, we quite literally open up the space in our hearts and minds for passion to thrive. Embracing the philosophy of living and learning engenders open-minded free-thinkers who explore the possibilities and take the opportunities presented and who will also grow exponentially in the process. These pioneers are the people who have the great ideas, the ones who try, fail, and try again. They are the folks who delight in sharing the amazing tales of living and learning.
Deep Root Center is moving – across the hall to 7 Main Street, over the Church and Community and St Vincent de Paul thrift stores.
We are renting two rooms (500 sq. ft.) in the 5000 sq. ft. space owned by Jim Snell. The remaining rooms are available for any like-minded organizations, businesses, or individuals who are looking for a location in downtown Canton and are interested in this amazing, collaborative opportunity to share space, ideas, and community connections. Please pass this info to anyone who may be interested. They can contact me at the Center.
DRC will continue to use the entrances from Main Street and the Riverside Drive parking lot. The door is on the opposite side of the hallway at the top of the stairs. We welcome all visitors just follow all the signs. We don't have set hours during the summer; you can make an appointment or take a chance and drop in (I am usually here).
We will be moving the furniture over (Yay! No stairs involved!) this Friday and will happily and enthusiastically accept any assistance you would like to offer.
We all know, fundamentally, that breathing is the absolutely essential basis for all life. I think, however, we tend to forget that basic fact, because it is so very involuntary. In and out it goes, with no conscious or thoughtful effort --- whooshing into our lungs and swirling through our bloodstream, providing our bodies the very essence of life, and then rushing back out, offering sustaining gases to the vegetation around us.
The only time I am forced to think about this continuously unconscious act is when it becomes difficult –-- when I am sick or when my allergies flare up, and especially when both happen at the same time.
I was a sickly kid with constant earaches, sore throats, coughing jags, nose bleeds, etc. My parents brought my sister and me to an allergist in Watertown (two hours away from our home) when I was 5 and she was 2. They discovered that we had fairly severe allergies to dust, molds, cats, as well as all the other usual suspects. We both began a regimen of allergy shots with regular visits back to the allergist for check-ups.
I particularly remember the lung volume test, which I dreaded. It was a vertical clear plastic tube with a little ball in the bottom and measurement marks on the side. I had to blow into a mouthpiece at the bottom and make the little plastic ball move up to the top of the tube. It was always very difficult and the ball never rose very far. I always felt so defeated after this part of the visit, because I was a kid who was pretty competitive and liked to achieve the highest score. Hence, I always avoided doing the breathing exercises at home. It was very hard, and I didn't want to remind myself on a daily basis how much I sucked at it.
If only I understood then, what I know now. If I had worked at breathing, making it a conscious practice, I would have stronger, healthier lungs today and would not suffer with the maladies that inflict them every time my system gets overwhelmed with allergens or other irritants.
As you may have surmised, I am currently in the midst of one of these bouts and breathing has become a very conscious effort these last few days. I sit over a bowl of steaming cider vinegar and eucalyptus oil, inhaling deeply and holding it in to force the vapor and antimicrobial properties into the recesses of my bronchial tubes and lungs --- all the while pondering this essential reflex.
So why, with this knowledge taken from my early childhood (indeed, well into my mid-adulthood), am I still only conscious of the act of breathing when it isn't natural and easy?
Pranayama is the Sanskrit word in the Indian Yogistic culture that express the essence of intentional breath. It is the basis for any yogic practice, however, for the most part it is missing from my daily yoga regimen. I do the physical exercises with little regard for my breath. I should be practicing Pranayama every day, because if/when I do something with intention, it becomes important.
Taking those deep mindful breaths allows us to focus on the crucial elements in our lives. It offers an alternative view of all of the possibilities and choices available to us in any given moment, and especially during a crisis.
Breathe with me –- quiet, gradual in … hold it … and slow, easy out. Feel the power and energy invading your cells. Notice your body and mind coming to attention, all the while loosening and relaxing. Now do it again, and again ...
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