My official title is Executive Director and Founder of Deep Root Center – the formal job description that accompanies that particular position is compiled within a three-page bulleted list. Nevertheless, that extensive document doesn’t even come close to describing what I actually do.
My life work, in essence, can be condensed into this straightforward statement: I help young people realize that they are, indeed, utterly and brilliantly, awesome, and that there are no limits to what they can do.
The first step is to listen, carefully. In piecing together someone’s full story, I have come to realize that to thoroughly comprehend and empathize - I need to ask tons of questions, and then focus on their answers with my entire body, as well as my intuition – without judgement. To be clear, I don’t often gain insight after one conversation - no, it frequently takes weeks, months, or even years.
Often times, I learn about all the traumas, fears, regrets, sadness, and why they are feeling disenfranchised and apathetic, before anything else. I hear the powerful truths they have created about themselves to explain and excuse why they are closed to the possibilities and can’t move forward. We all have them – “I am shy, stupid, boring, clumsy, unimaginative, have no interests, evil (yes, I have actually heard that one), etc.” Or, “I have ADHD, ODD, dyslexia, …”
Secondly, I offer positive reinforcement and encouragement – and then, I focus on suggesting various ideas for moving forward, with the full understanding that the person in front of me (whether they are 5 or 75) is completely autonomous and has the right to say “no” to any of my proposals.
As I write this, I realize that it all sounds fairly calculated; in reality, my approach is completely natural and organic. During these formal mentoring sessions and spontaneous conversations, I find myself sharing examples and ideas through humor and story-telling. I am not a counselor following a script. Deep Root Center is not a therapeutic facility. Each and every conversation is authentic, unrehearsed, and focused on encouraging the other person to explore all the possibilities life has to offer, while communicating the reassurance that it is OK to be uncomfortable, to make mistakes, to start something without finishing it, and to make discoveries about themselves that may startle them.
This work fills me up! (Although it is completely exhausting, and I need to take a five-week break, at the end of every year.) Especially, when someone’s behaviors suddenly de-escalate, when they relate that they have discovered an interest - something they really like to do, that, at the very heart of it all, makes them happy. Or, when I hear, “Can I _______?”, and in responding, “yes, absolutely, of course,” in an externally calm and composed manner, find myself doing my internal happy dance. while silently sobbing with joy and relief.
We are incredibly grateful to have received so many donations to our Garage Sale Fundraiser in June. Alas, many items were not sold. We are looking for ideas on how to empty out our now very full garage and make some revenue from it. We have thought of having someone run the garage sale for us for a percentage of profits – selling the items to a place that has an ongoing sale – or trying to sell individual items on FB garage sale sites. If you have a suggestion, or know of someone who could take on any of the above, please get in touch.
The last two weeks of August will be here before you know it! For all those parents who will be headed back to work, we have you covered. Register for our summer programs today.