Monday, 30 April 2012

The Tour- Day 2

Day two of the tour took us to Peterborough, Ontario. I got there late as I relied on a GPS and it took me SE of Peterborough. Just so you know, I was coming NW from Peterborough... so a bit of a mix up there.

This was a big day for me as we got some one on one mentoring from Mark. It really hit a cord for me... I won't get into it here though, but I really wanted to get out of my chair and leave the room. It was that powerful. And from then on, something changed in me, something that was great. However I have to admit, I was glad when the mentoring session was over and I got to go pick up my niece and head over to the talk location.

What a treat it was to have my niece and my God-Daughter there. I hadn't seen her in quite a while. She joined us as we prepared for the talk and assign roles to everyone for the night. As my niece was looking out the window, a little yellow and black bird landed at the bird feeder.

Now keep in mind, one of the core routines that I have been practicing for the past year is the Art of Questioning. A mentoring routine I love doing with people where you do not give the answer right away. Anyone who knows me will know that I do not give answers right away. Sometime I will but not often.

So here I was, with my young niece, asking her questions about what she is seeing, colour of the bird, what kind of beak does it have, does it have an eye ring, can you hear its song? etc etc.... after she answers the questions, she answers.... "it's a golden finch!" The look she had was of excitement and a proud moment as she got to discover this bird on her own (with some questions from me).

And that was the message that was weaved through the talk for the night... well there were many strands, but the Art of Questioning is the one that really stuck out to me. And one I keep getting better at when I practice it.

Mark told a story of a woman who had attended a talk with him and she must have been straight from her work, because she had her power suit on, her power heels and even her power hair was done. When she picked up an item off the nature museum table, she turned to Mark and asked "What is it?" Most would have answered.... "it's an .....",  But Mark didn't. He asked her permission to take her on a discover journey with this item. And I will let you decide which one makes a bigger impact.

Here is how the conversation went:

First Mark puts it in her hand and asks her
"feel it, move it around in your hand" 
"what do you see on the surface of it?

She puts it in her hand
"it is hard and bumpy, oh look, it has fissures on the surface and wow, it is hard, like a nut. Oh and it has brown stuff that comes off it" rubs the dirt off her clean hand.

Mark: "smell it, what does it smell like?"
Woman: takes it up to her nose "oh, it smells nice... it smells like... sniff... it smells like.....sniff... oh you know... can't put my finger on it."

Mark: "Let's break it and see what happens, go take that stone over there and smash it"
The woman walks over picks up a big rock that was on the table, raises it above her head and throws it down... CRASH!!!!!!! It breaks into a million pieces.
Woman: "Wow, it has tiny pieces and they are sharp dark dirt pieces and some lighter pieces."
Mark: "Taste it!"
Woman: she stops there, not really sure if she should taste it or not
Mark: "ok, I'll taste the first one then" he takes a bite "mmmmmm"
Woman: takes a bite.... "it's a walnut!"

Mark didn't stop there, he then walked to the table and grabbed another one and asked her, "So if I had answered you the first time with the answer... this is how the discovery would have gone....

Ok, ask me the question again:
Woman: "What is it?"
Mark: "It's a Walnut"

(pause- long pause)

So let me ask you... which one has the most discovery?  Next time someone, especially a child, asked you what something is, go down a discovery journey with them, and together explore the wonders of the mystery as if you are seeing it for the first time. It is much more powerful.

Would love to hear how it goes. Share your stories.

You may be interested in these links
5 Day Tour - Day 1
5 Day Tour - Day3

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Be Child-Like....

Today, in our program, I had a very magical moment with a dad and his son. We had a morning full of exploring pond life and watching the Canada Geese goslings. When we moved into a field, we found a perfect hill to roll down. Of course I put down all my bags and nets, laid down on the ground and proceeded to roll down the hill!

Wooooo, was real dizzy after that. The parents just laugh at me and watch me as the children join me in the ancient game of hill rolling.

When I encouraged the child to teach his dad how to roll, I was met with some hesitation on the dad's part.

"Oh, I don't think I could do it..." was his reply.

But with a little encouragement, he took his phone and keys out of his pocket and laid down beside his son and listen to the hill-rolling instructions. In that moment between the hesitation to lying down on the hill top, the energy shifted.... the adult-parent hat came off, and the child inside came out to play with a little boy. The adult became child-like and met the child on his turf... in child-like play.

Here is what happened in the moment and soon afterwards.

To top off this experience, while walking back, I was running and jumping in puddles with the children... and the dad asked me...

"So if you were on your own, would you be running through these puddles?"

and my friend and other parent replied for me...

"Yes she would!"

We forget to be child-like and it is through this fun state that we connect the best with children and each other... plus it is great for the soul to be free and happy. I encourage you to try it. And if you don't have children, borrow the neighbours.  Let me know how it goes.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Tour - Day 1

The last past 5 days, I have been touring around Ontario with the Art of Mentoring ACORN team and Mark Morey. Mark is an amazing mentor to us and many many others, in building regenerative communities globally. He is a founder of three transformational organizations: Deep Wilds, Vermont Wilderness School, and The Institute for Natural Learning, and the co-founder of the 8 Shields Institute with Jon and Nicole Young.

When I went down to Buffalo to pick Mark up, I didn't realize just how transforming this whole tour would be for me. The tour was full of me coming to my edges and breaking through them and growing personally through the process while building strong bonds with the team. I would like to share some of my experiences from the tour and hope you are inspired, laugh a little and learn.

We started our tour in the Northern part of Ontario, Huntsville. On our way up, the regional team was taking a group of high-school students out to work on wilderness skills and nature experiences. While I was getting pulled over by the regional police for speeding along highway 400. All that was going through my head was.... "I shouldn't have jinxed myself and told Mark I have never gotten a speeding ticket."  All that Mark said was how this was a great lesson on slowing down and that he just had to use this in his talk tonight. Great, what a first impression eh?

But he was right, it was a great lesson to not be so rushed in our daily lives and slow down. How many times have I walked by something amazing out in nature, because I was focused on just getting to the destination. How many times have you done that?

And isn't just stopping and being in teh moment something we have lost in our culture? That we get so busy with the computer, the phones, work, errands, that we forget to just stop and be in a moment.

For instance. For those of you with children or around children, how many times have you had a child run up to you in excitement to either play with your or show you something and you shoo'd them away like a fly and said

"later, I am busy"?

I know I have, many times with my own children.

Now let's just switch that around for a second and practice that you stop and be in the moment with this child. Here is what it may look like....

CHILD: "Mom! Mom! Come here! I just found something.... what is it?"
MOM: Mom, drops what she is doing and comes over and gets down at the same level as the child.
"Oh WOW! I don't know..... what do you think it may be?" What does it feel like, smell it, what colour is it? etc questions questions questions.
You may even know what it is, but the discovery is waiting to explode out of the child.
CHILD: "cool, I found it over there under that tree! I think it is a nut"

And the child may continue to explore it, or that may be the end of it... and they are off! It could take a half an hour, or it may take a few seconds, but that moment with your child, you are sending a message that may stay with them for the rest of their life. A message of their importance.

What message do you want to give the children in your life? Or for that matter, the adults in your life as well. I found this video of a mother exploring snow with your child... you can see the importance of sharing this experience is to the child. Amazing CLICK HERE

That speeding ticket was a big one, one that definately made me slow down for the rest of the tour and keep an eye on my speedometer. A lesson that flowed out of the first day talk that I will practice into my life and with the people around me.

Take the time to be in the moment with the people and things around you. It is a start of changing the culture of disconnect to a culture of connection. A connection to each other, and to our surroundings.

Try it! And I would love to hear your own experiences. 

You may be interested in these links
5 Day Tour - Day 2
5 Day Tour - Day 3

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Smelt Run Lessons

Recently I watched an artistic view on our food source called "Our Daily Bread". A look at our mass-producing food industry and I have to tell you, even I was shocked at some of the things shown.

One night I was discussing the documentary and my children overheard what I was saying. They were curious and wanted to watch it as well. I was hesitant at first, because I want my kids to eat their food. But after talking with them, I thought it would be good for them to know where their food comes from and how it goes from an animal to the styrofoam plastic wrapped pieces of meat in the supermarket.

Easter Weekend, we planned on taking the kids smelt fishing. Something we haven't done as a family as we always miss the times they run. But we were in luck this year, they were just starting to run down the small stream on our lake. We explained to them how it would all go down, what they had to do and they were quite excited.

Ironically, that was the night we watched the documentary on our food source... it was their choice to watch and they had many questions afterwards. So it was fitting that we went smelt fishing to catch our breakfast for the next morning. A continuation of what they learned in the documentary and why I choose to buy locally from farms and grow my own food.

When we arrived at the smelt run location, there were already about 10 other people there. Some of them we knew and some were new friends we made that night. It was quite the social event and we enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately, we didn't have all the proper equipment to catch the little fish and everyone was willing to pass on their nets to the kids to catch a few. They had to be patient and learn the technique of catching them as they swam upstream. One of the men even waded through the culvert to scare the spawning fish over to us. The kids had a blast. We caught about a dozen of the fish and since I was the designated cleaner, I was quite happy with that number.

This started conversations of hunting and fishing, about catching your own food and knowing where it comes from. My kids were listening in and absorbing the conversation. When it was time to go home, about 11pm, one of the guys dumped his pail into ours so we would have more fish... I thought it was nice, but really all I could think of was, I had to clean more fish!

On the way back, both kids started to ask if they could keep a few as pets, that they were not sure if they wanted to kill them. Although most of them were already dead, the realization that their heads had to be cut off and cleaned started to hit home for them. This is where the lesson of the law of nature started. Talking about taking an animal's life is one thing, but when it comes time to actually do it, is another. We talked about having respect for the animal, that if you are to take a life, you are thankful for it, give thanks for the animal to give up its life so you can sustain yours. And that you only take what you need or what the population can handle. This goes for plants as well as they are living creatures too .

We got home, got our knives, scissors, bowls and cleaned the sink to make way for the process. As they picked up the first fish to clean, they examined it. My daughter remarked how silvery it was and my son looked at the eyes, gills and fins. Then they started questioning if they could eat them, that these once alive creatures that they caught was soon to look like the fish they see in the supermarket, but something changed. They now had a connection with these animals. That they are living creatures that had to give up their life. The air changed from excitement of bringing home the catch to respect and connection to just where our food comes from. A real appreciation of the food. They each took turns cleaning a few fish and although they were wondering just if they could eat it. I turned to them and asked how this is different from eating the fish we buy from the supermarket, or that Grandpa brings to us all filleted and in a package? The connection becomes deeper and they realize that the difference is that they themselves caught it and cleaned it. That they have connected to the source.

Ah, a great experience for the kids. My daughter soon became turned off eating them, and I just said to her, "why don't you just think about how you are feeling and tomorrow try just one and go from there."  I am sure she dreamt about the whole ordeal.

The next morning, we got the smelt out and lightly battered them and fried them. My daughter even helped in the cooking. At first she was only going to try one. She wasn't sure if she would like it. And what about the bones? What are you suppose to do with them? Well eat them of course.

Time to eat them, my daughter tried one and she loved them. As we ate them, we again discussed what goes in to feeding us and where our food comes from. They still were not sure of the bones and my daughter ate the fish like corn on the cob, with just the bones left with the tail.

Both my children have more respect, understanding and conservation of our food sources, whether they come from a farm, a grocery store or we harvest ourselves. They are now connected and understand the law of nature and want to live by it. Thank you smelt, for solidifying the connection.

Tonight, we will go back to harvest another dozen. This time, I am letting my son and daughter clean them.