Here is an inspirational passage for the week:
In our grasshopper and salamander days, who among us didn’t ask why the grasshopper could jump so far – or why the salamander had black dots on its orange body? We trampled leaves with our feet just to hear what kind of sounds leaves made. We threw flat stones over the surface of streams to see how far the stones could skip. We listend to crickets cry in the nights far beyond our grasp of what the darkness was. We slept, only to wake, with the stange sense of how could we be awake when we had only just been sleeping.
In those days we knew as much as we had to know in order to ask what we didn’t know. Our ignorance wasn’t just innocence but the foundation from which we offered ourselves the daily surprise of discovering another question, another way to uncover something mysterious, something we hadn’t understood yesterday. We lived by wonder, for by wondering we were able to multiply a growing consciousness of being alive.
- Richard Lewis, Living by Wonder
Our Spring Day Long in San Francisco at the Fort Miley Ropes Course was just great. It was sweet, fun, sweaty and there were no injuries! Yay! The weather could not have been more perfect. The sun was shining and we could see blue sky, blue ocean, and the golden gate bridge clearly. It was warm but not too warm and we had a nice breeze to sweep over our physically tired bodies...
R and her team of people from the Pacific Leadership Institute guided the majority of our day. They lead us in fun, inspiring and thought provoking activities that got us thinking about how we use our bodies and our minds. They encouraged us to experiment, push our limits and think and act in a way outside of our norm.
We began with activities that stretched our bodies and our minds as a group. Working in dyads we learned to trust one another, leaning on each other, feeling each other’s weight and noticing what happens when one partner is not ready or participating fully. We started to hone our senses and our sensitivies to those around us so that we could accomplish our goals; the first of which was simple stretching. This progressed to stretching our cognitive abilities and fine tuning our listening skills through fun and interactive group games. The girls as usual, were stoked and totally into it. It is so nice to have participants that actually want to participate! This makes a huge difference for us as leaders and for the culture of the group as a whole.
Then, we moved into the course. The first activity involved the whole group. Together as a team we needed to make our way from one small wooden platform to the other platforms. We had 4 wooden planks that we could use to build bridges to…cross a river of spoiled “bean-milk” running from a pack of firebreathing, planet eating pigs so we could arrive at our destination, the land of oceans. We were a group of planets in a solar system. This creative narrative the group came up with. R encouraged us to first think about and discuss our leadership styles. She then asked us to switch rolls and try something different for this activity. It was great to see the girls who normally volunteer to go first or speak first step to the back of the line and stay quiet while the more quiet members of the group went first and brought their ideas forth as to how to make our way across. L and I held back and let the girls do their thing. We both had ideas about the best way to lay down the planks and make our way across. The girls came up with something totally different and it worked well. Really well in fact. We were tickled by their creativity, ingenuity and their ability to work together as a team while in rolls they don’t normally take on.
After that activity, we really got into it… into harnesses that is and up into the Cypress trees. We were blessed by a red tailed hawk who sat perched in one of the trees watching us for almost the entire day! It had a nest in a neighboring tree which we also got to see. Then, as if that wasn’t special enough, two hummingbirds fluttered in the same tree above where the hawk was perched. If this wasn’t a good omen, blessing from nature, whatever you want to call it, I don’t know what is! It was so special to be witnessed by such welcome animal friends.
The course confirmed what we had already been gathering; these girls are fearless. The course did push their comfort zones for sure but still, they persevered with a positive and encouraging attitude. I also have to say that the girls applied sunscreen twice, by their own accord! This was shocking to me as I resisted sunscreen as if it were a basket of rattlesnakes when I was a kid. I had sunscreen, offered it and all of them said, “oh yeah, sure, that’s probably a good idea.” Shocking and great!
At the end of the course when we gathered to reflect, most of the girls mentioned the highlights for them and their take away was how when they worked as a team at the different tasks they were able to go the extra distance, climb higher and overall have a better experience. They shared how supporting each other with kind words of encouragment and presence helped them to feel safe and go further. They also shared how facing their fears and taking safe risks allowed them to succeed in their goals.
After our course we took a nice walk down to the beach and had some lunch, free play time and our final counsel sharing our rose, bud, and thorn about the day and the weeks coming up. Everyone expressed excitement for our summer trip coming up and couldn’t believe we have been meeting for almost a year already.
Almost a year in, our group is feeling more and more “like a group.” We can really see the girls starting to emerge from their shells and be themselves in a way that feels authentic, loose and just sweet. It feels good to be settling more into our form and deepening in a way that feels comfortable, real, in a way casual and still profound all at the same time.
Thank you parents for getting the girls to SF and making this happen. Yes, this is a mentoring and contempory rites of passage group for the girls but also for us, their leaders, you, the parents, our elder and the larger organization of Stepping Stones Project as a whole. We are all, “the group,” we are a village, and this only happens as we work together. GO TEAM!!! And if I may say...
Sometimes, We Rock, sometimes, We Roll and other times, We Climb Trees! … Or hanging latters with ropes, cables and a zip line at the end. (Helmets included) :)
Ta Ta for now!
L & N