Next Step Adventure :: mindful, creative, fun approaches to help people and organizations reach the next level
Category: Philosophy & Musings
Did you know physicists estimate that only about 5% of the known universe is visible? Aren’t we lucky to be seen? When you see a beautiful sunset, a lotus or even a spider, blow your mind by contemplating how much of the world you AREN’T seeing!
Have you thought about your breath lately? How it just happens, without you doing anything? And what about digestion? Or walking? The human body is a miracle in itself!
What drives us at Next Step Adventure? How do we stay so upbeat and centered? Those are questions we love to ponder even if we can’t answer them!
Philosophy and musings are vital to Next Step’s work. Scroll down and read more. Then give us a shout and we’ll visit.
October 11 is International Day of the Girl. This is an opportunity to celebrate the power of girls, discuss the challenges girls face worldwide, and take action to advance the rights of girls everywhere. The statistics are staggering:
Worldwide, 4 out of 10 girls are not completing secondary school.
About 90% of adolescent girls and young women do not use the internet, while their male peers are twice as likely to be online.
More than 100 million girls are at risk of child marriage in the next decade. Source: UN
International Day of the Girl Child has its roots in the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing when girls’ rights were specifically called out. In 2011 the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11 International Day of the Girl Child. This complements the annual International Women’s Day on March 8, which started in 1975.
I would like to recommend two insightful activities that prompt discussion for both students and adults:
Today a friend showed me her peach tree and told me to help myself. She plans to harvest all of the peaches this weekend and will have more than enough. Immediately, I started planning juicy peach slices for lunch followed by an afternoon of making pie. The peaches are currently ripening in a paper bag.
My own garden is bursting with delicious food. I so enjoy watching and waiting for the tiny seeds to turn into sprawling plants, full of tasty, nutrient-dense food for my family.
As a kid, I wasn’t a fan of tomatoes. I converted to a tomato connoisseur a few years ago after tasting garden-ripe tomatoes. It’s hard to believe I lived most of my life without realizing such tasty tomatoes existed. I continue to avoid bland grocery store tomatoes all winter and wait for my garden in the summer.
…since I’ve dug deep into my experience in youth development. Being an educator is hard these days; I think it always has been. Kids, parents, counselors, administrators, teachers face criticism every day. I was excited to share some time with a group of educators working to prepare young people for life.
I have a lot to draw on from my years in 4-H Youth Development. The organization has a long history of involving youth as partners. Older kids help younger ones with their projects, lead group meetings, and finally grow up and volunteer to lead the 4-H groups of their children. It’s seamless; it’s expected and it works.
The Civil Rights movement of the mid-1960s was the impetus for extending 4-H to families of color in the northern states. It required the Land Grant System, created by Abraham Lincoln to extend 4-H to kids in cities and small towns, and the USDA provided funding for staff to do the work. That’s where I came in.
At ISU Extension I worked with kids who weren’t from traditional 4-H audiences. They didn’t think it was for them, and it wasn’t. There was a separate 4-H organization for Black kids in the south, established around the 1890 Land Grant Colleges, but not in Iowa. Extending Ithe 4-H program to those kids was hard because of its long history of just being for farm kids. Indeed, there’s still a belief among many that 4-H isjust for farm kids. In the 1970s our tee shirts said, “4-H ain’t all cows and cooking.” But affirmative action didn’t last even a generation. By 1989, the only way to grow programs was through special funding.
So I started writing grants, negotiating contracts and agreements with other organizations. We did the hard work of collaborating with schools and other organizations. Cyndy was a big part of that work, as she was developing the SUCCESS program in Des Moines Schools then.
Through it all we wove the strands of positive youth development theory, and best practice. Our teams worked hard to involve our audiences in making the decisions that shaped the programs. We developed weekly family nights where we taught the kids cooking and child care skills so they could watch their younger brothers and sisters while their parents learned parenting skills.
We put experiential education to the test, for ourselves. Learning by creating new ways of reaching kids and their parents. Finding out what worked and what didn’t.
Then we brainstormed how they can satisfy all those needs so kids don’t have to work for mistaken goals. We talked about developing systems that keep kids involved in the peer-to-peer and mentoring work they do, conversations and lessons they’ve implemented over the last five years. In the long term, this kind of work increases resilience of young people, making them resistant to bullying and violence.
Being an educator is hard these days; it was probably always hard. But change happens so fast, and everyone from parents to legislatures attack the teaching profession every day. I was really excited to be able to share some time with a group of educators who are working to prepare young people for life.
Martha and I bundled up on a very snowy morning in early January, and drove to the Hotel Pattee in Perry Iowa. Lopso, the resident dog greeted us warmly at the back door. His name complements the fact that he had three legs, making him lopsided. He became a caring presence to us and the students. Lopso wandered in and out of our session, and paused only for his hotdog lunch.
Carol Spaulding-Kruse had asked us to facilitate three hours of yoga with Drake students during a J-Term class, focusing on the intersection of yoga and writing. We focused our session on Hanuman, the monkey-faced god of the Hindu myths. Even though Hanuman’s story is centuries old, its lessons are still relevant today. The Ramayana is one of India’s most popular myths. In it Ram asks Hanuman to complete several difficult and challenging tasks, that he believes are impossible. Each and every time, Hanuman tells himself that he cannot accomplish such enormous tasks, and yet, he always does. He’s been telling himself a story that simply wasn’t true.
As we told Hanuman’s story, we asked the students to consider the stories they tell themselves. Martha and I urged them to note which stories are true, and which are not. Sometimes in our minds, we tell ourselves stories like, “I’m not funny” or, “I’m too shy.” Because the stories aren’t always true, necessary, or helpful, they limit our capacity to experience our full humanity. We told the Drake students some stories we’ve told ourselves, and how they’ve not always been helpful, true, or necessary.
Yoga asks us to occupy space, to relish in the full capacity of our humanity. Hanuman reminds us we can do hard–even impossible–things, even when we’ve been telling ourselves we can’t.
And check out Next Step mindfulness & movement activities, the decks are on sale for just one more day— $15 each. There are about 50 activities kinda like the one above. Exercises to help you practice breathing, connecting, settling, playing, and more. And they’re not just for kids!