I have the great privilege of co-facilitating a seven week summer session of Farming For Resilience for 12 students from Ashuelot Valley Academy. To say that this program is impactful is an understatement.
Now 3 weeks in, I have seen faces change, hurt, anger, saddness and pain seep away as students groom horses, lean in to the lessons of courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion and leave with a good dose of resilience.
Summer is here.
With the grass growing, the garden in bloom and the busling farm in FULL action.
Part on that action is Farming For Resilience. We facilitated our second of seven sessions this last Wednesday for 12 students from Ashuelot Valley Academy.
The focus of the program is not farming or horses, although it appears so at "first glance". Sessions are run at Dusty Dog Farm and use horses, the farm and artistic expression to deliver the important message of courage, gratitude. forgiveness and compassion. The curriculum applies Scarlett Lewis's "Choose Love" wisdom, and horses, to clearly convey how important it is to have courage, be grateful, forgive often and overflow with compassion.
A recent article in the United States Hunter Jumper Association "In Stride" magazine is titled "Make Mindfulness a Tool in Your Grooming Box". For those less familar with the world of horses, grooming is the practice of brushing, cleaning and checking horses. This is a task that is often rushed through, many horse people are hurrying to ride, or move on to the next item on their daily agenda. Thus the mutual benefits of the act of grooming are lost.
There is a LARGE sized willow tree in the yard of Dusty Dog Farm. It is clear, due to its circumference and size, that it has withstood many storms. In the 14 years that I have had the privilege of living on this farm, I have witnessed it getting seriously beaten up by noreasters and wild summer thunder storms. Branches have fallen, large chunks of the tree have ended up on the ground, but the integrity of the tree has been steadfast. And it continues to stand... with might, character and (sometimes ragged) beauty, for all to see as they enter the farm.
I am an avid reader when I allow myself the time.
Generally, I only "allow" myself this distinct pleasure immediately prior to turning in for the night. As many of you know, I am active outdoors, year around..this leads to a sincere need, and desire, to sleep as soon as I stop moving. I usually hardly take in two paragraphs before my head is nodding, and lines get blurrier than usual. Upside of this, I love and am grateful for sleep. I spent WAY too many years unable to sleep. Another upside : one book lasts me a long time. I can read and re-read the same chapter many too many times. EXCEPT this book :
Several years ago I went to a winter conference in Concord NH. It was a conference for teachers and administrators in the state of New Hampshire. Through dumb luck, good fortune or serendipity and the kind invitation of the principal of Swanzey Elementary, Audrey Salzman (who now sits on the board of Cooper's Crossroad), I was fortunate enough to go. Here I first saw Scarlett Lewis speak. And here I began weaving her work into my personal life, my business and Cooper's Crossroad's Farming For Resilience program.
Today's post is from Susan Maydwell, a Cooper's Crossroad Board Member.
Back in the spring of 2018 Christina Major, founder of Cooper’s Crossroad, a non-profit organization, invited me to participate in a panel discussion surrounding ACE awareness and trauma being held at Dusty Dog Farm on June 6, 2018. Cooper's Crossroad mission statement reads “ Cooper's Crossroad mission is to raise awareness of the profound, insidious effects of trauma and adverse childhood experiences by providing programs and educational resources for our community”. At the time the acronym ACE meant nothing to me (ACE – Adverse Childhood Experience). Christina recommended I read the book “The Deepest Well” by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. to help prepare myself for the panel discussion. Little did I know how much this book would trigger me in the most profound way both personally and professionally, resulting in continuing to research the topic through reading books and articles, and viewing documentaries. I joined the board of Cooper’s Crossroad, and feel honored to be a part of this steadfast - “grassroots” and “boots to the ground” non-profit organization.
Ever had those moments that you wish would never end? I have and now, when they happen, I "hang -on" to them as much as I can. The warm feelings and decreased anxiety that comes with being "in the moment" is a gift that stays with us for some time after.
I have recently had the distinct priviledge of studying Equine Facilitated Learning from the HERD Institute. The concepts of "I-Thou" and "I-It" (philosophy of Martin Buber) and work of Eckart Tolle, about living "Now" are thoughly covered. I am feeling rich in, and grateful for, the knowledge.
I recently had the opportunity/need to clean out a desk in my home office. Clear sign : when you begin to find letters and notes from, not days, not weeks, not even months, but years ago.
Yes. It was time. A fun, interesting, thought provoking and sometimes triggering project. It did not take long in time. But felt long in depth of time.
Eckart Tolle says wisely : "When you make the present moment, instead of the past and future, the focal point of your life, your ability to enjoy what you do and with it the quality of you life increases dramatically."
This quote highlights the importance of understanding present moment awareness..... and fuels my personal fire to help others gain and build resiliency. (Please see : www.cooperscrossroad.com.)
In non-covid life, I was facilitating a weekly program, Farming For Resilience, for two local schools.
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