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.
Scarlett Lewis is a fabulous public speaker. She throws a huge punch with her personal story and the reaction in the audience is most often tears, laughter, and LEARNING. As one who does public speaking, I admire her incredible skill in front of large groups. But more than that, I admire her resilience, and how she took her personal tragedy (her son, Jesse, was shot and killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School - 2012) and set out to change the world by teaching us all how to choose love. The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement 501(c)(3) is committed to reaching students, educators and individuals, both nationally and internationally, with a simple, yet profound formula for choosing love. Hung in my barn office is a sign that comes directly from the Educator Guide for the Choose Love Enrichment program. It reads as follows : "Choosing love means having the courage to be grateful when life isn't easy, to forgive when the person who hurt you isn't sorry, and to step outside of your own pain to help someone else." I read it daily. It is in a place hard to miss ....and I like to think the constant reminder helps keep me grounded. Since that winter date, I have studied and re-studied, read and re-read Choose Love Educator's Guides, Supplementary Practices and Resource Guides. Taking it all in and then spending time spinning that work into the work I do with horses and humans. In our barn there are quotes on courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion everywhere. For example : "Believe you can and you are halfway there." Theodore Roosevelt or "Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express your gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for." Zig Ziglar These remeinders are there for me and the staff but most importantly for our Farming For Resilience participants. "Children and adults who feel connected, who are resilient, and who can reciprocate love won't want to harm each other" (Garney 2016). "We can teach children and adults to choose love. Love is a universal need, the lack of which can be devestating' (Scarlett Lewis 2019). And so we forge on with Farming For Resilience, helping participants build resilience by teaching about courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion - the four corner posts of the Choose Love Movement. Under the dark cloud of COVID 19 and nationwide unrest, this education in Choosing Love becomes increasingly important. Every evening, and as a result of the education personally gained through Choosing Love, I write "Five Things". These "Five Things" are things I am grateful for, or situations I may need courage in, or thoughts of compassion or forgivenss for circumstances or people in my life. It is wonderful way to close the day. I believe that every little act of compassion, forgiveness, courage or gratitude has the ability to redirect a thought, a path, a trajectory or a life. Please take a moment to open yourself up to the opportunity to Choose Love by considering how you can have courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion. Enjoy the beautiful season upon us. All the best, Christina