Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Soul Food

I believe there is no small irony in the name of our new favorite coffee shop in our new neighborhood - SoulFood.  Especially as it relates to a new community we have found in our busy lives which allows the people who enter this space to be their best, authentic selves.  A 'come as you are' joint which exudes the calming scent of incense, home, acceptance and love.

In my life currently, I am working on being a truer, more authentic self.  I decided I was not able to complete this work on my own and have sought the guidance of someone willing to help and guide me through this journey.  A part of this journey has been searching out communities and people who support authenticity and  seek truth as well.  SoulFood Books is one of these places and I/we have been blessed to find several other spots, such as Wilderness Awareness School (WAS), Oxbow Farm and some incredible friends who are totally cool with me being my wacky, weird self.

This past weekend I journeyed out to Linne Doran (Gaelic for “Pond of the Otter”), the land WAS owns in Duvall, WA, for three evenings and two days of intensive mentor training through their Coyote Mentoring Program.  It was not raining as I drove out to the land and so I had the sunroof open and listened to the wind rushing by and the birds singing.  I had plenty of time to set up my tent campsite underneath the Cedars, unpack a bit and head up to the lodge for our first evening together.

I found it very ironic my nature name for the weekend was Cattail, as this is an image for a tattoo I am interested in having done sometime soon.

Rather than write about each small detail of the weekend as I am still processing the amount of knowledge I gained myself; I shall write of the highlights...

  • Sit spot - an outdoor meditation spot you choose, or chooses you, where you can sit and observe your surroundings; gain perspective; quiet, center and ground your spirit; journal; quiet your mind; weep, etc.
  • Hiking - I did some exploring on my own for some personal time and walked down to the pond, had my own sit spot time and then hiked back to Cedar Lodge in the snow.  Joined a group hike on our last day down to the pond to find salamander eggs, HUGE tree fungi, incredible Vine Maple, moss covered trees, ducks, a beaver lodge and the lovely experience of learning from each other and problem solving different plant and animal species.
  • Malalo Ya Chui (which means “Lair of the Leopard”) - the first time I had ever seen a fire started 'primitively' with a bow-drill.  We slowly climbed to the lodge in silence; waited for the fire to be started; sang the fire-starter and fire a song of encouragement and thanks; introduced ourselves and stated what inspired us to come to this place for Coyote Mentoring.  We sat around the fire and Chris, one of the instructors, began a four part story from Buffalo Gals by Ursula Le Guin.  The time felt ancient, sacred, grounding, beautiful and filled with wonder.
  • Classroom time - this is where we got to the meat of the course.  Learning about the medicine wheel; three types of teaching methodology; ideas for taking these principles to our communities, families and friends; child's passion; and primary and secondary satisfactions.  There was so much to learn and I am still reading back through my notes and absorbing the vast amount of knowledge I obtained and am still wading through.
  • Camping - first night rain, second night snow.  The was pretty warm the first night and then started freezing about half way through; the second night I grabbed a fleece blanket from my car for inside my sleeping bag, put on two layers of everything and a lovely woman at the training loaned me an Indian blanket to go over my sleeping bag.  I was as snug as a bug in a rug!!  Especially as it snowed and was in the 30's the second night.
  • Games - each game had a purpose.  A way to root and ground ourselves in our bodies; to stretch and move in the morning; to play, laugh and have fun; to learn teamwork, coordination, kindness and acceptance; most importantly, permission to fail and have fun while doing so.
Most anyone is allowed to attend this event at Wilderness Awareness School and I highly encourage parents, social workers, counselors, educators, anyone who works with children or anyone looking to be a better mentor in their communities, families and life to do so.  This training is held once or twice and year and is well worth the time to attend and learn so much incredible information.  To check out more details please visit:

The principles I learned at this event will stay with me for a long time and I hope to go back again or attend the more in-depth Art of Mentoring week in the future.  I want to learn as much as possible of these incredible techniques and continue pushing my edge.  This event not only fed my mind, but my heart and soul as well - it was Soul Food.

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