Sunday, 15 November 2015

Nature Will Provide

Today I had the pleasure of walking down the big hill at Learning in the Woods with Elizabeth Boyd, Registered Herbalist.  She has walked down this path every Wednesday for the past 2 months and as an herbalist, she is very familiar with all of the plants along the path and how they change as the seasons change.  Today she was so excited.  She spotted many first year Mellein plants, a biennial meaning that it takes 2 years to complete its botanical lifecycle.  She also said that it is new to our pathway and can be used to treat ailments in children such as ear infections.  By the time she finished her explanation, we had reached another new clump of plants which she said was called Motherswort, a plant used most often for anxious mothers.  Suddenly I became aware of the irony in our path.  I turned to Elizabeth and said, “Do you mean that the new plants that are growing on our path are reflective of the people using this path?”  Yes.  “Is that your belief system; that nature will provide the plants and herbs that are most needed by the people living in the space?”  Yes, it happens all the time.

That was kind of mind blowing to me.  These herbs were growing where mothers trudge down the pathway with their kids on their way down to base camp.  These herbs were emerging in this shared space in response to the energetic needs of the people using the path…that same day I learned that Elizabeth first studied as a chemical engineer before becoming a registered herbalist.  After reflecting on this, I think I have a better understanding of her perspective, knowing her science background and passion about herbalism. 

So, in a very basic sense, energetics is a way of restoring equilibrium in a system.  The energy you are looking at can be as vast as the energy flow of the cosmos or as miniscule as quantum physics.  Energy is always flowing.  My husband is a mechanical engineer and I have heard a few conversations about thermodynamics, but suddenly those (boring) conversations have new meaning for me!  Ecologist, Howard T. Odom, suggests that there is a hierarchy of energy forms which account for energy quality and the evolution of the universe.  He adds to the theory of thermodynamics to include this principle that;

"Flows of energy develop hierarchical webs in which inflowing energies interact and are transformed by work processes into energy forms of higher quality that feedback amplifier actions, helping to maximise the power of the system" — (Odum 1994, p. 251)

To bring this back to the pathway leading to basecamp at Learning in the Woods, Mothers and children arrive with their particular energy quality and our natural environment along the footpath responds to that energy quality.  At the very least it responds to offer a restoration of balance but it may be responding in a way that transforms too.  Mothers who are worried, if in tune with nature’s offering, can use Motherswort to restore balance in their hearts and minds, and let go of their worry and anxiety for their children.  In that work of rebalancing, they are potentially able to transform though to a higher energy quality…they have the potential to become a better parent, a better person? 

Wow.  Yes.  Yes again.  This is exactly what we are trying to do here.  Encouraging parents to let go of their worry, let go of their fear, trust and transform to be more self-aware in their parenting and interactions with others.  And here is our little footpath, responding to our families, giving them a natural remedy to aid in this transformation.  I guess “We LearnNaturally” is a good name on multiple levels.

The beauty of this line of thinking from Elizabeth Boyd, Registered Herbalist (and chemical engineer!) is that when you believe in energetics, and I mean in both a superficial and holistic sense, then it becomes easier to let go of the fear that grips you.  Because you know that the nature of things dictates that balance will be restored…and potentially even transformed into something greater than before. How reassuring…Nature will provide.  The universe will provide.  So go ahead and take a deep breath. 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Living in our Calling: The Earlier the Better by Chelsea

This post was written by Chelsea Bohnert, the newest member of the We Learn Naturally family.  Chelsea will be a facilitator at The Barn School and future director of DiverseCity School in Central Hamilton (2020).  We welcome Chelsea with much love and enthusiasm!

Living in our Calling: The Earlier the Better

How many times growing up did you hear the ever common question, “What do YOU want to be when you grow up?” Countless, I’m sure. Coming from teachers, relatives, or peers with nothing but good intentions rooted in encouragement and of course a desire to motivate success.

Unfortunately, good intentions don’t always have the most positive implications and that is certainly the case for this overused question. Here’s the thing. I actually loved being asked that question. In fact, I have probably asked and answered that question to myself, at least 1000 times! I’ve obsessed over that stupid question, and strived for the answer (and changed my answer) most of my young life. I’ve wanted to be….

Famous, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a dentist (and yes at some point for me each of these were actually true) but most of all, no matter what the career choice, I wanted to be successful! Successful… I desperately wanted to be successful, and while most would conclude that to be a good thing, the problem was in how I defined success. How do you define it?

Well, if we go back to the, oh-so familiar “what do you want to be…” question, it is obvious that many of us define success by what we are to “become” as adults. What career we have, who we marry, where we travel, what we own, and the list goes on…and on………and on. So much emphasis is placed on this supposed end result. That everything we do in our childhood, adolescence and young adulthood will culminate to the final moment when we ascertain “success”.

Some of us buy into this gimmick of success more than others, but to be honest the outcome is no better for the ones chasing the illusion than for those who don’t have any hope of achieving this externally measured “success”. It’s so sad really. That so many people will let the belief that success is measured this way prevent them from stepping into their true calling, whatever it may be. While others, like me, waste so much time trying to become successful that we too can miss out on what our calling is.

To me, true success is just that. Growing into our calling and living in that calling as it evolves and changes through life. There is no end. It cannot be attained simply by purchasing it or by earning it through a degree or a promotion. And while it may very well include the attainment of these things, we fulfill our calling when we find inner peace and are in love with how we are living each day as humans, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

I am so very grateful for the experiences in my life and the way they have shaped me. Today, I can finally say that I have stepped into my calling as a woman, mother, wife and teacher, and that I feel far greater success than I could have ever imagined. The success that I am feeling has nothing to do with money, what I own, where I travel, my physical appearance, or who I know and who knows me. Instead, it has everything to do with the fact that I have finally stopped measuring success externally and recognize that everything I am meant to offer the world has been inside of me the whole time!

Isn’t this what we should be teaching little humans right from the get go? As they come to us for guidance and wisdom, shouldn’t we replace “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with, “WHO do you want to be RIGHT NOW?”  I believe it is our duty as parents, caregivers, and teachers, to empower children to believe in themselves and to step into their callings from as early on as possible.

Instead of telling kids what to think and learn or what they should work towards, we need to begin asking different questions. What makes you smile? Who do you look up to and why? What things would you change about our world if the choice was yours? What are you curious about? What do you really like about yourself? What things about yourself do you want to work on?

If young people are being regularly asked questions like these, success is inevitable--true success, not the illusionary type. 

Freedom to grow. Support to learn. Nurturance to become.

Doesn’t We Learn Naturally’s mission capture every last sentiment of my post and more? I feel honoured, blessed, and scream-from-a-mountain-top excited, to be welcomed by such an incredible organization and to become a part of The Barn School!  After years of searching, learning and growing personally, I am so ready to live in my calling. To foster connections and join young people on their journey of self-discovery so they too, can step into who they are called to be….the earlier the better!

Learn more about Chelsea's passions by checking out her website