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I'm ready to BLOW UP Twin Eagles Wilderness School
Those were the words I said to myself six years ago, after having gone through over a year of intense personal struggle about how the school was doing. Twin Eagles was five years old at the time, and sure, we had accomplished quite a bit, but things weren't at the level I had dreamed of. We had started from scratch, and built the school ourselves one baby step at a time. We had developed amazing summer camps, monthly youth programs, teen programs, adult workshops, and even a multi-year long adult wilderness immersion program, training adults in the journey of connecting deeply with nature, and then becoming mentors and agents of cultural change. Why wasn't this enough?
Well, it had to do with the fact that my eldest son was getting very close to being ready for grade school, or whatever alternative we might choose for him. Deep in my heart, my wife and I yearned for a truly holistic, nature based learning community for him, which I didn't see here in Sandpoint. For years we had dreamed of creating something like this - and had some success, but our program was just one day per week. I knew we needed more, and I was upset - REALLY upset that our program wasn't a full five days per week.
The issue seemed to eat away at my very soul. Now, here is where my problem was. I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that we hadn't "done better". Embarrassed that I felt this way. After all, I was a leader of a Wilderness School! I was a leader in the community. I shouldn't have problems like this, and I certainly didn't want to appear "weak" to others. The shame I felt kept the issue closely guarded inside of my heart. As time progressed, things just got worse, and I felt more and more upset about it, until the point came when I was ready to call it quits.
That's when I finally opened up about what I was feeling. I shared what was going on with a trusted friend, actually someone I considered much more than a friend - Barry Moses. Barry comes from the Spokane Tribe of Indians, and has a real gift for helping others, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
As I shared my story with Barry, it was clear that I was blaming everyone and everything else, pointing the finger all the way. I was convinced that it was "the community's" fault that our school hadn't grown more, that the people didn't understand the full depth of the change we were intending to impact, and thus our cause was futile.
Barry helped, essentially, hold up a mirror for me. Each time I spoke of how upset I was about things, and blamed someone or something else, he helped me see myself. Eventually this lead to my being able to actually own and take full responsibility for where things stood with Twin Eagles. After all, as long as I wasn't responsible for where things were at, I couldn't change them. But when I took full ownership of the situation, then I was also empowered to change things.
But not until I grieved, and accepted reality right where it was. Not a bit more or less.
Barry also helped me see that my relationships with myself was only as strong as my relationship with community and also only as strong as my relationship with my place. In all my efforts to build community and help others connect with place, I had to acknowledge that I had let my own relationship with community and place dwindle, and that I had some work to do on that front before I would achieve what I so yearned for.
We chose to stay, of course, and keep growing and changing. In the past six years, our school has matured in ways I could have never dreamed of, and I am so grateful that we have stayed.
So why am I sharing all this with you?
Two reasons. First, the story illustrates some very important life lessons that I want to share, especially for those of us committed to making this world, and ourselves, better:
Now, from my perspective, the above three statements represent some hard earned, authentic life wisdom. Ever since, I have found that I have felt a calling in my soul to share this kind of change, this kind of transformation with others. And Barry has also. That is why we created the Sacred Space experience for adults. That is the second reason why I shared the story with you. So is this a plug? Yeah, it is. It is a plug for something incredibly dear to my heart that I believe in so deeply that words never seem to do it justice.
- My situation didn't change until I took courage and shared vulnerably what was happening, even when I felt so much shame about it.
- Having an experienced ally was essential in my growth process. I didn't do it alone.
- The change I was seeking didn't come until I was able to fully surrender to the truth of my situation.
Sacred Space is a weekend workshop for adults that we designed to allow each person the chance to make the big changes that we yearn for in life. We know that the root of those changes lies within, so the experience is designed to address those inner places directly, and make a safe and sacred space to address the roots of what hold us back as people.
There are certainly other self discovery programs out there. What makes Sacred Space different and unique is that the entire experience is rooted in a long term connection to place. We know that the land we live on impacts us deeply on all levels - spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. We recognize that our health is intricately intertwined with the land and that when inner work is held in a context of connection to place, the experience is fundamentally different, and many people share with us that it is more effective and holistic.
The old indigenous cultures know this, that inner work is tied closely to connection to place, and I happen to believe that our mainstream culture, and even our alternative culture, has a lot to learn on this front. I, and so many others that I work with, continue to be amazed at how profound an impact our connection to place has on our own journey of self-discovery.
So I invite you to come join us! You're welcome to take a look at the web page, and let me know if you have any questions. This is this one time we'll be offering this experience this year, and I don't know if we'll be offering this experience to the public next year or not.
Your opportunity awaits.
From the heart,
co-Director & co-Founder
Twin Eagles Wilderness School
Header photo courtesy Joseph Rocchio Photography