You Are Needed

you-are-neededBy now, we have all heard of the Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times,” especially as we watch so many changes come to be with our nation’s new president, so much seems to be “interesting”.  And if you heard this phase, you also know that, seemingly a blessing, this statement is more of an invocation of danger and turbulent times.

This week we continue to watch the mistreatment of immigrants escalate and the response of protesters rise in the aim to reveal the importance of every person in our nation.

The nation is experiencing a rite of passage.  Two important elements of rites of passage include an ordeal and the question “who am I?”  Both these elements propel an individual, a community, a nation, a tree, a bird, an ecosystem into something new.  The order doesn’t matter, as long as the essence of these elements are present, you can be assured an initiation is occurring.

The ordeal:  One simple needs to read the headlines to see the distress of the world in this moment.  Psychological warfare, growing rifts with between nations, difficulty deciphering truth form lie, scandals, bio-terrorism, battles of people and battles of nature and battles of people about nature. The ordeal is here.  Everyday we seem to wonder “what’s next?” in that exasperated anticipation of the “straw that will break the camel’s back” way.

The Question, “Who am I?”:  There is no doubt the this state of the nation is bringing to life this question inside of us.  The trouble with times like these is that labels emerge.  We move into our labels as a means to defend ourselves from dangerous or in order to feel protected in some collective shared experience.  We label ourselves democrat or republican, Trump supported or protester, feminist or misogynist, racist or rights-activist.  As we were growing more global we suddenly found ourselves identifying more strongly with these labels that only bring us into smaller communities.  These labels alone have no “good” or “bad” value in and of themselves, yet they can be so easily simplifying and stereotyped, to the point that they say absolutely nothing about who we are!  We forget that this question, “Who am I?” is so profoundly and simultaneously individualistic and global, nothing about the answer can be stereotyped or simplified.

Forget “interesting” and all it’s underlying meanings, as a nation we are in an important time.  The ordeal is here, we are moving from adolescence to adulthood, Who are you? Who are we? Individually and as a collectively.  What gifts do each of us bring to the whole?  Can we begin to answer this question by truly
identifying our unique contribution?  And in doing so, we can come to recognize there is not a single person in this world that is not needed.  We are all significantly important.  Without you the world would be distinctly different.  Each person is singularly needed for the whole to function.  The importance of this time is about what you bring to whole by being who you are. And that we all come to celebrate what that is.  It is you rite to answer this question in you at this important time and it is the rite of the world to celebrate the answer that comes. We wouldn’t be able to this living in this world thing without you.

What Part of My Story Strikes a Cord in Your Story?

I have long wondered what is so powerful about sitting in a circle and talking about my unique story while you talk about your unique story.  This is not just some conversation; in this process of storytelling we can reach much greater depth than any other communication.

By day, I find myself as an elementary school counselor for the public schools.  This past week, I sat in circle with a 5th grade class, 9-10 year olds, known to be behaviorally challenging.   Many young men practicing defiance while other students get lost in the mix and seem to feel somewhat traumatized by their chaotic surroundings.  I explained the practice of counsel, 7 important tenets for sitting in circle together.  1.) Speak from the Heart2.) Listen from the Heart3.) Being lean of speech4.) Confidentiality5.) Spontaneity 6.) Leaning into the skid when things get tough7.) The importance of the talking piece.  (I explain these this silly analogies and goofy hand gestures for the kids to remember).  And then we began.  I ask them about their experience of cruelty and kindness, raising their hands they let me know if they every experienced these things.  And then we shared our stories of cruelty first.  I spoke about when I was a bully to someone, how it made me feel and what I got out of it.  And around the talking piece went.  I listened in the circle, the stories truly sad in nature, I heard boys resorting to violence when being picked on by others, I heard girls experience hostile family dynamics, I heard all the children express hurt by others in the classroom.  The piece returned to me.  I began to express my sadness about how they are with each other and my reaction to the theme of their stories.  Silence fell over the group.

We began a circle sharing stories of kindness. I began with my story of two people who were tremendously kind to me in the most difficult time of my life.  The piece went around. In these moments, the group shifted, nearly every child began to cry as they shared the story of someone in their life that offered a gesture of love or friendship.  I saw how one story affected everyone; empathy filled the space, for maybe the first time in their time together. The rock returned to me, also with tears in my eyes, I expressed my wonder for what it is inside us brings tears to us, and what in us that might believe we do not deserve kindness and how does this effect the way we are with each other.  The group grew quiet.  Our stories resonated in the silence.  Tissues passed around the entirety of the circle, compassionately honoring each other and the stories we shared. 

It is immensely powerful to listen and share stories without the need for a response or interpretation, the nature of the group does it everything that is needed.  To hear how your story tugs a string in my story, can change me forever.

Rite of Reflection

 

We live in an ever-fast paced world.  I don’t know about you but I can hardly keep up with my emails, personal and work emails included.  And I know it’s really bad when I am not even able to keep up with text messages!  How did we get here? What are the repercussions of such a fast passed world that requests and even demands that we respond timely when there is no time?  It feels nearly impossible to feel adequate.  And how do we aim for something much more worthwhile, something way beyond adequate, something like competent, capable, and fulfilled?  How can be our full selves when bogged down this these calls for response?

No one is acknowledging all we do, not even ourselves.  Is this because there is always more we can do or because we are lacking the fundamental need to reflect on our actions and being? (Don’t even get me started on how this brings up doing vs. being, another discussion entirely.) Sometimes, I come home and find it hard to even muster up the energy to talk to a friend or take my dog for a walk.  And who among us have not sat in a public place and looked around to see everyone on some device, or sitting with a friend who just “needs” to respond to a text immediately rather than be with you to truly reflect on the day.  I continue to be in wonder about how we came to feel we have less time when we all have these gadgets that are meant to offer us more time?  How can we possible see each other when the world is this way?

I sat in circle with others in the height of this feeling this past week.  And in the sharing, it occurs to me that the need is not for more time, but for reflection time.  This is an essential part of initiation: Time to reflect.  How long can we last sitting alone with ourselves, and even more significant a question, how comfortable can we do this if actually given the opportunity?  This is an important practice; to get comfortable with the discomfort this era faces in disconnecting from everything to connect to ourselves more deeply.   How often do we intend to create time for ourselves only to be hijacked by a call, a text, an email, a thought of a “must do” task?

Reflection as a practice has left many of us.  Without reflect we are just moving forward in our lives, rather than growing more conscious through each movement. Rite of Passage offers this, reflection time, getting real with ourselves, meeting ourselves in the truth of what has occurred, what is current, and what is calling us forward. To step into this world as an initiated person, we must be willing to reflect; reflection can carry us forward to show up, not as merely adequate but as capable, conscious, fully ourselves people.

Relationship Rites of Passage

Relationships change all the time.   When we commit to someone, as a parent or a partner or friend, we expect some sense of consistency.  However, loss in relationship occurs all the time, things shifts and can no longer be what they use to be.  The question is, how do we face these changes and losses?  Most of the time, we just trudge on, adjusting by ignoring or checking out; sometime we face the shift with lots of resistance, kicking and screaming, or in the adult version complaining and expressing frustration in all the ways we do—walking out, rolling our eyes, lying, cheating, spying, laughing at another’s emotions, reaching for the wine bottle, the list goes on. (I’m being polite in these examples.)  All these ways of facing change make us smaller, not challenging us to show up in our truth or the truth of the matter.

A relationship that meant a lot me, changed this week.  I found myself being lured into these patterns of avoidance, “Come on Michelle, just watch Netflix all day, you can’t feel this, it’s too much.”  I couldn’t believe how much this thought couldn’t see the courage and strength and reliance inside of me.  Changes change us, if we are brave enough to acknowledge the change and ourselves.  I moved with the change, gathered my firewood and built my pyramid of wood in my fireplace.  I placed the newspaper balls and kindling one by one, honoring through naming all the gifts of the relationship and all I have learned.  I lite the fire.  I blew at the embers to watch the flame rise, now naming what I will miss most.  And I as I watched the flame consume the wood, with tears moving me to new places, I recalled what I would not miss.  And as I tended to the fire, I remember all the moments that I loved, log by log, crackling sound by crackling sound, these memories will live in me forever.  And when I let the flame burn it’s self out, I found myself in gratitude for what was and willing to uncover what may emerge next.

 

What if we did this in relationship?  What if we honored each other and relationship in this way?  What if we could have a complete seeing of the good, the bad, the neural in our relating to another.  When a relationship changes, we have an opportunity to meet the change, wouldn’t it be amazing if we did so?  What could be discovered about ourselves, the other, and about the world around us? The trees, the oceans, the stars are all constantly modeling relationship change in a natural way.  What can we learn from them?  Is it not our rite, our human nature, to find our way in this passage in a way that reveals our gifts and brings us forth to show up in this world in all the ways we can?

We Need You.

 

This week we have been ushered into a new presidency.  Despite where you lie on the political spectrum, our nation is entering the unknown.  We do not know what the era of Trump will bring, nor do we truly know how long it will last. It is likely that the events that follow this election will continue to challenge us and hopefully open us up; because it is more than clear that Trump is like no other president our nation has seen before.  Thus, as a nation, we are in a Rite of Passage, here, now, and collectively.  What we know has ended and the unknown begins.

This is an opportunity for us to show up.  The three stages of initiation have started; we are severing from what we know and entering the threshold process.  What will be revealed in this time we must take with us to incorporate something new to the world.  This is how a person, a people, a nation grows.

This week began with the celebration of MLK, a man and a symbol embodying the civil rights movement.  I recall his dream for our nation, his actions both light and dark in nature, how he was so human as he spoke for humanity.  And with him I could not help but think of all the civil right movement leaders, Malcolm X, Harvey Milk, Betty Friedan, the list goes on.  And in this remembering of great leaders, I wondered who are our great leaders moving us forward.  It is in these interesting times, these times of threshold, that leaders are revealed.  In these times of self-reflection that the question of “What am I capable of?”  or “What can I do?” arise and bring forth all parts of ourselves to be a part of this world.  We need you.  This week ended with an inauguration of a president that brings two important questions to the forefront; 1. How will a national movement be brought into motion? and 2. What is our belief about leadership?

We need leaders and focus at times like this.  Where are our MLK’s, Harvey Milk’s, Betty Friedan’s?  Where are those who stand behind such important voices in solidarity? We need you in all the ways you can show up, the leader of something or the person supporting that leader, the followers that truly create the movement.  The ego must be moved aside in these times for a great purpose to be met.  This is an invitation. What calls you?

Why is Rites of Passage important?

image Transitions are hard.

I would leave it at that, but this idea is so foreign that it needs more explanation.  We all go through so many life phases changes; the most obvious one is adolescence to adulthood, but there is also the movement in and out of relationships, into and out of careers, parenting and empty-nesting, retirement, moving locations, grieving a huge loss (of a person or way of life).  The maxim, “the only constant is change” gets tossed around as if we can somehow just manage it.  But, gosh darn it, it’s hard!

Humans are pretty amazing, we find our way in moving through these changes.  We feel these challenges deep inside us, on a soul level. We may find ourselves on this unavoidable path of change craving ways to mark it.  Lacking options, we find ourselves turning to anger and aggression to others, alcohol or drug use, high speed and reckless driving, hiding in a dark room watching Netflix for as many hours of the day as possible, meeting and trusting untrustworthy strangers to guide us toward something, inflicting some form of pain just to feel something, judging others, attempting suicide etc.  We want, so badly, the outside world to reflect the big changes happening on the inside.  Unfortunately, we turn to these things mostly because we have lack readily available ways create meaningful experiences that acknowledge our life changes.

What we are really seeking are ways for these shifts to be acknowledged by those around us; and even more, we want the ordeal of the situation to reveal to us what we are truly capable of, we want to reveal who we are, to give us purpose for continuing on.   It is the job of those who have been through these passages to help others through their unique passage, to encourage their knowing of themselves and abilities to make it through even the most challenging of times, toward a continually growing whole sense of Self.  This is important for the development of a person, the creation of a community, and the evolution of the world.  When sitting with change, we have an opportunity to be ushered into a new life in a healthy way.

Everyday, A New Year’s Resolution


Every time the year turns, we think, I’ll try something new.  Maybe it’s a new exercise regimen or diet, maybe it’s a noble effort to take up a new interest like playing an instrument or doing art, maybe it’s an intention to be more giving or relaxed.  But let’s face it, more often than not we set our goals for the New Year and we fall short, giving us a very valid reason to judge and be disappointed in ourselves.

I have given up on the new years resolution idea.  Instead, I have taken on more regular intention setting for the changing of my everyday Self.  Every morning, I wake up a different person because everyday I gain another layer of experience that impacts the way I am in the world.  As it is meant to be.  How can I expect to hold the same intention in the same way for a whole 365 days?  This does not acknowledge that I am human, and even more it does not acknowledge my very human nature to change based on the season within me.  Do we hold the cottonwood tree to it’s green leaves?  Or the large rock to it’s warm seat?

Everyday, the wind and the weather of the day changes us.  I wake up to mark a threshold everyday, and to meet the trees who have also changes from the previous days weather.  Everyday, I walk past a local park’s arch way, in a ceremony I actively partaking in, I set an intention for: compassion or peace or honesty or presence, whatever it is that I know I need that day (lately, it’s been an intention for positivity).   And I tell every tree with a touch, this is my intention, knowing they are my witness and that I will be accepted in my process of learning to live into it no matter what.  I cross the archway back home and I hold this brief time in nature as I move through the day. Knowing tomorrow, I may need another intent to guide me.  Acknowledging that we are always changing, we can hold our every-changing human nature with truth, celebrating all we do to meet ourselves and live into who we are and the purpose of our lives.

7 Ways to Connect to Nature in 5 Minutes or Less

More and more it feels like there is not enough time.  In the last month, I found myself sitting with big life questions and craving deeply for a community to hold me.  Even more, I found that I was seeking to witness others in their lives: what questions might my friends be holding, what trials are they living, what stories could they share that might inspire and teach me.  I began to reach out. Then the scheduling game began, the ability to find a time for connecting seemed nearly impossible.  How have we come to not have time for each other?

In addition, as I see clients, I feel aware of this emerging difficulty with boredom.  Boredom has somehow come to be the thing we most avoid and can’t bare to experience. It has come to be considered a problem.  This every moment has to be scheduled thing we do, appears to be a way to manage and avoid boredom.  But Why?   What are we so scared of in the experience of boredom?  Hasn’t our extremely busy-ness made us long for some time to do nothing as this point.  Have we come to judge ourselves if we do “nothing”.  When and how did boredom become an enemy instead of an opportunity?…an opportunity to connect!

Around this time, I came across an article by Krista Trippett titled the Disease of Being Busy .  She writes the same questions that arouse in my frustration, need for community and for slowing down to feel into who I am:
 
How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

Whatever happened to a world in which kids [and adults] get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we over-schedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?

What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?

Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?”

The problem with this is that this busy-ness creates a dynamic of feeling more and more alone and less and less connected to the world around us, but, what’s wild is that we are all under some disguise that we more connected in our doing.

I have learned that in this world, creating time to connect with community and myself is a task of disproportional levels do to the busy-ness of our lives, it is the sneaking of connection to myself, my nature, my dear friend and the nature of the world around me in the brief moments between things, that I have come to cherish.  

Here are 7 ways to sneak in these brief moments of connection:

1. Look up: Our world can be so small when we are busy, the expression “nose to the grind stone” comes to mind, we focus our attention on tasks at hand, and often this requires looking down, at the ground so we don’t trip in our fast pace, at the paper in hand or the computer/phone in front of us etc… I invite you to take 5 minutes or less to look up at the sky…day or night, gain perspective, notice the world is bigger than you see at any given moment.  

2. Sit on the earth:  Busy schedules tend to include being in chairs, cars, or walking about. Take some time to sit down on the earth, sitting lower slows us down and allows us to tap, however briefly, into the rhythm of nature.  When we were young we sat on the ground all the time, remember this for a moment, go outside find a good spot of soil, sand, grass, or rock and criss-cross applesauce!  Once you’re down, do whatever you want!

3. Play a game of smell and find:  Speaking of being young and playful again, see if you can introduce this game into your repertoire of busy.  Go outside, this can be in your backyard, a garden, or the park down the street.  Once there, close your eyes and inhale through your nose, and notice your olfactory palette experience, notice the smell that is most intense or pleasurable or slight or interesting to you.  Then open your eyes and begin to play a game of hide and seek with the scent.  You are always it but it’s super fun!

4. Close your Eyes and Listen: So you can close your eyes and smell, or you can close your eyes and listen.  We are largely visual being living a very visual oriented world, it is easy to forget our other sense as times.  So take a moment to go outside and remember you are a hearing person as well!  Listen and discovery what’s around you in a different way, do the trees, wind, birds, insects make a sound?  See how long you can last without opening your eyes, live in your curiosity with sound as a way to connect to the world around you.  What’s greeting you that you don’t recognize with your eyes?

5. Create a spot to give to every day:  This is an activity that you can revisit over and over.  And there are so many ways to do this!  Gather some rocks or sticks or pinecones, or whatever calls to you to make it your own.  Using your found items create a space however big or small, create a border around this space so that you can find it easily again and again.  Place whatever you’d like into this space.  But the important part is to visit it daily with an offering…perhaps a flower, or an herb picked by the nearby plant, or drops of water or a new rock or acorn.  This can be your garden or just a small square at the base of tree, but the brief exchange is reciprocal and can be transformational!

6. Touch: Touch everything!  We have tons of boundaries as humans, but nature does not hold these rules.  So, go out and touch everything!  Leaves, tree trucks, bugs, flower petals, thorns, blackberries, rocks, water.  Whatever you touch you are connected to instantly!

7. Get a Dog:  (I know, this is a big commitment one, but I just had to include it as a dog owner and lover.) Dogs are not only great companions AND they are great for getting you outside!  Say what you will about them being needy creatures, and recognize that their needy-ness to go out brings you out–it’s truly the gift that is of greatest benefit to you!

Research has shown that as little as 5 minutes a day outside has an incredibly huge impact on an individual.  Being outside can increase attention, elevate mood, decrease stress levels, lower blood pressure, lead to fewer headaches and illness, and greater life satisfaction.  Nature can restore us, physically, psychologically and socially.  Being busy may seem like you are living; but I encourage you to take time to connect with nature daily and see how Alive you become.

Growing in Groups

 

We are all just walking each other home—Ram Dass


There are vast expanses to leap across as we move through life and especially in the stage between childhood/adolescence and adulthood.  The terrain that must be traversed varies for each individual; it can be steep, rocky, smooth, slippery, deep, a narrow crevasse, or a grand canyon, it can be full of deep waters to swim or it may be a desolate desert to cross.  Skill is acquire as one moves through the terrain and faces monumental tasks of growth and development.  Some make it across the expanse unscathed, some injured, some barely clear it the first time but try and again with great success, and some don’t make it through at all and give up trying.  For those who cross and continue to cross, it is the community that supports the process, those that surrounds them and holds them in the leap, witnesses the aloneness of the jump and catches them on the other end with great encouragement.

The significant developmental shift during this time is the movement from one frame of reference to another; the frame of family shifts in importance as one moves toward valuing peers.  The very nature of groups coming together is to provide context in which one can begin to establish and increase a sense of their own identity as well as navigate way to being effective in the world.

As one moves through these expanses, it is important to remember that we cannot do it alone, we need each other.  Nature mirrors this for us:  Birds and fish move together for protection; elephants, lions and monkeys care for each other and each others’ young supporting and witnessing each other in growth; wolves hunt together in pacts, strategizing, completing and celebrating their tasks; ants communicate and create intricate systems of structure through understanding the unique role each plays in the greater community, often accomplishing pursuits 100x their size;  the forest needs all the animals, insects and plants within it to maintain is healthy ecosystem; and dolphins assemble in play as well in holding each other during difficult times, they even have been known to offer help to other species in distress, namely humans, they have a remarkable ability to empathize, creating complex social bonds.  Humans have and thrive in these ways of community too.

We are not only our family system, we are part of a greater system and we begin to learn this as early as 10-14 years old.  This is when the shift away from family and the movement toward relying and focusing on peers begins.  At this time a young person is able to learn to rely on their feelings, thoughts and reactions in relationships with peers that are experiencing similar feelings, thoughts and reactions during an time of physical, cognitive and emotional change.  Young teens share their experiences with those who are in a similar stage to know the similarities and difference of this transformational phase of life.

As adolescence continues, we grow more and more peer-oriented, establishing out identity and way of being in the social world.  We move toward individuation from the family system and look toward peers and adults other than parents for signs and clues as to what and who he/she wishes to become.  During this time, more intimate relationships and dating occur, providing an opportunity to explore differences with intensity and focus.  This helps us cultivate identity and character as our relationship with peers and family become more stable, complex, intimate, and reciprocal in our developing understanding of gains and losses.

Group processes provide a vehicle for struggling teens and young adults to be ushered through these huge and complex life phase tasks.  In this process, each person can lean into the natural tendency to look toward peers and other adults about who they are, what’s important to them, what they offer as a gift to the world and how to engage in living their unique lives.

As a facilitator of group process, it is a privilege and honor to create an environment for safe exploration of thoughts and feelings and ways to express oneself effectively.  In group processes, teens can find their way in meeting and resolving conflicts, setting boundaries, learning to value Self and others, building trust, speaking truths, establishing meaningful relationships and to develop a capacity for intimacy.  Furthermore, this is a place for leaning into the difficulties and scary places of our inner world with confidence in the ability to be seen, heard and valued.

The journey across this vast abyss is one of extraordinary change, growth, and self-discovery; this journey is not devoid of pain and confusion, yet it is ultimately a journey worth celebrating.  In the process of learning of and becoming our true selves, it is the group that surrounds us, which powerfully holds us to who we are meant to be and what we are meant to live.

Check out Oaks Counsel’s group offerings.

#oakscounsel  #teens  #groups  #teengroups #adolescence  #youngadults  #nature  #ritesofpassage

Mentoring for Human Evolution

When I was a teenager and young adult, my relationships with adults guided me through the most difficult times.  I recall spending free periods in my favorite teacher’s classroom chatting about the difficulties of gossip, relationships and peer pressure, when having trouble with my parents it was one of my best friend’s mom who supported me through my process of individuation, and in college some of my favorite conversations were outside of the classroom with professors sharing about our lives or with my friend’s parents over family weekend.  Relationships with parents are challenging during this phase of life, and supportive non-parent adults can be powerful as well as enhance the quality and course of a life. 

Researchers at the Search Institute identified supportive relationships with three or more non-parent adult role models who value a youth is essential to that youth’s well-being and health.  In our every changing fast-paced technological world, which have led to vastly different parenting models and family system dynamic than just one generation ago, youth are experiencing more isolation.  Thus, young people are not forming connections with caring adults outside of the family system.  Furthermore, intergenerational contact has changed so much that it reduces the availability of caring adults while changes in economy, social and cultural conditions have increased vulnerability to challenges in life.  This is a huge loss for all people, young and old!

Mentorship is needed more than ever.  So, what is a Mentor?  The etymology of the world translates as “Wise advisor” from the Greek Mentor, advisor to Telemachus (son of Odysseus). The root of the word comes from mentos, meaning spirit, purpose, intent, passion.  Odysseus left home when Telemachus was an infant, thus Telemachus, from his youth into his twenties, was instructed by Mentor, often seen as a disguised Athena (Goddess of Wisdom, Courage, and Inspiration as well as Strength, Strategy and Skill) to gain knowledge of his father.  The stories he learns are complementary yet often contradictory.  Telemachus comes into his power when his father is truly revealed to him through Athena’s guidance; only then, Telemachus begins his heroic journey, with the knowing of how how his heroic nature is ever present in him.

Telemachus through his Mentor/Athena began to understand his own strength, courage and wisdom through the learning of the world his father navigated. But he did not learn this directly through his father.  Mostly he learned this through the sharing of stories from others.  Telemachus through this story sharing experience and guidance,  integrated and developed this heroic internal Self, in order to develop more fully into who he is and live into his own unique heroic journey.

Mentorship matters!  The support and witnessing of an adult improves a sense of health and well-bing, self-image and self-worth, and sense of feeling valued and appreciated.  A mentor supports feelings of competence and accomplishment, and encourages spiritual fulfillment.  An adult in a young person’s life can help that young person gain perspective and deeper insight into their experiences.  Meanwhile, mentors learn from the youth, this is how human beings evolve, through the listening to young people as they speak about the changing world, the new ideas that arise through them are imperative for our evolution.  And furthermore, mentors learn about their lives through the lives of young people.  In the sharing of stories, in the knowing someone has your back and understands you without any agenda or alter-motive, in the feeling that someone truly wants to spend time with you and embrace who you are, there is growth in all directions. There is a reciprocity and intergenerational connection that occurs and contributes to society in a very important and meaningful way.  This is what brings back a sense of how we contribute to the world, through purpose, passion, and intent!  Young people need this, Adults need this, The world needs this.