The Grace Holistic Center for Education is the recipient of our 2017 Summer Solstice Yoga Peace Project!
You may DONATE to the school, conduct a charity yoga class for the school or you may BUY NOW to support their ongoing efforts! Limited quantities available. 100% of donations go to GHCFE.
In fall 2016, a yoga studio owner in Yorkville, Illinois said enough is enough and opened an alternative school for prekindergarten through high school that is a cross between home schooling and private school. It feels like home with a pet therapy room, a hydroponic garden and a playground, but they follow a Waldorf curriculum and they also test against the district using standardized tests to be sure they stay on track.
The Grace Holistic Center for Education isn’t just staying on track, they’re excelling. Using a mixed grade mentorship model, students who suffered in large classroom settings with IEPs are now thriving.
“The biggest problem we’re having it seems is the kids don’t want to miss a day when they catch a cold,” Tairi Grace says. “This school helps the students grow beyond just academics.”
Therapeutic in design, the students of the Grace Holistic Center for Education provides wholesome home cooked style lunches from Ginger and Soul, teaches life skills like car mechanics, get regular counselor ‘check in’ time to make sure students have someone to talk to and partner with community based organizations like Kiwanis, the food pantry and the community garden. The students are taught a number of behavioral tools and models to help them interact and process emotions as well as develop a healthy self esteem.
Being bi-lingual herself, Grace knows the importance culturally and intellectually of understanding a variety of languages. The pre-kindergarden classes are Spanish immersion and from there the students attend Spanish as a class. All the students are taught to ability and taught how to mentor. The kindergarten, first grade and second grades are mixed. The third through fifth grades are mixed. The middle schoolers are mixed and the high schoolers are mixed. There is also a visiting homeschool that joins them on Fridays which is also elective day where they are taught art, sewing, aquaponics and other variable skills or means of expression.
“If an emotional situation arises, we say there are two ways to show love: give it away or cry it out. The point is to teach empathy and acceptance as well as boundaries,” says Grace. “We also say there are three ways to deal with things. You can choose to be a tiger and be loud and aggressive, a turtle and hide away, or an owl and use your inner wisdom.”
The students are given opportunities to meditate and take yoga, but, being an inclusive education center, they offer opportunities for bible study if a student so chooses to pursue that. The meditation and yoga are tools for their emotional and self awareness toolbox that give the students the ability to slow down their nervous systems and get control of their thoughts. In the monthly crystal bowl session, the students have the opportunity to hear their own voices, understand sound and relaxation and have hands on experience with the bowls.
As with any school system, the Grace Holistic Center for Education has a series of fund raisers. Most recently they held Bass for Grace, a silent disco at a law office and a student party with balloons and face painters. Coming up they will be bringing back the old Clothing Drive fund and on May 15th they will host the Grace Spring Fling in Yorkville, a carnival with helicopter rides, a petting zoo and great carnival fare.
For more information or to donate, contact the Grace Holistic Center for Education at 331-207-8932 or go to www.ghcfe.org.
I’ve been meditating on all the joy that is in my life: the gratitude, the little things, the easily over looked things. I just finished reading The Biology of Belief for a Life Coaching certification course I’ve been working on. The author, Dr. Bruce Lipton, says that the cells move toward nutrients and away from toxins and love is a spiritual nutrient whereas fear and negativity is a toxin.
Seems obvious, doesn’t it?
Knowing a fact or idea and acting on it are two different things especially if 95% of ourselves move and act out of habit. Knowing we have the power and ability to change a script is different than changing a script. Mediation has its peripheral benefits. So imagine we are all energy and the waves of thought and being are radiating outward in waves and entangling with other vibrations and frequencies and they change. They change just upon entanglement. The vibrations can bounce off each other and return to you - to your mediation field.
The thing about meditation is that it hones our ability to be sensitive. One thing we are not really taught is to be sensitive to the things we cannot see. In society we’ve replaced that with organized religion, so where where we are taught in school to work with physical matter, in school we are taught to believe in one thing we cannot see and to hyper focus on the single invisible object with a few others on the side … so, God and angels. And that is fine, but we can expand on that. Also, it can be seen as two contradictory ideas. This method and hyper focus distracts us from being sensitive to the frequencies around us give off because the whole planet is living. The plants, the animals, the other people, we all act as one symbiotic organism. Did I pull out a few skeptics when I used the word ‘symbiotic’?
It’s matter of belief. Now, I am going to have to write a giant essay on the book, which I can publish later, but for now I want to stay focused on joy and love. The two things that came to me when I was meditating is:
I’d like to tackle the second one first and I am going to get really selfish here for a minute, but that’s really the only way I know how to explain this. I have been really sick lately. I have a ton of congestion and body aches and my foot became swollen and my side hurt. I have been a mess, generally speaking, for about three weeks. This is very atypical. Naturally, I was thinking about my death. I want to believe everything will go on just fine without me and I am certain it would after some doing. If I died today, right now, I would leave behind two children that live with me, two dogs and an eighty-five year old mother that is immobile and has dementia. Sounds easy in one sentence, but I would worry about my children (are they able to take care of themselves fully and realize their dreams?), I would worry about the dogs (of course I chose very difficult breeds to take on even though they are complete snuggle bunnies to me and my family, one is a biter. Would he or they be welcome where they go? Would my children take them and take good care of them?) and lastly there’s mom.
I take care of mom because, frankly, I don’t really trust anyone else. That’s the wrong answer, isn’t it? I should say, I take care of mom because I love her. Well, every child knows the mother-child relationship can be tumultuous and mine is no different. Sometimes people reconcile their relationships. I don’t think we ever did and now I am obliged to care for her. I think it’s cultural. Obviously, I could place her somewhere. Last time I did that I was so very disgusted with the professional care I cannot bring myself to do it yet.
Bringing Dr. Lipton back into this story for a moment, it should be noted that it is not the professionals that fell down here, it is their education. This leads back to the idea that we are not taught to be intuitive. Some break boundaries, true, but most want to keep their jobs so they comply and ignore their inner feelings. If I haven’t said it before, I will say it now, they sent her home with thousands of dollars of prescriptions to be filled and she is on zero drugs right now. Yes, she broke her hip and yes, she needed surgery and yes some temporary drugs were great. Creating a cycle of dependency on the pharmaceuticals is not the correct objective, however.
How did mom end up in this place in the beginning? I could list a number of physical reasons. When she began to show signs of dementia she would forget she put sugar in her coffee and kept adding sugar and she would drink coffee all day long. She did not exercise.. at all. She didn’t ride a bike or run or swim or value long walks in the woods. She did not read, she barely had time for television. Not only did she not read, she didn’t value furthering her knowledge. She allowed herself to become less social as she aged. She enjoyed processed foods and instant coffee, but that would be the least of her bad habits. The worst being her fear of standing up and her burying of her feelings. Now I don’t want you to think she was completely horrible. I get my love of cooking and culture from her, she was a perfectionist when it came to sewing and I never would have been so good at math if we hadn’t of played all those math games when I was growing up.
Brain studies have demonstrated how we create pathways in the mind ("Cells that fire together, wire together”), how we can rebuild the mind, how we can intentionally forget traumatic incidents and how our minds struggle with fear. When I was growing up, my father was pretty abusive. One day he threw a heavy glass and oak coffee table that easily weighs forty pounds across the room at my mom. I saw her get drugged down the stairs while trying to hold on to the handrail not to mention his constant demeaning.
Anyone who knew my mom would tell you she is the nicest person in the world. There is no way she deserved this type of treatment from anyone, but he was just a mean angry guy with a whole set of his own problems he wasn’t dealing with. Bottom line is, mom had a lot to want to forget and unfortunately I don’t think the traumatic incidents in her life started when she got married. During her divorce she had sort of a mental break down. What I would later come to see as her “weakness” became something I found difficult to forgive as I often got caught in the cross hairs. To add insult to injury I then had to watch this dude just walk away scot-free. In trying to move on it made sense for her to block unwanted memories while carrying the veneer of a happy go lucky single mom. Little did she know that in actively suppressing her memories, she was also deadening neural pathways in her mind. Once a pathway dies, new ones can be constructed, but the dead pathway will never reopen.
Understanding this has not really made it easier for me to forgive or like this person I did not choose as my parent. There is a lesson in it, however. The lesson is Doing difficult things out of obligation without love will ultimately hurt you. The action involved for me now is to find the love, to find the joy in service, to feel the compassion and empathy and sympathy and to intentionally set forth what is otherwise known as ‘good vibes’ every time I enter the room.
Today when I was bringing her breakfast and helping her in her wheelchair and putting on the television she was smiling. She always says thank you for the meals and the aid I bring to her. Sometimes she’s fussy because she doesn’t know what Im doing, but then she realizes and corrects herself. Sometimes I have to hear the same corrections every day. For example, when I put on the water she says, “Oh the water is cold! Why did you put on cold water?!” She’ll say it kind of in a mean way. Then the water warms up and she says, “ OH, now it’s warm. Okay this is good. Thank you.” Every day she forgets the water is cold when you first put it on and every day I have to hear that. Sometimes I get frustrated at how grabby she is or how I’m trying to help and she resists or questions me. I have to let go of any of that, however, because those things will only hurt what is inside of me and I know she will see after a few minutes and everything will be okay.
I see now that it is not only my job to care for someone, but it is my job to find the love and joy in it and I do believe, if we can change our minds, we can change the world.
To be continued….
by M. LeBlanc
One of the most surprising discoveries you will make when you first venture down the path of working in a creative field like dance, illustration, or design, is that at some point you are likely to be a self-employed artist. Putting aside the glamor of standing on the mountaintop and shouting to the word “I am an artist!” you’ll see that the reality is that you are also your own business. That’s what I discovered when I first became a working photographer. I was face-to-face with the invoices, taxes, paperwork, and responsibilities of running a functioning commercial operation. And man, I was not prepared for any of it.
Luckily I was smart enough to educate myself. I took sales training classes and worked with business coaches. I surrounded myself with people who were smarter than me when it came to accounting, insurance, and legal forms. Having these details taken care of by competent people, and removing those headaches from my daily routine, helps me better focus on my photography. My wife Catherine and I now run a very successful commercial photography and graphic design business called Ross Creative Works.
Over these past 20 years, I have managed to absorb a few nuggets of knowledge. In honor of the countless people who helped me along the way, I now try to assist others who are now starting on the same trip. That’s why I believe so much in organizations like Self Employment In The Arts. It’s designed to help people succeed in any of the creative fields. People going into theatre are faced with some of the same challenges as those who pursue illustration.
The 17th annual SEA Conference is coming up Feb 24th & 25th at the Hilton in Lisle, Illinois. Catherine and I will be there, along with 50 other working professionals, helping artist, students, and entrepreneurs understand the benefits of self-employment. Panels and workshops will cover areas like networking, dealing with clients, pricing, and dozens of other topics. Plus there will be opportunities for portfolio reviews and one-on-one mentoring.
One of the things I really hate to see is talented people working in unsatisfying jobs simply because they don’t have the skills and support to turn their passions into a career. Get educated, get a mentor or two, and don’t miss any opportunities to network at events like Self Employment in the Arts.
About the Author: Jeffrey Ross is an award-winning commercial photographer traveling the world extensively for various projects and assignments. His images can be found in magazines, advertisements, books, and personal collections. Jeffrey regularly blogs about his travels and adventures, and loves to share his stories with others. He often speaks to college students and others just starting to work in the creative arts fields, helping them make their passion a reality.