Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Summertime fun

As most of our families and students are now complete with the activities of summer and all that goes along with summertime fun, we are SO happy to have our Sunday classrooms filled with children and teens again. It's been a joy to listen and share our stories of summertime adventures.

We've had a fun summer too. Four of our teens attended the Centers for Spiritual Living summer teen camp. Our theme was Love is Love is Love is Love. With a theme like that along with approx. 350 participants you can imagine there was a lot of LOVE going on. Together we blessed and gave back to the land at Buckhorn Camp by spreading wildflower seeds and planting flowering plants near the dinning hall. We created beaded bracelets filled with God qualities then did a huge group blessing over them before they were packed up to be sent to Jamaica as gifts for the school children. We danced, we laughed, we participated in 12 workshops, we sang, we prayed, we cried healing tears and we grew in our Spiritual practice.
 

Back home our youth classrooms were filled with fun projects to enhance our spiritual lessons. With our attendance being lower than normal we combined many of our youth classes so that our volunteer teachers could enjoy their summer too. We played games ~ read stories ~ created fun things and even had a Sunday with our teen big brothers and sisters. Near the end of summer several of us teachers and advisors got together for a send off party to celebrate long time classroom assistant Camille Escovedo. Camille has been assisting in our youth classrooms since she was in Jr. High and has been a beloved presence in our youth program. We love you Camille and wish you the very best!



On August 20th, Practitioner Debbie Butterfield brought her Zentangle workshop to our teen group. We spent a little over an hour together learning new techniques and patterns. We found the practice to be very calming and meditative and since many of us like to doodle, this practice taught us how to do it with intention, focus and non attachment to the outcome. The results were beautiful, expressing our individuality and creativity all at the same time. Thank you so much ~ Debbie.


We hope you've all had a fun summertime too. We look forward to sharing a Sunday morning with you soon. Youth classes are held at 10 and 11:30 in classrooms 1 & 2 and our teens meet from 11:15 to 12:45 in room 11 in the north wing.
Love and Blessings,
Susan Robinson, RScP

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Laying the foundation for Love.





Over a long weekend in late May 50+ of us gathered together at Buckhorn Camp, Idyllwild Ca. for an in person teen Advisor Intensive Retreat. The word retreat is often associated with relaxation. This is not that. This retreat is geared to lay the foundation of what it takes to be an advisor at at CSL teen camp. As a CSL advisor we are required to take an in-person training, at minimum, every 3 years with on-line refresher training in the in-between years. Every bit of it is necessary to do this work.

We sleep (as best we can) in bunk beds in cabins (or a bunkhouse) just like we do at summer camp. Our schedule, while slightly lighter than camp, is very FULL. From our very first meal together we began the process of engagement, learning about each other, finding common interests and making connections. It's so great to meet other youth leaders as well as witness young adults/former teens who are stepping into advisor rolls. We are a unique bunch of people that share a dedication to support, guide and spiritually nourish youth and teens. It is in these moments where we find our expanded tribe, we speak the same language, we network, we learn from each other and we are reminded of why we do what we do.
The CSL adult leadership team did a fantastic job of guiding us through intense and important training on mandated reporting, suicide awareness, gender expression, how to be an engaging and effective workshop facilitator and so much more. We also have a bit of fun participating in ice-breaker activities, mock workshops as well as nurturing activities to feed our soul. On Saturday we took a perimeter hike of camp boundaries. It was a beautiful day and the views were breathtaking. A highlight for me was spending time at and around the Labyrinth. It's location on the mountain and knowing that our CSL teens had a hand in creating the space always warms my heart and reminds me to breathe in deeply.               
We will gather again in a few short weeks in the middle of July for our week long adventure on that beautiful mountain. I am so grateful to be a part of this experience. Grateful for all the families and communities that come together to support and send their teens to these camps. We are prepared and ready having created the foundation for summer teen camp 2017, Love is Love is Love is Love. 






Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Birthday's

It always puts a smile on my face when we do our opening check-in on Sunday mornings. When the children share their age the replies include extra values such as 5 and a half or 4 and three quarters. Sometimes they jump ahead and say I'll be 6 in two months! I can recall doing the same thing when I was younger. Always looking forward to that next birthday, that next new number.

Somewhere along the path of life we adults (or maybe its just me) often stop counting the extra months and almost never count ahead. Recently, I had the opportunity to take a little vacation to quietly celebrate the turning of my new number. Gone are the days in which I want the party with the cake and presents. My preference now is to spend time in reflection and gratitude for all the gifts Life has given me. To notice where I am now, and to look ahead at the ways in which I can give back going forward.

One of the ways I like to give back is working with teens. Sure I get to do that as part of my job as a youth director, but there are also opportunities to go the extra mile and support events like teen overnights or teen camps that stretch way beyond a normal work day. Teens today deal with far more than I remember experiencing when I was a teen. Being an open, loving, supporting presence for them is both inspiring and uplifting - though sometimes not for the faint of heart.

In April the San Jose Center for Spiritual Living, held a teen overnight. Our final workshop consisted of a visualization/meditation process in which we reflected on our past, our present and our future and concluded with the creation of vision boards to guide us on our journey forward. All of the boards were filled with so much hope and promise and inspiration.

Birthday's are great time to create vision boards. Or, if you've created them in the past, pull them out and witness all the ways you've manifested growth or change in your life. Below are a few of the boards that were created by the teens. Take a moment and allow their work to inspire you. Know that what ever way you choose to count your age or celebrate the anniversary of your birth YOU make a difference and are a blessing to this thing called Life!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Inspired Diversity

Inspired Diversity - that has been what we've experienced in Youth and Family Ministry throughout the month of February.  We've explored all the ways we uniquely show up in the world just as we are. Our classrooms have been full of diversity in age, nationality, gender, height, family heritage and so much more. 

We are also following along with the Season for Non-Violence and will continue to do so through the first week in April. Families can pick up the following weeks words and activities in our youth classrooms each Sunday so they can practice together at home.

While every Sunday is a fun day, there was one in particular, Feb 19 that stood out for me personally. The Season for Non-Violence word and practice that day was "Inspiration" and inspiration was everywhere. Our volunteer team beautifully supported our classrooms while two of our volunteer team mates were out ill. Just as I was about to join our wee people in the Nursery I came upon them being guided in our felt candle lighting prayer by Practitioner, Rose Barbosa. (photo below)

Our Teen Group, led by Practitioner, Debby Young attended the 11:30 service together in support of teen advisor Marjorie Favuzzi who was singing with the One Heart Choir and were in for an extra treat as youth advisor (and former teen) Camille Escovedo did the announcements while the inspirational Rev. David Bruner was our guest speaker. Truly a heart warming day!
We wrapped up the month with another inspirational Sunday together on the Feb 27 when we were joined by the talented and lovely Cricket Karen who brought her beautiful music to our classrooms. She taught us how to sing our affirmations and we created a few new verses together as a way of spreading the Love, Peace, Joy and Beauty with the world. (See photos at top and bottom).  All in all it's been another great month of growth and togetherness. If you are inspired to volunteer your time in our Youth Ministry, please reach out to me at susan@cslsr.org. We would love to add you to our team. Until next time - Peace Out =)





Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Winter Teen Camp - Nor Cal Style!

2017 Northern Ca. CSL Winter Teen Camp Group Photo

On January 13 (through Jan 16) - approximately 125 teens and advisors from 14 Centers through out the western states gathered together on the grounds of YMCA Camp Loma Mar for the Centers for Spiritual Living Northern Ca. Winter Teen Camp. 

Concurrently camps occurred in Southern Ca. and the Rocky Mountain region. Each location participated in five workshops throughout the weekend that were created by the CSL teen leadership team and selected teens through out the CSL community. These camps provide teens an opportunity to gain a deeper experience of their Divine nature and to build friendships with like minded individuals on the spiritual path of awakening. 



Our crew from Santa Rosa, consisted of 7 of our teens, 4 who where attending for the first time! Thanks to the outpouring of support received by our community fund raising events each teen who attended received a $200 scholarship toward their registration. We also provided transportation to and from camp and were able to sponsor our co-advisor Tanya Sumner from Fresno to join our Santa Rosa family. 

The time on the mountain passes quickly yet the memories of what we experience linger in our hearts. Now that we are back home, excitement is already building for the CSL summer camp in July and plans are brewing for a regional overnight somewhere in-between.  

It is an honor and a privilege to be in service to these brilliant young people. Our team of advisors are pretty amazing too. Most of them take time off their jobs and away from their families to participate in these camps. We share a common bond, we love what we get to do, we love witnessing the transformations that occur and we support each other every step of the way. Life is so Good! 














Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 Values Based Spiritual Living


2017 Values Based Spiritual Living - is the annual theme for Centers for Spiritual Living. Over the course of this year we will visit and explore 12 core values that were identified through a survey of our peers throughout the CSL community. 

On January 1st, we in Santa Rosa, invited all of our youth and teens to join a special youth service that was designed to identify the personal values and qualities of being that are important to us individually and collectively. What transpired in our time together was both inspiring and a demonstration of the values we are already living from as well as those we wish to step into in a greater way.

The values identified were: God, Empathy, Diversity, Kindness, Love, Creativity, Honesty, Compassion, Friendship, Beauty, Peace, Joy, Wisdom, Happiness, Integrity, Supportive communication, Authenticity and Unity. Statements came up such as, celebrating our differences and being supportive to others with special needs. Many of the same values were spoken into the room and underlined so we could have a visual of those that held the greatest importance. Love, Creativity and Kindness were at the top of the list. These qualities/values will be incorporated in the weekly curriculum that is being developed to support our annual theme.

As the remainder of the month is unfolding we are sharing together our ideas about God. What is it? What does it look like? What does it feel like? And, how does it work in our lives? The photo above came from a creative project where the children were asked to create an image of what God looks like to them. We are also collecting words and phrases that we use in our affirmative prayer practice. We'll wrap up the month on the 29th by threading them together into one giant prayer.  

If you haven't taken the time to explore what it is that you personally value, I encourage you to give it a go. Expand it into a family event and discover the core values you share together, then plan something to do once a month as a family that expresses your values in your community or the global community. Together we can make a difference for good! 









Monday, November 28, 2016

Gratitude and Wholeness


As the last few days of November yield to the coming of December, I have been reflecting on the vast field of emotion that has occurred over the last month. From the anticipation and the outcome of our Presidential election, to the magnificent celebration of Thanksgiving Eve at our Center, my heart and soul has been moved to tears.

The children in our community have been along for the emotional ride too. They are my greatest teachers. Their resiliency to remain present in the now moments of life and the joy and hope that bubbles from their precious beings is inspiring and uplifting.

Our Sunday mornings together for the past few months has been an exploration of transformation and wholeness with attention and awareness to what we are grateful for. We've created our own universe's and filled them with things that make us happy. We've grown God trees with strong branches filled with leaves of all the words and ways in which we express the Divine. We've recreated the magnificence of the colors of fall through a fun coffee filter craft that became mobiles to remind us of the beauty of nature all around us. We created gratitude wreaths that represented the many gifts in our lives and we read stories together that expanded our understanding of how deeply connected we are with All of Life.

Gratitude and Wholeness, two aspects of being that when explored reconnect us to what really matters in life. They weave a thread through the chaos and division our thoughts sometimes create and bring us back to our heart space. May we all continue to be reminded to live from our hearts and that aspect of our divine nature which connects us as One. 






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