Fall can cause me to go into a bit of a funk sometimes. It’s the death and decay that bring me down; I’m a “growey” kind of girl and the thought and smell of recently beautiful flowers that are now rotting makes me stick out my tongue at Jack Frost. Luckily for me, however, I have been learning how to use my “growey” nature to develop my emotional self, which now that I mention it, is quite appropriate for our Sanctuary theme of the month of Emotional Intelligence!
At any rate, I’m excited to share how I had my fall funk thwarted this week. It started with a reminder to practice mindfulness, which is as simple as focusing on the moment instead of focusing on the list of things running through your head at any given time. I was asked to share the concept with a team on campus and thought it important to practice what I was preaching, especially after arming myself with gobs of internet evidence about the benefits mindfulness. So, I started paying attention to the very cool things happening around me and today I feel less funked, more grateful, and excited to share just a few of the awesome Adventures moments from the week.
Given the opportunity to teach some of Miss Joanie’s horticulture classes, I worked with students in the garden collecting dead seed heads. The enthusiasm for this dead flower hunt might have been enough to make me smile, but the disbelief at the abundance of seeds contained within each black and crumpled flower made the teacher inside of me dance. You would have thought it was a hunt for golden eggs full of chocolate that the kids were searching, each dead flower a treasure to behold. The real treasure was obvious in the moment and it couldn’t have happened if it wasn’t fall.
On Wednesday, United Way volunteers came to paint our garden fence. Spending the warm and sunny day with employees of AK Steel who were eager to learn more about what we do made it easy to feel like an important part of our community. By the end of the day, folks were covered in paint and smiling and one gentleman was even moved to “adopt” Salem, our greenhouse cat, through our Adopt an Animal program. It’s hard to stay down when you are surrounded by people who are lifting you up.
On Friday, after kids headed out on a fall leaf peeping wagon ride, Miss Michelle, a teacher at St. Stephen’s, stopped in to the office positively bubbling. She was eager to share some classroom success stories which resulted from the kid’s work in the Animal Program. “Three of them have life goals now” she smiled, “one of the boys wants to go to Penn State to work with animals! It’s amazing because he had no motivation before!” Michelle promised to write up more details on how the Adventures program has helped her students transfer skills to the classroom (like using your “animal voice” to speak kindly and softly, like you would to the animals) and stories parents are sharing from home (like a parent sharing about how her son has developed empathy for their pet which is extending to empathy for others).
While I could go on about more momentous moments from the week, I’m recognizing that every moment is special. We have come a long way and have many big goals in our future, but we are enjoying the Adventure one a moment at a time. Happy Fall!
Glade Run Adventures provides personalized experiences in nature, including horseback riding lessons, guided trail rides, animal care classes, gardening classes, farm to table cooking experiences and nature themed arts and crafts. These activities are prefect for families, school groups, home schoolers, girl and boy scout troops, youth groups and parties.
Glade Run Adventures is conveniently located north of Pittsburgh in Zelienople, just minutes from route 79 and Cranberry Township.
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About the Author
Julie Wahlenmayer, Director of Adventures
Julie has been with Glade Run since 1996, shortly after graduating from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. Her experiences in animal and horticultural assisted therapies at Glade Run lead Julie to complete her Master’s Degree in Counseling at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Julie’s desire to connect individuals with the natural world around them, combined with her equestrian training and love of gardening, helped to shape our Adventures Program into the exemplary program that it is today. Julie’s vision for Glade Run Adventures is for it to become a model for social, emotional and physical growth and learning.