How many different times do I see the message of I CAN applying to a certain situation in my daily life? Depending on the day and what I am doing I can honestly say pretty much all the time. With that being said I want to speak to a new experience that is currently apart of my life which is a Permaculture Design Course that I am enrolled in at Sirius Community in Shutesbury, MA. At the urging of my son Ryan who took this course 3 years ago and which entirely changed his life, I am being introduced to a new way of thinking about sustainable living. Permaculture is an ethical system which encompasses Earth Care, People Care and Resource Care. I found another definition which seems to resonate for me and that is "The prime directive of everything related to permaculture is making the decision to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children's existence".
I just completed the second part of a four part weekend class (72 hours total) and at the completion of this course I will be a certified Permaculture Designer. That in and of itself is pretty cool but cool isn't what this is about. We as a human beings living together on this planet have to make a very big shift- a paradigm shift to make the changes necessary to give our future generations a chance to carry on and live together on a healthier, more cooperative and tolerant Earth. So how does this all relate to I CAN? It is just that. Each individual can make this happen by learning how to grow their own food in a sustainable way. I CAN grow food to be a healthier person. I CAN become more community minded, I CAN share resources in a world where our resources are dwindling very quickly. I think of all the areas that could have permaculture gardens. Even in urban areas where there are abandoned parking lots, there is opportunity for food growth.
I have been very blessed in my life. I have so much gratitude for all of the people who are in my life, for the food that I have to eat, for the shelter I have over my head. The message of I CAN do whatever I put mind to is becoming my mantra. We must collectively come together and say I CAN to helping to solve the problem of unhealthy food production.I heard it said by Geoff Lawton that all of our problems in the world can be solved in a garden. I encourage you to view a 5 minute video that I have included a link to called "Greening the Desert". If nothing else it will make you think.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvmx4lcqQVw
So much of my journey with the I CAN bracelet project has been to bring this I CAN message to others especially children so it made perfect sense to me to start with the class that I work in as an Instructional Assistant at South School in Andover, MA. On Friday, February 3rd I came into class with bags of beads, pre-measured bracelet string and my enthusiasm- a must! I had measured all of the students wrists previously so I knew how many beads for each of their individual bracelets. They had a choice of Andover colors which is blue and gold or South School colors- red, white and black.
We are fortunate to have a Smart Board in our class so Mrs. Routhier, the wonderful teacher that I work with put my website up so the children could see it. I read to them the blog entry about Sabra Hawkes (see previous blog entry). We talked about the I CAN message but as it would be with 7 and 8 year old children their minds were on the bracelet making activity so I kept my talk short.
Fortunately, I thought through the logistics of how to do the activity in order to achieve minimal disruption. You need to be prepared with 26 children- trust me!!! I explained to them how they would make their bracelets as I had counted out the amount of beads for each bracelet before hand so it was explaining the pattern of the colors to them. They got it!
It went pretty smoothly until many of them were finished at the same time. I had to tie all their bracelets because it gets pretty tricky and I all could imagine was beads everywhere. I explained that I needed to do that part for them. That's when I heard......."Mrs. Detora I am done......Mrs. Detora can you tie my bracelet...... Mrs. Detora I was next...... Mrs. Detora you said you would tie mine before hers" You get the picture. So in my calm teacher voice I said "You will all have your bracelets tied don't worry" All the bracelets were made and the students loved the activity. One of the best comments I heard was from Meredith when she said to me "I'm going to the Celtics game on Sunday and I am going to show my I CAN bracelet on the Jumbotron. You gotta love it. That put a huge smile on my face!
I was so touched when I received a comment on my blog from one of my dearest friend's daughter, Sabra. Sabra was born with mild cerebral palsy which affects the left side of her body. She is currently training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in San Diego, CA hoping to make the Paralympic Track & Field team to compete in 2012 Paralympics in London. Sabra inspires me so much with her positive focused attitude and has such a beautiful spirit inside as well. I want to share what she wrote on my blog because it truly reflects what the message of I CAN is all about.
Hi Gretchen. I called my mom today to tell her about something that happened to me yesterday in regards to my I CAN bracelet. She responded by saying that I should tell you myself via your blog.....I wear my bracelet everyday all day. I like to wear it not only as a reminder that I can do something but also as a reminder of home. Here's my story: Saturday morning was a particularly rainy morning here in San Diego. Not only was it rainy but it was cold and I had my hardest workout of the week on the agenda. Awesome. As I got started on the workout my coach was yelling words of encouragement at me. I felt great. However halfway through the workout I reeeeeally started to feel it, I felt the wetness seep through my rain jacket, my leg muscles begging for mercy, and my brain was telling me I was going to die ( I tend to be over dramatic in workouts) just before I was about to tell my coach I was calling it quits I saw my bracelet on my right wrist with the black letters staring up at me spelling out I CAN. I can get through the second half of this miserable workout. I said it to myself over and over again for the next six intervals and then it was over. I did it. I could. So, thanks to your bracelet I got through the workout because of the simple reminder. It is an amazing help¡!¡!!!!
On Monday December 19th, I delivered holiday goody bags and Christmas word search books to the pediatric ward at Lawrence General Hospital. I have delivered over 60 bags to date. When I am assembling the bags I often think back to my stay at the same hospital when I was 4 years old for a procedure to remove my tonsils and adenoids. My recollection of that experience was not a positive one but what I do remember that truly brightened my day were the toys that my parents brought to me. That was in part one of the reasons why I decided to start this project. I am sure children aren't happy to be going to the hospital in the first place but if I can bring a smile to their faces and brighten their day by giving them something to do and look at then I am using my own experience to try and make something better for someone. I also feel that in giving these bags to the children I am receiving back as well. It's like when you buy or make a gift for someone, think about what that person may like and then watch as they open it, in my opinion that experience is more rewarding than to open your own gift.
In speaking with the nurses at the Lawrence General Hospital, they tell me the kids love the stickers the most. I try to include a variety of fun, colorful stickers along with crayons, paper, coloring books etc. I have included a couple of pictures of the items in the holiday bags and a few of the bags. I will continue bringing these goody bags as needed to the hospital for the patients to enjoy.
On Wednesday, December 7th three travel teams from Beyond Soccer Lawrence celebrated at an end of the year party at Chester's in Lawrence. The three teams ranging in age from 9-15 along with their families came together for a pot luck dinner, raffle, and slideshow along with two speakers addressing the group. The first speaker was Nina Caron who is an elite competitive runner from North Andover, personal trainer, and nutritionist. She spoke to the group about her experiences of being a competitive runner and always focusing on the belief in oneself. The second speaker was myself. I spoke to the group about the message of I CAN. Realizing that I was speaking to a group of young teens I brought an upbeat energy and humor to my audience but truly spoke with conviction about my message. I told my story of how the idea of the bracelets came to be and when I read the story of Coach Stephanie in the newspaper that I wanted to make bracelets for her soccer players and also to speak to them about how powerful words can be. When they see those words on the bracelets each day it will remind them of the meaning behind those words with the hopes of empowering them. The kids were thrilled with their bracelets. Coaches Stephanie and Ellen (Stephanie's Mom) presented their bracelets attached to a card that reads-
I am an individual
C reating a better world
A lways believing in myself
N ever giving up
Each player was called up and given a bracelet along with positive adjectives describing that player. They all cheered for each other which brought such great energy to the night. The evening was truly a success ending with a fun slideshow of their soccer season put to music by Chas Figueroa. As I drove home from the event I thought to myself how I had realized one of my goals of this project which was how I found a group of kids, made them bracelets and delivered the message of I CAN. The evening reinforced to myself that I CAN too!
Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had the pleasure of once again being a part of the Feaster Five Road Race VIP team(I volunteer at the race and bring in the breakfast for the VIP's and their families) and spent time with two of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Many people know of this dynamic duo- the father/son team Dick and Rick Hoyt. I first saw them at the Boston Marathon and was in awe of their story. They have done over 1000 races together with Dick pushing his son, Rick in his wheelchair. Rick was born with Cerebral Palsy and has been an inspiration to so many people all over the world. I encourage you to go to their website www.teamhoyt.com to learn more about them and their foundation.
I wanted to share this story in my blog because when I went to their website the words that jumped out at me on their homepage is Yes You Can so similar to my message of I Can. I knew I would be seeing them at the Feaster Five so I brought one of my bracelets and gave it to Rick. Just being around them infused me with their energy of never giving up. When you believe in yourself and connect to that power inside it gives you a sense of joy and fulfillment and helps you to find that passion in life that we all strive for. It is there in each and everyone of us. This bracelet project I am involved with gives me that sense of purpose and fuels my spirit each and everyday. Next week I will be at the Beyond Soccer Lawrence holiday gathering presenting the 50 bracelets I have made in the team colors to the young soccer players from this organization and I am so honored to be a part of their celebration. I will be sharing about that celebration in my next blog entry. I have included a picture of Dick, Rick and myself at the Feaster Five breakfast.
Hello and welcome to my website ICANBRACELETS.ORG. I am excited to tell you about the "I CAN" bracelet project I have started and the timing of the launch of this website is perfect following the Thanksgiving holiday. I truly have so much to be thankful for which is why I am doing this project in the first place. I have always felt that giving back is what connects all of us to our spirit. We are all connected on this earth and when we have the opportunity to help others that is what truly joins all of us together in community. I started this bracelet project to help fund another voluntary project that I started back in June. You can read how I was inspired to do this in my ABOUT section of the website.
The bracelets for me carry such a message of inspiration. I wear a bracelet too and when I see the words "I CAN" on my wrist each day I realize that I can do anything I want to. Many of the bracelets I have sold to date have been for adults but my focus for the proceeds of the bracelets are for kids. I also want to make bracelets for children as I believe they are a great gift for a child to remind them that they "CAN". At the present moment I am making 50 bracelets to give to teenage kids from Lawrence who have been inspired to play soccer many for the first time of their lives and are part of the organization BeyondSoccerLawrence.org. Please visit their website for more information about this wonderful organization helping kids in our neighboring city of Lawrence, MA. Together with this organization I am planning on selling bracelets to help raise funds for them along with the proceeds for the activity bags I make for the children in the pediatric ward at Lawrence General Hospital.