Holy Shit. What a week I and about 239 other people had last week in Forres Scotland, close to the Highlands and the River Findhorn and a county of Whiskey making. As Jon Young and Mark Morey kept reminding us, it’s called the Art of Mentoring, not the Science of Mentoring, for a reason. It’s messy, organic, self-initiated, and guided by something deeper than the individual. It is enough to make you wanna tear your hair out and weep in joy. It is not for the faint of heart and those that travel down this road reap some amazing rewards that they will continue to uncover for years to come.
Not only were there about 70 participants going through the program, also running concurrently, as part of the village, were the Squirrels (0-6 year olds), the Foxes (7-12 year olds), the Wildcats (teens), and the Lynxs (2nd time AOM participants that want to go deeper in their nature connection). Participants were encouraged to take off their watches and were guided by the call of the cuckoo (20 minutes), the crow (5 minutes), and the wolf howl (you should be here NOW) in order to help them get to lectures and activities on time.
Mark Morey calls the Art of Mentoring the impossible task. Why? Because throughout the week those who are brave of heart are introduced or re-introduced to concepts and practices and stories that inspire, connect, and just barely dent the surface of time needed to really live these teachings. Basically it’s like this: Hey, you’ve been longing for a village and for practices that connect you deeper with self, community, and nature? Yeah? Well here are a shit ton of tools and experiences for you in a small amount of time and oh, can you please help wash the dishes? And take a shower? And wake the village up at 6:30 AM?
This week, one of my personal pleasures was the music. There were so many amazing musicians at this event, both within staff and amongst the participants. There were drums and accordions, ukeleles and guitars, bagpipes and a double bass, singers and shakers. Seriously. And I played a lot of music this week, continuing to erase my old programming of “you’re not good enough” and stepping into “life’s a lark, why not explore?”. I send my personal thanks out to Amy Downing, Cosmo Sheldrake, and Andreas Ochsman for the fine music we made together. It meant a lot to me.
While there were many, many challenges throughout the week, this year, I felt more life a surfer, more like my best self. I am working with responding to last minute pressure challenges with humour and creativity. Last year, at the first ever Art of Mentoring in the UK, both Mark and Jon reminded us that in order to get more people interested in what we’re doing we have to have more fun that anyone else. I like that. And I feel this year I made more steps towards being that person.
I also really enjoyed the River Findhorn. It is wild, rocky, tumultuous, and easy flowing. It looks black from a distance, amber up close due to all the tannins in the water. I jumped off a 10-foot tall rock into that blackness and shrieked like a little girl. I let the water hold me after the long week. And I took a short nap along its’ banks. I’m sending thanks to this amazing place.
I also want to send my thanks out to Maeve Gavin and Victoria Mew. They are two powerful women helping to bring together the nature connection movement in the UK and have volunteered their time and energy to make magic happen. You can find out more about the Art of Mentoring UK here.
There is so much more from this week that I could share. If you have interest, let me know. I’d be happy to give my reflections.