suryasmiles on LEARNING HAPPENS EVERYWHERE Mary Russell on Compassion Kindergarten Camp Mary Russell on Family Nature Scavenger H… suryasmiles on Family Nature Scavenger H… suryasmiles on Family Nature Scavenger H…
There is nothing more satisfying, and professionally confirming, than having the parents of my students, and my students, take it upon themselves to promote my work! Over the past 15 years I’ve taught all grade levels, all subjects, in public and private schools, and all for one purpose: bringing fun and joy into children’s learning environment.
Below are testimonials I’ve received from students, parents and colleagues:
“Mary, Thank you for a wonderful, magical year with Ella and her buddies. You are her best bud – she loved having you as her teacher! Thanks for venturing into this Waldkinder adventure with us – your generosity + creativity were greatly appreciated.” Lots of Love, The Klingelhebers.
“Mary, you have been such a wonderful addition to our lives. Kinley has had an amazing time with you. Thank you for everything!” Love, Lisen, Todd, Kinley and Elleree
“Mary, Not sure what we will do without you. Ashton will have so many memories from his Waldkinder days. We are so thankful for the love, energy, and commitment you have given Ashton.” Love, Lynn, Steve and Ashton
“Attention Carbondale Parents!! Just sharing this info about a fabulous summer camp possiblity and after school program for your kiddos. Miss Mary has been Dylans Waldkinder teacher this past year and she is beyond incredible. Kids love her and she leads the best adventures! You are the best & we love you!” Donna Lambert Riley, May 2015
“Thank you so very much for all you do for the kids and the school. We are all so lucky to have you as a leader here. Your teaching style and ways of inspiring adventure & learning are so valuable to us all.”
Kristen & the rest of the ALK parents, April 2018
“It has been such a pleasure getting to know you! One of my instructors once told me – “Never work anywhere if there’s not someone there (who) you can learn from. We always have room to grow…” At ALK, you have been that person for me. I so enjoy your shared wisdom and I am grateful for your presence in my life.”
Shelby, May 2018
“You may have come into Jake (and Aiden’s) lives recently, but you have made an incredible impact. I only wish that we could have met you sooner! Jake has just blossomed with having you as a teacher — he gets all his questions answered and then keeps coming up with new ones, and you are so eager to answer! His love of the outdoors and exploration has grown 1000-told because of the curriculum you have implemented. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and has created such a wonderful bond with all of his friends. I cannot express enough how much your presences in our lives has enriched us. We hope that you continue to grow the school into what you envision it to be — it has already exceeded our expectations. We just want to go on Out-and-Abouts forever!
Please stay in touch! We would love to hear how you and Jake’s friends are doing.”
Jake, Aiden, Le, and Mike, May 2018
Anyone who has ever spent time in Colorado, winter, spring, summer or fall, knows the sun shines relentlessly! It’s crazy to imagine getting cabin fever when it’s so sunny out and the temperatures hover between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But, I think I have cabin fever!
I do live in a little, cozy, fabulous bungalow with my cat Luna in the middle of a field and next to a river. I get plenty of natural light, get outside to play with my students for three days every week, and have plenty of time to spend outdoors on my days off.
I get plenty of personal time alone, reading, watching movies, listening to NPR shows, and making art. I volunteer as a DJ on my local public radio station, KDNK, and as an usher at The Wheeler Opera House in Aspen. I have a few close friends with whom I spend quality time with. So, why do I have cabin fever?
Two years ago I decided to downsize, work less, spend less, and play more. My play relies on being creative by not spending a lot of money. What I’ve realized is I am not making JOY in my life that is exciting to me. I haven’t taken a Journey Out Yonder since a short trip I took last summer, to Joyful Journey Hotsprings Resort.
Road trips bring me JOY! I’m ready for one, and know my cabin fever will disappear once I hit the road, listening to music, seeing new or familiar sites, and meeting new people.
What JOY will you add to your life to stave off cabin fever?
I was born and raised in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (the NEK as we call it). I’ve lived, worked and played in Colorado and Wyoming for the past 23 years. Although I still believe no other place rivals Vermont in the fall – and in so many other ways – I do get star struck as I drive through the mountains, valleys and plains of Colorado during the fall. This scene in Vermont is astounding, it’s true. It makes me long for my home state during the fall season. Courtesy of Marc Plourde, Vermont Instead, I take a drive to places nearby, to get my foliage fix. I recently took a Journey Out Yonder up and over Grand Mesa. She presented a spectacular display of autumn Aspen color. A landslide of color. The Crystal River Valley has another week or two before it peaks. Foliage framed by dark conifers. Brilliant oranges pop! Grand Mesa, the largest flat top mountain in North America, exudes brilliance. Reach to the sky! Be like a fall Aspen tree…stand tall, and proud. Aspens stand atop basalt boulders. A pallet of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. A touch of dark, green pines and brilliant blue sky provides contrast. Yellows dominate. A touch of red reminds me of my VT home. Some trees, just like people, resist change.
I’m reading E.O. Wilson’s book, Biophilia, for the first time. I have biophilia: the innate tendency to focus on life and life-like processes.
A tide pool to explore, in San Diego, CA.
Wilson’s book are his thoughts on humans, and our connection with other life forms and each other, on Earth.
Last night I read a most inspirational quote, a memorial tribute to Hermann Minkowski, by Daivd Hilbert, about the “…perpetual cycle with gentle botanic images”. His words speak volumes about why I do what I do, why I say what I say, and why I teach the way I do.
“Our Science, which we loved above everything, had brought us together. It appeared to us as a flowering garden. In this garden there were wellworn paths where one might look around at leisure and enjoy oneself without effort, especially at the side of a congenial companion. But we also liked to seek out hidden trails and discovered many an unexpected view which was pleasing to our eyes; and when the one pointed it out to the other, and we admired it together, our JOY was complete.”
A trail in the forest, in Vermont.
I’ve taken some short and long journeys out yonder since my last posting. Here are a few photos of the JOY I experienced with people in special places:
Panther Creek, in Shoup, Idaho
Panther Creek Hotsprings
Two brothers heading for breakfast
My sister Marty gifting me a Mother Chuckar’s t-shirt
My traveling companion Luna
Geology of the west never disappoints
The valleys and plains are nothing but magnificent!
The wild horses of the west are a sight to be seen
Back home again
Sammy and I shared our love of Crested Butte and Gothic with our dear friend Diana and her new love, Ziggy!
New friends from Denver
It’s baseball season! My father was a player and a fan, as well as a lover of everything wild. He passed away two years ago, the day before Earth Day, listening to his wife and three other women talking about the Colorado Rockies, as he lay peacefully at home. Our most memorable times together were attending baseball games and taking road trips.
He knew how much I loved to explore, and joined in on some of my trips.
He left this life with a smile on his face, just like the one I captured above on our trip to visit the Wild Animal Sanctuary, in Keenesbury, Colorado.
He wore his new baseball themed Keep Your Fork Kit proudly!
A tiger at the Wild Animal Sanctuary soaking in the cool water, in the warm sun.
Evening games at Coors Field, with the sunsets, are spectacular!
Celebrate spring in the Rockies by getting outside, alone or with friends and family, to enjoy all the world has to offer.
In Maybell, a town in Northwestern Colorado, cowboys move a herd of wild horses to greener pastures.
No matter how old, a day in the desert will sooth your soul.
As the days get warmer, the snow melts and the ground softens.
This is a great time to get outside and hunt for natural treasures. Lee Mestas turned his love of rocks into a business, when he opened High Country Rock & Gems, in Glenwood Springs.
He no longer owns the store, but he still hunts for rocks.
There are a lot of opportunities to put your love of the outdoors to good use, for others.
Protecting the Greater Canyonlands is a cause worth contributing to.
Is there something you really care a lot about?
Do you have a favorite hobby in the outdoors?
A match made in heaven!
Sometimes it’s easier, and more fun, to get outside and enjoy a walk or a bike ride with a dog.
My friend Anne takes her dog for a ride on the beach in Florida.
He enjoys this as much as running, and she gets a bit more exercise with his added weight.
Do you know a dog who needs a walk?
Have you considered offering to walk your neighbor’s dog, or volunteering at the local animal shelter? The Roaring Fork Valley has a very special place for homeless animals.
Consider donating or volunteering at Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE).
Learn something new that will take you to beautiful places, like the Maroon Bells.
I recently won a free, half-day fly fishing lesson by renewing my membership to the Wilderness Workshop.
Since I live on the Roaring Fork River, I’ll take full advantage of this lesson. The Carbondale Recreation Center offers year-round recreation lessons and activities for youth.
Learn now, and enjoy these activities for a lifetime!
There’s nothing better on a hot day than soaking in cool water, with friends.
I’ve explored a little bit of the Roaring Fork River I live near, and have found a couple swimming holes.
Be safe, and stay out of the river currents.
And, never go alone! It’s always more fun with friends!
Take a walk in the woods with your mother.
Spending time with your family, in the outdoors, offers an opportunity to connect with loved ones in new ways.
Leave the iPod and iPhone at home.
Bring some water and a snack, wear a hat, and take a slow stroll while getting to know each other better.
It’s never to late to reconnect with those you love, and doing it outside, with few distractions will make it more meaningful.
Enjoy your spring!
The American Dream: get a college degree and a high paying job. Meet the love of your life, get married, buy a house, have some kids, and retire young enough to enjoy your grandchildren and travel the world….
I think I believed in that dream until I hit 30, when I had that degree in education plus a teaching license under my belt, but was more interested in wandering the country working at odd jobs in order to support my addiction to adventure. Now, at 52, I am still dreaming of all the places I’ll go, and all the people I’ll meet. I’ve started my own blog, Journeys Out Yonder, with the goal of telling others about the great places and people I’ve met on my road trips.
But, backing up a bit, I did dabble in the marriage and home ownership realm of the American Dream. Soon to turn 40, I felt it was time to go big! I had been living in little, above-the-garage, apartments, trailers, rented rooms, and even in the boiler room of Forest Service housing, exchanging a day of work per week for a free room. As I was turning 40, I met a man who fell in love with me pretty hard, and quickly. Within 6 months I was taking the leap. I had the best wedding EVER!
On top of Arrowhead ski area, wearing an elegant boiled wool skirt and coat from Geiger, I married a man who was into me enough to wear ski boots and ski down the mountain after our wedding vows. We played house for a few years, buying one and fixing it up to his liking. To “his liking”….this is where bigger was getting really bad, for me. Our life centered around “his liking”, which was in the line of bigger is better. He wanted children. I didn’t. He spent thousands of dollars on big TV’s, big trucks, and big vacations. I spent money on good, healthy food. I volunteered in local schools, and started an after-school program for local youth. I taught avalanche safety courses, cross country and downhill skiing, in exchange for services and products. My time was spent exchanging my gifts with others, benefiting from their skills and becoming empowered by sharing my own. I wasn’t making more money, personally, but I was creating deep friendships and was developing a deep love and appreciation for the new community I had moved to with my husband.
Free to ski in elegance and beauty
The bigger house, TV, trucks and vacations didn’t make a difference to me during my marriage. I was scared to leave, because I now wasn’t so sure I could support myself, and didn’t know where I would go. I lost my mojo! Me, the life-long adventurer, was stuck. I made one phone call, to a friend back in Colorado, and immediately found my groove again.
When I took off, and left him to fend for myself. I found a job and a small cabin in the woods outside of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. My two cats and I lived peacefully, and simply.
Then, realizing the money I’d saved for years was burning a hole in my bank account, and it was time to prove I’d “made it”, I started looking for a house to buy. I was still in the mindset that bigger is better. I had moved into a full-time teaching job, which would continue to pay more each year, including getting a masters degree, and I still had the dream of meeting the man of my dreams who would share in the cost of my home. I bought that dream house in January of 2008. It was everything I’d dreamed of in a home.
A couple months before the current economic downturn, my school district discovered an error they made in my contracted salary. My salary was reduced, making it more important for me to get my masters degree to increase my salaray. Five years later I had that degree, but had resigned from my teaching job, and I was still paying my mortgage alone. Bigger wasn’t better, for long!
A place to call my own.
The big job teaching in a public school conflicted with my own beliefs and training in education. I started my masters degree, and the more I learned about equity in education, the more I lost my love for teaching. The abundant paperwork and regimented system of teaching, to get students to perform well on standardized tests, overshadowed my love for sharing the joy of learning. Bigger scores aren’t always better.
Smaller is simpler, for me. I’ve cleared away my clutter, and am on a new journey to create a new American Dream, which is to follow my own dreams. They are creating a Tiny Home Village, making “MY Ski Skirts”, leading “Journey’s Out Yonder”, and spreading great advice with my “Quote Roll-Ups”. These are my skills and my passions, unique to me.
Calligraphy quotes on scrap lamination strips…great thoughts on reused plastic…beauty and ideas in one.
“I start to feel that each step taken is part of an invisible journey for which there is no map and few road signs.” John Francis, “Planet Walker”
Small is beautiful. I sold my house recently, and moved into a 240sf bungalow. I’m starting over, with less. I gave away or sold (for barely anything) more than half of my possessions. The items I gave away to friends are there, in their homes, for me to enjoy when I visit. I haven’t bought anything new for years, preferring to shop at thrift stores for my clothes and the local food coop for food. I need nothing else. The less I own, the freer I feel. I donated all of my teaching materials to the Marble Charter and Ross Montessori Schools.
Small is Beautiful
What dreams are you following?
Are your dreams unique to you?
Do your dreams show off your passions and skills?
After three months of life in the Rocky Mountains, I journeyed to Boulder to visit my step-mom. I-70 is a familiar drive for me, and I do it with ease, no matter the weather or the traffic. Some music and the familiar scenery, places I used to call home, along the route make it fun.
This is the first trip between Carbondale and Boulder, on I-70, that I’ve seen a convoy of Halliburton Fracking trucks. I wonder where they were going.
Once I arrived in Boulder I was hit by the warm, spring-like weather. I love taking walks around this lake as much as Max, my step-mom’s dog. Since I last saw it, Thunderbird Lake has lowered considerably. The Canada Geese are still there, as are the Mallards. This is one of my favorite places.
The first night I arrived I attended a presentation by the CO School of Mines on the research they conducted to determine how to bring the level of the water in Thunderbird Lake back up to healthy levels. It’s a man-made lake, but the neighborhood loves it as a place to journey out yonder on a walk, enjoying the scenery and the wildlife.
As the ice has melted away and the shoreline has become exposed, I saw remnants of the effects of either last fall’s devastating flood, reckless lake-goers or neighbors, or the inevitable impact communities have on the natural world. I encouraged the researches to encourage the City of Boulder to take more time to discuss possible solutions to filling the lake with the residents of the neighborhood. Many hands, and minds, lighten the burden.
I decided to take a hand in preserving and taking care of Thunderbird Lake, by picking up the exposed trash, before the it was covered by water again. I brought one trash bag, but found two more.
As I picked up each piece, I imagined how it ended up here, and how long it was there. Anytime I pick up someone else’s trash, I imagine how it ended up on the ground, in the water, in a tree or a bush. There’s a school on the SW corner of the park, two or three retirement communities, a church, an athletic center, and a large neighborhood surround it on all sides.
I wonder who’s been nibbling on this plastic container?
Not a surprise, whose unopened mail this is for. Was one of their trash bags swept into the lake, with their household waste?
Do we really need to put newspapers in plastic bags? I say, let’s bring back the paper routes, employ our young people to deliver your newspaper on their bikes or on foot, encourage financial responsibility and exercise.
I thought Boulder passed a plastic bag ban? I say, bring your own bag!
Using a one use, disposable, take-away cup from Starbucks and Barnes & Noble isn’t necessary when you can bring your own mug.
Packaging from McDonald’s wasn’t meant for Thunderbird Lake. I say, bring your own snack in a reusable container.
I could go on, and on, but I won’t. You get the message. We can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars conducting research on how to save our natural spaces, in city parks. I say, produce less waste by carrying your own coffee mug, packing your own lunch, and disposing of your waste properly.
Let’s think about the effects we’re having on our natural world, by making everything easier. From packing our newspapers in plastic so they can be thrown on the lawn by a delivery driver, to buying Fast Food. Rethink how we do things, and where our waste end up.
Make every day a journey, and pick up someone else’s trash, I say! It’ll make everyone’s day.