I was clearing out my email and WordPress had sent me a word prompt for March “Bridge”, I was on my way to delete the email, but I thought about it, and I would like to write about being a bridge.
We just recently started a scouting group called the Adventure Scouts, people ask me and I have a hard time really explaining how it came together.
It didn’t come together because our three founders were ever scouts, it didn’t come together because we really want our kids to tie better knots or build their survival skills…
It didn’t come together because any one of us would have ever created a scouting group, but rather it only happened because the three of us were together.
I’ve been teaching martial arts for about 10 years, another friend had been teaching acting for maybe double that, and they were just martial arts and acting, which is good, the third friend had taught at preschool and was just fun in general.
So the martial arts I was able to teach for the children of the acting teacher, the acting teacher taught acting to my children, and the early childhood development specialist’s children, and she wanted to invite anyone who wanted to be there.
So we added science, we added math, we had acting, martial arts, music, and art, but especially what we are is a bridge to connection. For parents to distance a few feet from their kids and see them as they are and reconnect to the present, for kids to connect with other kids which most kids are starving for, for adults to support one another and see how we are so similar on the deeper levels.
Logistically we started when my daughter’s best friend was called back to in-person class at the university and couldn’t take her because she wasn’t vaccinated. Some people trust babysitters, that’s good and fine for those who can do that and have access, but a lot of us moms aren’t set up or don’t have someone, maybe we moved, have a small family or whatever it is, a lot of us don’t have that. So I didn’t have a car (because my husband takes mine to work) and I was thinking, how can I make it work? How can I help my friend? And so I asked to borrow my dad’s car, and he said okay. I didn’t want to, I didn’t feel comfortable, I didn’t think it would work. But I did it, and it has worked and it’s brought us one step closer together and made me more grateful in general.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
So for the past few years, that’s what I’ve been working on doing, instead of complaining about what I want that the world doesn’t give me, I’ve been doing my best to put things right as much as in my power to do so.
With the pandemic shifting to a world of endemic disease the rules were already open for things to start, but people weren’t reopening the kids’ activities in my area, and I didn’t want to wait a day more or an hour more or a second more for the kids to be able to play at the park, hug friends, see other people’s faces ext. So I and two other moms opened “our activities”, what events we could do, what classes we could teach, what toys we could bring and share and the results have been pretty amazing.
We have a nice website that has science and math and art content created by the kids, we got incorporated by the state as an educational non-profit so that we could think about getting grants. Pretty much we can afford to supply equipment ext, we have unofficial donors and things, but sometimes I notice certain moms maybe don’t have gas money to come as much or certain kids don’t have a tablet for music lessons and in the back of my mind I would like to have a fund to kind of equalize that, but to do that or go on big field trips or things like that I think we would eventually need to also file our 501 status, that lets you become an Amazon Smile charity so people can give to you without doing anything then their normal shopping. So I looked into the 501 and it’s about $600 to file (since 2021) and that’s kind of a lot for us, so I opened a Patreon with a $1, $10, and $100 level, because I know everyone’s budget is a lot different. They advise you not to have less than $3 as a low tier, but I imagined maybe kids would want to donate and they have smaller budgets, really $10 is some people’s $1, and even $100 is like $1 for other people, it’s really relative to your situation.
But anyways, this post isn’t about that, I’m just mentioning the things that have happened with our Adventure Scouts, because I’m still trying to piece it together in my own mind.
Our theatre teacher was from halfway around the world and is leaving Sunday, I’m going to miss her so much. But what I keep thinking is that we can’t drop theater, because it was really special.
I love teaching martial arts, I was taught by many great teachers including world champion Kyara Gracie in Brazil, and there I went to her charity martial arts school Instituto Kapacidade which I didn’t know at the time I went would have a big impact on my life.
It’s a martial arts school open to children who won’t be able to pay for a martial arts school. I don’t know if it has anything to do with having been a child who didn’t attend martial arts school because my parents were not interested/comfortable paying for marital arts school or just because I love martial arts, but something about it felt so clean in a world that often feels so dirty.
I don’t know if that’s how religious people feel when they go to church, but for me, only on a mat am I at peace, I try, but always fail to extend that peace to the rest of the world.
Martial arts is a microcosm.
For people who can’t fathom the whole city, the country, the fighting politicians making side deals in backrooms, the medical field controlled by pharmaceutical companies that both save and kill millions in the same quarter, the way the world ebbs and flows from germ to planet, from panic to stocks to news, from truth to lies to choices to pollution. For those of us that live in a state of almost constant overwhelm, martial arts is a wonderful escape.
But it’s in many ways healthy, it’s exercise, it’s flexibility, it’s focus, it’s more gentle than some would imagine (but varying per style from Mui Tai to Thai Chi there are differences, but mostly we avoid injuring our friends – mostly). So it can be unhealthy though behind closed doors, it can be perfectionistic, it can cause injury instead of building strength, it can present abuse scenarios like most other activities, it can be an escape used too often… So in reality it is like most things a neutral endeavor made good or bad by the user, but it’s not as saintly as some would paint it to be.
But in a moment when you need it and have it, in that moment it will be worth the time and practice and investment. In that moment it’s worth gold. But what does that say about society if girls don’t have equal access to that gold? Or people who don’t have extra income? It says something pretty dark.
And whatever small change I can make to that darkness, I will do that for the rest of my life.
Because it’s easy for me to share what I know, what I am good at already, what I feel qualified to share.
But it isn’t easy for me to get outside that microcosm, but this group is a bridge for me to do that.
After I know the kids from martial arts, I don’t have to get to know them again to know them as people, it’s already free. Some of them may come to me for help with something, some of them come to me to help me, with the kids, the class, science demos. But even those who don’t have a deep relationship with me, I “see them” and they “see me” and that’s actually a lot. Many of us didn’t know how much that was worth until we didn’t have it anymore. But if you have an extra dollar I would love for you to support us right now that we are in our spark phase, even if you don’t intend to perpetually, we are that small grassroots organization that isn’t corrupted, we are a good thing, it’s hard to get that across on paper, I feel like it’s easier face to face, but here we are helping the world of kids reopen to something positive, something available to anyone there who wants it, something bright in a world that could use a bit more brightness.
So I don’t want to say too much, and I don’t want to leave anything important unsaid, but in general what I am saying is that as important as connection is, so too are the bridges important that keep us from living our whole lives as islands. Some of us need bridges more than others to make it comfortable to meet someone new, to see someone we know, even to get together with our best friends, some of us really need those bridges… and there isn’t shame in that, it’s human. It isn’t that important which bridge is your bridge, but finding it is important, because wellness is that triangle of physical health, mental health, and social health, and haven’t most of us let our social health go to disrepair lately?