Author Archives: Tien

taking important steps in the peace process

I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this year’s Scholars Together Learning Community’s Peace Treaty process. Each year it is always stimulating and inspiring to me, but this year seemed to be more so—due to the active and heartfelt participation of all involved.

community-2With the intention of creating a fresh and thoughtful guide for commUNITY living as we do each year at STLC, we started out during our first week’s living-together Teambuilding retreat, making a list of everything we could think of from our last year that we did NOT appreciate in terms of  how our commUNITY functioned. We all dug deep within to share little and big things that might have stood in the way of our community experiencing cohesive happiness, or actions that may have kept us from feeling really free to learn or to be our best selves—that had to do with the way we treated one another or the environment. That may sound like an unusual way to begin, but instead it really brought any uncomfortable lingerings from the past to the forefront that might have otherwise stayed riding below the surface or gotten in the way of a fresh and effective start of our year together. It turned out to be a cleansing activity for us all.

Beyond our collected list of about 40 items (which we shared with ONLY the motive of bringing awareness, not blame) we had insightful discussions, which culminated with EACH of us realizing and verbalizing that IF we wanted to see these changes in our community, that it was up to EACH of us to BE those changes. We could see that it was not helpful to blame others or wish that others would instigate the change, but it was up to EACH of us to be 100% responsible to act in the way or to treat others in the way, that WE wanted to see and feel. That is big…and this realization continues to be empowering.

So, after three weeks of discussion and honing our items so that we could list what we DID the-kindness-of-strangerswant to see, instead of what we didn’t want to see…and revising, reforming, reframing, and more discussion—we came up with our current (to be revised as the need or desire arises) Peace Treaty that is linked below. We all agreed that we are working towards our Peace Treaty eventually becoming just one sentence, that being what many call the Golden Rule—treating others as we would like to be treated— but in the meantime, many of us felt the wisdom to be specific about what that actually means, and to have some guidance as to what that really looks like.  Each item was added only after 100% consensus of our student and mentor commUNITY. That in itself feels really satisfying! Each student has taken our Treaty home, too, so that their families can adopt those items they want to commit to as a family commUNITY.

Click to see Our Current STLC Peace Treaty. You’ll be glad you did!

…In the spirit of integrating the intentions of our peace treaty into our individual lives, I share this sweet story: A dear friend of mine who has a dog, shared with me that she has been noticing what her dog does each morning when he wakes up, and that she thinks it would be a pretty good habit for us humans, as well. For me it goes along perfectly with how I want to BE in my community, in ALL my communities….and how and WHY I want to follow our Peace Treaty with care. She says that her dog wakes in the morning and stretches—noticing his surroundings, wags his tail, and then greets the very first person he sees with unconditional love. I love it!

upward-dogWhat if when we all awoke each morning (and throughout the day as we catch ourselves drifting) and stretched physically and mentally—reminding ourselves of our true nature that is constant goodness—and noticed our surroundings? Our tail wagging could be moments of gratitude for all that we have, intertwined with the expectancy of the important lessons and good the day will bring. And THEN, we greeted the first (and second and third, etc.) person we saw in ways that showed unconditional love. I can only  imagine that we would feel as though we really were living the life of peace and harmony!

This is going to be my new wake-up routine in the morning, and in the other parts of my day when I find that I have fallen asleep to the good that is right here, or have been sideswiped in some way to think that I don’t have everything I need in order to treat myself, others, and the day with kindness and with an open, grateful heart.

I am hoping that others might join me in this new morning routine inspired by our furry friends AND that you might take on the challenge and opportunity to adopt parts or all of our Peace Treaty in your commUNITY, too. Will you share your thoughts?

Tien Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community

“Allowing” and appreciating one another

I absolutely LOVE this.


I might just add that there is one step I add to this type of seeing…that EVERYone has a true nature within that is kind, wise, powerful, intelligent, beautiful, gentle, and so much more. It just might not be evident to the seer in this moment. OR perhaps the seeds of True Nature might be in the process of getting ready to unfurl, to come forth into view. Can we see and imagine this potent, complete, fully-furnished and beautiful seed of potential and wholeness that is inside of EACH of us even before we see it bloom on the outside with our eyes? This is the north star of my spiritual practice…to KNOW it is there and to treat each person as such, including myself.

Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community

Kindness Challenge

kindnessFor many years our Scholars Together commUNITY has started our year by hosting a “Be the Change” event for families and friends. It always proves to be an inspiring way to come together and begin our new year…pondering and sharing how and what EACH of us will bring through our own thoughts and actions in order to initiate the changes we would like to see in our world.

As we continue in this tradition this year, the event happening on Sunday, September 7th, we are adding a 21-day Kindness challenge to our mix of transformative deeds. We would love for YOU to be part of our ripple of kindness that is already spreading through Kindspring. Click here to join us in our kindness journey. Choose the Scholars Together challenge that begins on September 8th.

I have goosebumps thinking about the ripples of kindness and love that we can spread with this challenge. Here we go…


the constancy of our wholeness

flower2As those of you know who are familiar with Scholars Together, focusing on our True Nature is at the core of all that we do. We have seen such forward steps towards freedom and progress, such healing and new views of ourselves and others—and those heightened perspectives propel us all (students, parents, teacher-mentors) forward with new possibilities. Yeah!

I love how the following article by Carol Carnes is yet another window to the power and practicality of focusing on our True Nature, our wholeness that is ALWAYS there, even when we don’t see or feel it…like the sun behind the clouds—it is still there and powerful, and expressing all its sun-ness with vigor.  This is a great read to ponder. Yes!

Reveal Your Own Wholeness

–by Carol Carnes (Jun 30, 2014)

All mental healing is based on the awareness of the presence of pure Life, or wholeness, at the center of the patient. It is a calling forth, if you will, of that wholeness into visibility. It is not a “repair” of something broken, but an act of transcendence. It is the One that is always wholly at ease, taking precedence over the temporary manifestation of dis-ease.

We get better because there is something in us that is not sick. There is something about us that is not in lack. There is an aspect to us that is never confused or addicted or damaged. If that were not so, no one would ever recover or make changes in their life. Human life is a collection of stories of how we are constantly interacting with the higher nature of our own being! We get great new ideas and act on them. From where do they arise? We decide to clean up our lifestyle and find a great resolve in us, the will to stick to our decision. Where was that all the while we were succumbing to the addiction? Who goes to the AA meeting, the alcoholic or the One who is already clean and sober?

As we focus on what is True about us, we see the weakness of what seemed to be true. We only thought we had to be sick and poor and unloved. We believed we were powerless over our addiction. We decided we had to protect ourselves emotionally and could never have real love. These are mental states based on the illusion that we are at the mercy of effects. Then one day someone, perhaps, shows us how to tune in to the Cause that lives within us. That is the moment we take charge of our life. That is the beginning of transcendent living. That is when our mind is restored to its natural condition; that of formulating thoughts and ideas which automatically reveal our own wholeness in all areas of our experience.

Carol Carnes learned an ancient meditation technique in Hawaii that opened her mind and began the emotional healing she needed to find her own potential. Shortly after learning to meditate she was led to a New Thought spiritual center where she found the intellectual basis for what her intuition had been sensing as true and reliable. ​Today she is a New Thought teacher, an ordained minister of International Centers for Spiritual Living, a world traveller who has been in the company of HH the Dalai Lama and other world leaders in small group dialogues.

“I am because we are…”

I LOVE this for SOOO many reasons.

I found this posted tonight by “Mr. Finch” and it SO touched my heart. I feel such a kinship to this sentiment, to this way of being with one another. I am re-offering it here as something to read, consider, and chew on in hopes that we might partake of this innate community spirit more often. I love to discover new and old ways that people are loving each other—loving our neighbors AS our ourselves, finding that the dividing lines between us and them are not so defined, but pleasantly blurred…seeing that taking responsibility to be my best authentic self naturally includes grabbing the hands of those around me with joy. Looking for ways to be inclusive and loving naturally buoys all of us up— my community members and me, and vice versa. Love DOES make the world go ’round! Here is the post:

“An anthropologist proposed a game to children in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the children that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats.

When he asked them why they had run like that when one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said, ‘UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?’ (‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: ‘I am because we are.)”
                                           Osani Circle Game – taken by Jean-Pierre Hallet

kayaking through life with skill

kayak 2In the past week as I was refreshing this website, and especially the header photo with one of our students kayaking and the corresponding quote, I got to thinking about what a practical metaphor our STLC kayaking is. As we kayak more often each year with our students, I see even more correlation   between kayaking and our journeys and lessons in real life.

These are some of the questions I might ask myself, and the skills I would want to practice, in order to be a skilled kayaker…OR in order to be a person equipped with the necessary tools and skills for a progressive and satisfying journey through life.

  • kayak 3Where am I headed—in which direction? And am I pointed in that direction? Am I moving in that direction?
  • Have I checked the conditions beforehand so that I am prepared for what is ahead? Is it too windy or cold? Are there rapids ahead, etc? Rapids and such can be so       invigorating if I am prepared.
  • Will I actually get where I want to go? I will get wherever I paddle…no one else can paddle my kayak for me.
  • If I get behind, do I expect others to wait for me or do I paddle with more gusto in order to catch up?
  • If I get stuck in the weeds along the shore, can I back out on my own and get back on track…or do I shut down and expect someone else to rescue me?
  • Am I riding calm and steady in my boat or am I rocking and rolling it so much that I am out of balance and tip or sink?
  • Can I right my kayak if I tip it over? Or am I just out of commission at that point? Can I fall and get back up? The only way to acquire that skill is to practice and practice some more.
  • Have I practiced my steering techniques enough to be able to maneuver through tight spots or unexpected conditions?
  • Am I physically and mentally conditioned so that I have the stamina to get to where I want to go? I might be sore at first, but the more I practice with regularity, the further I go.kayak1
  • Am I committed to safety and wisdom, so that I don’t find myself in scary or rough situations that could have been avoided?
  • Do I maintain and care for my kayak that keeps me afloat?
  • Am I careful to give other kayakers or fishermen their space? Do I realize that I am not the only one on the river?
  • Am I respectful of the wildlife and the natural environment around me? Do I move through the water quietly with gratitude?

I realize that I could ask myself EVERY one of these questions in terms of how I am making my way through life…they could be my guides.kayak 4

Anyone up for a kayak trip….through life? Feel free to leave a reply below if you have more ideas about our kayaking/life metaphors.

Tien Stone Langlois                                                       Scholars Together Learning Community

treasures among us…everyday

This photo depicts just a small section of a wall of an old abandoned building in Holbrook, Arizona… behind a broken-down chain-link fence, ground  littered with remnant wrappers and bottles…a sight that would go completely unnoticed if one weren’t awake and aware. What a glorious treasure! It fills me with gratitude for the beauty that is ALWAYS nearby…when it is our focus to find it.

petrified wood
I see SO much in this wall (once again, the voice of divine Intelligence speaking to me through this wall in that and this moment): the ever-so-creative craftsmanship; a community of rocks of all sizes, shapes, and colors – all complimenting one another, hugging each other close; the lastingness of work done long ago with step-by-step care and effort; the unique depth and dimension of every single piece; the shining-forthness of each individual rock, not trying to be anything but itself. Ahhhhhh, just like the potential and true nature in EACH of us…right here, right now. When we stop to take notice, it is there, palpably present …ready to use and enjoy.

 What treasure is in store for YOU today?  

white compositeTien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community
photography by B. Jay Langlois


Breathing in with Joe

images-2Our STLC commUNITY is SO fortunate to have Joe Reilly work with us as one of our teacher-mentors, and as our dear friend. What joy, tenderness, creativity and humility he shares with us! His expertise in music, meditation, the world of nature and his deep respect for the First Peoples is showered upon us in such gentle, yet potent ways. Hmmm…how else can I say how much we truly love and appreciate all that he is and expresses?

Please enjoy his newest video, which shares so much of who he is and what he treasures…such a gift to us all.

May your breath be deep and clear…may you feel peace…may you feel community…may you feel love!

Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community, Inc

simple morning appreciations

999661_486844324735626_277335791_nAs was discussed in more detail in a previous blog, we at STLC have an established habit now of writing about our gratitude daily. We do it because the day doesn’t feel complete without doing it , because it just feels natural to do it, AND because we have a sense of uplift after having completed our lists. There is never a time when students baulk at writing their lists. mmmm, I like that! Several students were willing to share some or all of their offerings today on our blog. They aren’t earth shattering or out of the ordinary, but are genuine and written without any previous knowledge that they would be shared. When we do this as a community we feel connected and clear about what’s really important.

These are some of the gratitude offerings from today’s early morning circle 2/6/14

I am thankful for…

  •  all the wonderful people that have been in this world in the past and now…Eren
  • eating new foods; going on a hike with Joe; looking at the teacher and paying attention more often; being able to put a puzzle together…Tom
  • the possibility in each day, that I can change my story of me—myself; that I have people who support my dreams and hopes; that I can be social with others; that I have friends who are kind; that I have this new day of possibility; that we are here together; that I am happy; that kindness and being loving are my true nature even when they are not expressed…Tyler
  • people who take the time and effort to make videos about important things that can help to change our lives; people who dare to figure out what their “cages” or stories are and then step out of them—even when it is scary to do so; all of us sitting in a circle together thinking about how to improve our thoughts and actions; couches, chairs, Cardinalcushions, backpacks, etc. that allow us to sit comfortably; that my brothers, sisters and I all have interesting jobs and lives due in part to our parents telling us with their words and actions that we were free from limitations; “our” right-outside-the-window RiverHawk birds…Tien
  • I have the ability to talk, walk, and hear and that I can see; I can finish all my work and do great things in life only if I believe I can; that the sun rose this morning; when I go to sleep I wake up in the morning; the heat and light in RiverHawk; the warm chili we ate last night; the great meal we are going to have tonight…Stella
  • that I am me; that I am here in this moment; that I am smart; that I have two dogs who know when I am hurt or sad; that I am right here, right now; that I had a good night’s sleep; that I know we are going to have a good morning; the earth; the moon…Carson
  • glue; the absence of pain; selling my house; the food we’ll eat; heat, everything about T; my iPad which allows me to learn in new ways…Jay
  • cats and collies; all the people who care for me; soup; the University of Michigan; raising hope; berries; flour; apple pear sauce; raisins and cranberries; cookies and cheesecake…Aaron

We are seeing first hand that gratitude really can be the first step towards healing …changing some of our “stories” that don’t serve us. Really potent!


The drawing above was created by Stella Skonik especially for our recent Dream Seekers RiverHawk weekend …sharing commUNITY with our new friends from American Indian Health and Family Services in Detroit.

Yes, the most BE-YOU-tiful thing!

I was SO touched to find a post tonight that originated on a site called It is SO akin to my heart’s core desire and the mission of Scholars Together! I am humbled to be reminded once again of the kind of dignity, care and love in which I strive to hold each of our students and parents, each of our teachers/mentors, and myself. (Oh, if I could remember and express with more consistency that we ARE held in this way by a higher Truth, the space I cherish and hold in our learning community could be even more potent and far reaching, as well as healing for me!) What a true gift to one another it would be if we would follow the practice described below. Will you join me?


“I was recently told of an African tribe that does the most beautiful thing.
When someone does something hurtful and wrong, they take the person to the center of town, and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him. For two days they’ll tell the man every good thing he has ever done.
The tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as GOOD, each of us desiring safety, love, peace, happiness.
But sometimes in the pursuit of those things people make mistakes. The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help.
They band together for the sake of their fellow man to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true Nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected: “I AM GOOD”.

What more is there to say except that this is RADICAL, REAL and PRACTICAL love for our fellow brothers and sisters …expressed in a way that could benefit us all and bring healing. This practice could help us get beyond the disdain or judgment we often feel in regards to other’s (or our own) choices, comments or actions, — transforming us, reminding us all that we EACH are truly a piece of the same delicious pie of light and love, especially in the times when we may have forgotten and need to hear our heart song again.

Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community, Inc.

Yep, we ARE what we are grateful for

happyI am feeling very fortunate to have found an activity that all of our students LOVE to do. And equally important, actually even more important, is that it commands an immediate focus naturally, one that transforms an attitude in a matter of moments! It sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?

It involves a little 99¢ app that is a gratitude journal. I am sure that a bit of the “pull or attraction” is that it involves using an iPad and having some freedom to choose a theme and a font, BUT it is evident that it is far more than that…it is the FOCUS on gratitude that is the key. There is an innate desire in us ALL to acknowledge good, to feel gratitude, and to find avenues to express it. EVERY one of our students (and our teacher/mentors) can go immediately and naturally into a quiet mode with this app regardless of what they have been doing previous to it, plunging right into their grateful mode, and then writing pretty effortlessly about what they are grateful for. And rarely are their items of gratitude physical items or “things”. Never once has a student not wanted to participate and of late everyone has gotten into the attitude of also wanting to share orally what s/he has written…. deep and insightful things about their true nature and what strikes them in the moment. Hooray!

The app is called “Gratitude Journal Plus”, whose byline is “change your thoughts, change your life.” grateful appTheir logo is a picture of a baby or toddler sitting still, perhaps meditating. We are imagining it is a caricature of a baby Buddha, but that may or may not be true. But at any rate the picture is appealing to our students. Besides the note pad that starts out with “Today I am grateful for…”, lines to type upon, a place to choose a theme for your daily gratitude note pad and a font in order to personalize it, and a place to rate your day, there is also a thought-provoking quote that changes each time and a sticky note comment that our students love to share round-robin style. The combination of the items on the gratitude 4app AND its theme of GRATITUDE has touched our students and we do it daily, oftentimes twice. If we miss a day the students notice and we double-up the next day.

My own gratitude increases even more during the openness of the sharing that happens after the students write, as I see such tenderness, insight and innocence shared by several who others may not presently label as tender or innocent….including themselves. Even the biggest and brawniest, or students challenged with focus, anger or emotional issues have been able to see a NEW side of themselves and are soaking in the love and inner satisfaction that comes from being thankful, recognizing goodness, and seeing a new view of him/herself or of the day. This is a transforming and HEALING activity!

The best way I could think of to share some of the goodness that has come about gratitude 5through using this app is to share (with their permission) some of what the students have written on their own, without any direction or instruction about what to write except to be grateful. I am using their words verbatim and using only the entries from our students, not from our teacher-mentors at this point, though those are inspiring, as well. The types of things these students are acknowledging say SO much about who they REALLY are. So here goes:

“Today I am grateful for:

● quiet moments ● being me ● the rising sun ● the nice feeling of getting “completions” done ● the feeling after I have been honest ● knowing that I AM my true nature ● being right here, right now ● having caring friends ● knowing I had a good day ● knowing that when things don’t go well that I always have tomorrow to do better ● that I am myself ● to know I can do whatever I need to ● knowing that I am a kind and respectful person ● having my true nature with me everywhere I go ● knowing that I am a masterpiece ● knowing that I gratitude 6am kind ● being happy ● having a day of progress and love ● having an opportunity to do my best today ● knowing that when things don’t go my way I can handle that ● knowing I am in the present moment ● having a loving community to give me support ● that I don’t have to redo my work because it is already correct ● being reassured by love and goodness ● hearing the soothing music ● the good in everyone ● the happiness in the room ● the calm fog ● the pretty streams of sunlight ● the self-awareness of others ● the great inner peace that is inside all of us ● a great new day full of opportunity and love ● the endless possibility of this fresh new day ● the help that we all give to each other here ● the sound of the chimes ● the nice calmness in the room ● the beautiful colors of the bearstone ● bearstone stillness ● the participation of everyone ● that our group includes everyone ● the peace of everyone sitting in the circle feeling grateful ● the sounds of birds chirping ● the scent of grapefruit and a peppermint candle ● coloring a mandala ● to get to dance in Zumba and have fun ● the treat of going shopping before school ● to look at books with my parent ● going on hikes ● skipping stones ● seeing my friends ● being able to pay attention and do my work ● being able not to make any sounds when it is time to pay attention ● doing all my homework ● listening to my teacher ● for doing my math ● following instructions ● T sees my best self ● going kayaking ● swimming in the lake with my friendsgratitude 8 ● helping each other ● listening for animals on our hike ● eating new foods ● my new friends ● to be loved ● that my parents adopted me ● life as a human ● food and shelter ● being able to sleep ● ability to afford this school ● being alive ● being me ● the ability to walk ● to be able to talk and see ● to be able to hear ● that I woke up on my own today ● that people care about me ● that I am part of a great community ● that I have the ability to actually find my true nature ● the life that has been given to me ● having T, Jay, Steph and Joe as a part of my life ● my great lunch that my dad made for me ● getting all my homework done today ● going to Scholars Together ● that I am happy ● this peaceful morning ● this app ● the coolness of this day ● RiverHawk ● my grandmother driving me to school ● the beautiful trees ● our three dogs ● the different seasons ● my dad’s cooking ● my mom’s baking ● my sister’s volleyball game ● to know that everyone has love and forgiveness inside of them ● my fuzzy bed ● my loving family ● my friends and family ● my mom ● my dad ● my bearstone ● flowers ● that I can thrive ● the yummy spaghetti sauce we are making and canning together ● Tom’s happiness (not written by Tom) ● I am safe ● puppy dogs ● paper ● having a true nature that is caring and loving ● to know that I am able to complete all of my homework and edits ● being happy ● I am me ● gratitude 3the air that the trees give to us ● my sisters who care about me ● to know that people love me even when I mess up ● my brain ● school ● calmness ● a rainy day that feels cozy inside ● having chocolate malts for dessert – my favorite ● that my core group is getting along so well ● to get almost all 5’s on my daily sheet ● finishing all my homework ● doing my best in Zumba ● helping my dad over the weekend ● to sit in the circle and connect with the others ● being at school ● having a good friend ● being born into this world ● having a good day ● having the same room and roommate ● that I did all my homework last night ● being with everyone here today ● a nice and beautiful day outside ● having a good day ● starting the day off in good way ● doing my best on my homework this week ● I did well on my email ● a good day ● that I am me ● I can learn ● I am good at math ● being in the present moment ● the moon ● the birds ● that I had a good morning ●  that I know that I am going to have a good night ● having a good lunch ● to be living ● a good breakfast ● I got all my homework done ● that I am learning ● the fog ● that I am able to learn ● that I am smart ● a good sleep ● calming music ● the birds chirping ● that I am alive ● this day ● the trees ● the wind ● the shade ● the heat ● the very good hike ● that I am here ● running ● that I am learning well ● that we are going to have special nachos tonight ● having a good time in yoga ● watching a movie about American Indians today and last night ● doing my best on gratitude 2my geology test ● that I know I am going to get all my homework done ● that I am connecting with more kids my age ● the great and quiet morning ● that I am here at RiverHawk ● the meditation in the morning ● that I finished all my work ● the earth ● everything that is good ● to be so happy ● the sun ● the beautiful day ● the animals ● the cold morning ● everything!”

As I finish copying these writings from the students journals I am pretty much awestruck at what is going on in their thoughts! I am thinking that this blog may be enough for the whole year to remind me (and others) who these kids are! And what is already IN there for nourishing and being thankful for! This does my heart SO much good…touches it in such a tender and potent place to know what the willingness to be grateful brings! And that the outward appearance of ANYone doesn’t necessarily tell usgratitude 7 who s/he is. That EACH of us every moment is the receiver of beautiful thoughts, ideas, fresh starts, and mountaintop perspectives of ourselves, others and of our day. I am SO very grateful for each of our students who dares to share their gratitude so openly and freely. They are prayers to me, that remind me of the childlikeness I long to embody and live. Mmmmm, the power of acknowledging good…and the love and healing that  gratitude brings is so transforming.

I am going to consider this the STLC Thanksgiving offering to us all. And the invitation to give ourselves a treat and take time for gratitude.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we USE them is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” W. T. Purkiser

written by Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community, Inc.



Learning to sail our ships

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott


I took this picture this morning after watching this butterfly flying around. At first I thought that, due to the wing damage, it was unable to fly. But after several moments it started flying around. It didn’t go very far at first and it would keep coming back to the same spot… but it didn’t give up. Shortly after I took this photo it flew away.

Even with something as simple as this butterfly with its tattered wings, it just goes to show the inner strength that it and everyone has inside themselves. We’ve all been pushed to the brink at one time or another but we’re still here. That counts for something.

It also says something about our perceptions of others and whether or not they are true or not. I saw a butterfly that looked like it couldn’t fly. But in its own time, when it was ready, it could. Perhaps it was taking some important moments to remind itself that it “could.” I am going to remember this about the people I see who look like they “can’t”…and know that they CAN do it and will do it when they are ready.

written by Zoë Stone-Hess, former STLC student


Chicken or the Egg? Happiness or the Gratitude?

Grateful to be or happy or happy to be grateful?

Seastars_ColorsI am feeling very fortunate in this moment, a deep kind of at-the-core happiness and sense of belonging… very grateful to feel such a palpable connection to my world-wide brothers and sisters, all the creatures in this world, and the beauty that is nestled everywhere…when I am aware of it, and even when I am not. As the title states, I have been pondering whether I am grateful because I am happy or if I am happy because I am grateful. I suspect that it’s a bit of the first, and a heftier portion of the second.

I started out this summer with some renewed and sincere intentions: to be more present and grateful for the good that is available and present in each moment (even if not at first glance), to scrutinize the thoughts or assumptions that come to me — to be aware of those that need a shift, a reframing, or a fresh and healing perspective (or even if they need to be 86’ed completely), AND to include EVERYone in my scope (people, animals and environments) in the tender and potent embrace of brotherhood and sisterhood, a ‘hood that is parented by a Truth that is ever-so-wise and far-reaching.

DSCN1002Ample opportunities have SO been in my path this summer. In part, because I was physically journeying to some different areas…yes, across the big seas, to take part in several weeks of wholesome and mindful community activities with a focus of truth seeking and finding. And also because I allowed myself to be truly free and open to be LED …to whatever situations presented themselves where I could feel the “roundness” that many Native American stories tell of — the roundness of the lessons and cycles of nature, the roundness of our true connection with all beings, the roundness of oneness that includes us ALL in an ongoing, never-ending (round) care, wisdom, understanding, and compassionate love.

I have felt (and feel) such gratitude for a definite opening in thought, a humble desire to daily deep-SEE dive into what I inherently know is true about me, about others, about life and about a Love that holds us all in right-here-right-now roundness, completeness.

Sea ottersThere are moments when I am in my kayak surrounded (and feeling hugged) by huge kelp beds, seals, sea otters and dolphins mindfully about their daily routines, while they are also rolling, porpoising, playing and showing all the signs of loving life — being embraced by Life with an uppercase “L”. In those moments I feel such a sweet camaraderie, a deep familiarity…and supreme thankfulness that literally buoys me up. In those moments (and many others, too) I feel NO doubt that we share the same Source and purpose to BE who we are. And that the way we live and love in our lives is a support to each other, a way of genuinely loving each other, feeling our kinship with each other. And there is such a powerful sweetness in that. Also, I recognize that there is something much bigger and more encompassing than humans being kind and loving…there is a circle of love, a source of love, on which we all can depend…and share.

4293519_origI see too, that we are ALL learning, and often from one another if we are open to that. (More gratitude here, mixed in with that happy joy!) I watch the seals almost every day from where we are camped as they lurch up onto a wooden float that is their resting and community mingling area, that also serves as a boat launch. It is often quite a hefty leap up (sometimes as much as a 7-foot leap) depending on how full of other brother-sister seals it is. I watch them show SUCH determination and stamina, even when they don’t make it again and again, until they do…wow! And also watch them learn how to snuggle and fit in with the seals already perched there, who from time to time forget that they don’t have assigned seat numbers from which to push others away. I notice that I am loving watching them weave their mistakes with their learning without attachment or judgment T and the sea lionsand that I am learning to do that better with people, too. Ah, the sweet patience that just comes when I/we are tuned into that infinite source of patience and the happiness that often comes with learning, whose ever learning it may be. I have a growing faith that EVERYone wants to be wise and good and loving, and that we all really ARE those things…we just forget sometimes, or get stuck in a cloud of emotion or misguided perception or information. But the truth is still the truth!

It might be taking me too many words as I travel this bloggy path to get to where I mean to go. I think the following is really what is here for me right now AND was the seed and stem of my present gratitude and happiness: I decided with vigor at the beginning of this summer to find EVERY little and big thing I could be grateful for and to acknowledge each one right then and there…and to know that all these things have been here all along, waiting coastto be perceived with a view of gratitude that makes everything beautiful, pure and connected. And also that it is much easier to be patient with others and be joyful with others because I know that I don’t have to muster all that up in a human way. But that I (and all) are included in this very roundness and infiniteness of patience, beauty and joy, with no breaks-in-the-links of it …and that knowing this emits such hope and trust…enough to make worries, unpleasant memories, and challenges that seemed hard to see over, drift away like steam or a gentle cloud…leaving the expanse of a true-blue sky and a pure and unbounded us…ALL of us!

grateful – happy – grateful – happy – grateful – happy – grateful – happy -grateful – happy!

Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community

Our oh-so Relevant Intertwinings

revised purple cushionsSeveral days ago I had the privilege of finding myself sitting alone in the Full Moon Mediation Hall of New Hamlet in Plum Village, in France.   I had been quietly re-appreciating parts of the teaching from that morning by Thich Nhat Hahn that had do with inter-connectedness. I was letting the images of the sun being IN us all set for a while longer in my thought…images of the sunshine being deep within each sheet of paper in my journal, in each tree, in each piece of fruit, within each drop of water, etc. I began to mentally trace the elements that made the sheets of paper in my journal all the way back …to the creative man in Italy who made the journal (I watched him stitch it together), to the store and person who sold him the paper that he stitched, to the hearty truck driver who brought the paper to the store, to whoever loaded it on the truck, packaged it, to the person who designed with precision the machines that produced the paper, to the hardworkingtree loggers who cut the trees, to the beautiful tree that grew and grew in order to be part of this paper – the tree that had used water and sunlight for nourishment. The path led all the way back to the sun! Yes!

This may all sound so simple (great!) but it felt very profound to me as I was ever so grateful for each person and each element of nature that was actually now part of this paper…all the non-paper elements that really made up what the paper in the journal in my hands WAS in that moment. What an amazing cycle that goes on daily, this loop of connection, this togetherness expressed as inter-connection.

sunshineI let my thoughts rest ever-so-gratefully on the sun… thankful for its ever-presence, its warmth, its light, its nurturance, even in the times when it is behind the clouds…it is still there touching us all. I could tangibly FEEL its impact on me in that moment, its influence that touches each of us, that helps to make us who we are, that lives in part IN us!

I thought of the many flowers right outside the door that are so tenderly cared for…with their vibrant colors, shapes, and designs, and realized that each has the sun at its very core…the same Light that is at OUR very core! I basked in those realizations for a few minutes more before walking mindfully to the exit door of this purple-cushioned hall. And then, there…right outside the door, the very first thing I saw was this….a gorgeous morning glory with the sun BEAMING out of the center. revised morning gloryThis was no photo-shopped image…this was real and true and right there! It was such a beautiful cherry-on-top moment. I can’t know that my tale of this will ever quite portray the impact and relevance this flower FULL of sun had on me in that moment…but my wish is that this tender and potent vision and lesson for me will waft through a blog reader’s thought, and he or she will get a glimpse of this circle that is us, to see that the sun is part of us all, that we all are inter-connected in so many ways.

I will let this vision and lesson set in me for quite some time, eager to see and feel its ramifications as it seeps in. I already feel a deeper kinship with the birds, seals and _DSC1081people I see along the beach in California where I sit today…each of us being parts of each other. There truly is NO separation between us. This is a very freeing concept to me that delivers me so close in present-moment spirit to all beings and elements of nature. Yeah!

written by Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning CommunityIMG_1596_DSF3282

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What a wonderful world…

What a wonderful know the song. So many have sung it, including one of my daughters when she was young, and it often brings tears to my eyes. My two favorite versions are those sung by Louis Armstrong and Jim Brickman. Actually it has been the ringtone on my phone for quite some time. It came to mind over and over in an experience I had this past weekend.


I have been in caves before, in the USA and in other countries, too, BUT what we experienced a couple of days ago was such a treat and a real eye-opener. The beauty of nature once again took my breath away from the moment I stepped into this subterranean world. What follows is just a bit of my ponderings as I allowed myself to be transported to another dimension in the caves of Frasassi, Italy…thinking that you may want to ponder, too.

GrottediFrasassi_4_10x15We walked through some very long tunnels before getting inside that had 3 HUGE electronic doors that opened and closed almost mysteriously and quite solidly as we neared certain areas, in order, as we were told, to keep the temperature stable for the continuous growth process that was going on inside. This growing had been going on for more than 1 million years and is still going on!

When we were inside, our guide showed us some of the first few stalactites and told us that they were 12 meters long, though they looked to us as maybe just 2 meters and that this was because we didn’t have a point of reference for them. Our tour guide told us that they were shapes that we are not used to and were also farther away than we could tell they were, so that our reference point was off kilter. She said that one of them, that seemed quite close to me, was as tall as a 6 story building, but to me it looked about 8 feet tall. I looked and looked and just couldn’t imagine that they were the size that she said they were. And then I started to thinkfrasassiabout what she had said about our point of reference, and to wonder about that. What IS my point of reference?…and is it small when it could be so much larger? And do I take all the opportunities in my day to check out my point of reference? Ooooh, I will be loving to ponder this for a while!

163934694_1368722304And, when being inside these HUGE and beautiful caves for some time it was like what I imagine it to look like under the oceans. After scuba diving for the first time many years ago, I realized that there was this whole other world in the ocean that I hadn’t even imagined, let alone seen. It was like I was exploring a whole other planet. And I had such a similar feeling here in these caves, this BEAUTIFUL world waiting for us to discover it! It was though I was Alice in the rabbit hole, or Christopher Columbus daring to imagine a round, instead of a flat, earth! With each turn there was something new to see and grapple with because it was brand new. I realize that this can happen so often if our eyes are open.

This morning, as I strolled in the gardens of the old monastery where we are staying, I was acutely aware of bright blades of grass of many different shades of green, of sweet lavender buds on gently curved stems that mingled with others, of the variety of gloriously-muted colors of grooved ancient brick and stone that made patterns that kept me mesmerized and SO grateful for this beauty…what a wonderful world!

15068588_309f196f90_bTien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community, Inc.

To BE or not to be…sunflowers!

_DSC1077We are renting a car in Italy. We did it with a bit of trepidation at first as we crept through tiny, tiny alleys where we had to pull in our side mirrors in order to make our way through, gradually feeling a bit more comfortable and with a feeling of kid-like excitement inside…and now, with such freedom we have been exploring and driving… EVERYwhere! We have been discovering and surveying ancient towns and roads without a GPS, getting quite good at rotary-ing around the MANY rotaries… curving and gliding over winding mountain passes and through tunnels that thrust us out into gorgeous rural views_DSC1081…hills, and mountains, terraced fields and fields of grapevines, olive trees and SUNFLOWERS! Literally hundreds and hundreds of acres of sunflowers for miles and miles… different heights and sizes, at different stages of opening to fields and fields of those flowers open to their fullest, near bursting with their sunflower-ness. I drank in and drank in the beauty, the yellows, the shapes, the petals AND that they were ALL – every single one of them – facing the same direction, bending ever so gently to face the sun!  SO beautiful! SO meaningful. They were each just BEing their natural selves…reaching toward the light, BEing sunflowers in all their glory. It was as though I had smacked my forehead with my _DSC1085palm with an ah-ha moment. “Just like US!” I thought. Our current and true and forever nature is to BE who we are and lean toward the Light…and share our beauty, our moment by moment flourishing with the world, one moment at a time. Some of the stalks were short, some were more open than others, some were a deeper yellow…but NONE of it mattered. In fact, it added depth and beauty to the field.

What a sight, what a lesson! Though I have some photos of these scenes, the mental image is here to stay, here to use, here to share. Won’t you join me in our SELF-ness as we lean towards the Light in each of our moments…until it feels natural?

_DSC1087Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community, Inc.

Building Bridges

2767916696_ee4bb7fd20As I gaze through my daily photos of Florence or Venice each evening, I see that SO many of them are of bridges and connected waterways. I have been so drawn to them everywhere I go. And again, as I walked this morning from bridge to bridge and alongside them, there were moments when the intensity of their charm and importance was almost overwhelming…the inner beauty of the bridges and their meaning…bringing two sides or areas TOGETHER with such practical grace. So many people congregate near the bridges, too, drawn to what I think is such a natural inclination to feel connection and kinship…to stand where two sides come together, conscious of that attraction, or perhaps not…but definitely drawn there from something within.

2013-06-17 12.35.40I have so immersed myself in looking at the different types, styles, colors, construction, and sizes of these bridges… ALL fulfilling the same mission of bringing and linking together two sides…drawing them close. It sweetly hints yet again of the oneness that is at our very core.

As we studied Janessa Gans Wilder and the Euphrates Institute this past year at Scholars Together, I was so touched and inspired by her decision to find the bridges between us all, instead of seeing the boundaries and divisions…to dedicate her life’s work to educating and awakening us to the possibilities and truth that exists for all of us as we bridge together and move past stereotypes and misunderstandings that would try to separate and divide us.

bridge6I feel an internal cringe every time I hear comments that would mentally try to plunge people into opposite groups… that make divisions politically, religiously, culturally,  or even because of personal experiences. It seems so primal for me to look for and see the sameness in our desires, though they are expressed in such multifarious forms…to find the bridges that bring us together so that we can find strategies that work for us all, without alienating or criticizing… bridges that anchor each of us in Love, together…a love that brings us to open hearts and mindful compassion…that helps us all to really flourish.

For years I have loved the lyrics and the melody of a song made known to me by the Judds. It really says it all.

Love Can Build a Bridge2013-06-18 11.46.24

I’d gladly walk across the desert

With no shoes upon my feet

To share with you the last bite

Of bread I had to eat

I would swim out to save you

In your sea of broken dreams

When all your hopes are sinking

Let me show you what love means

Love can build a bridge

Between your heart and mine

Love can build a bridge

Don’t you think it’s time?

Don’t you think it’s time?

ponte-chiodo-veniceI would whisper love so loudly

Every heart could understand

That love and only love

Can join the tribes of man

I would give my heart’s desire

So that you might see

The first step is to realize

That it all begins with you and me

images-1Love can build a bridge

Between your heart and mine

Love can build a bridge

Don’t you think it’s time?

Don’t you think it’s time?

When we stand together

2013-06-21 08.46.48It’s our finest hour

We can do anything, anything

Keep believing’ in the power

Love can build a bridge

Between your heart and mine

Love can build a bridge

Don’t you think it’s time?

Don’t you think it’s time?IMG_1870

Love and only love

Love and only love

Tien Stone Langlois, STLC

What if we saw…

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I have the great fortune to be currently adventuring in Venice and Florence, Italy…and I am sure many more stories and lessons will continue to come, but for the moment, this is my thought: What if we all saw every color and shape and core of EACH person as beautiful? What if we noticed how one color or one person, brings out the hue and brilliance of another? What if we could overlook the little, seeming imperfections (our laundry hanging out for a little while) and appreciate the flow, or even the deliciousness of the scene? What if we allowed ourselves to BE bright and colorful and luminous and potent …and didn’t resist or overlook our true colors, no matter what?

Transforming habits…together

Recently our ever-so-curious STLC group of students and I ventured into a discussion and activity that revolved around being aware of our habits. And taking a look at habits that serve us AND those that do NOT serve us…including habits that do not serve those around us, as well. We began by coming up with a definition that we could use together.

habitsha-bit: something that one does over and over, often without realizing it; something that seems a part of you because you have done it for so long; something that is hard to break, but that is NOT impossible to stop with awareness and effort.

We each thought for a few moments and then wrote down two habits that we thought did not serve us or the people around us. Then, with the willingness of everyone in our group (which humbles me and brings gratitude that our students feel safe enough with each other to do this) we passed our lists around and others added to them with habits they have noticed for that person that do not serve. I was touched by the thoughtfulness that most students put into this exercise, being realistic about what they listed for each other in the spirit of contributing awareness without criticism or harshness.

top-10-listWe each ended up with our lists, and most took them home so that a parent could add to it. Then we met again and began a dialogue about how to transform these “repeated acts” so that our community could merge together in even deeper ways…and so that we as individuals could move past these things that seemed SO much a part of our personalities or daily expressions of ourselves. We continued our dialogue, as we each identified and took on one habit that we felt would  improve our life most by transforming it.

As I have been letting this conversation sit and wanting to offer to our brainstorming about HOW to transform some of these actions, it came to me to think about what the habit wants...what do I want or need that pushes me to a habit that either doesn’t serve those around me or even myself? So I was thinking about interrupting, which was on my personal list. It is something that I do NOT like to find myself doing, but at times I am very aware that I am doing just that. So I asked myself about the reasons that I interrupt. Sometimes it is due to a time frame, other times it is my intention to move a conversation along, or to be heard right in that moment, or even to attempt to keep someone from going down a dialogue road that I think does not serve him/her. Well, just this awareness helps me to strategize in a different way in order to meet those needs in a more effective and compassionate way. Hip, hip, hooray!

awarenessI know that the first step is being aware of the habit, and then having a sincere desire to not do that anymore because of the understanding that there is a better way. And I am thinking that IF I am aware of what I am trying to get when I interrupt (or participate in any other habit) I could be more mindful to adopt a strategy that would work for me AND the person with which I am engaging.

For example, I can see already that I could have a more effective conversation when I have time restraints by requesting at the beginning of the conversation that we take turns in our discussion, and/or share that I have just 10 minutes, or whatever, and then perhaps agreeing that we could continue at another time if one or both of us doesn’t feel heard or understood in that specific time frame. It sounds like such a simple idea, but it is a beginning.

200338534-001It has been fun to see how this awareness is helping each of us to discover strategies that are serving us more effectively, and to be able to leave those that do not…behind. And once again I see the sweet and potent value of community…a group that continues to take bold steps to be open and compassionate with one another…it (Love) truly does make the world go ’round.

written by Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community, Inc.

Ponderings that elevate

Aviation_Plane_in_the_sky_above_the_clouds_018787_-1Perhaps it happens to many of us, but when I fly to a destination it seems like there is a natural flow to inspiration, or questions arise that help to move me forward. Is it the willingness to take off to a new destination in body and mind? Is it part of the virtual-ness of having a higher perspective…actually being “up there”? At any rate, it has happened to me again. A list of questions has come to me as I fly to Arizona, along with some reminders that may first appear to be in that meta-physical realm, but as I ponder them, I see they are for right here, right now, and that they integrate so much with my life’s work with students and parents…and in my own quest to be all that I am meant to be. I offer up these thoughts and questions surmising that others might merge with me in finding the answers or in acknowledging some of these truths alongside me in our daily lives.

1. The ocean-ness of us all: This is a concept I love each time I hear it, think about it, and claim it for me and those around me. If one takes a cup of ocean water it contains ALL the elements of the ocean, not just some. And this goes for us, too. We include ALL the elements and qualities of our Source, of this Life energy…all the fullness and richness. Everything we need is IN us, ripe for the harvesting and expressing. So, I ask 417558_261772507235595_169039636508883_586798_998871688_nmyself today – Am I acknowledging the “ocean-ness” (the strength, purity, flow, freedom, goodness, fullness, intelligence, newness, etc.) in me and in all of us today? Can I feel my ocean-ness?

2. It does NOT matter what others think! Can I really get this? Can I keep it in thought? Can I go forward with what seems most right for me at this point on my path, brushing past the fear or concern of what others will think of me? What a mirage it is to think that one of us is better than another.

3. What do I embody? Is my “body” – my expression of me – aligned with what I truly believe? Do I KNOW what I believe? Do I SHOW what I believe? Would someone know what I value and treasure by my actions? What am I passing along to my children, grandchildren and students (or anyone with whom I come into contact)? How am aligning with what I value today?

yes-74. Am I saying “YES!” to life today? Am I gleaning what I am here to do…and then doing it?

5. How do we know when it is a time to be humble or if it is a time to be emboldening? Getting quiet first certainly helps me…and then the next obvious thing to do seems to appear.

6. I am appreciating Jack Kornfield’s book, “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.” Such a good read.

7. I am realizing once again that there is a lesson for me in EVERY situation, and I am taking what touches my heart and leaving the rest. And that reminds me, too, that I can learn from everyone, including those with whom I may not feel close to in regards to my values and beliefs. Conversations with my seat mates on this flight remind me that I can always find something to take with me after a conversation or contact with another …something that moves me upward, helps me to develop active compassion or extends a deep listening ear to another, thereby extending understanding and interconnectedness. I believe that this one act, of being connected to another in these ways, even for a short time, opens our hearts to one another and contributes healing to the world.

tumblr_m31v4a71Bz1ru09w2o1_400-18. What if all that I think about myself, all my stories, all my opinions were taken away? What would be left? …me –  the REAL ME…pure, unbounded potential!

9. How am I labeling myself? What am I telling myself? How does that align with what is true? What IS my truth? I can’t think of anything more exciting to think about and talk about than what is our own truth!

10. A parent mentioned in a recent STLC parent meeting that there seem to be so many more distractions for our children in this current world than there were for us when we were children. I have been chewing on this for a while. And it causes me to wonder how we, as parents and caretakers, are contributing to this. How are WE clouding our children’s inner voices? What are we doing to help them clear the way for whatever their mission here is?

11. What am I (you) chewing on right now? What am I (you) longing for? What am I (you) doing to express and embody this longing?

images12. Get curious about the frustrations or seeming blockages in my life. Get still with it. That is my entry point. Stop running to hide the pain and discomfort of it. Face them squarely, with gentleness and gusto…do some clear seeing. Stop being a victim of these things…and take responsibility for my life. It is MY life!

13. When does the switch-over happen? When do we as parents, step back and allow our children to learn to walk? To stumble and fall? To find that they CAN get back up and dust themselves off…and get going again? To find and face the consequences of their words and actions? Can we stand aside and not “fix” things for our kids? If we allow them to practice, and practice some more in real-life situations, they will have what they need (confidence and experience) “under their belts”, ready for the situations that arise…rather than falling apart because they have not had the opportunity to fall and get back up…or feel the sweet welling inside after performing a random act of kindness or doing something well all by themselves.

parents-assess-114. What do we need to know about caring for a plant? Watering and nourishing it? How does that apply to our children? What do we know about how to tend a fire? What might the proper fuel, oxygen and space needed in order for a fire to flourish, suggest to us about the way we tend our children in order that they flourish?

15. Put my burdens down! When I board the train, I put my bags down or in the baggage compartment...I don’t carry them on the trip. Can I do this with my burdens today? Can I create the space within myself for the things that I want to fill myself with….grace, truth, love, kindness, understanding, etc.?


16. There is SUCH value in being quiet, in finding the stillness…EVERYday.

17. Is our parenting protective or confining? Nurturing or coddling? Freeing or stifling?

18. Do I allow myself to be a doormat?

19. Am I rooted? What are my roots? Do they keep me steady? What am I awake to? Am I self-aware? Am I aware of others?

20. There is no substitute for self-engagement. Am I interacting in the best ways I can?

21. Do we realize that WE are the creators of what is going on in our world? Do we realize, even people-globeamidst what often seems like crumbling or off-kilter situations…that the love that we ARE is still present? What can we do to see and get into an alignment that is balanced and find that conscientiousness that elevates our thoughts, words and actions…that affect us all?

…in the spirit of sharing the inspiration and questions that ride on the wind of thought…with the knowledge that the answers are to be found, too, in that same breeze.

written by Tien Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community