5 Things You Can Do For a Successful Team Retreat

Our restless daily lives shroud and impair our spiritual well-being. How then can we rekindle and deepen our relationship with the Lord and with each other through a day of spiritual refuge?

A retreat is one good way to start reevaluating your purpose as you go through your day to day routine. Conducting a retreat with your team be it from school, work or community creates a new perception of your faith, and double as a way to bond and strengthen your relationship with one another.

 

    1. Establish and stick to your goals

Spending a day or two out of your daily groove will give you fresh perspectives and renewed energy.  Don’t put this into waste by not setting the right place to channel this vitality.

Aside from bringing you closer to Him and to each other, you might also want to set other specific goals for the event. For instance, this might be a good way to rework on oneself, better the team dynamics, improve leadership, and understanding why putting God in the middle of it all is vital.

Once done, find time to take stock of the improvements and lack thereof. It will help you reassess and see other approaches.

  1. Ensure quality leadership

Quality leadership can spell out the success of the retreat from the outset to attaining the desired outcome. It cuts across various aspects of the entire activity.

Leadership begins with motivating the team members to join the program. Some may have reservations due to circumstances and reasons personal to each. The leader is responsible for encouraging everyone to be there. After all, the team isn’t the same without each player.

Logistics and organization is another element that leaders have to look into when planning for a group retreat. By all means, he or she can delegate tasks or even create committees. But, ultimately sound decision making and systematizing comes from the leader.

  1. Get the right resource speaker-slash-facilitator

Looking back years after the retreat, the learning, and the message should wear well. A good resource or keynote speaker is on the hook for making this possible.

Aim to get a speaker that is independent from the team. Someone that is impartial, who can guide you to see through things differently.  They can take on a journey with an extraordinary path, bringing you closer to the retreat’s purpose.

You might want to involve your speaker through the whole planning, especially when setting the program. It is by this that he or she gets to understand the goals, the number of participants and the venues to prepare for appropriate speeches and activities.

  1. Find a suitable place

A retreat is the time for meditation and listening to Him, to your team and yourself. Your place should provide for the needed tranquility and peace as it influences the whole experience.

Ambiance sets the stage for creating the mood that you want for the retreat. However, never take for granted the basic logistics such as the area size, transportation, and the facilities offered.

Some can seat as many as 100 people like the multipurpose hall in the Center for the Poor. Others cater to a more intimate gathering with lesser seating capacity.

The key to choosing the proper place is to visualize your retreat setting and create criteria. Use these criteria when looking for your perfect retreat venue.

  1. Setting a program

Your program should have three main points: a list of activities, timeline, and budget. Don’t think of this as restrictions of the event, instead, these are guidelines for wise use of your time and resources.

The keynote speaker may have a list of activities prepared for the participants. You should incorporate this into the overall program of activities.  Also, include a timeline that gives you quality time for each activity. Finally, your activity should also coincide with your financial plan.

These considerations are especially important if you have a large group or will spend several days on the activity.

Happiness stems from how we build relationships with the people around us. Make sure that you take time to withdraw and find a bigger appetite for your aspirations— for your life.

 

Photo © https://stgilesepc.org/

Instilling Sapat Na Principles in Our Children

The illusion of abundance and the convenience brought by the fast evolution of industrial science, wraps us in a bubble of comfort, sidelining environmental protection.

Now, recognizing an intergenerational responsibility, we need to raise a new generation who has a habit of taking and consuming only what is needed.

To guide you in raising children with good hearts, you can practice these principles at home:

Sapat na ang pagkasira ng kalikasan

“Enough of the destruction of the  environment”

The dangerous environmental dilemma of the modern world stems from the unwise, unethical and wasteful human activities. With  75% of the Earth’s land in degradation, life forms may continue to be extinct, and land resources persist in turning into barren dirty landforms.

As parents, it is a serious duty to teach the children to be stewards of nature. They should guide their children to understand their significant role in the fight against the Earth’s total destruction.

You can make activities involving environmental immersions, participating in community events and empowering them that they may realize their capabilities of making great changes.

Sapat lamang ang dapat kunin mula sa kalikasan

“Take from nature only that which is enough”

The emergence of neoliberalism breeds the height of resource exploitation, causing various significant environmental problems plaguing our society. The natives were driven out from their homes; animals found with no habitats; and nothing to keep us safe from forceful calamities.

We endure the effects of our exploitative acts and decisions, and our children will continue to suffer. The younger ones need to learn the virtues of taking from nature only that which is enough.

Among the many things you can teach is to live simply and consider the alternative way of doing things.  

Sapat lamang ang dapat kainin at bilhin

 

“Eat and buy only what is enough and needed”

Gluttony describes the bad habit of eating more than necessary. Unknowingly, this moniker also extends to the consumerist behavior towards worldly possessions.

Children develop tendencies to be gluttons for food or things when they are either not taught control or when it’s used to control them.  Naturally, parental love manifests in their children’s happiness. And oftentimes giving material gifts is the love language.

Some parents, on the other hand, discipline children by ‘giving’ when they do something good and ‘taking’ when doing something bad. The material possessions are given too much value and emphasis.

What parents can do is to spend more time with their children, limit their spending, and redefine happiness. It might also be good to push them to share, donate and volunteer for a cause that they are passionate about.  

Sapat dapat mayroon ang bawat isa sa kaniyang mga pangangailangan upang mabuhay nang malusog at may dangal

“Each person must have enough to sustain a healthful and dignified life”

Each person, by virtue of his or her being human, deserves to live a dignified life. Each of us works hard to bring food to the table, to be clad in clean clothes to be warm in our homes.

But, there are those among us who are unfortunate in life.  Some live on the scrapes of the necessities and sometimes barely had anything.

We cannot provide for every one of them, nor continue to give dole outs. However, we can do something to help them sustain themselves.

You, as parents, can encourage your children to share their resources, be it financial, knowledge or skills to teach the poor, other children and the marginalized to make a living for them and their family.

Your duty as a parent doesn’t end in putting appetizing and healthy food on the table nor in dressing your children in fine clothes. A vital role parents have to take on is feeding their souls and rearing them into valuable members of the community. You can begin by teaching them the value of contentment, taking and using what is just and enough.    

 

Photo © https://amritaserve.org

What It Means to Live Alternatively

The interdependence of lifestyle and health creates a challenge for the contemporary communities. Our stay-at-home and binge-watch practices, sale obsessions, and Internet slavery can make us lonely unhealthy people if we keep doing this for the rest of our lives.

We need a good rest and we have to enjoy life as much as we can. How then can we strike a balance with the need to connect with nature?

No, it’s not asking you to become a hermit somewhere up in the mountains. Although, it’s a viable option. Alternative lifestyle generally means detaching yourself from the mainstream way of life that keep you from being one with Mother Nature.  It can also be about living in a subculture, which we’ll file as a to-be-discuss entry for now.

There are a lot of activities defining an alternative lifestyle. For beginners like us, let’s not opt for something very drastic. We’ll focus on something that we can do right now. Here are a few answers and enterprise to what it means to live alternatively.

To go off the grid

This is the epitome of living alternatively.

Our world is a complex system of people, nature, and behavior.

So, you will have so many options on how you want to go off the grid. Some of you might want to join intentional communities, where people create new neighborhoods based on a specific belief, purpose or way of living. There are boundless varieties of these communities from religious groups, political activists and environmental enthusiasts among other communes.

Imagine living in a place where you share the same values with your neighbors. Isn’t is appealing?

Being real about it though, not all of us has the luxury of leaving everything behind. We are bounded by the responsibilities and commitments that we cannot simply overlook.

This, however, does not mean that you can never do the same. During your downtime, you can always get out from the bustling metro to the tranquil flavors of the countryside. Visit your hometown or take a tour on that island you’ve put off for so long. Or if time isn’t on your side, redefine a staycation by going on a self-retreat to the nearest retreat center in the city.

 

To be self-sufficient

To be self-sufficient means relying on our own resources for a functional household. We don’t have to go far to build self-reliant homes. In fact, cities have become open to green dwellings with natural sources for electricity, and to power heating and cooling systems. So, there’s really no excuse for us.

We begin by identifying which natural resource we have is abundant. The most common is the solar energy from the sun. This involves solar panels installation. Experts on solar powers is not a rarity, I’m sure you can tap their assistance to help you out. It may be a little expensive, but you can save tons in the long run.

If you have rich soil or has enough space to plant, you can transform your backyard into a mini farm. In here, you’ll be able to grow your own organic food supply and even raise a few livestock. But, before having pigs and chickens strutting in your yard, know the legal requirements and specifications considering that the urban is not as open and forgiving od the byproduct of these activities.

For those who are ready to commit to larger things, you can go all out by creating sustainable water sources for non-potable water use. There are two prevalent configurations for sustainable water: rainwater harvesting and a greywater system. The former is the technique of catching rainwater into a basin and used for irrigation and household consumption. Greywater on the other hand, is reusing water from shower, sinks, washing machines to water plants and for toilets.

 

To practice minimalism

“Take only what you need.”

This one can a bit tricky. We may not be chronic hoarders. But, we tend to associate our things with feelings that we can’t let some of them go. What’s more terrible is that we can’t seem to stop buying more.

Let’s start with the basics— your clothing. I’m guilty of this myself. We keep clothes that we don’t really use anymore because it’s cute, it’s a childhood favorite and what not. It’s time to let these go (maybe donate them). This will save us decision-making time when getting ready and declutter our closets at the same time.

Now we move to other parts of the home. Your kitchen holds a lot of utensils that might just blind you when the light hits them wrong. Give away those that you don’t use often and keep only the essentials.

Don’t be discouraged that your house is too big. Take it one step at a time and continue moving from one room to another until you’ve extracted all that you won’t need.

 

Closing thoughts

There is no universal way of doing these things. You have to find methods that are effective for you. This also won’t always be easy. It will be a matter of choice, discipline, and commitment. But, once you’ve started, it is already half the battle.  

 

Photo © Joshua Newton on Unsplash

Spotlight: Revisiting Lumad Arts and Crafts

The Philippines is rich.  

For those of us who grew up in the country, we’ve always been taught of our richness in biodiversity, in natural resources, in culture, in traditions, and in beliefs. A country with over 7000 islands, we also aren’t inadequate of ethnic communities.   

We nod, saying how amazed we of their identity and its manifestations. And that is just about it. We left them closed in the pages of our Sibika and Araling Panlipunan books. At the time where most of the indigenous communities are threatened and with the continued marginalization, we look back and celebrate the country’s diversity by revisiting the Lumad arts and crafts. We aim to inspire awareness and mobility for those who have the capacity to put them into the spotlight.

Cloth weaving

Perhaps, when we speak of Lumad arts and crafts, we imagine the bright pieces of clothing laced with intricate designs. While this is just the tip of the iceberg of the Lumad artistry, cloth weaving is a leviathan part of the Lumad way of life.

Woven clothing, when worn by the Lumads are nothing short of sublime, but taking a closer look into it is far more magnificent. The designs and colors hold many meanings, displaying the beliefs and history of the community if you are keen enough to look closer at this work of art.

Mandaya’s Dagmay is a woven cloth that exhibits their folklore and religion. A recurring element of their work is a crocodile, which is considered sacred for the tribe.  

The T’nalak of the Tbolis is another woven cloth that is worn for sacred ceremonies during the community festivals. The weavers are at liberty to create their own pattern arrangements based on their dreams, which makes it more interesting and one-of-a-kind.

Bagobos call their woven clothing Inabal, which are worn by the royalties of their tribes. This craft is brought further into the limelight when traditional weaver Salita Monon received an award for her traditional weaves.

Tattoos

Skin art is nothing new to us. We’ve admired the details that come into it, and we’re more astounded by the history that comes behind it. I, for one, thought of being inked, if not for my fear of needles as another avenue to express myself.

To the Lumads, it is not a mere expression. It is who they are. Some Lumads, especially the males, put on tattoos to their skin to show their prowess. It is a representation of their skills as a warrior. The more tattoos, the more skilled they are in hunting.

There are also other Lumads, who believe that their tattoos pave way for their acceptance in the underworld and the afterlife.

and the afterlife.

Soil paintings

For the Lumads, the soil is both essential to and emblematic of their lives and traditions, strengthening its indispensability for their community. The soil on which they stand on is the land entitled to them as the guardians, possessed by their lineage since time immemorial.

They turn back to the earth to give life to new artforms that uniquely showcase their mores. The Lumads like the Talaandig from Bukidnon have been known to practice soil painting. Loosely, the paintings are made for the preservation of their cultures, traditions, practices and for environmental protection.

To boot, this practice likewise is an expression of the beauty and peace brought by the earth. It is when we’re at our most peaceful self that we can clearly see art in its truest form.

Raul Bendit, in his talk with a Cebu-based news outfit said “Importante ang yuta nga para sa uban tumban lang busa gusto nato ipakita nga pwede kini mahimong art kay usa kini ka paghulagway sa beauty sa atong kalibutan ug kalinaw. kay dili man ta kahimo og arts kung dili peaceful ang atong huna-huna (The soil is important. Others may just think of it as something to step on but we chose this to highlight the beauty of the Earth and of peace which we need to be able to create art),”

We’ve overlooked Lumad art far too long. Now is a chance for us to bring their stories and lives up front and honor a culture that is truly Filipino.  

 

Photo © http://davaotoday.com/

Bokashi Technology: The Things You Need to Know

Living green is easier said than done.

Or so you think.

Our common dilemma when recycling is remaining committed and seeing through the whole activity. Naturally, it requires extra effort. But, it need not be a tedious process. Bokashi composting for one promotes for effective, but simple home waste solutions.

Bokashi traces its roots from a Japanese term roughly translated to mean fermented organic matter. It’s a composting process utilizing anaerobic items as food waste, fruit peelings, and other kitchen discards. With Effective Microorganism as its additive, the compost is highly useful as a base for gardens and agricultural lands.  

Many rural homes are opting for Bokashi. If you have tight space or is not yet ready for extensive recycling activities, you might want to begin with Bokashi.

Here are few of the important things you need to know about Bokashi:

The materials

  • Bokashi Bin

 

A Bokashi bin is a specially designed container. This receptacle houses the compost and is covered with an airtight lid. Below it is a tap that dispenses the Bokashi tea.

Some prefer creating their own bucket by drilling a hole for the Bokashi juice to drain. However, there are bins readily available to you.

  • Bokashi starter

This is the magical element of the composting process. The core ingredients include essential microbes (EM), bran, water, and sugar.  This spellbinding ingredient contains life and food for self-sufficiency that facilitates the fermentation process.

The EM, which is the living microorganisms in the powder, multiply to enable fermentation. Water and sugar serve as food and the bran houses the bacteria.

  • Organic materials

Kitchen wastes like fruit peelings, cooked and uncooked meat, tea bags and even flower and tissue can be dropped into the bucket. Once these ingredients are fermented, it can be mixed with soil as a conditioner.

 

The process

Though considered composting, Bokashi deviates from the traditional composting, specifically with its chemical and biological developments.

Bokashi ferments the organic matters, that is your kitchen scraps, instead of decaying them as in the case of composting. In effect, it has less odor and the matters are somehow preserved with an altered acidity appropriate for land cultivation. It is also an anaerobic procedure, requiring the absence of oxygen to ferment.

The ingredient that sets everything in motion is the EM. Microorganisms work to restore the balance in the soil’s ecosystem, and eventually its condition.

So how then do you do Bokashi? you ask. You can check out to this steps:

Step 1: Cut the organic wastes into small sizes and prepare the other materials

Step 2: Sprinkle a layer of bokashi power on the bottom of the bucket.

Step 3: Put a layer of organic waste.

Step 4: Pour in more Bokashi powder.

Step 5: Add the EM.

Step 6: Flatten the layers equally.

Step 7: Place a flat cover on top.

Step 8: Tightly seal the bucket with its cover.

Step 9: After 2 to 3 days for the first drain of the Bokashi tea, then every after a few next.

Step 10: Keep the mixture for two weeks and it’ll be ready for use.

Repeat the following steps until the bucket is full. Check your bucket for foul odor because it might mean that you didn’t succeed.

Bokashi is perfect for those with minimal time to spare. There is no need for strenuous activities.  

 

The benefits

  • Suited for small homes

It’s no excuse that you have a small space at home. What makes Bokashi suited for urban composting is the convenience of using smaller bins. You don’t even have to sweat out digging  soil. Everything is doable in the comforts of your abode.

  • Easy process

Bokashi is fairly simple to achieve. With ten (10) simple steps, you’ve got yourself a bucket full of soil conditioner.  The microbes do most of the job. Your contribution is to ensure that you drain the extract. You can now sell them to earn extra or use them on your garden.

  • No foul smell

Fermentation is not totally foreign to us. We’ve tried a few delicious fermented food selections and it’s even a staple in some households.

While we’re not going to eat the Bokashi produce, you’ll jump with joy to know that it does not emit a disgusting rotten smell. The fermented waste will smell like sweet pickled food.

Bokashi is easily a good choice to start your green life!

 

Photo © Pfctdayelise