UK Mentor & 6-day Playshop at Wiston – Scotland 2016

Hello My Friends,

Fall has fell at Wiston Lodge.
When we arrived at the Lodge situated in the middle of the Scottish midlands, fall was in all it’s glorious colorful splendor. The giant birch tree that stood guard over the pond behind the lodge, was in full bloom with every hue of oranges, reds and yellows that Jack Frost could paint on it. The row of trees that line the road up to the Kennel house were all a bright sunny yellow and gold.
It was a little nicer for this coastal California boy who only sees fall on his European tour, because Diana, my best friend and partner, was with me for the first few days of the mentor program before she had to go back home to Santa Cruz. This was our first real fall together in a long time.
The colors of the woods had all been in full peak when we arrived, and now 10 days later, the leaves of the pond's birch sentry is all dark reddish brown and starting to filter to the ground loosing its and nice rounded shape. The road up to the Kennel house is now a half a foot deep in fallen leaves as the branches of the trees that line the road are starting to be exposed.
My regional organizer A-Team for the UK, Paul Dear, Dr Jane Bentley & the true elf himself Mr Steve Under-Hill and I agree that this was, by far, the best Mentor/Basic Playshop that we have facilitated since we started doing the “Full Monty” here in Scotland.
There were a lot of factors involved in this great success, starting with the amazing coordinated effort of the UK A-Team who have been putting this program on for 8 years. Of course Paul, Dr Jane & Steve have been involved in the VMC Playshop community since the early pioneer days of the REMO “DC Demonstration” tours over 15 years ago.
Dr Jane did a great job Mentoring the mentors in their elder-in-training process as we progressed deeper into “Hitting their wall” territory. She has been supportively working behind the curtain for years for VMC and it is nice to see her taking on a leadership role and wearing it as easily as if it was her birthday suit.
As usual, Steve handled a thousand little administrative details that would have made all our lives miserable had they not been taken care of.
Paul Dear was my wing man on this journey, my confidant and also the little voice sitting on my shoulder keeping me focused on the big picture. Paul dealt with the usual Playshop distractions that he did not let me be aware of or be distracted by, until it was all over.
Jim Boneau was a big factor in our success. Even though he could only come over to Scotland and give this particular Mentor Program a 4-day “Kick Start” with his amazing heart and magic, his influence, inspiration and spirit continued to vibrate in our very competent mentor group throughout the 6-day Playshop.
About half of our Mentors were returnees and half were first timers. A great mix of experience and newbies.
Another element that contributed to our Playshop's success was the commitment of the Mentors to set up and maintain a safe platform for the Basic participants to explore their facilitation technology, as well as the edge of their knowledge and experience. The Mentors truly helped the Basics find and define their personal commitments, while helping them re-tune their own personal missions.
The Basics just rocked. They all fully and fearlessly jumped into the process and took us all on a community learning adventure that went way beyond just learning how to facilitate a rhythm-based event.
The old hunting lodge itself also contributed to our success. Nestled in the Wiston woods, it comforted and held all 50 of us in its warm 18th century architectural embrace.
Our time at Wiston was also a time for celebrating the Gaelic festival called Siamhain, pronounced sɑwɪn - sah-win -savɪn - or sow-in. It marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year and has Celtic pagan origins. It is believed that, at this time, the vail between this and the other world is thinest and can be easily crossed. The belief is that this thin veil separates the world of the living and the realm of the dead and that it is easier to facilitate contact and communication with friends and relatives who have past.
So after one of our last evening musicality sessions we went into the woods behind the lodge cabins to the tipi fire circle and held a ceremonial “Sowen" drumming - singing and dance ritual. Tears were shed, prayers were said and past friends and loved ones were honored.
Yes it was a very good Playshop program this year in Scotland.
Although we had more sunny days than usual at this particular Playshop, the air got a little crispier each day as the week progressed.
I will have a few days rest and reflection here in this peaceful crispy cool wooded valley before I head onto my final destination on this tour.
Then on to Palermo on the island of Sicily in the middle of the warm Mediterranean sea.

Life is a dance...  Arthur