Save Money This Holiday Season!

David LePere

David LePere

How many times have you heard this recently:

Save money this holiday season!

Really, it is possible. Let’s push the pause button on the rush of the season for a few minutes and think about what kind of toys our kids would do well to have.

As we prepare for the holidays and gift-giving for our children, our current culture would have us believe that more is better or that electronics lead to happiness. But I recently read an article that reminds me that it isn’t always glitz and glamor and bells and whistles that capture the attention of our children.  Imagination and interaction are the most fun part of toys.  And that what brings happiness is the thoughtfulness of the gift, not the price tag.

I was struck by the simplicity of the wisdom in this article from “WIRED” magazine about the top 5 toys of all time. When you read the article, I hope you smile as you remember all of the fun you’ve had playing with these toys yourself!

So, what are the top 5 toys of all time?? My children are 10, 7 and 5 years old and If I were to get all 5 of these toys for each my sons, I could probably spend less than 10 dollars on my entire Christmas and create hours of family fun! I’ll give you a hint…much of it can be found in your backyard or in the garage.

Enjoy the article, it’s great fun! What would you add to the list that would help us “discover what is real and true?”

The 5 Best Toys of All Time

posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (3)

The Sounds of Silence

Beth enjoys the sounds of silence on Mooselookmegunic Lake

Beth enjoys the sounds of silence on Mooselookmegunic Lake

At the end of summer I went camping with my two sisters, niece and a friend on Mooselookmegunic Lake (yes, really!) in Northern Maine. After we arrived at our campsite, set up the tents, created our kitchen, collected firewood…we sat! It was stunningly beautiful. And it was blessedly quiet.

Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist, has traveled the globe for more than twenty-five years recording the vanishing sounds of nature. He reports that the average daytime noise-free interval in our wilderness areas and national parks has shrunk to less than five minutes!

I looked at my watch. 3:40pm. Then I stretched out on the rocky beach and listened. I heard the “whoosh” of the wind through the pine trees…the lapping of the lake on the shore…the mournful call of the loons…I was thoroughly relaxed and falling asleep. Then came the ROAR. A huge jumbo jet interrupted “nature’s silence”. I looked at my watch and it was 4:30. It had been 40 minutes of bliss. We were really out in the wilds of Maine!

After a week of listening to nature’s soundtrack, I was starkly aware of how little time I spend in “nature’s silence”. The week had been restorative, as if nerves had calmed and I was in synch. As Angeles Arrien says, I was “in nature’s rhythm, which is medium to slow!”

Cherokee Creek intentionally chose the woods for our campus. Our boys hear birds when they wake up, not traffic. And their days are uninterrupted by television, loud music, cell phones, texting, video games and other technological distractions. Their free time is filled, instead, with time outdoors, play, wilderness outings, reading and quiet time. It is real and true.  Nature calms. Nature restores.

“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything. When you’re in a place of natural silence, you’re not alone, and you can feel it. Whether it’s birdcalls from miles away or the proximity of a giant tree whose warm tones you can feel, there’s a presence. It’s a quieting experience.”    Gordon Hempton

In this autumn season of the Teacher – a time of letting go, introspection and stillness – I am becoming more aware of the beauty of nature and “the sounds of silence.” 

Still discovering what is real and true about the world around me…

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Who Am I?

Devon lights the fire from the East at a recent graduation. The East is the position of Insight - how appropriate!

Devon lights the fire from the East at a recent graduation. The East is the position of Insight - how appropriate!

Six months ago, a fourteen year old boy’s life was changed. He was part of a wilderness expedition in the Blue Ridge Mountains that lasted 6 weeks!  He has given me a journal entry of his from the expedition to help make a point about how important it was for him to have space and time to discover what is real and true…It is printed below:


 I love like a rose, without any thorns
I am strong like a bull, without any horns
I fight like a soldier, without a gun
I am not the moon, nor the sun
I am both of these, mixed into one
I am yin and yang
Brother and sister
Misses and mister
I am not the question, nor the answer
I am not the song, nor the dancer
I am not the tree, nor the plant
I am not the can, or the can’t
Who am I?
A soul from heaven
I am God’s child
My name is Devon

WOW! What deep insight from this young man! When I asked Devon if I could share his poem in this blog, I also asked him what he had done to arrive at this point of clarity. His answer, “Well, I was in the wilderness for a long time, and I didn’t have any video games, and the trip leaders gave me time to write about what I was learning.”

 Devon’s formula: Time plus Natural Environment minus Distractions plus Reflection equals Insight!

Right on Devon! What is Real and True is available for all of us to discover.

In what ways are you able to reflect on your life lessons and gain some insight? What can you do to find your time and space and write about what you are learning?

Seek and ye shall find!

Cherokee Creek Boys School is a therapeutic boarding school for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.

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Eagle’s Wings

In our study of the Medicine Wheel at Cherokee Creek Boys School, we are exploring the qualities of the Healer, the value of Love and the guiding principle of, “Paying attention to what has heart and meaning.” Therapist Jane Barker shares a touching story of healing and love – an experience filled with heart and meaning for her.

CCBS Therapist Jane Barker

CCBS Therapist Jane Barker, LISW

It was not an ordinary camping trip. I was taking my daughter Casey to the state park where I had experienced treasures of childhood joys. In my early adulthood visits to the park had been harshly interrupted by my father’s chronic illness. I was flooded by memories of my father as I sat rocking gently in the hammock the first day, as he had so often done when I was a child. The park magically came alive with voices of laughter from my past summers. I was overwhelmed by the unexpected, simultaneous emotions of grief and joy. 

Later, during that same trip, I caught sight of a majestic Eagle soaring skillfully through the sky. I sat amazed at the splendor of this grand creature soaring through an orange evening sky glistening over the still blue water. Its mantles of feathers were a spectacular sight and its pallid head projected from the wings like a snow capped mountain. This rare sighting of the Eagle in the wild gave me a splendid observation of the Master of the Skies. 

I know my flashbacks to childhood and my encounter with the majestic Eagle were an alignment with grace, soaring like the Eagle, riding the winds to touching healing. I recognized the beauty beyond the harsh and cruel realities of life and death. 

I believe that when an animal shows up to you in an unusual way it is trying to convey a message. On that day I received a message about my own healing journey from the Eagle. My grief was a majestic encounter upon Eagle’s wings.

What magical and spectacular encounters have you had with animals in nature?  In what ways has the beauty of nature inspired healing in your life?


Cherokee Creek Boys School is a therapeutic Boarding School for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.


posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comment (1)