By Gabrielle Ostroski, Director of Camp Matollionequay

It’s 7:45 pm on a Monday night and the day is winding down.  It’s time to put PJ’s on, brush teeth and get ready for bed. We sit down in a circle with a candle in the middle. Tonight’s topic is “What is your rose and thorn of the day?” We go around the circle and as each person is speaking, everyone else is present. Still. Listening. Giving that person their full attention. It’s an opportunity to share and be vulnerable. To hear how that person’s day was. It just so happened that each of us had the same rose; an hour of laughter, pillow fights and tickles right before we sat down. This night, I also learned about a struggle my daughter was having in school. We had already been home for 3 hours together and it was during our candle time as a family that she allowed herself to open up. In that moment, as difficult as it was to see her filled with sadness, I was so thankful at her willingness to share and allow herself to feel. We honored those feelings together right there and then and later on we brainstormed ideas on how to move forward. We ended the night with a bonus question.  A “would you rather?” that ended in lots of laughter. We counted down … 3, 2, 1, made a wish as we blew out the candle. Sometimes we talk about what we are grateful for. Other times it’s something on a less serious topic. But it’s our time, as a family, together, with no distractions, to reflect on what has taken place that day. It gives us a chance to see how we can support one another and what areas of our days might need that little extra attention. And most importantly we get to learn about one another.

I learned this ritual from a really special place – Camp Matollionequay.  This is a practice that we do daily during the summer. Right before campers get into their beds, they end the day together talking about their highs, lows, successes, failures, challenges, likes and dislikes.  Sometimes it’s deep, other times you’ll hear laughter coming from the cabin. Reflection is such an important part of the day. It allows us to ask questions, get clarity and build emotional awareness. I am forever thankful that this practice came into my life 19 years ago and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Whether it’s with your family, a group of friends or the people you work with, take a moment every now and then from our to-do list and check in with each other. You never know what you might learn around a candle.

Be brave. Lead with love.  You are enough.

Thanks for reading.