PodAt the end of yoga class in the juvenile justice center, everyone lays down for a rest. This week, to help the kids relax, I asked them to think of or imagine a place all their own, someplace comfortable, where no one would interrupt, where they were OK, just as they are. The room fell quiet.

Then one boy said, “Here.”

No one sniggered or lifted a head to see who said it.

He probably didn’t mean he liked being in jail. No one likes being in jail.  Who knows what’s going on in his life that would make incarceration seem better? Still, it was an acknowledgment of sorts. Not something you hear every day from an inmate.

An army of people run this place, teachers, tutors, counselors, lawyers, nurses, staffers. How many forgo better salaries in order to help young people untangle their problems? Kudos to all of them — kids included. When things go wrong in a kid’s life, really wrong, finding a way back is hard work.

It’s the dark season here in the Northwest. Sometimes, when skies are gray for the fifth day in a row, when my fingers ache with cold, it’s easy to forget to be grateful for the rain that’s finally come. Likewise, when kids make return appearances in detention for a second or third time, it’s discouraging; but maybe, sometimes, it’s what they need.

There was wisdom, too, in the boy’s response. Where is your special place? It’s here. It’s where we are, right now.

Wherever you are, whether it’s celebrating with people you love, dealing with challenges, or just going about your life, warm wishes on this American holiday of thanksgiving.





  • Kudos to you for working with these poor kids! I’ve forgotten the percentage, but many foster kids end up in “Juvie” and for some it’s a toss up over which is better! Sad but true. With the rain this time of year comes the cold! Lovely image on the bottom – Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re right, a lot of the young people in detention are foster kids, many have been physically abused, many can’t focus on one thing for more than a few seconds — but what strikes me most is how normal-seeming they all are. Just kids. Kids in big trouble, but trying all the normal hi jinx, wanting, or shying from attention, looking for ways to make things better. As we all are.

      Yes, really, really grateful for rain. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  • I imagine it’s both rewarding and difficult to work there. But I’m sure the dedicated people who do work there go a long way toward those kids’ recovery. Or at least some of the kids. I suppose for others, it’s harder to make a dent.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I suspect it’s kind of a jigsaw puzzle for the people trying to figure out what’s going to help who, and to put it in place, and to make it stick when a sentence is completed. Hard all the way around. Many carrots and a few sticks. Hope you have a happy holiday, and that Eating Bull is selling like crazy. Cheers —

      Liked by 1 person

  • Such a perfect reflection on the most basic of things to be grateful for. Being here. Now. Right here. Even when right here isn’t perfectly right.

    Love to you and all the Whitmores. And turn up the heat; it will help a lot with those cold hands. 😉


    Liked by 2 people

  • I suppose his answer could have meant many things, and I was thinking that perhaps he felt that ‘here’ he was somewhere where he was at last free of being judged – within a social hierarchy perhaps, or against some familial morality, or possibly intellectually? Maybe there is a certain irony in having to have society judge some in accord with legal prescriptions before they are able to find “a place all their own, someplace comfortable, where no one would interrupt, where they were OK, just as they are”?

    Liked by 4 people

  • My dad lost his mom when he was 8. When his dad was drunk, he’d chase the kids out of the house with a knife. At night, the children listened to the Florida panthers, the danger inside greater to them than the risk of being eaten by predators. The 2 youngest of 4 children lost their souls from their experiences but you couldn’t find more honorable people than my dad and the 2nd oldest, his sister. They remembered the kindness and love of their mother.

    You never know the effect that one person’s love may have on a young child and how and act of kindness can change the outcome of their lives and the lives of everyone they touch.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh man, what a way to put it. Lost their souls. What a torch your Dad carries, to bring honor and kindness to his family, when he could so easily have gone another way. Kindness is powerful, resonating as strongly through a generation as violence. Thanks for the reminder.

      Liked by 1 person

  • An excellent post. Being here! The definition of life! “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Liked by 2 people

  • Thanks for sharing this part of your life with your blog readers, especially at this time of year. My son and I have been volunteering at a local “street ministry” that provides meals to the homeless. It felt good to be making even a small difference in someone’s life and also reminded me of how incredibly lucky I am to have a roof over my head and food in the refrigerator–something certainly not to be taken for granted.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Beautiful post! When I was about 3 months into my practice of Yoga I started having moments like that at the end. It’s a wonderful feeling of freedom and I hope that is what this big was feeling.
    Thank you for giving yourself to these souls!

    Liked by 2 people

  • Hi Julia,

    I don’t recall ever reading that you did this type of work. I commend you because I know that it must be difficult. I’ve never met a teacher that I didn’t like (even Fr. Flynn, who drove me crazy during my senior year of high school with his art class), because I know that they give up a lot to remain in the profession. Working with troubled children, in any capacity, helps build a better future.

    Liked by 1 person

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