October 2015

October 2015
Blog of Education
A Matter of Perspective


Kevin Estela and Jose Estela

No matter how old I get, I will always remember the lessons from my father. A recent picture from Sept. 2015.


“When you wake up in the morning and can see, be thankful. When you wake up in the morning and can walk, be thankful.”  These were the words my father told me growing up to teach me perspective. He would add how others could only wish to have it as good as those who take the basic abilities in life for granted. In a survival situation, perspective can determine how you view your situation. Is your night out in the woods an emergency, is it the result of consequences out of your control or do you really not want to go home and would rather avoid someone or something by staying out? Perspective is directly correlated to mindset and your odds of survival. Of course, I am not advocating making light of a situation nor am I saying to take it lightly. I am simply saying it is necessary to step back at times and reassess how bad or how good you actually have it compared to others. You need not be in an emergency to think about your perspective. Sometimes, it creeps up on you in your daily life as it did in mine just today, October 3rd.

October 3rd, if this date sounds familiar to you, it is probably because you follow my Facebook page or you have heard me talk about it incessantly for months now. On October 3rd, I hosted the 3rd Annual Wilderness and Wellness festival at Indian Rock. This event featured wilderness survival skills and wellness events open to the public. This weekend, like the one before it and the year before that, is generally when it is held and after torrential down pours like 2014, I figured it would be nice weather like 2013 initially was. I was wrong. All week there was talk of Hurricane Joaquin and even though the storm didn’t track over CT, the media built up the storm as if it were the end of the world for us here in New England. Sure, we had some rain and we had a lot of wind but the event was held almost entirely indoors and we were safe and sound. None-the-less, folks who walked in said it was cold and raw outside and undoubtedly the weather impacted turnout.

ELCCT Bird Bulding

Wilderness and Wellness Festival inside the ELCCT main building

No one was more disappointed than I was as the day carried on and fewer than expected walked through the door. I know I cannot control the weather but there is part of me who feels like regardless of conditions, it is my fault for not having as many people as last year showing up. I guess that is the curse of an overachiever and work-a-holic.I watched my watch as volunteers filled many seminars and spoke with presenters as people didn’t show. As someone who started off teaching a handful of public seminars with limited attendance, I know the presenter’s feeling of being let down when a handful of people show. It is not a feeling I want my guest presenters to ever feel but I felt as if they may have today despite reassuring me they had a great time.  I expressed to many of the folks who attended how this event will likely weigh on me for a while. I do the brooding thing well and I can focus on the negative sometimes more than I’d like to admit. This festival turnout would irk me or at least that is what I thought until a major dose of perspective was dished out before me.


Clay's Critters

Getting up close and personal with Clay’s Critters

After the fundraiser, I went to a local restaurant for comfort food and drink. I sat there, deep in thought wondering how the turnout ended up less than expected despite the hard work of my friends Jackie, Lexie, Keri, Erin, Scott and the rest of the coordinators. While sitting at the bar ordering dinner, I ended up in conversation with one of the servers. He described his life post high school and how he had a string of misfortune in the past couple years. He lost both of his parents, he lost his house and had to start a new job when his previous became hostile. He told me how he was able to turn it all around and I am happy for him knowing he is working in a better place and back on his feet. With empathy for his situation, I snapped out of my disappointed slump and began to ponder the relative insignificance of my disappointment with my day compared to the life experiences of this man. I had a mediocre turnout for a festival and I’m complaining about it? I have so much to be thankful for. It is all a matter of perspective.

Yoga at the ELCCT

Rebecca Hooley of Breath and Flow Yoga during the Wilderness and Wellness Festival

I was so preoccupied with the turnout of the festival, I did not notice the interactions the presenters had with one another. I did not stop to think how rich I am to have great friends who volunteered their time to come out and support my charity fund regardless of bad weather or not. These are friends who knew the weather would be bad, probably horrible, and they STILL made it out for me and the cause. These are my friends and if they are reading this, they should know I will bend over backwards for them in turn. I was so preoccupied with stressing over the weather I did not get a chance to think about how lucky I am to have my family, represented by my parents on this day, who came out to show their support and wish everyone well. I did not think about the impact this event will have on the lives of the folks who did come and how I will grow from this experience and the notes I took throughout the day to find a success formula (advanced ticket sales, better roadside signage, etc.) regardless of rain. I did not take the time to consider all that I should be thankful for because I could only see my situation and the events of the day a single way.It’s the wrong way and I recognize that now.  I did not have time to process it at the time but I’m thankful for the little signs of gratitude from the younger attendees who shook my hand and said “thank you” for exposing them to these activities. I forgot the lesson my father taught me at a young age and it wasn’t until I spoke with that server I realized I needed to change my perspective.

Estela Wilderness Education October 2015 Blog

My rocks. Lexie and Jackie who helped keep me sane in the midst of all the rain and wind.

I’m very grateful for all those who came out to the wilderness and wellness festival and am thankful for the supporters who attended and who supported my charity with financial contributions if they could not attend. It was bothering at the time but I understand the deterrent the unfavorable weather conditions were on folks who chose not to come. In time, I will be less bothered by circumstances out of my control and I’ll make it better next time. All it takes is a change in perspective to realize how good today was regardless of what Mother Nature threw at us. I could easily be defeated by the rainy weather 2 years in a row but I won’t let that stop me or the cause. It is going to take more than some rain, more than a hurricane, to stop my plans for ensuring education for younger generations. If there is a lesson to learn from this event, it is to pick your head up and push on because it never is as bad as you perceive it to be. If you change your perspective, you may be able to change your circumstances.

In closing, the events of today remind me of one of my favorite inspirational quotes,

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can always adjust my sails.” -Jimmy Dean

Many thanks to all those who made today possible but especially:

The accommodating staff of the Environmental Learning Center of Connecticut
Bob and Cheryl Berg of Thunderbird Atlatl
Vern Hussey of Vern’s Flint and Steel
Monica Lattimer and Shakeology
Lizzy H. and Barbara from the local Girl Scout Troop
The Wolcott Atienza Kali Group
Mike Grappone and Soul Paddle
Rebecca H. from Breathe and Flow Yoga
Mrs. Santasiero and her Tai Chi Demonstration
Alice D. from 4-H and her survival kit demo
Dr. Mike Taz from Refuse to be a Victim
The Bristol Police Explorers and Officer George Franek
Sifu Chris Smith, Jessy Miele and Del from IMBCT
Danielle Rivard and Post University with the weather exhibit
Clay’s Critters and their reptiles and carnivorous plants
Deborah Yarde who took incredible photos that were left out for guests to see
Battle Horse Knives for donating the Fieldcrafter
Kristi Hunter from Spyderco for the giveaway items
Mountain Khakis for donating to the giveaway and sponsoring the event
The Trustees of the ELCCT for helping with the Lotto Tree
All of the wonderful volunteers from BCHS who helped out!