Earlier this year I lost my older sister Colleen, after a decades-long battle with addiction. In our younger years we were very close. Over the last several years we had become more estranged, largely because of the choice I made for me and my own family to detach from the dysfunction that was associated with her disease. It wasn’t without years of trying to help and intervene in so many different ways. This became the case for my other siblings, as well as many other friends and loved ones who one by one distanced themselves over time. And yet with that, I still miss her and will always love her.
Recently, a friend who has a teenager texted me: “I am a rabid fan of Brad Reedy’s Evoke Therapy podcasts. I have recommended these to so many people but I’ve never heard back from anyone to know what they think.”
After being on hold for more than a year because of Covid precautions, parent field visits have returned to Evoke. And with that, they have once again become a source of many questions on my weekly parent phone calls preceding the trips. The most common ones often include “What can we expect them to be like?”, "What if they ask about the future?”, and usually some variation of “What if it doesn’t go well?”
It was a cold morning in the wilderness and the boys of Evoke Group One were struggling with the basic task of stacking wood to get the morning fire going. Before this task was to begin, the boys had to wake up, pack their packs, run the organization group that distributes the daily chores, walk to the camp, place their packs in order in pack line, and stand and listen to the breakfast logistical group. “C’mon guys, we’ve stacked wood every morning for the past week. We should know this by now. Let’s get it together,” exclaimed a field staff in frustration.
The field is a place of learning, challenge, and growth for clients as well as staff at Evoke. Field Instructors learn through structured training and continued professional development during their time with the company. The Field Instructor role encompasses so many different areas that there is always something new for staff to strengthen. This focus on what we can do better is not easy yet is one of the great benefits of the job and helps us provide the best possible care for clients!
Since their inception, mutual help groups have functioned as a valuable resource to individuals in need of community support. And while there have been many detrimental consequences associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the most significant impacts I have observed in my clinical work relates to the profound lack of connection many of my clients have experienced. Due to measures such as social distancing, capacity guidelines, and travel restrictions, virtual interactions have become ubiquitous. Now more than ever, providing individuals with safe access to support and connection is critical. Fortunately, the accessibility of virtual help groups has also improved rapidly over the past two years.
Twenty years ago, my best friend Heather went to work at Windows on the World to bake, and roll, and mix, and serve creations from her delicious heart. It was her calling. From the age of four she used to thumb through Gourmet magazine and beg her mom to help her make anything that caught her eye. If there was anyone who was born to cook and delight thousands in the process, it was Heather. We met in junior high. In high school we became best friends. We were at each other’s sides for weddings and funerals, for proms and pregnancy, for better and for worse.
Busting is field slang for making fire with a bow-drill fire set. When I was a new field staff learning the ropes of wilderness therapy, we talked about the three pillars of the program. One of those pillars was busting; hiking and the “I feel” statement were the other two. Those three pillars still stand today.
When I became a parent, I felt determined to do things differently. I thought that being a “good parent” meant protecting my kids from the hurt and disappointment of a deeply dysfunctional world. It’s a common sentiment amongst parents to want to give our children a better life than the one we had. In recent years, I’ve come to realize how so many messages we hear about parenting are so incredibly flawed.
I was speaking with my mom on the phone the other day, letting her know my latest life plan which involved moving yet again to a new city. This would be my 5th move since graduating college and the 13th in total if looking back on my whole life. My mom responded by asking me, “Change has always been so hard for you, why do you keep wanting to change your life up so much?” I let that sink in for a moment and answered, “You are right, change has been hard. I don’t know.”