The other night I had an interesting dream. I was swimming in a deep ocean with my kids. I could see my two boys floating ahead of me just beyond my reach. I could feel the coolness of the water and the contrast of the dark blue depth below me and the bright glow of the sun above. In depth psychology, the image of water is referred to as a symbol of the unconscious. Dreams remind us of a vast ocean of emotional experience that we have yet to fully understand.
I headed southeast along 60-some miles of gravel and dirt towards the Colorado River. It was exactly the space I needed to contemplate what my next year would look like—a mindless, alluring path with a seemingly important end. I leaned my head against the frozen window watching the sun greet the frost-covered ground. Despite all my consternation about the future, the world continued to sparkle.
It was late morning and the hope of the staff team, driven by an early wake up, to start our hike before the heat of the day was waning. Our preparations to leave had been complete for some time: our gear in need of transport was at the road, the previous night’s onion peels—overlooked before—no longer lay “on the floor.” The hitch? Earlier we had informed a group member, Andrew (a pseudonym used to protect client confidentiality), that, for the first time since his arrival, we expected him to hike with his pack. For him this was unwelcome news, and the initial verbal response was, “No.” He intended to refuse.
You just heard from your child’s therapist that you are invited to do an overnight visit in the field with your child. Your first thought may be something along the lines of, “Yes! I finally get to see them!” Pretty quickly that first thought may be followed by “Oh no, I have to go camping in the winter?!?”
Everyone today is faced with messages that our bodies--at least their exterior appearance--are projects. To put the reality of this into perspective, I suggest looking into Jean Kilbourne’s work as she has chronicled decades of the increasing magnitude of cultural pressures on women, especially through advertisement, since the 1970s. Among the internet searches is an entire series of documentaries called Killing Us Softly 1-4. They are profound.
“Hey Mom,” my 22 year old son began, somewhat nervous. “I wanted to tell you something. Well...umm...my girlfriend asked if I would like to go spend the holidays with her family this year.” and then he paused.
Often when I am talking to a prospective field staff during the interview process, they ask me what traits I look for in a candidate. From my time in the field, working as a field staff, talking to successful high-level employees, and examining the commonalities between past staff and others who did not thrive in their previous employment, I have boiled down what I believe to be the five essential traits that seem to be universal among successful people and field staff alike.
When I was 12 years old, I was in living in Hawaii (where I grew up) and hiking to a gorgeous spot called Maunawili falls with a big gang of kids and grown ups from our neighborhood.
A crackle comes over the radio, “Backup, Backup. This is Group 1. We need…”
Awhile back, Dr. Brad Reedy hosted a webinar on Parental Grief. During that webinar, he invited webinar attendees to share some of their stories, thoughts, or lessons about their experiences as parents, and the grief and guilt that inevitably come with raising children while also learning about how to become fully their own Selves.