When I first heard about wilderness therapy, I just knew it was for me. I thought, “That exists?! I’m doing that.” Being from the heavily wooded sprawl of the New York suburbs, when I saw the Evoke website, I immediately imagined doing therapy among sparse scrub, cactus, and red rock, with everything but what was absolutely necessary stripped away. And yet, when I began working wilderness (as this line of work is called by field staff), nothing felt more difficult or unnatural.
In August of 2019 I packed up my life and boarded a plane to Namibia. I was finally on the way to achieving my long-term dream of serving in the US Peace Corps. Little did I know that a mere seven months later I would be on a plane again headed right back home. Everyone has a story of how COIVD-19 affected their lives. This is mine about how the insanity that was 2020 brought me to Evoke.
“Children act out when they can’t or don’t know how to get their needs met. We are all children.”--Dr. Brad Reedy
Here I sit, starting to write a blog that I knew for months was due today. This was a date I had chosen, and this isn’t my first go around. I wrote a blog a couple months ago too, unfortunately in the same familiar fashion for me, last minute. I remember thinking to myself then, “Why do I procrastinate these tasks and create all of this unnecessary stress for myself. If only I had started this a few weeks ago, then I wouldn’t be trying to figure out how to have this done an hour ago. Next time I won’t wait so long to get started.” And yet here I am, in the same position I have been in many times before, down to the wire.
“Do you know what this is all about, why we’re here? To be “out,” this is “out.” And to be “out” is one of the single most enjoyable experiences of life” - Jerry Seinfeld
A question I often get asked is some version of, “Why does my kid keep lying/exaggerating?” This question crops up when parents are relaying what has been so hard at home, in the midst of hearing a story their child told me in therapy, or when they hear about interactions in the group. This question is often accompanied by some level of frustration or anger and bewilderment born of betrayal, sadness, and--at times--hopelessness that this new habit can shift.
This past week, I began writing a blog speaking to how some of the current humanitarian crises, such as the war in Ukraine and the conflict in Yemen, affect even those of us living far away from these complex situations. I was only a couple of hundred words into it but I thought it had great potential. I was planning to finish it today but, unexpectedly, my dog was hurt and had to have emergency surgery. My whole day's “to-do list” was turned upside down. I didn’t accomplish any of the things I’d hoped to. For example, I wasn’t able to visit the two Intensive programs that were starting today. And I wasn’t able to provide a new employee the training that I had promised. And I missed a couple of meetings.
I like basketball. Recently, while looking at some news on ESPN, I saw a rumor that the Los Angeles Lakers were considering a trade package to send Russell Westbrook out to the Hornets in exchange for a package that centered around the acquisition of Gordon Hayward. As a Celtics fan who lived through the disappointing Gordon Hayward/Kyrie Irving era, I feel confident in reiterating the title here: Gordon Hayward is not the answer to your problems.
I recently traveled with my two small children across the country on my own. It was the first time I was “outnumbered” for this kind of adventure and length of time. Leading up to it, the internet did its eerie thing of suggesting articles that played right to my fears. Would my children and I be the bane of some folks’ existence during the flights? Is it really possible for a four-year-old to wear a mask all day?
There is still a question I remember from my initial interview for the field instructor position at Evoke: What do you do if a student refuses to hike? At the time of my interview, I was fresh out of college and had little to no meaningful experience dealing with resistance, defiance, manipulation, and other challenging behavioral patterns that we regularly see from our Evoke students. So, of course, my answer was: um, say okay? I had no idea what to do but give in, say okay, and let a person do what they were going to do. I considered saying I would try to convince them to hike, but I knew that when someone tried to convince me to do something I didn’t want to do, I only dug my heels in deeper. Little did I know, there was more wisdom in my response than young me could have realized.