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.
Holding space? What does that mean exactly? Does the physical correspond to the psychological or spiritual when we talk about a sacred space?
When offered the opportunity to attend Evoke's Finding You Intensive, I was swept up with excitement. I speak about this program daily, I hear others' glowing feedback about it, my friends and colleagues have explained it as a life changing experience, and I’ve listened to Dr. Brad Reedy recommend it time and time again on his podcast. I was all smiles, until it hit me, this is group therapy. And my heart began to sink into my stomach. Prior to this intensive I’d attended regular therapy sessions but doing a deep dive into my personal work, with strangers watching me, is far from my comfort zone!
In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave an address to The University of California, Los Angeles and said, “Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any….It is the word 'maladjusted'.…Certainly, we all want to avoid the maladjusted life. But I say to you, my friends, there are certain things in our nation and in the world [about] which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted.”
One of my favorite memories from my time as a Field Instructor, was during a week I was working with a group of adolescent girls. One of the students I was working with that week (we will call her Julie) came from a sports family. She played sports and her father was a coach for a professional sports team. She was the type of student who would put her head down and work tenaciously towards a goal, while often ignoring any emotions she was feeling. It was clear to the staff team at the time that this young person was spending a lot of energy on tasks and, in the process, ignoring her emotions.
Somewhere on the side of a rural highway in Georgia I unknowingly began my journey to Evoke. At the time, I was co-leading a group of 11 high school students to bike across America along with my co-leader, an ex-professional bike racer who spent his free time doing multi-day, 500-mile bike packing races. Today, he and our support car driver were an hour and a half away at the doctor with one of our campers. Today, I captained solo.