Ironwood Maine Web Update

“Great crisis produce great men and great deeds of courage.” (…great men and great women!)

John F. Kennedy

The thirty-fifth President of the United States said these words, speaking to the growth that takes place when one puts forth effort during adverse circumstances. He is noting the strength, sacrifice, pain, and reward of these crises we face and how eventually, we will live in the fruits of our labors, happy with what we have accomplished.

     This week, the Farmhouse residents have been working on chores and responsibilities per usual, trying to escape the harsh cold which is making its rounds on the Ironwood campus. Our social groups this week have allowed both the boys and girls group to take a spiritual trip through meditation in order to better connect with our imaginations and understand our thinking patterns on a deeper level.

     At Frye campus, the groups are growing rapidly and individual determination is also higher than usual. Students are engaging in skill building groups, including the enrichment group of maple syrup making. All students will soon have the opportunity to partake in the process of harvesting, boiling, and refining maple sap to make delicious, homemade maple syrup.

     We often take for granted the small blessings in our lives. Things as simple as the warmth of the sun lightly touching our skin on a brisk winter day. Recently, I witnessed a very special and personal moment. While I was walking down to shovel out the administration building early Wednesday morning, a bald eagle flew overhead not even fifty feet from me.  In that moment, I felt the presence of natural beauty and extreme grace. I felt the overwhelming joy of freedom in its purest form.

     At Ironwood, families, residents, and peers alike must endure adversity to become better versions ourselves. Wherever there is glory, there is often pain. Wherever there is success, there must first be failure. I have personally had my fair share of painful interactions with peers, staff, and especially with my family. Now though, as I prepare to return for my two-week home visit, I can confidently say that my family is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel which is our Ironwood journey.

*It is always interesting to circulate through the Ironwood campus each week.  We have a group of just under 50 teens who collectively cover the full range of our program…some who arrived in just the last few days/weeks and then some, who are nearing the end and saying goodbye to their peers and staff.  A full range of extremes ALWAYS and a campus that is in constant motion.

In a single afternoon, a new arrival shared how many days it will be until she turns 18: “and on that day I’m signing myself out of this terrible place, so I can do whatever I want.”  This message is received and processed just as another senior resident celebrates an 18th birthday and executes the paperwork to officially sign-in and finish Ironwood as an 18-year-old adult.  Of course, this latter teen had these same thoughts upon arrival to Ironwood and is somewhat puzzled on how a frame of mind can shift so dramatically in only months?

Another extreme again, as a mid-level resident is discovered to have lacked integrity and is consequence with a setback, only to overreact, deflect and shut down.  This individual event is processed as it always is, just as another resident requests a conference to bring to our attention a lapse of integrity, wanting it to be owned and repaired…confirming that important life principles are starting to sink in.

These ongoing and contrasting experiences are what make it possible to work at Ironwood for an extended period of time.  There would be no point to spend long days in the cold with adolescents who are permanently attached to negative energy and fixed mindsets.  What makes it so worth it here is to see the unfolding of positive and healthy human transitions, over time.  We are working for and waiting for the discovery of better choices in your young family members.  Also, the development of purpose and the understanding/appreciation of how valuable it is to have family members who love them, back home.  There is definitely a point in all of that.

Have a nice weekend.

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