Ironwood Maine Web Update

“My friends, love is better than anger.  Hope is better than fear.  Optimism is better than despair.  So, let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic and we’ll change the world.”

Jack Layton

I would be wasting your time and distracting you further to use this page reviewing world events and contemplating the many things that might happen in our days ahead.  We value each of you, we hope that you are doing well and we encourage you to continue filling your most important roles, as the leaders of your family systems.

This week at Ironwood has been interesting in so many ways.  There have been ebbs and flows, as always and as the week has approached its end, there is recognizable growth in the things that are good.  Compassion, generosity, kindness, teamwork, optimism, understanding, trust, loyalty…just to start. These qualities are coming in from every direction and I am energized by what I am seeing and hearing from other Ironwood humans (if only our horses could speak). 

From a resident perspective, this week started off just as any other.  On Wednesday morning, as I drove by a large group of Farmhouse girls who were walking to school, I received a greeting and welcome that I cannot remember last receiving out in the real world. It’s so nice to be on the receiving end of a generous exchange like that and we need to figure out how to make this happen more in our world!

Later that morning, I listen to a level 2 resident presenting to our Treatment Team for potential promotion to the Farmhouse.  The young man was truly impressive in his explanation of past mistakes, recent learned experiences, appreciation of family and hopes for the future.  “How could this be the same young man I first met” I thought while listening “in just those many months?”  We now have a new member of the Farmhouse who has been working hard…and I know for a fact that his family is playing a major role in what we are seeing on this campus!

On Thursday afternoon, families and residents were informed of necessary program adjustments that not long ago seemed impossible….

Now, a day later, I can share with you all that I have been overwhelmed by a collection of responses that have involved all of the good qualities mentioned above. Parents, staff and even residents (your kids) who are sharing an overall understanding of these times. Disappointment, no doubt, but the “good stuff” as well.

I am struck by how relevant our work and teachings are with the young people who flow through Ironwood.  Life principles that are applicable in our every-day routines and quite possibly critical in the times when we are deeply tested.  The becoming more accountable and less a victim, avoiding isolation, giving full effort for your team, processing conflict effectively, acknowledging the positive qualities in others when we catch ourselves dwelling on their negatives, effectively managing our emotions, seeking feedback with the desire to improve oneself, growing through struggle and conflict, trusting more (but not blindly).

Why is this so hard in our world and what is it about our nature that resists internal change that feels so good when it is given and received?

My final two and separate resident meetings this week were with female residents. The first, a new arrival who is still struggling with being here, but who is also so receptive to her unspoken need for affirmation and encouragement.  She reverts to old tendencies at first, but then also responds to feedback from a prior conversation when reminded, showing that she is growing and willing to make positive changes in her life.  And the second, a seasoned vet who has successfully processed through struggles over the months and is almost ready for home.  She is eager to share her excitement and angst in moving on and away from Ironwood and she is told that this mix of emotion is a good signal that she is on the “homestretch.”  Ironwood is not meant to be anything more than a chapter and this work is all about the place you need to be going to next. 

This afternoon, I spoke to my 98 year old father and it was agreed that we needed to cancel our FL multi-generational family trip next week to celebrate his life.  It was important for him to share with me that he is a survivor of a depression, WW2, multiple market corrections, the loss of family members and many friends.  He shared that while there is uncertainty and challenges today, we are also a resilient and strong people and it is likely that we will come out of this with some time.  I wasn’t very connected with my father in my teenage years, but he has been the member of my family who has always been patient, supportive, generous and interested throughout the years. Today, he is easily my most trusted advisor in the world.  I think he would be pleased for you to know his opinion.

I want to thank the many of you this week who have reached out with encouragement and your professional expertise.  Have a nice weekend and maintain an open spirit.  

Wes Horton