Ironwood Maine Web Update

“It is when we are in transition that we are most completely alive.”

William Bridges

            Throughout the week here at Ironwood, many transitions have been taking place. The Lake House Campus re-opened from its holiday closing on January 4th, and the Lake House students will be moving back from the Farmhouse to their lovely home on the water. Students are once again beginning to flood to the Farmhouse from Frye, which is a transition that calls for celebration! On top of this, many Level Four students are beginning to leave for and return from their home visits. This, in theory, means that there will be some graduations on the way, and the students will begin to transition home for good! Another transition that we are experiencing is that the snow is beginning to become deeper, which means lots of sledding down the Beaver Pond hill, snow-shoeing, shoveling snow, spending time at the Sugar Shack, and many other winter-exclusive activities. As we’re shifting into the new year, we’re beginning to transition back to our regular schedule and settle back into our general lifestyle. The excitement, the decorations, the on-the-spot schedule changes, the treats, the presents, and all of the other holiday time perks are beginning to fade as we come back into reality and return our focus to ourselves, our programs, and our work. It’s a time to settle down and get back into the swing of our general lives. The “break” that takes place during the winter holiday season can be very refreshing, while also tiring. As it comes to an end, we can be grateful for the experience and the time we were able to put our energy to something a bit more “mystical” than day to day life. All of this allows us to transition back to our typical lifestyles stronger and more refreshed than we were back in November.

            Ironwood transitions (let alone any transition) can be difficult in many ways. Each and every one of them benefit the students and staff on this campus, not to mention all family members who are back home. Change isn’t always something we welcome, let alone embrace or seek out. Having to go through shifts and changes in the safe environment of Ironwood helps prepare everybody for future changes. Through each transition, we are able to learn something about ourselves. Whether it is a new coping skill, finding out that we do in fact want something we didn’t believe we wanted, or just simply making observations about ourselves and what we can do better, we come out of each transition better prepared for the next. Ironwood helps us to expedite this process through the support of the community and all of the coping skills that we are provided with (i.e. our workbooks, therapy meetings, taking some time and space to reflect, DBT groups, etc.). Students being able to better cope with change benefits families on their road to recovery tremendously. The ability to adapt to change will make a huge difference in the household and residents will be able to create and embrace positive changes within the family!

            I would like to touch on a transition that I will soon be experiencing. I will soon be embarking on the journey of a home visit, and I will need to apply many of the skills and recall many of the lessons that I have learned over my time here at Ironwood. Utilizing all of the times I’ve had to cope with large changes, (coming up from Frye, spending some time at the Lake House, returning to Frye, large schedule changes, members of my group leaving, residents joining my group, etc.) I feel well equipped to take on the new world with Covid-19 that I have not yet experienced. I feel prepared for change, and I know that with some effort and persistence, every resident here will at some point seek out and embrace the changes that come their way.

            So, to conclude the week’s events, many transitions have occurred and continue to take place. Students are utilizing these experiences to benefit their futures and are learning from each and every one of them. I hope that by seeing the positive changes in your son or daughter, you are able to welcome change a bit more than you currently do. I also hope that by noticing and acknowledging these changes, your family becomes stronger and more equipped for future changes and transitions that will inevitably take place.

*Today’s author is next in line for an Ironwood home visit and this test run is of great benefit to both the resident and family members back home who are very close to their journey’s end.  Whenever a family member rejoins the household, adjustments are necessary and this is the case for any re-entry.  A spouse back home after a week of travel, a college student on spring break and an in-law occupying that new addition that wasn’t necessarily planned on to be an “in-law apartment.”  These times require us to become more sensitive to the needs of others and our increased consideration and compassion can turn these shifts into experiences of deep meaning and connection.  Something that I share with our residents often is that success requires us all to become better negotiators in our most important relationships.  We have to put ourselves in our parent’s and sibling’s shoes if we want things to be better.  We also have to be satisfied with less than EVERYTHING that we want.  A day where you get 50% of all that you want is a very good day and I believe that all of you parents out there know what I’m talking about.  What can we do in our guidance and exampling that can help transfer this wisdom to our amazing young family members, whose brains are trying to grow away from “wanting it all”?  

Have a great weekend and remain hopeful!