Ironwood Maine Web Update

“The future depends on what we do in the present.”

Mahatma Gandhi

This week, there have been a lot of exciting activities for students. In this weekly update, I’ll be going into an overview of each campus’ activities, recent changes, and the upcoming graduations. In succession, I will be talking about CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), gardening (a new passion I have found here at Ironwood) and new culinary experiences I’ve encountered.

Frye is working hard to build up student’s skills within themselves, and also in preparing themselves for life outside of Ironwood. At Frye, students are taught how to maintain good self-care, keep their living space clean, utilize their resources if they need help, and improve their manners and etiquette. Ironwood works endlessly to set their students up for success, both at Ironwood, and when they return home.

At the Lakehouse, a therapist has come to facilitate a CBT group with the students. This week, we celebrated our freedom that comes with the upcoming holiday, Independence Day. We picked out two quotes about freedom that resonated with us. As a student who enjoys expanding their mind, it was truly enlightening to read different points of view on freedom and how much we take it for granted at times. As a group, we then discussed the quote and how it resonated and related to us. Freedom is often deemed as a right but as I reflect on the history of our country, it’s hard to forget all the men and women who lost their lives for freedom. After the group, I’ve found a new appreciation for the freedoms that we are afforded on a daily basis.

Recently, one of my favorite groups at the Lakehouse (but is also offered at Frye and the Farmhouse) is gardening. I can confidently say that when you grow a plant from a tiny seed, and see it grow into a plant that you can eat, it’s one of the best and most satisfying feelings in the world. We began by planting the seeds into small pots and placing them into a greenhouse to grow inside the house (if it was too chilly outside) or out on the deck. As the plants continued to grow, we transferred them into beds of soil in the backyard. As the weeks have gone by, these tiny little plants have grown into huge edible plants. Just last week, some students and I picked some arugula from the garden and put it into one of our meals. Nothing tastes better than the food you grow yourself!

This has been a pivotal week for Farmhouse and Lakehouse students. There will be 2 graduations celebrating individuals completing the program and sending them on their way for the rest of their lives. These students couldn’t be more excited to start their future. Graduations are always a refreshing experience as we congratulate the students on their hard work and the long journey they took to get to where they are today.

As I think about the abundance of students graduating this week, I’m excited to see what their future holds for them. Graduating from Ironwood is no easy task, so as we congratulate the students on their success, I can also see my own in the upcoming months. Therapeutic groups such as CBT and enrichment activities such as gardening sparked new passions in me that I would have never explored if I wasn’t at Ironwood. I can see my future developing into a more well-rounded life and I have Ironwood to thank for contributing to my new found intentions. The future always holds the unknown, but I couldn’t be more excited to see what Ironwood holds for me this week.

*When I am on campus, I tend to spend time with residents who are struggling, more than with residents who are “in the zone”, or “on fire”…in a good way.  This lands me at our Frye campus more than the Farmhouse or Lakehouse and that’s ok because Frye is without question, my favorite place at Ironwood.  

I have a lot of compassion for kids these days and it can’t be denied that all teens have had a rough time of it over the last couple of years.  They are anxious about the present and the future and they have also often been hurt some by the past.  Many are also lonely, and that is the hardest part for me to comprehend.  It’s not supposed to be that way when you’re a teen. 

So, as always when I share time with new Ironwood residents, I receive their messages that they are “mad” to be here, or, that “this place and my parents are sooo unfair”, or, that “I am missing out on everything back home”.   I try to just listen and affirm their thoughts, sharing that I am truly sorry that this period in their life is so hard…which is easy to do because I know that to them, it is.

Then eventually (and not typically during the first visit), I get to see their first smile and I know that there is great value in what Ironwood provides.  Ironwood is an easy place to both love and hate at the same time.  I see this from all points to include residents, family members and staff…even I find myself loving and hating Ironwood and I hope that we will all think some on how this could be so?  

A big thank you to this week’s level 4 Lakehouse author.  Have a nice weekend and keep your love and encouragement coming!