Archive for February, 2011

The Father & Son Reunion…

Family Systems focus…
I have just spent a full two days on an expedition with my son as part of the Expedition Therapy experience.I had not seen him or spoken to him in the nine weeks since my wife and I had sent him to Expedition Therapy for treatment.

At that point in time, my relationship with my son had deteriorated to nothing more than small talk about the weather. He had fallen into a pattern of substance abuse, denials and outright lies. The unbearable level of stress created within the family by his toxic behavior had driven us to the point where either he had to get treatment, or he was going to be put out on the street. The son I sent to Expedition Therapy nine weeks earlier was extremely bitter and wanted nothing to do with me.
This was to be a surprise visit. I was reassured by the Expedition Therapy Treatment Team that our travels would take us to several of Southern Utah's most sought after natural treasures. As I drove out to the Expedition meeting site with Primary Therapist Beth Fogel, I was both nervous and hopeful about what might happen. As soon as my son realized that I was there, he immediately ran over, greeting me with a big smile and a hug. It was if I had stepped back in time to four years earlier, before his terrible downward spiral started.

For the next two days we talked…a lot. My son confessed that his resentment towards me and the other family members had been driven by his pattern of avoiding the responsibilities of his life. He talked about – and demonstrated – a sense of self-awareness I had never before seen in him. He took full accountability for his actions (again a first for him), and spoke about wanting the relationship with me that I had been hoping for.

I was deeply moved by our conversations. I realized that these two days were quite possibly the best two days of my life; it seemed like we had been given a unique opportunity for a "do over".
I have never felt closer to my son than I do right now. This was absolutely unthinkable to me just a few days ago. I am under no illusions about the likelihood of some additional bumps in the road ahead, but I am much more optimistic about my son’s future than I have been in many years. As we hiked the North Rim, I felt a sense of calm inside me.Taking in the immense beauty and majesty of the canyon, I felt at peace within myself knowing my son was feeling positive about his progress, too.

When I initially placed my son at Expedition Therapy, I viewed it as a last resort after many other treatment failures. After seeing the difference Expedition Therapy has made in his life, I am now very hopeful for my son’s future and the future of his relationships with the entire family.

THE BEAUTY THAT SURROUNDS US

Our Fearless Leader Naime C. rocks and her climbing resume is quite impressive!
She is a creative, intelligent, super organized, and a very compassionate leader.

It's hard to imagine how those who have lived here before us could manage to survive these windswept, harsh lands. Along the way, we did see a pronghorn sheep, deer, and a wide variety of birds…and made a friends with a Stellar Pinyon Jay, rich with cobalt blue color.  During our culture and  history discussion, we learned that as early as 1776, the Escalante Dominiquez expedition observed Paiutes gardening and cultivating corn and other food crops.

A Mule Deer makes a quick airborne appearance!
We always make time for technical and hard skills focus such as fire making, learning knots for climbing and canyoneering, as well as numerous safety talks. A huge, welcome me to  Senior Expedition Specialist Mike K. who as extensive wilderness therapy and professional guiding experience. Mike has climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro 5 times! 

To be continued…

Expedition Tenacity: Letting Go Of Unfinished Business

The Expedition ahead is somewhat known to us as it's a strenuous hike down and up steep canyons of sandstone and varnished rock. The unfinished Expedition weighs heavily on our minds. When we attempted to reach the bridge just six days ago, we were limited by time constraints and low morale. The thought of doing something short of completion feels familiar… like a huge letdown that also reminds us of so many times we haven't succeeded. Before  coming here, the automatic response was always the same… it's easier to just play video games, use, smoke, and escape.

During our evening discussion about the value of following through, the suggestion was made to all of us that we attempt the same Expedition to completion. The thought of getting back on the thirteen mile trail that wanders through wind chiseled canyons and an endless twists and slow turns skirting Powell had quite the effect on us. Everyone had   extremely different responses and feelings around the idea. Everything from, "no way am I going to do that again," to "you're joking, right?" to "I say, let's go and nail it!" Ah, N.G., a very positive leader rallied the Expedition Team! "Let's pack up and leave tomorrow afternoon!"  And that's exactly what the Team did.

We called upon our inner strength, tenacity and previous weeks training and experience  We shaved a day and a half off of our previous attempt and the gnarly hiking over huge rocks down a steep slope to Cliff Canyon appears difficulty yet not impossible. We noticed the cacti, tall yuccas lining both sides of the steep sloping trail. Then….The Bridge, Rainbow Bridge, was now in sight. This is the largest natural bridge in the world.

Cool, cool! We took in the awe inspiring site made of weathered sandstone, meditated upon our efforts, and took lots of photographs here. We reached our goal and felt accomplished. Getting unattached…

Letting go of our collective negative thoughts and beliefs about the previous Expedition was essential in giving us a new opportunity to focus on what we wanted to accomplish… in the now.

We chased the sun down after a delicious dinner of linguine marinara. This was a relaxing time to reflect upon our accomplishments and wait for the night sky to appear with all of its amazing constellations, galaxies, roving satellites, and shooting stars.

To be continued…

Internal Motivation, Carrots & Deception: The Sequel

We spent focused time and sharing as a Group discussing the concept of motivation. We each provided examples of what motivates us with the intention of learning the difference between internal and external motivation. Internal motivation requires each of us to make adjustments in our thoughts and behavior so that we can shift away from old patterns. We all agreed that we are predominately externally motivated. Examples put out there were bargaining with our parents to get something in exchange for doing what they asked so we could get our gaming equipment back, get our car keys, and stay out later. So we did things such as promising to clean our rooms, tried quitting cigarettes, and made it look like we were trying to improve our grades. That whole dishonesty thing we deny 24/7.

Many times we didn't even follow through. Some people refer to external motivation like having a "carrot dangled out in front of you." We all agreed that we only did what others asked because we wanted the rewards so we could get our stuff back and return to  business as usual. We really didn't learn anything except how to manipulate to get more, more, and extra more of everything that we wanted.

As we explored the concept of internal motivation, we felt anxious while delving deeper. Our Expedition Instructors asked us, "where each of us stood in relationship to our willingness to commit to developing internal motivation"? This is not something we can do in an hour. Don't they realize we do not want to change nor do we have an endless amount of time. All of this blah, blah, motivation stuff seems so urgent! Then, we talked about the process…. the steps we can take to understanding and learn to be open to practicing these concepts. We can begin in the here and now with relationships, while on Expeditions, writing our families, and in our everyday lives.

We had ingredients to make pizza from scratch for dinner. We made two XL pizzas, one Veggie and another with Pepperoni. The chilly wind created a situation where the dough took hella longer to rise. Well worth the wait. They tasted really quite garlicky good. We had tea by the campfire and relaxed on the benches A.G. made for Expedition Camp this past week.

Relapse was a topic we were being asked to think about for this evening's Group. OUCH! Relapse is something we'd all rather avoid discussing altogether. To be continued….