Fall is always full of changes with the new school year starting and the leaves turning from a bright green to a golden brown, yellow or red. Change can be seen in nature, and I can feel it within me.
One of the biggest changes is that our house is so quiet after years of school kid-related activities that seemed to go non-stop. My life has completely changed, and the school-related notifications for activities have abruptly stopped. Last September, three of our four children lived at home. Now none! It’s a bit disconcerting to have a house where I can hear the squeaks and groans very clearly, both of the house and my body.
The other huge change I made over the summer was to let go of a 17-year relationship. No, not my marriage. That has lasted longer than 17 years. I am referring to my part-time work with a non-profit organization I have worked with for many years. It was an amicable break and a much-needed one. I found myself putting more time into the programming for the non-profit than into programming for Wildewood Learning. The non-profit and I do similar work; however, I felt it was time to move on and work with organizations on my own.
It’s hard to leave a work environment when you like the people and the work, yet in my heart, I knew that I needed to leave. The director and I parted ways through a short friendly email and an invitation to dinner sometime soon.
When I said “no” to working for the non-profit, I developed a space for myself to say “yes” to other opportunities that fit my values. I was on the lookout for invitations to gatherings of other like-minded folks. One of the gatherings I was invited to was a four-day train-the-trainer event in southwestern Wisconsin. This opportunity was to become a Sources of Strength provisional trainer. (Do you want to see me in action at the training? Watch the top video here.)
The vision of Sources of Strength is to empower a well world. How? Through training high school adult advisors, community members, and youth peer leaders to use their voices as agents of change and connectors to help. Sources of Strengths is a recognized suicide prevention program; however, suicide attempts are outcomes of a larger issue. Most suicide attempts are linked to substance use, bullying, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
What would happen if we flipped the sad, shock, and trauma script into a message of hope, help, and strength?
I have read many books and attended many webinars about adverse childhood experiences, trauma-informed strategies, and mental health issues. When the webinar or book ended, I was looking for some tangible program or action I could take to implement protective factors in my community. I was looking for a program like Sources of Strength.
The goal of Wildewood Learning is to create trauma-sensitive strength-based schools and organizations. It’s important to know about the effects of trauma and build best practices that acknowledge and support youth who have experienced trauma. It’s equally important to have strategies that acknowledge and supports resilience and strengths within ourselves and others.
Change is not just good; it’s necessary. Creating space to say “yes” has led me to places I feel I am called to serve, a quiet grounding that I need, and knowing that it’s okay to let go of relationships. Saying “no” allowed me to take action and move forward to create my own story of hope, help, and strength.
Take Action Now:
- To find out more about Sources of Strength, click here.
- Set up a short chat with Kathy about bringing Sources of Strength to your school or organization; click here.