“I’m sorry.” “No, really, I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry. Can you help me?” “I’m sorry. I really appreciate it.”
Is “I’m sorry,” the unconscious mantra you use when you engage with the world? For years, I said, “I’m sorry” for some of the most banal reasons:
To a server who brought me the wrong order;
To someone who had issues pronouncing my name;
To a person who didn’t know an answer to my question;
To someone for a mistake that they made;
For asking a question, and better yet, for asking a “stupid” question.
The list can go on and on, but the truth is, many of us have said this or continue to say this day in and day out. It’s become a conversation filler, a verbal crutch for times when we might feel uncomfortable asking for what we need…and deserve.
Perhaps this is the real issue: fear around owning our own voices and honoring our needs. Punctuating a request for help with “I’m sorry” devalues the very thing you are asking for. Are you really sorry because you need help with your homework? Are you really sorry because you need a ride to school? Maybe there is embarrassment or concern that you are being demanding or needy. And maybe someone has hammered that negative message into your subconscious enough times that it’s become part of your internal dialogue. Time to turn that tape off: It’s time to take your power back and honor your voice.
These days, I very rarely punctuate my statements with “I’m sorry,” but this shift took time.
First, I had to become aware that I was saying it in the first place. In early recovery, I had several people point it out to me over and over and over again. I finally heard it.
Second: Once I was aware of my language, I had to shift my awareness to notice when I was about to say I’m sorry. This is the time when the real internal work begins. Because every time you may want to say “I’m sorry,” you are now aware, conscious of your words and methods of communication. This is where you can stop and pause in order to truncate your phrase and remove “I’m sorry.”
This is a habit. Sure, it’s not a habit that will cause you great physical harm, but it is a negative habit nonetheless. The positive shift that occurs once this habit is broken is one of quiet empowerment. Self-esteem perks up, self-worth perks up, self-love perks up. The need for an apology should be been remanded to a time when there is really something to be sorry for: stealing, lying, cheating, hurting someone’s feelings, et cetera. It no longer has a place as the perpetual grammatical prefix in your sentence structure.
Adolescents experience a lot of stress, more than we may even realize. Stress can come from the natural ups and downs at school because of academic pressure, or via social circles, or from an overwrought family system. For some kids, one thing leads to another, and they find themselves trying to process all of that at the same time. How often are these kids who are struggling in this way, boxed into the at-risk nomenclature? Naming the problem and doing something about it are very different things. Further, if we tell these kids they are at-risk, it evokes a negative connotation. These kids are, in reality, under-served and often ignored.
I teach a yoga class to tweens/teens, and I was warned that one of my new kids was a “problem.” I was told she would be a “nightmare” because she was caught smoking last year, implying that she was also a “bad” kid. I chose not to view her as a problem, or a nightmare, or bad. Instead, I approached her with compassion and kindness and boundaries. I recognized that this kid doesn’t need to be judged; she needs to be seen. She has become one of the most dedicated students in my class. She looks forward to being there. She is kind to her classmates and respectful to me, the teacher. This young lady has allowed herself to be vulnerable enough to allow the process of yoga and conscious breath to disassemble her stress–even if it’s in incremental amounts. The shift has been profound.
A new study talks about teenage girls being more prone to depression when they are exposed to a lot of stress. My class is comprised mostly of girls, most of whom share that they are under stress. In this recent study, “Jessica Hamilton a doctoral student in the Mood and Cognition Laboratory of Lauren Alloy at Temple University hypothesized that life stressors, especially those related to adolescents’ interpersonal relationships and that adolescents themselves contribute to (such as a fight with a family member or friend), would facilitate these vulnerabilities and, ultimately, increase teens’ risk of depression.”
Researchers examined data from 382 Caucasion and African-American students in an ongoing study. Their findings corroborated Hamilton’s theory, showing increased levels of rumination, depression and emotional vulnerability. Seven months later, when they did follow-up testing, the girls showed higher levels of depressive systems than the boys did. The study also showed that the girls had been faced with more stressors than the boys had. The theory is that if boys and girls faced the same amount of stress, the results of the research would have reflected higher rates in depression regardless of sex.
Stress can be a direct result of consistently not having one’s needs met, feeling disconnected or alone, and from unmitigated change at home: divorce, job loss, violence, poverty, or chronic illness. Additionally, the new independence that comes with the teen years can also be stressful. As much as teens want to individuate, the reality that they have to suddenly do many things themselves can be overwhelming for some.
How can we de-stress? Try one or all of these on for size:
1: Time outs are a time in. They are an opportunity for us to reset our minds and bodies.
2: Ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone.
3: Get some fresh air: go for a walk, or find a way to get outside!
4: Take a media time out: unplug for an hour, and dedicate that time to self-care. If you really want to challenge yourself, turn your phone off for the day!
5: Breathe: 10 deep breaths, extending the exhale each time. Do three or more cycles of this.
6: Say no. No is a complete sentence. Remember this!
Each of these tools encourages an emotional reset. They help turn that fight-or-flight response off and help your body engage its rest-and-digest system. Sometimes, we have to consciously remind our bodies to slow down, but we have to practice. Studies like the one above are a good reminder, a wake-up call, telling us that we have to slow down and process our emotions in a safe, reflective way. Teens need to know they will be ok.
Joseph Rogers has been with Visions since 2005, first as a recovery mentor at our Mulholland facility and later becoming the Director of Education at the Outpatient Day School. Joseph has run the Mindfulness Meditation/11th Step, Spirituality group since 2007, exploring how developing spiritual practice is applicable to recovery. He also co-facilitates the Outpatient DBT Skills group with Jesse Engdahl on Wednesdays. Two and a half years ago, Joseph stepped down from the Director position in order to pursue a Masters of Divinity degree and begin the process of stepping into his new role of Chaplain. This has been a long-time coming: Joseph has been in facilitator/teacher training with Against the Stream Meditation Society for the last 5 years, and has built a remarkable community of cohorts and students.
It with great pride and excitement, as well as a bit of a heavy heart, that we bid Joseph farewell as he steps onto a new path. Joseph will begin his residency at UCLA, earning his CPEs (Clinical Pastoral Education) at the top of September. As sad as we are to see him leave the Visions nest, we are excited to see where this takes him. Joseph offers a sense of calm assurance to the deeply suffering, and he is able to hold space for vulnerable people in a profound manner. UCLA has a priceless jewel on their hands.
Joseph has been a consistent members of the VTeam for almost a decade, seamlessly blending boundaries and compassion, while encouraging a love for learning. He has created a foundational resource for the kids and staff to look to for support as well as leadership. Many alumni and staff alike will joyfully reminisce about learning history through the various comedic voices Joseph uses. He has been the rock for many, and the quiet storm of compassion for all.
Joseph isn’t completely leaving Visions, however. He will continue to run the Mindfulness Meditation/11th Step, Spirituality groupand he will continue to co-facilitate the outpatient DBT Skills group. Despite our denial that he won’t be with us every day, we are really excited for him and grateful for his dedication and commitment to Visions. Joseph has carved out a thoughtful, compassionate path of service, dedicating his life to help others recover and find peace with their suffering. Reverend Joseph Rogers, M.Div as a nice sound to it, eh?
“A kind, gentle soul. I will miss seeing Joseph’s smile everyday. I always look forward to his gems and guidance. A true friend I have found. I wish him the very best as he sets out on his journey. The world is a better place for him being here. Thank you for the honor of working with you.”– Noelle Rodriguez
“Ahhh! JRO! We will miss you and your gentle ways. Throughout the years, you have been a driving force for our school. You provide so much more than a basic education to our kids; the love you have put into it has been so good for us and the clients. We are so proud of your hard work and making it into the UCLA program, you truly lead by example. We will miss you very much. Thank you for the years spent together!” Amanda Shumow
I befriended Joseph years ago while I was studying at CSUN in the credential program. I told him that I worked at a little place called Visions and he was immediately interested. Soon after being hired, he took the position at IOP as teacher. Over the years he has made his mark as a calm leader with a fierce passion for his work. Joseph is wise and knows enough to always be learning. He is an educator in the truest sense of the word and will be missed by staff and students alike. His contribution to Visions has been, and will forever be, immeasurable. Joseph embodies the words of Bruce Lee: “A teacher is never a giver of truth; he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself.” – Daniel Dewey
“Joseph is an amazing person, teacher and soul. He is someone that you meet and instantly feel that you are in the presence of someone wise, calm, and fearless. I wish him all the best, in all that he does!” — Jenny Werber
“I’ve never known anyone to be more universally liked by clients and parents than Joseph. Joseph is the rare person with whom you can disagree, but still feel your view was thoughtfully considered, while not feeling imposed by his own.” – Garth LeMaster
“Joseph, you are a man with great insight and gentle wisdom. I have seen you live your convictions, tenderly heal wounded children and be the doorway of understanding for lost souls. I wish you peace, joy, challenges and love. Thank you for your part in my crazy art lady journey.” Ever faithfully yours — Susan “The Art Lady” O’Conner
“Joseph has not only been an amazing role model as a productive co-worker but has become an amazing friend and mentor for whom I will dearly miss. I wish nothing but the best for him and all the experiences to come. You will be missed and loved always ” — Nick Riefner
“Joseph’s energy is contagious in every way possible. Every time I see him, no matter what is happening, he seems calm and at peace… For someone as anxiety driven as I am, being around someone so serene is refreshing. I have so much respect for Joseph and aspire to one day walk with as much dignity as he does.” – Ashley Harris
“Joseph will be missed. He has a very special way of relating to our clients that involves, at times, an extraordinary amount of patience. I often sit out here at my desk and listen in to the conversations going on between Joseph and the kids. I am equally entertained, amazed, and grateful to have been a fly on the wall of Joseph’s classroom.” – Natalie Holman
“I’ll miss Joseph terribly, I think it’s been so beneficial for our teens to see strength in a man shown through kindness, non judgment and calmness.” Roxie Fuller
“Thank you, Joseph. Thank you for helping to create an environment for learning, healing and recovery for Visions kids and families. Thank you for your unique perspective for leading the education and meditation groups and classes. There is some thing very special about the way you gently lead the kids with confidence and class. Thank you, Joseph!” – John Lieberman
“Joseph has been teaching me since my first day – a friend, a mentor, and a big brother all in one. I’ve been afforded so much of his wisdom and care from this relationship, it will be really hard not to have him here all the time. Riding shotgun while he teaches mediation, DBT, or most importantly sober FUN, he constantly helps me take care of the kids and myself in the kindest and simplest ways. No one can really imagine Visions without him; I’m just grateful for all the time I’ve had with him and that he will still be doing groups with me.” – Jesse Engdahl
“Joseph has been such a huge part of my Visions experience and I think I’m the saddest to see him go. He is my friend, my teacher, my mentor, and my right hand. He has always been so supportive and understanding of things only us Visions teachers would understand. He has a strange yet peaceful way about him that makes any day a good day. He always seems to have the right words of wisdom in any situation and it’s hard to imagine he won’t be around. After years of morning check-ins about life, love, and the pursuit of sanity I’m going to miss him dearly. I wish him the best in his new endeavors and I am forever grateful for the time, wisdom, knowledge, and random facts he’s passed on to me. I’ll continue to make you proud, Jofes… thank you for being my shoulder to whine on, my ear to vent, and my rock to keep me sane.” – Adriana Camarillo
“With a heavy heart, I bid farewell to an amazing man, father and colleague. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Joseph for nearly a decade and it’s hard to imagine my day-to-day without him. Joseph represents a quiet force, guiding his students with conviction and offering hope where there may be none. While he continues to be a spiritual inspiration to both staff and students, we will miss the man who, for so long, has been the core of Visions Day School. The feeling is bittersweet. Selfishly, we want him to stay. But the truth is, he has another calling and with that, I honor his path and I am always grateful for this experience.” – Fiona Ray
Fiona Ray has stepped into her new role as Clinical Director and we wanted to kick things off with a bang. We do love to celebrate our team and their accomplishments! Last Friday, the Recovery community had the opportunity to come and congratulate Fiona, see what we are doing as a company, and check out the digs in Brentwood.
It was so wonderful to see so many familiar and new faces, share great food (which included Pink Berry), and mingle with so many wonderful members of this community. Major kudos go to Angela Carrillo, our Los Angeles Outreach Coordinator, who tirelessly make this bash the success that it was and to Christina Howard-Micklish for her fabulous celebratory aesthetic. The VTeam showed a lot of pride and excitement, cheering on one of their own. Fiona Ray has made a memorable impact on her team at IOP/Day School and will surely do the same for the rest of the facilities as she weaves the entirety of the Visions team together.
It’s not every day you get to see one of your own take flight in this way. Fiona is really someone to celebrate: she is dedicated, kind, compassionate, determined and respectable. We are over-the-moon excited for Fiona, and for the cohesive expansion of our facilities and team.
Check out the highlights from the party! Just click on the image below to view the rest of the slideshow: [slideshow id=8]
Natalie Holman has been with Visions since 2007. She started as an administrative assistant, working at our residential facilities, and eventually moving to our Day School and Outpatient facility. She is currently the Assistant Manager at Extended Care, where her administrative know-how is complimented by her desire to give back and be of service. Natalie is always willing to help if you need something and is the one behind the scenes making sure the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted. Natalie is part of the fabric that makes Visions tick, and for that, we are incredibly grateful for her presence, her laughter, and her ability to take care of us from behind-the-scenes.
Read on for some incredible kudos from the staff:
“Natalie is the office enforcer… she is organized and on top of the office work and everything that needs to be done before you even blink. She is always available and open to questions and has been extremely helpful.” – Koreema Walden
“Natalie is a beautiful, caring woman who is always willing to help anyone at a moments notice. Natalie is the glue that holds outpatient together with her knowledge of our program as well as her loving, nonjudgmental words to our clients. I can’t imagine IOP without Natalie’s beautiful face!” – Cheryl Lane
“Natalie is so warm and authentic and FUNNY, she makes work more fun — but she works her tail off behind the scenes to keep us all looking good! We’d be lost without her!” – Jesse Engdahl
I have worked with Natalie for the last three years. I appreciate that she always has a warm smile and is ready and willing to help. Sometimes she gets overlooked because she is behind the scenes working at the details that make a huge difference in all that we do. I often ask Natalie to get a task done that I don’t have time to do, or that truly needs her attention to detail, which she excels at! Thank you, Natalie, for all you do, it would not be the same here without you. – Noelle Rodriguez
“Natalie is a big part of the day to day here at Outpatient. She does a lot for the facility, staff, and clients. My favorite part about her is her random humor. She’s hilarious and her Jersey accent really makes the jokes that much better. I think our common love for Beyoncè and food has really added a spark to our friendship. I’m glad she’s a part of the Visions family” – Adriana Camarillo
“Natalie is an integral part of the Visions team. Her attention to detail, follow through and comprehensive approach to administration is an important factor in keeping all of us on task. It helps to know you have someone you can rely on and I’m grateful she carries us through the day to day. Natalie is an invaluable asset to the organization and frankly, she makes us look good.” – Fiona A. Ray
“Where there is chaos, Natalie can find order. This woman is the quiet answer to a storm of crazy. Our team depends on her to fill in the gaps of communication…Natalie is basically the Siri of Visions. Where can I find this? Did we order that? What time are they arriving? Can you organize my brain? Natalie’s ability to sort us all out makes Visions a stronger team…no doubt.” — Christina Howard Micklish
As always, we sent along 10 questions. Check out Natalie’s answers:
1: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I don’t think I would want to live anywhere outside of the US permanently, but living in the US is all I know. I’d have to do some traveling before I could answer that question.
2: What motivates you?
Dreams, ambitions, a desire to become a better me tomorrow than I am today, fear
3: What is your favorite season and why?
Season? There are no seasons in LA. On the east coast I like the fall when the leaves change colors and the air becomes cool and crisp, and you would start to smell the fireplaces being used. I always liked dressing for the cool weather (boots, sweaters, scarves and coats).
4: Do you prefer reading on a device or flipping through real pages of a book?
I like books. I’ve recently started to use kindle, but nothing beats the smell of the pages in a book.
5: What makes your heart sing?
My cats, Gigi and Papa.
6: Describe your perfect day:
There’s no such thing as perfect anything. Each of my days are perfectly imperfect in different ways and for different reasons. I’m grateful for each day.
7: If you were given three wishes, what would you wish for?
Wishes? I don’t know. I would wish to be debt free. I know that! I would wish peace of mind for everyone (it gets so loud in there sometimes), and I would wish for all of the wishes I could wish for!
8: What is one thing you cannot live without?
9: What was the last song you listened to while you were driving?
Young Folks, Peter Bjorn and John.
10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?
I believe in what we do here, for entire families. There’s nothing like being part of a team that affects teens and their families in such dramatic and positive ways. Visions rocks!
Morgan Parker is one of our remarkable educators in our Residential program. She spends her time teaching the clients at our Latigo facility, providing them with a well-crafted through-line to their education in a supportive, clinical environment. Morgan determines the relevant educational needs for the clients, provides the appropriate support for those working with learning disabilities, and she maintains a high standard of education. Morgan Parker is a bright light in the Visions family: she is colorful, wise, kind, and dedicated. She is highly intelligent and not afraid to share her wisdom through humor and play. Morgan carries herself with confidence and compassion, adeptly caring for the clients and melding with the staff with grace. Morgan Parker is a true gift to Visions and we are honored that she’s been with us since 2009.
Read on for some kudos from the staff!
“Morgan is the Rock of Gibraltar. She is the backbone of Visions Latigo. When Morgan decided to take the job as teacher, she was a perfect fit. She had worked with our challenging population of kids as a Program Aide, and brought her experience and calm demeanor with her. Morgan’s attention to detail is impeccable. She notices glitches in the machine that help to prevent major hick-ups later on. She cares about the kids and her job, silently facing everyday frustrations with grace and dignity. I am proud to be her supervisor.” – Daniel Dewey
“One of the most reliable, insightful ladies out there.” — Roxie Fuller
Morgan is so multi talented I don’t even know where to begin. She effortlessly blends her educational expertise with a loving and fun demeanor and tackles anything that comes her way. Morgan insists on encouraging our kids to rise to the occasion academically, we couldn’t ask for a better teacher! — Patrick Schettler
“Working with Morgan has been a great experience. Not only is she super helpful and efficient with our students but she is also fun to be around. She has a great sense of humor and says some of the funniest and most random things. She is a great addition to the Visions family.” — Adriana Camarillo
“I’ve always thought of Morgan as the Rainbow Bright of Visions. The Visions family is always battling dark and complex issues, and its people like Morgan who show up with pink hair and the brightest clothing that remind us to never take life too seriously. No doubt the work she does with the VTeam is seriously exceptional!” — Christina Howard-Micklish
I love Morgan’s answers to our 10 questions — she has real wisdom and wit. Read on:
1: What do you miss from the 80s?
My childhood! And MTV when it actually played music videos.
2: If you could go anywhere in the world for free, where would you go, who would you take and what would you do?
This is an overwhelming question! My brain floods with possibilities and fantasies: Sweden, Scotland, Japan, Fiji, Iceland, Bali, New Zealand, the Isle of Man…but because I’d take my 3 kids, I may choose Italy to help make some historical sites of Western civilization come alive for them, and then still have access to the beach. Travel provides the best education, and we love the beach!
3: What is your favorite subject to teach?
I am a bibliophile and logophile, but surprisingly I have enjoyed working with students on algebra. It is reassuringly procedural to teach, but it’s also like solving puzzles, which is fun and interactive. I like to see students figure problems out, recognize patterns, and become less intimidated by math.
4: Which character in To Kill a Mockingbird are you?
My only solid response to this is that I think we can all aspire to be Atticus Finch: fair, decent, resilient, accountable, courageous, and truthful.
5: Coffee, Tea, Soda or Water?
I am notorious for my Diet Coke consumption. I am still trying to find an acceptable, healthier replacement beverage.
6: What was your most embarrassing hairstyle?
Bangs were never the most flattering look for me.
7: What is your grammatical pet peeve?
Dangling modifiers are never OK! I also find irksome the improper use or omission of the apostrophe. And I am always willing to explain the difference between “effect” and “affect.”
8: Would you rather be a wizard or a ninja? Explain…
Wizard! I gravitate toward the cerebral choice. I am not known for physical prowess. I’d rather be a magician than a fighter! A ninja needs smarts but a wizard has wisdom.
9: Favorite time of day?
After midnight, when the world gets quiet and my brain gets alert and creative. I have always been nocturnal.
10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?
Everyone needs community and purpose, and it is rare to find both in a workplace, but at Visions I have found where I belong and can contribute. There is a lot of love, support, humor, good work, and good deeds happening here, and I am proud to be a part. I have truly met some of the most incredible people at Visions, both clients and staff!
Walking into our Day School is emblematic of the cultivation of community. The kids are in support of each other, bonded by difficulty and a desire to change, and they are aptly supported by a team of a deeply compassionate clinical and support staff. On a given day, you may encounter laughter, tears, struggle, and frustration, joy, triumph, and accomplishment. And regardless of which of those experiences is present, they are held in a safe container of support; a container which is ultimately community.
A fear that is often present for teens in treatment is the suggestion that their peer group will need to change. In a successful environment of recovery, that peer group does need to change. However, part of the recovery process includes the cultivation of a healthier, more supportive community of peers–a community that is desirous of shifting the old paradigm to one that is conducive to the mental health and stability they seek.
1: Engaging in social activities together. Visions supports weekly sober fun activities and recovery fun groups. Clients in our extended care have regular weekend activities such as paintball, beach trips, gardening, hiking, et cetera.
2: Having a spiritual support community such as Young People’s AA, where the young people are in charge of their own groups. This creates a sense of empowerment and encourages healthy independence.
3: Allow the clients to support one another. When a client asks if they can check in with another client, we almost never say no. It’s important that the clients see each other as a support system, especially post treatment.
4: Alumni activities. Keep our former clients in contact with each other and remind them of the support system they have in place. Our annual Alumni Weekend is a prime example of this. Additionally, all alumni are encouraged to come to the Friday night recovery meeting.
5: Visions encourages alumni to sponsor current clients and to come back to work at Visions as employees. This way, clients can see the full cycle of recovery.
We are looking forward to seeing alumni and current clients and their families at the upcoming Alumni Weekend. This community is at the core of what we do, and supporting families in their recovery is our heart. It is always a joy to see our alumni thriving in their recovery and reconnecting with them.
Bill Hoban has been our infallible Clinical Director for the last 12 years. His expertise and dedication helped make Visions the program it is today. It has been an honor working with him in that capacity. Recently, Bill has stepped down from his role as Clinical Director; he has passed the torch to the inimitable Fiona Ray as she steps into her new role as Clinical Director.
Fiona’s had an inspired vision for our clinical growth. Her fierce determination to execute positive change and create a solid team in our Outpatient facilities has been remarkable and we are excited to have her take on this role and do the same for our residential team. In her role as Director of Outpatient Services, Fiona created an environment replete with a dedicated staff willing to stand on the front lines alongside her to ensure that clients get the best care available. Fiona is not afraid of change, nor is she afraid to make the tough decisions sometimes necessary in treatment; she does it with compassion and wise intention. She is keen on creating an environment that is supportive and respectful for her staff to flourish and be the team they are meant to be.
We are thrilled to support Fiona Ray in new her position as Clinical Director. She is a well-respected fixture in the recovery community, recognized for her tenacity, dedication, and quiet, but fierce presence. Fiona has this ability to approach difficulty in a calm, collected way while making a family feel secure, supported and cared for. She has been instrumental in building out our Extended Care program, Launch, and the DBT training for the staff. Fiona’s desire to create an environment that is healing and empowering for clients and co-workers is astounding. Her drive to make Visions the best adolescent treatment is something to behold. Fiona is one of a kind and we consider ourselves deeply fortunate to have her in our midst.
Koreema Walden is an MA, MFTi, CATC IV and has been part of the Visions treatment team since 2013. She is an active member of the treatment community and served as a therapist in the drug rehabilitation/homeless program at the Veteran’s Administration prior to coming to Visions. Additionally, Koreema is an education advisor at her alma mater, Antioch University. She runs groups and Visions and also sees clients individually using her honest and compassionate approach.
Koreema is seriously funny. She brings a sense of adventure, honesty, and joy into her work. She is relatable and compassionate toward the adolescents she works with and she is a wonderful addition to the outpatient team. Koreema she fits right in at Visions. She is a pleasure to work with and is someone who is respectable and forthright in her work. Koreema is a hard one NOT to adore.
The staff thinks highly of Koreema; check out what they had to say:
Koreema continuously has a high level of positive energy, and is fantastic at motivating just about anyone! – Ashley Shortridge
In the time I’ve know Koreema, I have felt nothing but love and support from her. She has an amazing energetic spirit that everyone can pull from and always brings strong, honest advice to the table. It has been a pleasure working alongside such an amazing person. – Nick Riefner
Koreema, our baby of the bunch. She has been a wonderful asset to our outpatient team. Koreema’s strengths lie not only in her ability to assimilate into a new, fast-paced environment but also a keen sense of how to connect with an adolescent milieu. We are lucky to have her and look forward to her continued growth at Visions. – Fiona Ray
Of course we asked Koreema 10 questions. Read on!
1: What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you come close?
There wasn’t a job that I wanted, but I had role models. My maternal grandmother was a business owner and a fierce one! She had her real-estate license and was trained to do income taxes. She owned a clothing store, was raising some of her daughter’s children and was fiercely independent. She was also kind and supportive (financially and emotionally) of others. I think I wanted to be like her: a woman who was independent, self reliant, self-assured, strong, and brave. I thought that’s what women did and how they were. Have I come close? I think I’ve learned over time that there was no reason for me to do everything on my own.
2: What are you most proud of?
I was the first person in my family to graduate with a BA and a Masters Degree. My mom drilled in my head that the way to a better life was through education. She always told me education would be bring me freedom and would be something that nobody could take from me. This is something a lot of women still don’t have in this day and age: The opportunity to attend school and be free.
3: Cats or dogs?
Neither. I’m not a pet person at all. I have a child and changing his diaper was bad enough!
4. Would you rather watch Sherlock or Doctor Who?
Who is Doctor Who anyway? Honestly, neither. Now if you ask me about music, I’m so in. Music cleanses my soul, my mind, and my heart and it tells me a story.
5: What is the best part of being a parent? The most challenging?
Best part of being a parent is seeing my son’s brain and his mind take off. Every day, something that is old to me is taken as new to him: Words, places, books, history, people, etc. I find such delight in seeing him experience the world. What is most challenging is that every day isn’t awesome; some days are better than others and some days we disagree on things. I have to remember he has a mind of his own, I can’t control it or him 24 hours a day.
6: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Both!! I get up around 6:30/7am, or I can stay awake till 12/1am.
7: What Muppet are you?
I’m a mixture of Scooter (he was behind the scenes conducting everything) and Animal (he was loud, crazy, out of control needs to be tamed). Good thing I’ve gotten a little older.
8: What makes you laugh?
Friends, Family and Comedy movies. I love to laugh.
9: If you could go back in time for a day, what and where would you go?
I would be a little girl at my grandmother’s house running around on her property and hanging out with no cares or worries in the world!
10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?
Because I like Visions’ philosophy and the work that we do. Working with teens is not easy (I was one). I get to come to work and be inspired, learn from fresh eyes, and be a part of an amazing integral hardworking team. I feel that Visions and its team work extremely hard at what they do. It’s enjoyable because everyone is supportive of one another and we work as a team.
What is evident in any recovery practice is the encouragement and urging to be of service. The call to be of service starts in treatment and continues into aftercare and beyond. Service work is a foundational piece in recovery, and it is something that provides a salient way to recognize we are not alone.
Often times, someone comes into recovery with a sense of feeling alone, unheard, empty, vulnerable, and emotionally and sometimes physically shattered. Parents and loved ones are often worn down from the negative impact of their child’s poor actions and disruptive behavior that resulted from their addiction and untreated mental illness. Essentially, the entire family system is dysregulated. Coming into treatment or walking into a 12-step meeting means learning to recognize this in order to begin the work of putting the pieces back together.
We talk about being of service a lot in this blog and at Visions, whether it’s at our residential, outpatient, or extended care facilities. We understand that being of service creates a sense of self-worth; it takes us out of ourselves and allows us to see that we are not alone, illuminating the fact that others are suffering too.
When we struggle with our emotions, and our fears loom over us, it feels overwhelming. It can feel like you are standing in the shadow of a great mountain. And if you are in the midst of this alone, it’s even more overwhelming. When we reach our hand out to someone else, we take a step out of that shadow and out of the mindset of self-pity and self-deprecation. We allow ourselves to help others and in the meantime, our own hearts begin to heal. Being of service shows us the way to compassion and kindness and encourages selfless acts.
Take a commitment at a meeting
Offer to drive someone home whom you know always takes the bus
Volunteer at an animal shelter
Say yes when someone asks you for help (within reason, of course)
Take the trash out or wash the dishes…without being asked
Reach your hand out to someone newer than you in recovery
Addiction is a disease of loneliness. We isolate when we get high, we isolate when we drink, and we isolate when we are depressed or anxious. Being of service shifts that isolation into inclusive action. It allows us to be a part of instead of apart from.