When the world, the work, life, gets too much, we all have to be able to find places of peace. Places we know we can run to and find a calm heart. Sometimes, those places are people and sometimes they are actually places, but we all need to have them. I think that somehow in the helping professions, we get the message that we have to be strong all the time and that we can never need a safe place to collapse. I think that is just not true.

When I think about places of peace, these come to mind:

• Camping in the rain
• The beach
• My bed with the covers pulled up
• The top of a mountain
• Any cozy corner with a good book
• Watching a movie under a warm blanket
• Talking to my Mom
• Listening to my Dad play the piano
• See my son smile and laugh

These are the places I go when I need to refill my cup and find some peace and calm in my heart. I hope that you all can rattle off a list of your own because we need them. I believe we need to give ourselves permission to let go and seek peace. It’s the only way that we continue to do this work and do it well.


This blog is not one that is intended to be controversial or political in any way, but today I feel compelled to speak to a topic that is both: addiction. I am not in any way an addiction expert and I don’t claim to be here. I am simply going to speak from my own personal and professional experiences of how I have seen and understood addiction.

Addiction is taking the lives of so many of our young people, either literally through death, or through the constant control that addiction has over their lives. Addiction has been around for as long as the human race has known that mind-altering substances exist, but somehow it seems that it has become so much worse in the recent years. We can no longer deny that addiction is a public health issue, yet somehow we do. We can no longer go on believing that addiction only happens to people of color or those in poverty, yet somehow we do. We can no longer convince ourselves that addiction is a choice and not our responsibility, yet somehow we do.

I am struggling to figure out when the world is going to wake up and see this as a problem that we all need to be devoting energy to solving.

Currently, a young man is lying in a hospital bed with a breathing tube and a heart monitor, fighting for his life, while another is wrestling with thoughts of suicide because he no longer wants to live a life of addiction and his bed in treatment could still be weeks away. A young woman sits on a park bench in the rain, nodding off. If this isn’t enough to open our eyes, what will be? I’m scared and sad and heartbroken for all the lives addiction has taken over. I wish I could see a way out.


There are a lot of things about being a director that are challenging, and one of the most challenging for me is witnessing change. When staff leave and new staff come, the transition and adjustment is never a completely smooth path. Everyone has to figure out what their role is and where they fit again, whether they are new or have been around for awhile. If you have never learned about Tuckman’s stages of group development, it is worth brushing up on, especially if you are witnessing or going through this kind of change.

Watching my staff venture through these stages of group development is hard. I know that the “norming” stage is coming where the staff remember that they are all working towards a shared goal and can see each other’s strengths and weaknesses and accept both. But it cannot come fast enough. Witnessing the “forming” and “storming” stages is difficult. I am tempted to put them all in one room for an entire day until they get through all the challenges that need to happen before they can just accept each other and be a team, but I know that I cannot control this process.

The challenge for me in this process is being a guide and an open door for my staff but not being in control. In order for the process to happen, it has to happen in its own time and in its own way.

And this is a lesson that can be applied to so many other processes and relationships in my life.


Success!! I was truly able to do almost nothing throughout my five days off and it was glorious. I caught up on Netflix, wrote a letter to a friend in boot camp, read a novel, went to the beach, attempted to go for a run with a friend, spent some time with my son, went to a friend’s pool, slept in, and ate ice cream. I cannot remember the last time that I intentionally did nothing and it has been exactly what I needed. I feel rested, calm, at peace, rejuvenated, and ready to dive back in.

In social services, we talk about self-care all the time, but do we actually live it out? How many times have we felt sick and thought that we have to go in because a meeting can’t be cancelled or missed? How many times have we felt overwhelmed or stressed and thought about needing a long weekend or a vacation but thought about our “to do” list and didn’t take one? How many times have we gotten to the end of the week and realized that we have had a working lunch every day?

True self-care takes some effort but it is so worth it. It feels like ice cream for your soul. And even though the work is not any easier when we get back to it, we are better equipped to handle it. So whatever your self-care looks like, figure out how to make it work and put the effort into it because it is worth it.


I am not sure that there has ever been another time in my life when empty space has felt so promising or so satisfying.

For the last two months, I have been steadily working on writing four federal grants. Writing federal grants is not an impossible task, but it is a tedious one that requires a kind of focus and detail that nothing else in my life demands. I had the forethought to schedule a 5-day weekend after the grants were completed. That weekend is currently in front of me. I have scheduled very little of my time over the next five days and it feels like such a relieving breath of fresh air.

There truly is something to be said for a “stay-cation”!! I plan on using this time to write, go to the beach, go for walks and maybe a run, talk to friends, hang out with my son, take naps, and just be. I think that we have to give ourselves permission to do this sometimes. And I think that it can be such an example to the people around us – our co-workers, staff, family, and friends.

“Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing. ~ Lori Deschene

Summer is a fantastic time to unplug even just for a day. I hope that you all find time to do some nothing. It comes highly recommended.

About the Author...

EKleftside-street Webfade

I’m Erin, and I’ve used my 15+ years of human services experience working to understand youth who are on the fringes as an attempt to create services that have the potential to change their life trajectory. I get out of bed each morning with a renewed sense of purpose, and I go off to work to play my part. I believe that if we each do our small part, that collectively we have the potential to change the big picture.

To me, this is more than a job; it’s a journey, a mission, a calling, and an honor.

I don’t believe that I have all the answers, but with some regular meditation, a solid support network, and a commitment to this work--no matter how hard it gets, I believe that much can be accomplished.

I invite you along on this journey. Share what you have learned, what keeps you going, and what makes you crazy. None of us are in this world alone and I am grateful that we can walk beside each other even if only for a few moments.

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