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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

A moment of reflection

Jess, shut up!


It happened for me on Thursday night at the K Diamond K Ranch. As I sat in this big circle with 21 students from Lake Roosevelt and nine adults, I realized that a dream had come true. Natural Helpers had indeed rebooted itself and was happening. Not only was it happening, but I was one of the leaders, leading it back into the halls of Lake Roosevelt. As all 30 guests and the ranch owner shared their stories with the rest of us, it became abundantly clear that this retreat needed to happen and the tools and skills needed to be in the hands of the students already on the front lines. But let me back up a bit.

Reflection was the buzzword. After we would do anything, we reflected. With conversation, drawing/art, or writing it all down, we would look at ourselves and how the lesson or activity applied to our own status. But when you’re leading the retreat, the reflection sometimes would not happen until your head hit the pillow, because instead of reflecting immediately about the lesson you just led or the story you just heard, you would study and prepare for the next step. Then when you finally breathed in the late hours of the night, the thoughts and emotions flooded your synapses and sleep became remembering.

Anyone who has been to a Natural Helpers Retreat knows of the emotions that can be involved. As students and adults tell their stories and open up to all, for some, for the very first time, it can be a whirlwind of tears, laughs, seriousness and healing. But it is in those moments that we truly see each other as who we are. We truly take down all masks and walls, built up around ourselves for protection purposes, and expose our hearts. We let others see all the mess, pain, struggles and rawness, and we realize they are just like us. We tell our story, and somehow it seems to link to theirs. We find out we are not alone. I thought of those stories and moments all night, the next day and all weekend. Things said in confidence that caused a searing of friendship and mentoring.

The results showed themselves immediately. As we all went back to our lives, we reached out. In texts, in conversation, in actually noticing each other in our masks, we began to seek each other out. We can now see behind those masks and can see when we need each other, when we need help. I am not just talking about the 21 kids either. Nor am I just talking about the nine adults, nor just about the owner of the ranch, who needed us just as much as we needed her. I am talking about you and yours.

We all need to share our story. We all need to remove our masks. Maybe not to everyone, but to those who need our help. In our families, in the workplace and around the schools, we need to share who we are and what we have overcome. There are those really fighting just to get through one more day, and your story could be the difference maker. Your caring words could be the marker in a change of direction in their journey. We do not have to all be superheroes; we just need to all have super hearts and let down our guard for a moment.

Natural Helpers 2018 Retreat is in the books. Now the students will be let loose upon their peers. Lives will be changed because of this, and we will look to next year’s retreat in hopes that it will happen and we will see all of this again and again. Oh, and by the way, it is already making a difference.

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