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Gracefully navigating the changes in life

By Stephen C. Schultz

The lines in the road were flashing by as if they were strobe lights at a disco. It was dusk and the sun was setting. Shawn Brooks, Executive Director of Oxbow Academy and I were traveling back from a conference in Bend Oregon. The conversation went something like this, with Shawn saying;

“Man Schultzy, I thought when Oxbow got full; we’d be able to sit back and enjoy our success!”

He continued;

“But, as soon as we were full, we needed to split the campus and set up a campus for kids with (ASD) Spectrum Disorders. Now, I think our next expansion of services needs to be children 10-12 years old. You know, we get quite a few calls for this particular age group.”

Oxbow Academy

The sun started to dip behind the clouds and settle below the horizon. However, it was comforting to know that it would rise once again the next morning.

As I gain more experience in my life (just a gentle way of saying I’m getting older), I’ve come to recognize that life truly is a journey. When I look back, life seems to be one transition after another. When done with kindergarten, I moved on to elementary school…then on to Jr. High and High School. Do you recall how mature and sophisticated we all felt when graduating high school at the ripe old age of 18? Some entered the work force to explore independence; some went on to college, trade school or other avenue of higher learning. Some did both.

When looking back, school and work experience is just a small percentage of the many transitions in life. There are also family transitions, some associated with marriage or divorce. Maybe there is relocation because of a job. Children are born and there is the eventual inevitability of the death of loved one.

The question becomes; “Are we handling these transitions in life at an age appropriate level? Or, do we struggle to manage emotions and relationships whenever a change occurs?”

There is the saying; “If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward”. There is no standing still or coasting in life. We are ever evolving in one direction or another.

Over the last five years, I have been away from home a couple of weeks a month providing tours of our programs, meeting with Educational Consultants, attending and presenting at conferences and doing so with our admissions directors and clinicians. We have some great folks in our organization. Essentially I have been involved in “External Marketing” efforts.

As we have grown in the services we provide, there is a need for “Internal Marketing” efforts to make sure our organizational culture and treatment philosophy stay consistent as we provide new therapeutic opportunities to clinicians and other members of the residential, academic and treatment teams.

So, this new effort allows me to spend more time at each of our locations providing support to the administration teams. While I may be traveling less throughout the year, I am here behind the scenes working to make sure the families that are recommended to our care receive the best therapeutic support and customer service possible.

This new focus also allows me additional time at home. I have two of my four children still at home. My youngest, Emma is in that critical early teenage time of life and she struggles with a seizure disorder. Things are fine, but it’s an important time for me to be there for her. My other daughter Amanda is 16 years old and in her high school sophomore year. She is quite an accomplished student and volleyball player. She has already caught the attention of some college coaches and has made a traveling club team with tournaments scheduled this year for Reno, Las Vegas and probably Atlanta.

Here are a couple of posts from my blog that I hope you take a look at. The first one discusses some of the information surrounding my youngest daughter Emma. The second discusses the situation with my daughter Amanda, but also includes some marketing and customer service information that I have shared with folks at our programs. You may find it helpful for your business as well.

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