Lessons From ‘The Goodness Chick’ From – Soon – All Around the World

Jun 13, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Next week, Erin Lawler Patterson, her husband, Keith, and 3-year-old son, Jack, will depart from their home in Ship Bottom to undertake a 10-month, 25-country journey, beginning in Romania and including stops in Nepal, Albania, Greece, Israel, Bali and other places yet unplanned. Patterson is leaving her position as a school addictions counselor to fully embrace her calling as “The Goodness Chick,” a sage of wellness, parenting and more.

As Patterson explained, “The goal of our 10 months abroad is to connect with people and interview them,” about mental health, drug dependence and volunteerism – “about giving back.”

While overseas, Patterson will continue to record her podcast, Goodness Chick, which delves into topics such as anxiety and depression, self-care and natural highs, what she calls “finding your stoke.” Many people’s lives are lacking the latter, she noted in her upbeat, eyes-wide-open manner, “and you need it, man.”

The podcast launched in December 2017, a few months after the release of Patterson’s first book, Peace, Love & Goodness: Lessons from the Drug Lady.

“My hope was to answer questions and address topics that affect all of us,” she explained, “and it kind of exploded, in a really good way.” Mental Health Network Radio picked her up in April.

Patterson will continue the podcast while she travels, and will also use what she learns for a third book, to follow her recently released second title, A Higher Level of Goodness: Lessons from the Drug Lady. According to the book description on amazon.com, “We have one shot at life and the quality of it is often based on how we choose to approach it and our mindset. ‘A Higher Level of Goodness’ is a powerful read that is filled with kernels of wisdom, insight and challenge on living life to its fullest as a parent, teen, educator or anyone who is up for challenge and growth.”

“It’s kind of my transition from the Drug Lady to the Goodness Chick,” Patterson said of A Higher Level of Goodness.

“Goodness Chick is focused on relaying relevant issues that pertain to parenting teens, family dynamics as well as addressing mental health issues,” Patterson states on her website, goodnesschick.com. “Knowledge is power. Whether it be depression, prescription pill addiction or the challenges of being a single parent, each of us face our own challenges. When we collaborate, the journey seems less daunting.”

Patterson, a Medford native who has lived in Ship Bottom for two years, worked as a SAC (substance awareness coordinator or student assistance counselor) at Seneca High School for 14 years. Her path to that position, she said, began with a tragedy.

In April 1999, in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., a car carrying Patterson’s younger sister Shana Lawler, along with friends Angela McGrady, Megan Blong, Amanda Geiger and Michael Horner, all 17, was hit by a repeat drunken driver who had run a red light. Horner suffered serious injuries. The four girls were killed.

The drunken driver, 29 at the time, incurred only minor injuries.

The families of the victims created the nonprofit Precious Gems Memorial (preciousgemsmemorial.com) to increase awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving.

And Patterson set her mind to a career in counseling. “That, for me, was really the catalyst,” she remarked. She eventually earned her master’s in addictions counseling, and took a job in the Seneca school district.

She has seen, of course, ravages of the country’s opioid crisis. “I don’t think you can go anywhere where it hasn’t touched someone,” she pointed out. The addiction, she said, often starts with a prescription, but heroin is cheaper. “It’s frightening.

“We need more mental health resources,” Patterson added. “What we have in our schools is not enough. … We need a game plan for middle and high schools.”

She emphasizes, as well, the importance, for parents, of “dialoguing with your kids, even when it’s like pulling teeth.” Guardians need to teach children how to be healthy, and fight for their wellness. Eat dinner together, play outside together, travel, be aware of how long they’re on their phones.

“If we’re a consistent presence in their lives, the likelihood of them coming to us is going to increase,” said Patterson.

Last week, the Pattersons were in the middle of packing for their big trip. Travel is not unfamiliar to Erin – “I’ve been all over the world.” – but the task at hand also involved getting a 3-year-old, and his 3-year-old stuff, ready to traverse two dozen countries. Jack, though, has been out of the U.S. before, and he was heading out on this excursion with experienced travelers and loving parents.

As Patterson explained, after the trip she plans to continue her podcast, release a third book and take on speaking engagements. But for now, all the exploration still lies ahead.

To learn more about the Goodness Chick, visit goodnesschick.com or facebook.com/goodnesschick. Hear the Goodness Chick podcast on iTunes, at itunes.apple.com. Patterson’s books are both available on amazon.com.

— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch


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