Endurance Self-Reg Style

The secret of life? To endure.

If my memory is even somewhat accurate this was the ending of one of my all time favorite books, Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Her quote parallels the sage advice I often get from my reverend when nearing the end of a project. “Finish well”.

Here I am nearing the end of what is not so much a project but a 10 week sojourn back at work, cheering myself on with “finish well”.

To recap, I retired from a 36 year career in education on September 1, 2015. Since then I’ve filled in as “Acting Principal” for two weeks in mid March and am presently starting week 6 of 10 as an elementary counsellor in my former school district. Note to self: Beginning July 1, 2016 I am retiring for real!

Work is different this time. There is the obvious of being more relaxed because, well…retirement. But this time round I’m being mindful to observe, to listen, to be present. To pause. Truth be told, there has been a wee tendency towards judgment, but as the enlightened human I’ve become, judgement has been set aside to free up space for growth – particularly mine.  Here’s what I’m noticing:

  • the adults in many of my buildings are tired
  • the students are not tired
  • excitement for summer break is building
  • dread for summer break is building
  • staff still have way too much to do in the 3 1/2 weeks that are left
  • some schools laugh more than others
  • laughter is necessary
  • listening is often the best kind of self-regulation (for the listener and the listenee)
  • there is no ‘one size fits all’
  • consistency and routines are difficult to maintain in June
  • consistency and routine are essential in order to finish well

Along side of spending another spring at school, I am wrapping up the Foundations course on Self-Regulation through The Mehrit Centre that began in October 2015. (thank you to Dr. Shanker, Dr. Hopkins & the squirrely members of Cohort #1) As I put the finishing touches on my final Self-Reg project, I find I’m looking at schools through a clearer lens. A lens that starts with soft eyes and rather than narrowing it is in fact expanding. There is much to see.

My personal inquiry question has become:

How will the intentional practice of self-regulation change the trajectory of a school and its community?

My thoughts on why schools must embrace self-reg:

  • unity (think “The Village” thanks Shortreed)
  • common language – think unity
  • self-regulation will move schools towards creating a more equal playing field
Fair isn't always equal

Posted on a wall at Willoughby Elementary School. The caption shared by Joe Bower on his blog For the Love of Learning was  “Fair isn’t equal; fair is when everyone gets what they need.”

  • for teachers to co-regulate they must listen. When students are listened to they feel valued. When people are valued by others they often begin to value themselves more. These are the beginning steps of changing a negative bias to a positive bias.
  • when staff listen to students they get to ‘know’ their students. When staff ‘know’ their students they can differentiate both academic and emotional learning in a more meaningful way.

I’ve written before about Self-Reg as the missing piece in providing the grounding for the best kind of lifelong learning. Teaching students, staff, parents, and dare I dream… community, how to move from survival brain to learning brain is foundational to a life of not just learning, but learning with joy.

The goal, the really BIG goal: to become more fully human.

To my friends and colleagues who are nearing the end of another school year or perhaps the end of a lengthy, worthwhile career: thank you for all you do. Stay calm and remember that there really is time left for all that needs to be done. Breath, pause, laugh, listen, pace yourselves, and above all finish well. 

One last thing. It doesn’t matter who starts self-reg, (admin, teachers, parents, district) what matters is that you start!

As always, I write with the knowing that better IS possible,

The Story of the Log Jam

 

 

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An Open Letter to My Kids

To my beloved children (TLC):

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Yesterday Derek (my in law in training ;)) posted this on Facebook:Derek and Daycare

I agree with Derek, I love THIS. I love that Noah is in a daycare that celebrates diversity. “It is important to teach our children to show mutual respect to everyone in Canada”! YES!

And then my wonderings began in earnest (you knew that they would). 

When Noah’s daycare celebrates his (or more so his parent’s, because face it he’s only 2), traditions, beliefs and culture, what will they look like? 

Maybe it’s because Easter is just around the corner that my thoughts went to the traditions we practiced when you were still kids. I wonder if as adults you think as much about the Easter bunny as the redemption offered to us through Christ? Are your Easter memories more about the Easter egg hunts we had than the massive Easter productions that jammed packed Easter weekend with Church. (an aside – remember the time that a goat almost pulled Landon off of the stage?)

Speaking of church…of God…of beliefs…what beliefs do you hold as truth now? Is your image of God a loving, caring God? A God who not only created the universe but also took the time to form you so lovingly into tender tiny humans and then for some crazy reason placed you into our care.

As you aged you each exchanged the mantle of my faith with a mantle of your choosing. The point being you had a choice. You had something of faith to choose from – whether to re embrace, adapt, or change completely.

Each of you grew up bathed in prayer. Whether it was Omie & Oma, Grandma, or me, you never entered a single day without being covered in prayer. Prayer for protection, for grace, for love, compassion, and understanding. And don’t kid yourselves, when you were teens and in your early twenties, those prayers included a plea for a big dose of guilt that would rob you of any sense of unbridled fun when you made those inevitable and in my opinion ‘bad choices’. Just so you know, Grandma and I still pray for you and your offspring daily!

What about your kids? What are the traditions and more importantly beliefs that belong to your families. What do you celebrate?  Let me be clear I am not talking about church attendance and/or religion. And lest you think I’m judging you, I’m not. You are all amazing, caring, and loving parents. You, along with Brittany, Derek, and Deb do parenting so well. I am extremely proud of each one of you.

Wrestling down my wonders I landed on this: What is the foundation of your life? What is that uncompromising part of your heart, soul, and mind that you want to share and pass down to your children. What is YOUR guiding force?

When it’s time for daycare to celebrate your family’s beliefs, what will they celebrate?

Much love,

Mom

 

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From My Heart

DSC_6409.JPGMy heart is too small. It wants to carry everything. From the joy of grandchildren to the wrenching sadness of people displaced from their homelands; extremes that weave through my heart on a daily-sometimes hourly basis.

Joy alongside angst, how is that possible? Moments in the day where I am brushed by a gentle sensation of joy, peace, perhaps happiness, interwoven by times when sorrow is all but paralyzing; both live within this heart of mine. Being able to notice this spectrum of life yet not be crushed by its extremes has become somewhat of a dance. And trust me, I’ve always been an awkward dancer. My heart, with its capacity to expand enough to hold both contentment and suffering, yet beat rhythmically sustaining my life, is in the realm of the mysterious.

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
Viktor E. Frankl

Throughout my ongoing studies around self-regulation, the why, the how-to, the process, there has been a niggling wonder about what happens when the tension is gone. What is this calm state? Its purpose? Why aim for this sweet spot? In Viktor Frankl’s words I find some meaning. When I reduce the stressors I make room for the for the authentic, genuine, perhaps  even altruistic me.

My aim: a heart not simply void of tension, but a heart of full of purpose.

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And with this is mind – the call of a potential meaning – I am satisfied that my heart is indeed large enough for a life leading to better as possible.

The Story of the Log Jam

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Self-Regulation: Give Me 5!

The best part of retirement, which in reality has become semi-retirement, is having time to invest in things that/people who, matter to me. Flexibility to hang out with friends, family, and grandchildren in the MIDDLE of the day just doesn’t get old!

There has been surprising bonus. One I didn’t fully anticipate. The opportunity to delve into self-regulation. SR snuck up on me over the past 6 years. It peaked my curiosity as my experience within a traditional, behaviouralist lens complete with laborious plans, sometimes written in matrix form, including the prerequisite consequence and reward chart did not work for many kids. More salient in my case, was  that it wasn’t working to improve the overall tone and workability in a classroom setting. Coupled with the expectation by some that children be punished for ‘bad’ behaviour I found a disconnect from my basic belief about children. A belief that was certainly influenced by the work of Ross Greene “Kids do well if they can.”

As an educator Greene’s work made complete sense. Rather than the premise that kids wanted to be disruptive, which could include yelling, fighting, work refusal, hiding, etc. they were doing so because they had lagging skills or lacked the ability to solve presenting problems. While their disruptive behaviours are clearly not helpful or even acceptable, punitive actions or reactions were also not making a significant difference.Years before I’d heard of self-regulation I had been trained as a Parent Connect facilitator (now  CONNECT© parent program). Principle #1 in this 10 week attachment based program was, “All Behaviour Has Meaning”. We took on the role of detective discovering which attachment need was not being met.

On this point I was very clear – there is more to maladaptive behaviours than pathology and/or getting attention, or getting out of work! We’d based our schools on those principles for decades and other than pockets of improvement the status quo prevailed. Kids acted up, or shut down, resulting in disrupted learning for many along with worn out, frustrated teaching staff.

During my time as an administrator I relied heavily on my counselling training. Unconditional positive regard, building relationships, making connections, and the critical piece of instilling hope have been foundational in my counselling practice and transferred well into my role of school administrator. These foundational tenets would have had little synergy within a rule-based, consequence/reward system of managing conduct in a school setting. Fortunately our school was moving towards a self-regulation model and away from the rigidity of the solely behaviouralist theory base. Phew! Even before learning what I know now about self-regulation, I knew that each child was different and a One Size Fits All discipline plan, which may work for a moment, does NOT translate into the transformational change we were seeking for our students.

I can’t express enough how much I am enjoying speaking about self-regulation at various schools. My experience so far is that staff are yearning for and thus seeking out ways that will provide long lasting change rather than a compliant quick fix. But make no mistake, change is not easy, nor is it quick.

My 90 second message about self-regulation is this:

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Our bodies have a furnace. The job of that furnace is to set and maintain a healthy temperature. We don’t want pipes freezing or exploding. Nor do we want things so hot, we are in danger of growing mould or mildew. It would be so easy if we just set the temperature and it stayed the same all the time. But life isn’t like that. Our needs fluctuate.

Along with the furnace we also have an alarm system located in our amygdala. It’s the rare person who’s alarm is set to perfection. There are times that this alarm alerts us of dangers that may not be a danger at all. To add to the layers, there are things like smells, sounds, the feel of fabric that can trigger this alarm in many of us. Once that alarm is triggered it can be ever so difficult to shut it down. That would be the role of our pre frontal cortex, but once that alarm is sounding, the PFC can have an almost impossible time turning off that darn alarm. Self-Reg teaches us that sometimes we need to be that prefrontal cortex for someone else, because you see, we are not alone in this.

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For more information about self-regulation and in particular the work of Dr. Stuart Shanker be sure to check out the wealth of information over at The MEHRIT Centre. 

Dr. Bruce Perry, in his trauma work summarizes the response to a triggered alarm (heightened stress response) as:

Regulate, Relate, Reason

The key is that we, and by we I mean all of us, need to bring ourselves into a calm state (restore) before we can regain the ability to reason. This is true for the adults in a school building, parents at home, and children/youth alike. This is not new, but what is newish is that we know that this is working in classrooms and homes all across our land.

Loving that in this next phase of life, Better is still Possible,

The Story of the Log Jam

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Close Your Eyes; What Do You See?

It’s curious that as I’ve aged I’ve become more of who I was as a child. Before my friends and family chime in with a resounding, ‘grow up’, let me explain.

One of my deep abiding memories, more explicit than implicit, includes a lingering feeling of angst. The existential question of why are we here? Why are we born? What is the purpose of life? I have a vivid picture of sobbing inconsolably; worried about what would happen when my Omie died. I was 9. She lived until I was 32. There were many years to cry and wonder.

We’re born. We live. We die. Is that it? Those were the unspoken wonders of my young self.

Now take that sensitive youngster and put her into school. I have no idea what class sizes were in the 60’s, but here’s what I do remember about my primary years:

  • an indoor teeter-totter in Kindergarten
  • Nap time in Kindergarten
  • An indoor play area in the basement of the school where we played during rainy days (it was Vancouver, it rained a lot)
  •  Writing – probably printing. A wonderful grade 2 teacher who let me write books. I think my longest was 32 pages. The pride of composing. I have no idea what I wrote about, but she gave me time to write all I needed to write.
  • School plays. We did The Gingerbread Man and I was a tree. I think I realized then that I wanted to direct school plays. For sure I never wanted to be a tree again!
  • I was a quiet student, which was a vast contrast to the loud little girl I was at home. One of my teachers actually said that when I spoke in class I could yell – that’s how quiet my voice was.
  • Getting almost all A’s because in the 60’s we had letter grades in primary.

My primary years were good. I had good friends, caring teachers. I had a solid academic beginning.

Then we moved and everything changed.

My grade four teacher was a well known graphologist. Her sister was an MP. I tell you this because even now, I recall how often she referenced who she was. She made us do this activity where we had to close our eyes and imagine. I hated closing my eyes to imagine. I could imagine just fine with my eyes open. But being the compliant student I was I’d close my eyes, more like clench them as tight as I could, and try my hardest to see something. Her question after this exercise was always, “what did you see?” I saw black. BLACK. Once she called on me and was angry that I saw black. As hard as I tried, I simply couldn’t see the clever pictures the other students were describing. I was so puzzled. I didn’t fit.

Grade 4 was when I started refusing to go to school. My poor mom had a tough time forcing me out the door every morning. My brothers, delightful men that they are, still mock me about those mornings!  My mom had several meetings with this teacher, and it was quite clear that this teacher didn’t see value in me. I was the quiet new german girl in her class and I wasn’t as smart as the other kids. Never-mind that at 9 I was taking my Grade 4 Royal Conservatory exam in piano and often performed at church. Never-mind that I could do a pretty decent basketball layup, never-mind that I did needlepoint with my Omie and was learning how to sew…a dress! To this teacher (at least from my perspective) I only saw black and BLACK was nothing.

Looking back, I realize that this woman caused me a lot of harm. What I learned in Grade 4 was that I didn’t belong. I realize now that that year impacted my teaching career profoundly. My own students needed to know they belonged. I never insisted students close their eyes, even playing ‘Seven Up’, it was important that they felt/knew they were safe. I know I got better at my craft of teaching as I gained experience. Relationship and community came first. That was the difference maker.

A lot of life has happened since the 60’s. A whole lot of good and to be fair, a good bit of tragedy. In the end I’m not sure the good and bad balances out as much as integrates in.

With more discretionary time available to me in this ‘next’ phase of life, I have reverted back to pondering those big questions.

Why are we here? What is life about? Is it as basic as the birth to death cycle? What about our time in between birth and death?

I’ve been reading a book by Dr. Gerald May (who happens to be the 1/2 brother of Rollo May) called The Dark Night of the Soul. It’s not as much about the dark as it is about meditation and contemplation, two practices that involve curiosity and mystery. Ultimately life is mysterious. We just don’t know. What struck me was how these ideas, their meaning and depth transfer to teaching. What if one of our roles is the learning-gardener? We needn’t have our students worry about preparing to learn because we have done this for them. We prepare our classroom with areas for all needs. We set up our classrooms as an optimal learning environment both physically and emotionally. That is our work. Then it is the work of the student to learn, to play, to explore, to wonder, to grow.  As I reflect on my own transformation over the years, what strikes me is how even minute changes now compel me to nurture those same possibilities for my own students/clients and of course, grandchildren.

I am still in awe when transformational change occurs. When a student who has never played an instrument learns to play a tune on his/her instrument of choice in just a few short weeks – that, in my mind, is transformational change. They don’t unlearn that.  That moment from not knowing to knowing. The mystery! My role is to offer guidance, give instruction, set the stage, but the doing, the learning, that is the part of the student. Experiences of empathy, kindness, compassion, creativity, play, alongside academics are building blocks we educators can intentionally prepare and adapt throughout our time with students. It is both privilege and responsibility. And make no mistake – it is not easy!

In case you’re wondering, I still see black when I close my eyes. I have come to understand that it wasn’t the literal picture my old Grade 4 teacher was after. I was so fixated on actually seeing something that I was blinded to the beautiful images, wonders, and stories that were there all along. With my eyes and heart wide open, I see then now.

Proof again, that better is possible,

The Story of the Log Jam

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#OneWord2016-Next

Almost exactly a year ago I was struggling to come up with a spiffy, original, meaningful, dazzling, totally unique OneWord2015. It had to be the best OneWord ever! After way too much introspection (self-absorption) acceptance became my 2015 word.

January 2016: The Struggle Returns. What will my OneWord 2016 be? Words flit through my head but none settle. This heart rejects them one by one. Perhaps rejection should be the word. I agree, too harsh.

In hindsight 2015 was indeed a year of change making acceptance exactly the right word. We welcomed two new grandsons into our family, a Perry family of four moved to far away Texas, my reverend and I both quit our day jobs (aka retirement2015), and we moved back to Coldstream. Change? Nope, that’s not quite it yet.

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Solitude

Solitude? Nope. Fresh? Nope. Hope? No. Newness? No, no, no. Not one word is choosing me for 2016. What does keep circling is the two word phrase:

“What’s Next?”

What’s Next? Each new day is a blank slate. Fresh. No plans. Clean page.

Our morning conversations go something like:

Me: What are you going to do today?

Him: Whatever I want.

Me: That’s nice, but what are you going to do today? I need plans, dear husband. At least let me plan your day.

See what I mean? What’s Next?

First snowfall 2015 on driveway

Each morning is like the first footsteps on fresh snow. Where to? What’s next?

Being the rule bound person I am, two words simply won’t work for a OneWord task. Therefore…are you ready for it?

Carol’s OneWord2016 is…

NEXT

 

Happily done for another year!

The Story of the Log Jam

If you’re interested here are links to my previous OneWord posts. OneWord2015Acceptance  OneWord2013/14Enough   OneWord2012 Joy  OneWord2011Joy  OneWord2011JoySummary

To find your tribe go to OneWord365.

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Beyond Strength

When strength is all but gone, when its existence is a mere flicker, then what? Where to now? To quote two year olds everywhere, “Why?”

We sleep, we wake, we eat, we work, if we’re lucky or smart, we play. That’s it. That’s the balance. As long as we stay in that routine, we are strong! In balance I find my strength.

Until the balance shifts.

Less work. Little sleep. Too much eat. Less play.

Strength attempts to hold on. It reaches with all that is within. Sometimes it can grasp that one thing, that needed touchstone. Sometimes, there is no strength for grasping. Where to now? Where DO we go when our strength is out of reach?

We move beyond strength 

When we lose a loved one…we move beyond strength

When we are hit by crisis…we move beyond strength

When we experience deep disappointment…we move beyond strength

When our strength is but a raspy breath, we still breathe. In, hold, out.  We rest. We rely. We let another hold our hope…we move beyond strength 

Too often these words from Ecclesiastes 4 ~ The Message ~ reflect my thoughts:

“1-3 Next I turned my attention to all the outrageous violence that takes place on this planet—the tears of the victims, no one to comfort them; the iron grip of oppressors, no one to rescue the victims from them… “

Where is Strength? As the cord is fraying, as the hold is weakening, as I cry out for help, there comes a reminder. We lean in. We let go, rest, gain strength from others. We wait there. There we restore.

The hope: (Ecclesiastes 4:12)  

  “By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” 

This morning I woke up with the song “Worn” by 10th Avenue North playing through my ear buds. (yes, I sleep with ear buds – don’t ask).  Words of strength. Pleas rising from weariness. Just enough strength to cry for help. Help for all.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My own life is well. I’m fine. Other than navigating my new work routine, which has been interesting, life has great moments. Yet, that great has been touched by tragedy. Not my own, but that of friends. This is cliche, but I suppose that as we age we notice death more often. And then I’m back to wondering, ‘Where does strength come from?’ How do I reach beyond strength?

Psalm 121 ~ The Message

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you – Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moon stroke. God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.

I know this to be true for me. When I have moved beyond strength I am reminded that it is He who guards me. Sometimes strength is found in the stillness that is Him. Sometimes it’s weaved within the cords of friendship.

For those I know who have recently suffered tragic loss you are not alone. At your core He is there. Beyond that, we, your friends, are there. We hold your hope. We rejoice as you move back into the land of the living. We are part of your three-stranded rope!

For the many I don’t know but have read of your devastating loss, I am committed to holding you in my prayers. Your loss is not unnoticed. I guess the message for me is that Redemption does win. I need to remind myself of that.

Songs rising out of ashes…powerful melodies of healing. This is truth. This is hope.

This is beyond strength! 

We were made for relationship. May we be willing to share our strength with those who have for the moment moved beyond their own?

Much love,

The Story of the Log Jam 

 

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Recreating Christmas

Christmas 2015. At our house. Finally.

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We made it. THIS is the year. The year of retirement. After 9 seasons away we’ve returned to Christmas in Coldstream; a dream come true.

With rose coloured glasses firmly (more likely hanging by a thread) in place I’m transported to a cosy place of planning to host a rather grand family Christmas. We will fill our house to the brim with cousins, siblings, sons and daughters. The cousins will don their new colour coordinated jammies continuing the tradition passed down from my own Omie.

Full stop!

I’m not my Omie. I don’t have her patience, her baking and cooking skills, her ability to sit quietly in the corner. I do however; fret, have hot flashes, snap at my oldest when he butts into my kitchen (even if he is a better cook than me).

I don’t follow a straight line. Plans that are clear to me may need interpreting for others. “Connect the dots” is a favourite phrase of my dear spouse. What do you mean I’m random? Sheesh!

Apparently I have a tendency to pounce on people with my opinions before they even come in the front door. Pounce/Welcome…semantics! And lately, well lately, I’ve become obsessed with shutting cupboard doors and turning off lights.

Oh. My. Word.

It’s time for memories to collide with new experiences. Does that sound a bit violent to anyone else? Change is messy, eh?

Carol’s Christmas… what is it exactly?

While I don’t make most of Omie’s recipes (I buy, not bake fruitcake) I do make my mom’s Christmas Cookie Logs.  This crispy  cookie with the nutmeg sprinkled frosting is a regular part of my Christmas baking tradition. And the stuffing. Ours is a meat stuffing. The more pork sausage the better. My mom makes it best. I’m getting close, although my kids still like Grandma’s better.

Our grandkids have a Papa. Papa Jim to be exact! (Truth be told they all have at least 3 grandpas, such is the experience of the blended family.) I never had a papa. Not one. Both died before I was born. Papas make a difference.

What if our new memories include:

  • squishing too many people around the table;
  • two different table clothes to cover the sheet of plywood Papa put over the regular dining table so we could all fit. No kids table at this house (yet);
  • doors and windows open even though it’s below zero and there’s snow outside. Grandma and those hot flashes;
  • Papa’s mashed yams with roasted marshmallows on top;
  • Auntie Jen and her fake chicken;
  • a Christmas tree that is two sizes too small;
  • a dash of grumpy grandma along with good cheer?

What if?

The thing is I can’t manipulate new memories. Try as I might to re-create the experiences of my own childhood Christmases it never works out that way. There is a sadness in that. I’m learning that it’s ok to acknowledge the ‘sads’. I can’t deny Christmases past, nor can I successfully predict the Christmas that is set to happen in two short days.

What I can do is prepare. Preparation combined with hope.

Hope that our grandchildren will come away with memories that bring them peace, love, and warmth.

Hope that when they are my age, they will look back fondly at Christmases spent at Grandma Carry-all and Papa’s along with their cousins,  uncles, aunts,  friends and, and, and…

Hope that they will come to believe the words of Linus…

For Unto Us is Born This Day

Hope that with each passing year, they will know that with Him, Christ the Lord, Better is always possible.

Merry Christmas to all!
The Story of the Log Jam

 

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Christmas Through the #Selfreg Lens

There is a fear that when viewing Christmas through a lens of self-regulation, pictures of sugarplums resting, rather than dancing, will come to our heads.

Point #1 

Self-regulated doesn’t mean Zen Zombie. Having tools to self-regulate allows for freedom previously not experienced. For all ages. 

Christmas to-do’s rival Santa’s ‘checking-it-twice’ list.

  • Trees
  • Decorations
  • Food
  • Presents
  • Music
  • Family

Oft times Christmas can shift from joyous to just plain annoying. The season of good-will towards all,  can push even the most evolved adult to a state of stress overload. And what about the kids? With all the excitement it can be easy to forget their angst. Fear or worry, with or without anxiety, can be highly stressful.

Dr. Stuart Shanker, Founder The MEHRIT Centre on self-regulation:
“Self-regulation is the ability to manage stress. It refers to the neural processes that control the energy expended to deal with a stressor and then recover. When an individual’s stress levels are too high various systems for thinking and metabolic recovery are compromised. The signs of dysregulation can show up in the behaviour, mood, attention, and/or physical well-being of a child, teen or adult.”

Think of a student, that one who is unable to complete a Christmas craft without crushing it in frustration; 0r the little one who really wants to help decorate for Christmas, but rather, ends up in time out.  Now picture those same children recovering from stress overload. Can it happen? Yes it can. BUT, it ain’t easy! 

Point #2

Self-regulation is a process not a program. It lives in the realm of the experiential. “We experience self-regulation in our bodies”.

The last thing we want is to do is “cause more harm”. For those students who already  unconsciously dread Christmas, we must do our best to create new memories that can slide safely through their hard shell of previous disappointment. Memories we hope will be life-long. We do so with love and care. We offer opportunities that speak to the wonder of December to everyone in our building <think ALL>.  This balance is a delicate one. It is achieved by knowing our students. It comes on the back of relationship.

With all the busyness it can be easy to overlook the heightened stress created by angst. Here are some suggestions to consider as you journey towards a #selfreg Christmas:

  • Play. Good old unstructured play. Outside is best.
  • Laugh. Alot.
  • Set aside the tough stuff. It’s not the best time of year to be tackling new or difficult concepts.
  • Let go of being ‘right’.
  • Read to your class. Read often. Let them scatter around the room, finding their own safe place for listening.
  • Safety. Keep in mind emotional safety. This is the toughest season of all for some.
  • Set up different spaces for different needs. Squishy bean bag type chairs for some, desks for others. High tables/kneeling tables/mats to lie on.
  • If your school doesn’t have a place for students to go when they need a break, get together with a few staff and come up with a place. It’s worth the proactive effort. (Note: This is not a punishment place!)
  • Listen well.
  • One size does not fit all. Different kids have different needs. Add to that the obvious; what worked today won’t necessarily work tomorrow.
  • Be a detective. I’ve been saying this for years. Find out what works for your little or not so little ones by paying attention, snooping around…so to speak.
  • Know your kids. What’s their story?
  • Relationships matter. Lean into yours.
  • Take care of you. Know when YOU need a break.
  • Celebrate successes. Celebrations! not rewards.

My toolkit shall be named copy

Thank you to Cathern Lethbridge for creating a Carol Perry meme!

My ultimate #selfreg goal is to equip children and/or adults with the process of connecting to their congruent self. The self that holds curiosity wonder, trust love, and JOY alongside fear, hurt, and disappointment. When we begin to feel stress rising, how wonderful it would be to be able to notice the signs enough to override the limbic system’s reactivity response to fight, flight, or freeze. This shift will not happen overnight, it is indeed a lifelong process. There is no better time to start than now.

The Mehrit Centre with Dr. Stuart Shanker as CEO now offers a foundations course on self-regulation. Cohort #1 began in October 2015 with Cohort #2 beginning in January 2106. In addition to a fabulous online learning opportunity, (thanks to Susan Hopkins for keeping us on track!) the discussion with colleagues on similar selfreg journeys has been invigorating. There are 7 modules in 4 courses (28 weeks in all) and each module has been carefully planned to build upon the previous. If you want to learn the backstory, the science, the details, the why and the how-to’s…this is the course for you!

With the knowing that; Better is Possible.

The Story of the Log Jam

 

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Fresh Starts

Today’s forecast: Snow.
The first real snowfall of the season: freshness, newness, unending possibilities.
Then a question:
Hello  !  This week we are giving  #thanks in a slow chat
Q1) What are you most thankful for in your life?  
Perfect timing: I am thankful for Fresh Starts. They are new every morning!

Solitude by Carol Perry (January 29, 2012)

Early morning is my hands down favorite time of the day.

The solitude of early awakenings is the perfect venue
to process the echoes of the day before, to lay them to rest;
to listen for the whispers of an emerging day.
More-so it’s that place of in between.
No more yesterday, not yet today…
The here and now! An emptiness that is not lonely.
I am alone but not alone.
My time to reflect on the possibility of a new day.

I am thankful for the Soul Settling Peace of early mornings.  

With all that is perplexing, concerning, worrisome, impossible…
it is my time to wonder about positive outcomes,
it is my time to dream of reconciliations, to savour thoughts of seemingly impossible goodness,
it is my time for an internal smile that begins in my soul and ambles outward reaching my lips.
I smile in my solitude.

Perhaps it’s a sign of my age, but I’m left with praise and gratitude summed up in these simple words…To God Be the Glory!

The if only’s will come soon enough, for now I relish my solitude.

Blessings,                                                                                                                              

The Story of the Log Jam

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