Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Self-Reg and Aging

While I began my self-reg journey from the perspective of an educator, thinking about how self-reg could help students to achieve their fullest potential, I quickly realized that self-reg begins with the self - with me and my own self-regulation. Yesterday, I used self-reg from the perspective of a daughter during a visit to my dad.

Last week, my husband took a week off from work and we spent the entire week in London getting his condo ready to sell.  He lived in it for a few years when he was working in the city, then he had tenants in it for a few years and, for the past three years our girls have lived in it while they attended post-secondary school.  Like most renovations, it is taking longer than we anticipated and we are doing most of the work ourselves - ripping out carpeting, installing laminate floors, removing panelling in the basement and putting up dry wall. Needless to say, there were lots of stressors as we worked together on this project each day and then collapsed into bed each night.

At our own home, we are still returning to normal after a flood while I was away on vacation two weeks ago. The interior of our home is fine, but the garage is filled with all of the seasonal decorations that were salvaged and scrubbed clean after the crawlspace beneath the house filled with lake water. Unfortunately, there was also the emotional stress of losing many holiday decorations - my grandmother's ornaments that hung on her tree and now ours, decorations the girls had made when they were younger, ornaments that we had picked up on our travels - all were ruined and discarded.

I usually go to visit my dad twice a week to help with his banking, run personal errands and just chat about what's happening with folks we know. My dad is dealing with his own stressors that come with aging. He decided to move to a retirement home last fall, and while he chose a lovely place, it's not the same as being at home. The challenges of having to be dependent on others for so many things, especially since he decided to stop driving last fall. He still reels from the loss of my mom (12 years younger and always so much healthier than him), and the physical challenges of aging.

Yesterday as I was preparing to leave, I knew that I had to stop for a moment and restore some of my own calmness.  If I was to bring all the stress and tension I was carrying with me to my visit with him, it would only add to the stress and tension he is already feeling.  By making a conscious effort to approach this visit with compassion and empathy, as well as taking the time to return to a place on the Thayer Matrix of less tension and more energy, I was able to arrive at his retirement home relaxed and calm - even after encountering 3 different construction projects on the road during my short drive!

As an educator and a consultant, I used this same tool. Whether heading into a classroom of kindergarten children or an auditorium of educators gathered for a professional learning session, I needed to take time to reflect on my own energy and tension before beginning my work with others.

Just as I was about to post this blog on Twitter, I saw that Stuart Shanker has shared this quote:

And I responded:

And in another instance of serendipity, I found Nancy Niessen's blog post: Reframing is Ageless yesterday when I was reflecting on this link with self-regulation and my dad.

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