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“Be A Superhero”

IN PRODUCTION–I’ve often wondered why are stories about superheroes so appealing? And why have they always been appealing throughout humankind’s history? (Recall the Roman and Greek gods and goddesses, and countless other myths of people with superhuman strength and power from all cultures throughout the world from all time.) If I was to give a less than educated guess as to their appeal, I would say that they touch something in us that we all long for…perhaps something missing from our very selves.

The reason I think this is because it seems too trite and easy to say that the appeal lies only in the fantastical. As if to say, just because those stories tell us of something that we do not see in real life they keep our attention. I can imagine a story with many fantastical details that would not make me rush to see the movie or buy the book. That is to say, fantastical does not always equal appealing.

So perhaps superheroes’ appeal lies in the fact that they are marked as special, set apart, different, but in a good way–a way that increases their human potential. I believe that is a better explanation of their universal appeal. I believe it appeals to us because we very rarely experience it ourselves.

If this lack is a common existential experience, what does that tell us about our ontological make-up? Why would we all universally experience the same lack or same desire? Were we meant for something greater? Did we, as a race, have a potential that we lost? Or do we intrinsically have it but lost our ability to see it clearly? Why the common yearning and desire?

And then, why do we feel a lack that we seemingly lack the ability to fill? Even recognizing that one desires to be “more” does not enable one to meet their own desire. Even the richest and most powerful people in the world often report that they feel this same lack in life, like something is still missing.

Perhaps finding out what really quenches that desire or fills that lack is the meaning of life.

What-are-you-fighting-for

1) Decide what you want to accomplish

Is there a specific task/dream that you want to accomplish for someone or with someone?

2) Pick a theme song

Don’t take yourself too seriously! Let loose and have fun

3) Decide what you stand for

What are you fighting for?

 

 

The Caring Moment

In the beginning we must always be in the moment with two bits of knowledge focused on giving a feeling of being safe and loved. We should avoid lengthy case histories and cleanly typed plans. If need be, do these requirements. However, our task is to be in the moment; it is not to change anyone’s behavior, but to teach the person to feel safe with us and loved by us.

The present is a series of moments that tumble into the future. Yet, we should not worry about the future, only the present moment. The here-and-now becomes the future with each ticking second. Our encounters transpire in the moment and then transform the next moment.

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Whether a mother, father, grandparent, or a person whom we are supporting, the most important variable is the moment, not the future, not a projected plan with outcomes, not behavioral change. No, it is our being present in this very moment and all the person sees, hears, touches, and feels in this mutual coming together. It is the tiniest amount of time, perhaps two or three seconds. Then, these moments are linked together with other moments and it is these moments that become new moments; it is the evolving chain of moments that creates our moral memory in us as well as a memory in the other person.

Caregiving’s simplification involves teaching caregivers to be in the moment:

  • In bad moments this equates with forgiveness rather than control;
  • In all the good moments this involves a series of accidental and intentional encounters throughout the day focused on safe and loved;
  • The accidental encounters are merely brief moments of passing by and encompass a wave, a wink, a smile, a name, a thumbs up, maybe a hug if there is time, a whispering of “You are so good.”
  • The intentional encounters are a bit more planned and involve a chunk of caregiving time—from a minute or two or a half hour or more. The time depends. It should be structured in the day with the only purpose being to give a memory that the person is safe when with us.
  • The key is to stay in the moment. Joy is found in the moment.

Our task is simple, just being in the moment with the gift of helping the person to feel safe and loved:

  • Not a moment before,
  • Not a moment after,
  • Just in the now.”

-John J. McGee, PhD

Take a Stand Against a “Thanklessness Epidemic”

Over a year ago I started a personal blog where I would share my thoughts and insights on the world around me. It was my desire to write a post once a day for a year. I desperately wanted to keep it up, and did well for a time: but the personal pressure that I placed on myself became too much. The blog focused on one specific thing: the daily heroes that I would run into at work, at the grocery store, on the street and in the least unexpected places. My goal was to expose the beauty of the world around me and publicly thank the ‘daily heroes’ to my handful of faithful readers.  Although I haven’t logged a blog for some time, this thought of thankfulness has been constantly on my heart and mind. And dare I say, I think we are in a ‘thanklessness epidemic’. Don’t get me wrong, we can hear people say thank-you around us all the time, but is it anything more than a simple pleasantry or a moralistic mandate? We need to foster thankfulness and find moments where our deep appreciation is expressed in ways that it will be heard clearly and intentionally for what it truly is.

On the other hand, thanklessness is deeply tethered and connected to the inability to be content. When you are thankless, not only do you rob the other person of the glory that belongs to them, you convince yourself you could have gotten on fine without them. Author JD Greer says, ” Think of it (thanklessness) like plagiarism. Plagiarism is harmful on two levels: the first level is you rob someone else of the credit of their words. Secondly you delude others and yourself in thinking that you can come up with that level of idea all the time.” When we choose to be thankless, we turn our focus inwards and disregard others around us. We become so focused on “I”, “ME”, and  “MY” that we forget that is so often “OTHERS” that shape our life and it’s events. Although some people may like to live in a cavernous hermitage, most people need and want others around: let’s not forget our thankfulness often draws us into a greater sense on community.

Teaching thankfulness-is-not-to-be-seen-as-forcing-or-indoctrinating-someone,-rather-as-a-way-to-boldly-show-our-appreciation

In the Gentle Teaching community we talk about the four pillars (can anyone name them?): to be SAFE, to be LOVED, to become more LOVING AND to become more ENGAGED. Each one of these pillars are critical in building, establishing ans sustaining a relationship: with people we serve or otherwise. How do you help raise these pillars? One of the ways that I suggest is to increase the genuineness of our thankfulness. By becoming more thankful, and expressing our adoration and appreciation through words and actions we are directly able to help people feel safe and loved.

When I am genuinely thanked for something that I have done, I personally feel a deeper connection and appreciation for that person. Essentially I feel safe and more valued by that person, because they gave me both their time and words of affirmation. As we become more thankful around those that we serve we are teaching others to imitate what is good and right: we are teaching the foundation of healthy relationships. By modeling our genuine thankfulness before those we serve, we are teaching others to become more loving and engaged in their own lives. In essence we are saying, “Come, follow me…Do this..this is good and right.” Teaching thankfulness is not to be seen as forcing or indoctrinating someone, rather as a way to boldly show our appreciation to others and free those around us to accept, embrace and duplicate thankfulness in their own lives.

Got a story? I would love to hear about thankfulness in your life! Maybe it was someone that you noticed, or a story where you were edified because of someone’s courage to share their thankful appreciation with you. Send me a message at ben@creativeoptionsregina.ca

 

Signing-off,

Ben

Director of Culture and Mentorship

 

 

 

Authenticating Life

Perhaps you are like me and occasionally enjoy looking at at a piece of art. Whether it is the color, systematic brush strokes and blending or perhaps it is the stylistic nature of the painting. To me art speaks volumes. I love admiring, analyzing and relishing in the beauty of the canvas–for some, admiration isn’t enough.

In 1996, Britain “Ripper” (not Jack the Ripper) emerged from the smoke as the world’s greatest art thief. It was soon found out that the ‘Ripper’ had been a local gardener and golf course keeper whose name was Mr. Bellwood. The first time this man was arrested, the police officers stormed his house to find a typical British dwelling; His wife Susan and their daughter were sitting in their living room having a cup of tea. At first the police feared they had the wrong man as Bellwood’s house had the appearance of being a middle-class home; it wasn’t until they began tearing down Mr. Bellwood’s walls that they found hidden away a gallery consisting of nearly 1,000 pieces of world history and art dating back to the 15th and 16th century. For obvious reasons he was arrested; but was released a mere two and a half years later on having good behavior. Since his release Bellwood has continued his thievery, taking into his possession over one-hundred-million pounds worth of history artifacts and art. It is now suggested that Mr. Bellwood has fled from England and is living overseas and working in the art world.

As soon art began to go missing, duplicates began to appear–however they were falsified documents and had to be authenticated. I don’t know about you, but authenticating something doesn’t sound like and easy job: it takes time, meticulous effort and observation.

When something is authenticated it is deemed, true, genuine, and ‘original to design and purpose’. While some people may heartily disagree with me, I suggest that authenticity in our world is an uncommon trait. Just like Mr. Bellwood, we as people so often portray ourselves as something that we are not or because of our historical pasts, feel unable to live authentically; but this is what our world needs! When you wake up in the morning, and leave your house people should be able to look at your life and be astonished by the courage and boldness that you have to live as you are. This doesn’t mean that we don’t learn from each other: in fact I am convinced that a life that stops learning is a life that stops living — similarly if we can’t live authentically before those who encompass our daily lives, I would ask if we are then truly living.

Authenticity flows beyond ourselves and into our family lives, our relationships and into our places of work. For those who choose to strive to live authentically it fosters a community that births life: a safe place where people are challenged, supported and offered an invitation into true relationship. This needs to become our new status quo. As I sign-off for now I leave you with a snippet from John McGee, who encourages us to live authentically before the people we serve: allowing our own story and personality to penetrate our own hearts and the hearts of those we serve.

“Unconditional love has to be expressed in our very being. Our presence has to evoke a peace like a single glimpse of the sun does in the midst of a storm. Our touch, words, and eyes have to be like a gentle breeze that calms the storm of fear and meaninglessness that is always lingering on the horizon. We must be authentic. How we use these has to reflect our own life-story and personality.” – John McGee

Ben Raine,

Director of Culture and Mentorship

Finding Value in My Day – March 4th & 5th, 2015

Finding Value in One's Day Poster - March 2015

 

COR is pleased to we welcoming the return of Cara Milne to Regina to host two, one-day workshops on Finding Value in My Day! For more information, contact the COR office.

A culture of gentleness is also about being able to be vulnerable

“When I first heard about creating a culture of gentleness I had no idea what that meant.

After going to trainings, learning about gentle teaching, and seeing a culture of gentleness through the people around me in an organization that seemed so alien, I finally understood what it was. Talking about a culture of gentleness isn’t enough. You don’t really understand what it is until you start partaking in the movement of gentleness that has spread across Canada. It really is a powerful thing.

I learned that creating a culture of gentleness doesn’t just mean serving the people that we support, but serving every person you meet on the street and at home.

It is a way of life. I had to change my mind set and mold my thinking to something completely different and something unnatural to a lot of people. Growing up the way I did, I learned what it meant to love unconditionally and to care for people in a way that was personal. Maintaining a culture of gentleness is very personal. In order to have gentleness, I needed to care about another person more than myself and take their limitations and physical or mental state away from how I viewed them. I have come to do this everyday with the people I support. I see them more than just someone I look out for and someone I spend a lot of time with: I see them as friends and as a huge part of my life, because to them sometimes you are their family.

The way I create a culture of gentleness is finding a balance between being firm and being personal with each person I serve. The definition of gentle is to be kind and mild temperament; I have found that being that understanding person that will listen and care in a more personal way has created this culture of gentleness for our team. The more bonded we are on a personal level and the more we listen and show kindness to each other the more gentleness has spread.

In my team, I have had to hold team members accountable and have had to have some tough conversations, but at the same time, building each person  up and showing them that I care for them. In order to create a culture of gentleness, I needed to gain trust. In going out of my way to make team members feel comfortable with me, I demonstrated that I genuinely care for them and their life situations. I try and make the people that I serve feel appreciated and loved, I have written personal cards to each and every one of them praising them for things that I have seen them do well. To maintain a culture of gentleness, I have realized that taking the times is very important… A culture of gentleness is also about being able to be vulnerable with both the people that we support and those who we serve with. It has helped us grow individually, as well as grow as one.”

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Krystel, Team Leader

The First Ever COR-SAI Caregiver Exchange

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Introducing an exciting new initiative between COR and SAI: Our First Ever Caregiver Exchange! Interested Supports are encouraged to contact Melanie or Jim for more details!

Being Awesome On An iPad – COR Ventures To RDACL!

Sharing Your Awesome Online from Creative Options Regina (COR) on Vimeo.

This Summer COR has the pleasure of collaborating with the fine, friendly folks at the Regina and District Association for Community Living (RDACL). RDACL has been hosting workshops on how to use an iPad for several months now for folks with intellectual disabilities in the Regina area. So far the feedback has been very positive! They’re helping to enhance one’s quality of life by giving people the tools and knowledge of how to use state of the art technology.

“When you first turn it on or play music for the first time, you get to experience this moment of pure bliss in their eyes. When you see someone’s face light up by seeing something for the first time, it’s truly a magical experience.”

Not only does the workshop cover online privacy, what you can and can’t share, how to download apps, use the calendar, set alarms, take notes, save contacts, research information, change the time, draw a picture, play music, play a video, and even download several bowling games.Creative Options Regina goes to RDACL

When we learn, it’s never about the one teacher who’s the be all and end all, it’s about all the peers sitting beside peers. It’s the conversations in between lessons, it’s students being students. People understanding how other people tick.

A good teacher isn’t the focal point of the classroom, a good teacher facilitates the conversation where people can learn from each other, where they can teach each other, and where they can find comfort in one another. Yes there’s a lot of learning going on, but the social benefits are arguably more beneficial in the long run.

We love the Being Awesome on an iPad workshops at RDACL!

Working With People in a Culture of Gentleness: May 20-21, 2014

Working with people, a gentle teaching practicum-Creative Options Regina

Working With People in a Culture of Gentleness is a  two day training designed for direct care-givers and supervisors.  It teaches the basics of providing positive supports and the important role of a gentle caregiver.

COR’s partnership with the Center for Positive Living Supports (CPLS) has proven to have a tremendous impact on our organization! With only two organizations in Saskatchewan rooted in a culture of gentleness, the center has been instrumental in supporting the development of our caregiver training programs and leadership development initiatives; all of which serve to enhance the knowledge and skill set of our caregivers, subsequently improving the quality of life of individuals served.

Saskatchewan is currently in the midst of great change! With our Premier’s commitment to make Saskatchewan the best place for people to live in Canada with a disability, and with the planned closure of the provincial institution in 2016, we are collaborating with our provincial government to further expand and deepen this culture of gentleness across Saskatchewan; we are truly grateful for the support of the Center for Positive Living Supports for their commitment to collaboration and support in cultivating a culture of gentleness in a region far from the state of Michigan.

On May 20-21st, COR will be welcoming Deirdre Mercer, Senior Training Consultant, CPLS to Regina. Deirdre is a licensed social worker with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from Central Michigan University. She loves the opportunity to spread a Culture of Gentleness and uses the lessons learned at MORC to teach others.  Her motto is, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting their battle too.”

Finding Value in My Day: May 7th, 2014

Cara Milne- person centred planning

This practical workshop will begin by learning about the power of creating valued roles for children or adults with disabilities. Those attending will leave with a better understanding of how to improve the quality of someone’s day, based on building genuine relationships and roles, rather than only supporting them in activities.

This workshop will also examine ways in which people with disabilities can increase their involvement within their own homes and the surrounding neighborhoods. Cara will give some first steps in how to support people with disabilities to lead inclusive and value filled lives. 

Who is Cara Milne? Cara is the owner of M-Powered Planning Ltd, a Calgary business that promotes positive and valuable roles for people with disabilities. The variety of workshops and seminars encourage staff and families to see the strengths of their existing services, and simple strategies that create positive changes in the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Cara’s positive and energetic approach supports both common sense and sustainable change.