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andieriver

Interconnection and Caring

I am becoming more aware that everything is interconnected. Having this mindset reminds me that everyone and everything has a purpose, is worthy of respect and caring, and has a place in this circle of life. As I sit and write this from a local coffee shop, I am aware that the woman sitting at the table next to mine is an extension of myself and at the same time something separate from me that I respect in her own right. This feeling of someone being a part of me is enhanced when they are in my care. I am supporting them but this does not mean they are dependent upon me. I know that this person does not need me in order to survive. Rather, I experience their development as bound up with my own sense of well being and my purpose, together co-creating our destinies. Interdependence is crucial in learning about yourself, feeling your own separateness yet seeing the other as the same as you. Gentle Teaching is based on the notion of human interdependence bound by unconditional love. The caregiver must delve into thorough self examination, wrapping her spirit up with gentleness to then provide and teach unconditional love and connectivity to the most vulnerable and marginalized people in our society.

My hope is that through my teaching and modelling the people I support will learn how to feel safe and loved. My role is to provide a safe space and opportunity for them to grow in their own right. I see their potentiality and I believe that my primary role as a caregiver is to aid in this growth. This does not give me power over them, but rather I see it as privilege to support and witness. I have been entrusted with the care of another, the opposite of possessing, manipulating or dominating. Caregivers must be heart-centered, focusing on feelings of the heart. I must be creative in how to express love abundantly and generously. Love to me doesn’t equate to an object but rather love is us at our core. Love is our whole being, our godliness. Care-giving is about knowing and choosing to be love. I believe that this will only be reflected back to you. This is how we teach. Life is nothing but an opportunity for love to blossom and for us to become love.

Caregivers must be genuine in their care. There must be no discrepancies between how the caregiver acts and how they truly feel. I can not care by sheer habit; I must be able to learn about the past to create my own moral based memory. I have found that we must develop a rhythm, observing our actions and reactions, in order to remove our expectations of the future. This requires watching people, situations and events and truly absorbing these experiences through thought and feeling. In light of those results we maintain or modify our behaviour, expressing love, no matter what. We must support in the here and now, meeting the people we support exactly where they are at today. This requires me to flow back and forth. Something that worked yesterday may not work today. I must be aware of what I am doing and whether this is helping or hindering the individual.

As caregivers we should not only ensure that those whom we serve are safe, and feel loved, but we also feel safe and loved ourselves. We must provide opportunities for the people we support to express their love, to care for someone or something a part from themselves. Efforts aimed at helping those we support to understand themselves in terms of their morality—characteristics like compassion, gratitude, mercy, and generosity—can restore their sense of identity. These bonds are critical to one’s well-being and health, as they are the source of all connectedness.

I engage with others in holistic and meaningful ways that support well-being and encourages connection. My favourite times are when I can wholeheartedly “be” with whomever I am supporting. It is then that I am able to access my inner-knowing to connect deeper with the person I am supporting. When we listen respectfully and attentively to what others say with what I call, our heart mind, we are able to know them much more than our rational minds allow. When we allow ourselves to delve into the deep pockets of love, connection and intuition, we are able to better understand the true essence of the person. I am forever grateful for the deep and genuine connections I have made with those I care for. I am constantly reminded this is the foundation of all relationships within our world, encompassed by our interconnectedness.

– Andie Palynchuk, Support Worker

SAI Team 8

Creating a Ritual of Love

While growing up my family had all kinds of little rituals that, even as a child, I knew were completely unique to my family. Each night before bed, regardless of where we were in the house, once my sister and I were tucked in we would all shout loudly to one another “NIGHT, LOVE YOU, SEE YOU IN THE MORNING!” It became such an important ritual to my sister and I that it would have been unthinkable to try and go to sleep without hearing my parents say those magic words of night time protection. Throughout my childhood, my dad would yell at the top of his lungs “JANA…NICHOLE…FRONT AND CENTER!” In another home those might have been frightening words, but we knew exactly what it meant. We would drop whatever we were doing and come running at full speed to stand in front of my dad with anticipation. Sometimes it was a treat he bought us on the way home, sometimes it was money to go to the store and sometimes it was a surprise or good news to tell us. When we heard those words, we knew that it was going to be good!

We all have small rituals that get us through our day; morning coffee, kiss the kids goodbye, our route to work. These things are like touch stones and once they become ingrained in our day, they become essential to our flow. If I miss a step, or something goes wrong, if I sleep through my alarm for example, it throws my whole day off kilter and sometimes it’s impossible to get it feeling back on track for the rest of the day.

In building our relationships with the people we support, it’s important to remember how unpredictable and chaotic their lives can be and that (to them) we are just another stranger in a long line of strangers that are thrust into their lives. They don’t always have the ability, the insight or even the control to build into their day the small rituals that we all have that keep us emotionally and mentally on track. One of the things I have worked really hard at is creating unique and personalized dialogues with people that I support; inside jokes or small rituals that we do every single time we are together. Whether it’s a song we sing, a running joke that gets repeated at the same time every day or a ritual of sitting together and sipping coffee in silence, you can intentionally build these rituals into your relationship that are unique to just the two of you. By doing so, you set yourself apart in some way from the dozens of care workers that have come before you and create a new and special bond that begins to become a foundation for the friendship that may come with time. Even more important, you will give the person you serve the gift of creating a touchstone for them in their day. Something that they can count on to happen and that brings a feeling of safety and security and something that they will inevitably begin to associate with you.

When things get scary in life and when our world begins to fall apart, there are people, places and things that we count on to hold on to, to remind us of who we are. To this day, if I crash at my parents house, you will hear us yelling from room to room, just before we fall off to sleep, “NIGHT, LOVE YOU, SEE YOU IN THE MORNING!”

– Nichole Gooding, Team Leader