Rolling Out of Bed, Happy

I was a man without a path until I found SAI.

I was a coaster in high school. Grades meant absolutely nothing – really just laughing and having a good time was why I went to school (well I guess the girls had a little part in it too).  University wasn’t on my radar, and making a significant amount of money wasn’t either.  I was just looking for something that was fulfilling and something that made me smile when I rolled out of bed in the morning.

I went to broadcasting school and did my practicum at a radio station in North Battleford in the early 2000’s.  It was fun, but I’m not the best reader and I came to realize that there is a lot of reading in radio.  When I accidentally played a Christmas Allan Jackson song in the middle of April, well, my radio career was all but over.

My path took me right to SAI after a few years of supporting at other agencies.  I was supporting an individual out of his home, and we were lucky enough to both move over to SAI.  Before moving over, the perception of SAI (to the uninformed outside world) was a hippy hug fest.  Now don’t get me wrong, a hippy hug fest can be a great thing, but there was so much more that SAI offered.

First, the individuals were happy and at the centre of their own world.  Totally 100% person centred.  Beautiful!  Secondly, there was trust, respect and a true friendship between fellow supports and also with the management team.  To find these 2 things was a dream come true.  It’s something, not only did I think I wouldn’t find, but something I didn’t think existed.  The philosophy matched up perfectly with my, “life’s too short, let’s enjoy everyday” type of thinking.

All of these things and more are why I continue to smile when I roll out of bed in the morning, even with 2 screaming kids at 5:35am!

-Tyson Elliott, Home Supports Coordinator

Why Gentleness Comes First

In Gentle Teaching there are always two components coming into play. Gentleness and Teaching. The two need to work hand in hand to build a strong relationship. As in any relationship we need to work on building a strong foundation first. There is no time limit as to how long this takes. We need to teach others that it is not our goal to change them, to comply, or to conform them into someone we want them to be. By loving them and being there for them we teach them that they are special, unique and their own person. Often there is a trust barrier we need to break through, as many people come and go through the lives of those we serve, and it is our goal to show them by our unconditional love and acceptance that we are there with them and for them no matter what. Once our friends feel that they are safe and loved they will exhibit signs to indicate that they feel safe with us, they will draw themselves towards us, seek us out and confide in us. As John McGee used to say, “we gentle our way into the lives of others”.

Once we know we have a strong foundation of safe and loved, it is paramount that we begin to teach. Often times this is overlooked as we don’t want to upset others or we get comfortable in the relationship. Teaching takes the person from where they are to where they could be. It could be as simple as teaching a new life skill, learning the difference between mine and yours, or setting a personal boundary for us or them. Whatever the situation, we need to be in the mindset of teaching, while never negating from safe and loved.

The beauty of this approach is that once we build on a strong foundation, we actually have authority to teach. If we don’t take the time to build the relationship, we have no right to teach.

If people flipped it around, and began to teach before they take the time to build a solid foundation, it will hinder the relationship and supports will be seen as demanding, threatening and unkind. If teaching comes first, people will actually feel unsafe and unloved.

As we move forward in creating a strong culture of Gentleness let us always focus on the good of the people we serve, learning how we can assist them and support them to grow and mature in their lives. Also may we learn the art of balance between gentleness and teaching. 

– Darcy VanLoon, Mentorship & Support Specialist