It's been a while since the last blog so I thought today I'd saddle up and get back to it. Obviously, no conversation these days can begin with anything other than recognition of the current world situation. If that's not your cup of tea right now, that's entirely understandable. This is a serious situation and I don't intend to minimise or add to anyone's anxieties. For everyone of us this is such a strange, worrying and unprecedented time. And everyone's reaction is so completely different. We are after all a product of our histories, our personalities and our environments. As such we all bring very different past experiences to this current situation. Some people are rolling up sleaves and seizing every opportunity to help and engage while, at the other extreme, more had probably been "self isolating" in some shape or form for years already. These are just some personal thoughts to date (with my RP lens on of course) of how these past few weeks have been.
Firstly, I find I'm having to get over my Luddite tendancies. You've probably all heard by now of Zoom (it's a video conferencing app and is the new Google or Instagram for our times as most companies are using it to conduct working from home). Now I'm not saying I hate Zoom (I don't), or that I don't use it (I do) but it wouldn't be my go-to method of communicating. Give me a group of students or staff in a "real" circle any day. This goes to what I said earlier about bringing our personal histories to current situations. In another era some 20 years ago now I was the last of my group of friends to get a mobile phone. On one occasion a friend asked did I "want to be a person or a place?" It took me until the following day to realise what he was talking about. Fortunately I've been a bit quicker to adapt to Zoom. Point being, though, many of us are slightly (or seriously) out of our comfort zones right now. And this brings challenges you mightn't have faced before. I'll come back to this a little later.
In marked contrast to the above point, ironically, some of us are going back to past methods of communicating right now. You've probably heard from people in the last few weeks that you ordinarily mightn't have heard from. People are picking up the phone to old friends. I'm aware of one person who has a list of people they intend to contact each week, and are slowly but surely working their way through it. I've been genuinely thrilled to hear from a few people lately I haven't heard from in a while and have, in turn, been motivated to reach out myself to a few others in turn. If you haven't been fortunate to experience this yet, perhaps you could be the one to instigate this? The good feelings your friend will experience will, in turn, be reflected and re-experienced in you.
On a completely different note my dog, Cookie, has finally learned to walk on the lead properly at the age of six and half. Up until now I used to joke that she walked me for the first mile such was here excitement and then, when she had calmed, I walked her for the second mile. Why the change now? Because her weekly number of walks has gone from maybe one to five or six now. (In my defence here, in case you think I was a bad owner, we have an acre field and two donkeys for company so she had been getting exercise). However Ceasar Milan (Dog Whisperer) always makes the point that walks off the lead are more like going to a kid's play centre while walking on the lead is akin to piano lessons. That's where they learn discipline. So now, with the benefit (to my dog anyway) of me working from home and having more free time, she's learned some discipline at walking. Who'd have thought that practice actually makes perfect? Now, if I could only relate that point to teaching young people skills in the home or in the class room...........
And finally I come to the fact that we as a society, more or less en masse, have had to adapt much, if not all, of our lives and lifestyles. In the process people have lost jobs or had their work roles drastically changed, children have had their activities and friendships curtailed and even the basic human interactions of meeting and greeting have been deemed harmful to our health. It really is a surreal time. Our positive interests and enjoyable experieces have been diminished at every turn. At this point, to the alert RP practitioner, this can only mean one thing. Yes, an increase in Shame (to those still new to Shame in an RP context, it's a little different to what you might ordinarily understand, so bear with me here). Have you found that one of your clients or work colleagues or friends has "disappeared" since this whole thing started or, if they couldn't actually actually disappear, are they acting strange or just not accepting reality? People are being asked to work in ways or areas they never have before. As a result their sense of interest/enjoyment and pride (work being a prime way we achieve pride) is being threatened left, right and centre as they are asked to adapt. This triggers Shame and the first instinct when this happens is to withdraw (could that even be part of the reason why there's been no blog for four weeks?). Nobody wants to experience Shame. For another thing, it calls to mind (consciously or unconsciously) our own history of all the other times things like this have happened. Of course, I'm not suggesting we are all in the grip of uncontained Shame. Far from it. As a nation we are thankfully responding in all the amazing and creative ways we see around us and on the news every day. There is a healthy response to Shame and, by and large, it is to recognise where things are at and then make some step to addressing it. Most of us have those skills within us. But keep an eye out for the people among us who are struggling. It's unlikely they mean to retreat or to resist and rebel. They may just need a little support to get with the program. Just a thought.
That's Restorative Practice
My name is Joe Power and I am the RP development officer for Limerick. I thought I would write about my experiences in developing my own understanding of RP, as well as in trying to spread it across Limerick. The reason for this is that I find that both my own and other people's experiences are remarkably similar and there could well be some opportunity for others to benefit from these thoughts (or ramblings!!). Anyway I hope you gain something from it.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.