Waking to the deep loss of my Grandma Rosy and feeling the cruel cuffs of Covid detaining me from being physically present with my Florida family.
Rosy has physically left this plane, yet I know she will always be with me in my heart. Just like Zaydie.
I knew it was time. In time for their wedding anniversary on 11.15.
I’ve been wearing her pearl drop earrings since the last time we spoke over FaceTime. The last time she knew it was me and mumbled the words “Love You” incoherently. I have been grieving since that day. I’ve been deeply missing her. Missing our conversations.
She was a consistent light in my life, I began calling her when I was a little girl just figuring out how to use the phone and she was my go to for so much over the years no matter the distance.
As a child I was fortunate to have her live nearby and relish memories of cooking together, family gatherings, sitting in synagogue, learning to sew and knit. Some of the best memories were our adventures to the Bra and Girdle Factory where the old ladies with tape measures helped fit me and find me the most youthful of the boob scaffolding that I required at an early age. Then we would go next door to the Chinese restaurant for the lunch special. All her life she loved going out for Chinese food!
Everywhere we went she was a beacon of connection. She talked to anyone about everything and everyone loved her. There wasn’t much filter to Rosy- authentic and honest.
I began grieving her loss after that call. I made her mac + cheese and banana pudding recipes and I looked through pictures. I began listening to the many voice recordings I made over the last 3 years asking her questions about her life and some of the sweet phone messages. I watched and re-watched videos from her 99th birthday party last January.
Today I will wrap myself in one of the gazillion afghans she has made and know that I am wrapped in her love. I’ve begun to collect photos and videos from friends and family that have received handmade Rosy items to be woven together into a blanket of her legacy.
She was one of a kind. I’m so profoundly grateful for all the time we’ve been gifted by her presence. That my children could grow up with her and hear her stories, cook with her, swim with her and experience her joy.
Her memories will be a blessing and her Rosy spark will live on in my children. L’dor v’dor. (generation to generation)
Experiencing fear is a healthy survival mechanism that is fundamental to our existence...living in fear is unhealthy.
Our bodies hold onto that fear and has negative effects on our physically wellness (ie: crippling our immune systems, screwing with our sleep, eating disorders, muscular pain, etc.) and emotional wellness (ie: dissociation, anxiety, phobias, mood swings, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.)
And to my midlife mamas...fear raises our cortisol levels and messes with our hormones and we certainly don’t need anything else messing with our hormones!
Fear puts us in fight, flight freeze mode and shuts down our pre-frontal cortex which makes it difficult for us to engage in executive functioning!
Are ya hearing all the chatter about not being able to focus, zoning out, stress eating, stress baking, drinking, scrolling endlessly on social media?
So let’s talk straight about fear…
Zig Ziglar said FEAR had 2 meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise
Running from our lives is an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Believe me, I tried, years of emotionally eating my fears instead of facing them has added up!
I now choose to be resilientAF and rise to face my fears.
I get it. This shit is hard. Facing fear head on is intense.
Choices in life are sometimes gut wrenching.
Parenting taught me much of what I know about fear- we as parents hold fears for our children’s safety and well being.
The fears in my head were often way worse than the realities and when we hit the deepest darkest moments and real life scary shit was happening- the fear was overpowered by love- a love so intense that fear couldn’t continue to paralyze me.
I now fully realize “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)
Action absorbs anxiety and fear- we free ourselves up to live more fully and present to love and gratitude. Self care is love in action.
Radical Self Care that I turn to when fear is present:
- workout -especially with the boxing gloves on!
- take a walk, bonus points if the sun is shining
- dance! sing!
- gratitude journaling
- Aroma Freedom session
- connection with loved ones
- Kava Stress Relief tea
- Stress Away and Peace & Calming essential oil blends
- nurturing whole foods
- hugs...lots of hugs
Emotional regulation is a sensitive topic for me.
As a pediatric speech language pathologist, I knew about executive function. I worked with younger kids so I wasn’t as tuned into it for the older kids. I also didn’t fully understand the emotional regulation behavioral component.
While in the thick of raising my kids I didn’t acknowledge and comprehend how our nervous systems co-regulate.
Lots of stuff I didn’t know that I didn’t know!
I’ve done the emotional work to release myself from the guilt of not knowing, of not doing better or different. I chose to educate myself and share with others, so other families might escape the trauma.
Emotional regulation is when it's difficult to redirect and refocus when there's a lack of emotional control. This is when we see meltdowns, tantrums, cursing, extreme crying or extreme laughter. Typically unpredictable emotional responses that are out of sync with the situation at hand.
Emotional regulation also involves co-regulation so if a parent is struggling with their own emotional regulation then they feed off of each other. For example, if Mom is really stressed out then the kid gets really stressed out. These kids are not able to not take in what is happening in their environment. Basically our nervous systems are bouncing off of each other and it's a chicken and egg thing.
One way to explain the emotional regulation is polyvagal theory as shown in this image:
Another take on it is the “window of tolerance” as in this image:
Five strategies that can be used to support teens at home and at school:
Supporting them in being aware of their outbursts and the consequences of having them on their surroundings.
Being aware of stressful situations at home and/or in school.
Clarifying expectations to reduce their feelings of overwhelm.
Creating a safe and supportive environment that fosters empathy.
Using scales to help them monitor where they are emotionally or may be heading as things escalate.
We can all widen our window of tolerance by practicing mindfulness, increasing happiness, and building resilience.
**so much more on this topic coming soon!
As I write this the scenario for many teens is:
class on the computer from 9-3
homework after classes
10+ hours sitting inside on the computer
often in bedroom
multiple tabs open
phones, pads, games nearby
Is it messing with their ability to FOCUS and maintain ATTENTION?
How are they managing EMOTIONALLY?
Are they feeling ANXIOUS and/or DEPRESSED?
Are they CHECKING OUT during classes?
What about the students previously identified with attention and focus issues in a physical classroom?
And the students that perhaps struggle with how to advocate for themselves to ask for help, repetitions, clarifications?
These are the teens that each day quietly sink deeper into the quicksand. The ones that will slowly FALL BETWEEN THE CRACKS.
Attention is the executive function skill that allows us to focus on the present moment, to details, to people, and for a span of time.
Limited attention skills can present as laziness, opposition, rebellion, exhaustion. For many students, this is a legitimate struggle, they simply “can’t” attend. It’s not that they “won’t”, they truly “can’t.”
The breakdown of attention spills into other executive functioning skills such as time management, organization and emotional regulation. All of this can wreak havoc in academic and home settings.
Some students might have a diagnosis that is concomitant with the executive functioning struggles. Regardless of a diagnosis or not there are issues that exacerbate limited attention:
POOR SLEEP HABITS
LACK OF ORGANIZATION.
Those with IEP’s/504’s need to asses the accommodations or modifications as they may not translate to virtual learning. Observe and communicate with your student and their teachers about what is and isn’t working. Determine where the breakdowns are and look outside the box to advocate with your student and offer suggestions.
Teachers are doing their best!
Support them while you work together to create solutions. Use your voice to request what may serve your child best. For example:
If they can’t focus from 9-3, prioritize the classes that need to be done online and suggest skipping the online presence for the others
Take a critical look at the assignments and determine if there is work they can be exempt from
And as always...take care of YOU, set the model for self care!
Check out my resilientAF midlife mamas group in Facebook to dive into radical self care and support