Gratitude

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As we enter this thanksgiving weekend , I long for the big dinners I have celebrated with my longtime friends and kids for over thirty years.

However, I am grateful for what I do have my health, my life, the best friends ever and two amazing healthy adult children. My husband who continues to be such a good human being makes this pandemic easier for all those around him. My mom who lives far away, but still has a positive attitude given all her health concerns. A 91 year old mother in law who is healthy and full of vitality and positivity.

I am grateful for two brothers who have sacrificed so much for my mom. I am grateful I can help when I am needed in my community. This pandemic has hurt so many and if I can reach out and help, I am more than happy to do so. I am grateful to have a purpose and so much more.

So from my heart to yours, I wish you the best thanksgiving possible.

Growing Up By The Sea

It gets harder and harder to leave a place I love, leaving behind so many friends and family for yet another year. Being near the water brings me such a sense of peace, except when there is an expected hurricane of course, but that doesn’t happen very often.

I loved growing up near the sea. I love being near, listening to the sounds of the water and just looking out and observing the ever changing Mira River. I am connected to the beauty and the people here and each year I need to let go and go west. The coming and the going like the flow of the ocean, is what I am meant to do.

As I head back west I look forward to that chapter as my family and friends there too. I am connected deeply to both places. Fortunately for me I had the joy of growing up near the sea and can keep coming back.

Maintaining connections with great friends although I moved so far away so long ago, has allowed me to feel like I belong.

Growing up near the sea will always be a part of me.

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Making Memories in Public Gardens

When in Halifax a visit to the public gardens is a must. It was always one of my favourite places and my mom’s too, so I took her there today. We strolled along at a much slower pace, but got to enjoy the beauty that surrounded us.

Spending Quality Time With Mom

My mom is a trooper given all of her physical challenges, I am so grateful to have this time to spend with her as soon enough I will be thousands of miles away for another year..

Celebrate the Moments

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Today is my mom’s 81st birthday and I surprised her with a visit.Last year we got to celebrate her 80th with a big splash. It’s important to celebrate life everyday, but especially important to acknowledge all the special days. Today I got to spend time with my family. I live 4,836 km away and have for the past forty years. I come home every summer and already got to spend time with my mom , but I am still 397 km away. So today I drove to see my mom for her birthday.

Don’t forget the birthdays, the anniversaries the special occasions, but especially remember to surprise people every now and then with your presence , a gift ,a letter a note or something that will make someone’s day. It’s always been important, but especially now. Celebrate the moments , but more important celebrate the people.

Taking Life For Granted

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Even though I sometimes say I don’t, I know I do take life for granted. Living through a pandemic makes you examine and reflect on your life. I know there are too many things that I have taken for granted. What about you?

Taking living life without a pandemic in it for granted. Now, listening to the sickness and deaths and tragedies of so many around the world and feeling powerless to stop it, but doing your part as best you can.

Not being able to see your best friend F2F.

The joys of inviting whoever you want for dinner.

Spending time with family and friends and not worrying how close you are to them or of they will get sick.

Walking around freely, not carrying the worries of the world on your shoulders.

Going to work, loving what you do without thinking that what you do could lead to someone being sick or worse.

Thinking your children have finally made it in the world, only now you worry about their security and what their future and the future of your potential grandchildren will look like.

Living life the best you know how, realizing you have reached retirement, but never imagining how the world would turn out in your lifetime.

The joys of having a girls weekend or a shopping trip or other small pleasure that you like doing..

The simple pleasures of going to a farmers market.

The small mundane things that are no longer mundane.

Life as you used to know it and so many other things that you still take for granted.

While these and many more things can be difficult , I choose to embrace every day and remember I can live life in the best way possible given some of the things I took or take for granted. I will seek out ways to enjoy what is, as it is for today.

In Love

31 years ago when I was 30, I gave birth to our first child. She was six weeks premature. I was so scared , but immediately and profoundly in love. There is no experience like it that’s for sure. No one prepares you for the overwhelming love you are about to feel. That love never goes away, but the intensity of it ebbs and flows.

Today I am so grateful for the woman she has become. The two weeks in intensive care are still vivid in my mind. The moments in between can be a blur sometimes. How does time go by so fast?

The teen years were quite the ride, but today as I look at her, I am filled with the intense love I felt for her that moment she was born. Today, she is an amazing, caring, loving, kind, intelligent young woman whom I love spending time with.

Treasure all those moments , even the teen years they go by so fast. In loving our daughter, I became a better human being one who loves her child more than mere words could ever describe. Thank you for being born and thanks to the nurses and doctors who helped her live, especially my dear friend Darlene, one of the neonatal intensive care nurses. I love you my precious daughter. With you in it I know there is hope for a better world.

Time Out To Play

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Playing is what we should all do more often. It gives me great pleasure to see my daughter play scrabble with her grandmother who is medically fragile in so many ways. This is a precious time as one never knows what is around the corner.

For today, I get to enjoy seeing them interact in such a positive way creating memories that we can all look back on with much pleasure. She is extremely good with both her grandmothers. Showing love and patience and helping them out as much as possible. It gives me great hope for how she will be with me one day .

So play away , play with friends, family and those that may need it most. Just take time out to play in whatever way works for you.

Spending Time With Adult Children

I so love spending time with my adult children. Every moment I am with them is precious to me. I’m also fortunate that our daughter has chosen a partner who is kind, compassionate and such a perfect fit for her.

The times we get to be together brings much joy and happiness to my life. Our children have created a ritual in which they cook for us on all birthdays , mother’s day and father’s day. We love this so much. They cook for us at other times as well. They drop in and decide they’d like to create a meal for us. How lucky are we? I treasure these moments.

This summer we are so fortunate to have our daughter around more than usual . Both our children have grown up to be amazing adults who are caring, loving, good human beings. What more could we ask for? Spending time with our adult children is just simply splendid.

Emotional Intelligence : It Begins With Me.

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All emotions matter! What we do with those emotions matters as well. We need to help students understand that feelings are neither right nor wrong it is what we do with those feelings that truly matter.

If we want to teach students how to regulate their emotions then we too need to be able to regulate our own emotions. Modelling how we feel is important for students. If we are not afraid to admit when we are angry, frustrated or sad and we handle those emotions in an appropriate way , the students will learn how to do that as well. Being open and honest about how we feel in a respectful manner is great modelling for students and other educators.

Marc Brackett , director of Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence and expert in social emotional learning  has developed an acronym RULER for emotional skills that is helpful for educators:

R recognizing emotions in yourself and others

U- understanding the causes of your emotions

L- labelling your emotions

E- expressing emotions

R- regulating emotions

Educators and School Counsellors can and do make a difference in promoting the wellbeing and emotional intelligence of students. When we put ourselves in a childs shoes we may be more compassionate to how they are feeling. What is it like to be them? Could they be experiencing a roller coaster of emotions and how does this impact them , their feelings and their learning?

Sesame Street has some great videos that explain feelings and teaches students about emotional regulation. Here is a good example:

Emotional Regulation Resources for educators  :

APPS

The Mood Meter App  cost of 1.39 cents

Calm free

Headspace free

Moodmeter overview:

Helping students with mixed emotions:

Casel educating the heart educating the mind  is an excellent website for educators.

Teaching students to have meta moments.

One of the best strategies we used when my daughter was a teenager was for her and I to agree that when we were angry with each other or when our emotions were running high we would agree to back off and give each other space and discuss things the next day. Each of us would signal the other that it was ok to discuss when we were both more level-headed. I would call these mega moments. This strategy  saved our relationship in those emotional years.

Yes , it does begin with me. Being a lifelong learner I hope to be able to fully understand emotional regulation by reading the newest research so that I can best help myself, my students and my family.

What are some of the best strategies  you use as educators, parents and School Counsellors?

Words Really Do Matter

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Words really do matter. I had originally wrote this post because I was developing an online presentation for adults on mental health and wellness so that they may assist students in their Post – Secondary programs. As I thought about what I would say I recognized that my words matter. What I say could potentially influence educators. What they say to their students could potentially transform what happens for the students and their families. Mental health literacy matters, stigma matters , words matter.

This week our students at BCHS released their anti-slur campaign . Real evidence that words do matter . CAkkWFXUwAASC6N.jpg-large CAWd1M6VAAAMKPp.jpg-large Click here for all of their words.

Sometimes I hear people use words way too loosely when describing someone with a mental illness or someone who has special needs or challenges. They may say so and so is an ADHD kid or so and so is bipolar, an alcoholic etc. It matters to me when I hear words used inappropriately as I believe strongly that we are people first ( the labels used like ADHD are only a very small way of telling us something about someone). We are so much more.

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Who we truly are cannot or should not be described in a few words. So the next time you find yourself using the label first STOP and THINK about the power of your words. Jim or Joan may have a million attributes that are positive and when you use one word to define them you are missing out on such huge pieces of who they truly are. 10419043_911951492189094_3575560603208004517_n7075_911952008855709_5968776292462405218_n10676148_911951908855719_9132407601018882210_n Eliminate so and so is a developmentally delayed child etc. and say their name and the many wonderful things about them. When you do this you start to perceive them differently. You also begin to treat each human being , each child in your care with so much more dignity and respect. Words really do matter. Words can bring about acceptance.  Words can change our brains. Words can hurt or heal. Words can hold back or help. Words can break hearts or touch hearts. Words can build others up or tear them down.  Words allow people to tell their stories .             11054330_911952025522374_6761228367194168442_nWords give people their voices . Words can challenge us to be resilient. Words can give us the strength to carry on … to give us HOPE.  Words can ruin someone’s day or make someone’s day . Words have the power to change others and change ourselves. What words will you use when speaking about and to your students today?