I Can See Clearly Now


Often times to fully understand what someone else might feel we have to go through the similar experience.  Sometimes it just takes for us to go through an experience that is tough to have compassion for others who have experienced a painful situation. Sometimes we just don’t get it , but we can still have empathy and be kind and helpful to others.

Over the past three months I have been recovering from surgery on my eyes. I had crosslinking and limited PRK. I have keratoconus.

I think I took my eyesight for granted even though I had keratoconus. After surgery I had limited eye vision. I could not drive for almost three months even though I was legally able to . I knew I was a danger on the road.

I had a blind day which really scared me. I had many days where my vision was not good. I needed adaptations to assist me to see. A big screen , huge font and even then some days where I could not see well even with adaptations.

Today , I feel extremely happy and emotional. Sometimes when I am happy I cry. Today I feel like doing a lot of that. I read and enjoyed reading my first book yesterday in a long, long time. I love books. I love reading them. I love feeling them in my hands as I savour the words. Books have healed me and today I feel like I am healing again!

I don’t think I ‘ll be the same. I could see , then I couldn’t and now I see again. I am changed, on a new journey in a new chapter of my life. I know you don’t really know how I feel. I don’t expect you to. I wish I had the words to explain.

Today, I can see clearly and I think there are a few things I need to see more clearly so I am going to open my eyes bigger than they have ever been before and see , yes see really others and myself more clearly. I will be open to many new wonders that maybe I took for granted before.

I am overwhelmed with emotion today and that is OK . I often don’t let people in on my deepest emotions, but just for today I am because if you can relate to this it may help you too. Thanks to all the people who have helped me through this . You know who you are. We all need a little help now and then.

I can see clearly now and I hope it makes me more open to new experiences , more open to the recovery of others, more open to life itself.

Childhood Trauma School Counsellors Can Help: Change the question from what’s wrong with you to what’s happened to you and how can I help?


According to the Sheldon Kennedy Youth Advocacy Centre, in 2008, there were 14,403 substantiated cases of child abuse in Alberta.*

  • 6665 Infants, Youth and Children assessed at the Sheldon Kennedy CAC to date
  • 124 New cases assessed per month at the Sheldon Kennedy CAC
  • 11690 Visits from children to our Child Space since July 2013

For updated stats go to the SKYouth Advocacy Centre.


I am fortunate to volunteer for the Sheldon Kennedy Youth Advocacy Centre with #youthchampionsyyc. The Youth Champion Initiative in collaboration with Youth Smart  empowers junior high and high-school students to develop their leadership capacity by taking responsibility in their school communities to promote a climate of well-being, healthy relationships and resiliency.

We know that adverse childhood experiences ACES have a long-lasting impact and there is much to do when it comes to trauma in youth.


Today on 60 minutes Oprah Winfrey is bringing her voice to the world by discussing childhood trauma with Dr. Bruce Perry.

CBC did an amazing three-part series on childhood trauma. Thanks to @HeatherTuba for sharing.

You can listen here:

PART 1 : “Our bodies psychological armour … How do some children remember abuse ? The link between obesity and trauma. Have a listen  CBC ALL in The Family Part 1 

PART 2: Childhood trauma is increasingly being seen as a major factor in academic under-achievement. Have a listen CBC All in The Family Part 2.

PART 3: Understanding and healing  childhood trauma is essential. Have a listen to part 3 in this series CBC All in The Family Part 3.

There is much to learn when it comes to childhood trauma. My hope is that these resources will help you start a dialogue with educators and others re childhood trauma and the effects.

There is help and support in your community and School Counsellors are one of the many people who can help students with childhood trauma. It does take a village , but the relationship with a School Counsellor may be a start to changing a child’s life. What is your ACES score? What is the ACES score of some of the students you serve?  You may be the person who will make a difference in their life. Won’t you join in and help?




This year I was so lucky to be at Ascension Elementary and Junior High School as a part-time counsellor for #pinkshirtday. In discussion with students we decided on the theme YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN GOLD . You can get an idea of  how our celebration went below .

A couple of weeks before the celebration ALL students at Ascension got to make 5 ART CARDS where they were to celebrate their champions, those people who are worth more than gold in their lives. We displayed the beautiful cards on a couple of bulletin boards. You can see our singers from Notre Dame and Diefenbaker standing in front of some of them .


Students made 5 cards each and are going to eventually  give those cards to their champions. You can see a few of the great cards below.





  • We started the celebration off with a slide show shared by one of our grade 6 students. You can find it here called One Kind Word.


  • A student from Notre Dame sang a beautiful rendition of Brave.
  • 3 grade 7 students sang Don’t You Worry by Star.
Processed with MOLDIV
  • A grade 8 student did slam poetry on anti bullying.
  • The Bishop Carroll High School Sassy Jazz singers sang two great songs that students clapped along to.
  • Then we showed this version of your worth more than gold that the students loved …


  • 5 of our most important people in the school received YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN GOLD trophies., Our caretaker, our librarian and our three of front office superstars.
  • Students from ECS to grade 6 all stood up front flipping the letters to YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN GOLD spreading the message to all their classmates.
  • To end we had a student from John D Diefenbaker sing a beautiful rendition of Perfect which was a perfect way to end our celebration.

As students left for the morning they all got a gold piece of chocolate and a positive affirmation . We also had dogs around all day to be with our students.

I love working with elementary and junior high students. They helped bring awareness to an always important topic anti-bullying and hopefully our new generation of young


people will grow up more aware than ever that it is always cool to be kind and will understand the message that they are worthwhile.


YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN GOLD will never get old.


Raise Up Your Voice Canada … It’s School Counselling Week


As soon as I entered the field of School Counselling I knew I had to be an advocate. I thought as a teacher I knew what School Counsellors did. Was I wrong!!!

Since then my colleagues and I have advocated at a district level to bring more awareness to what we do.  Has it made a difference? YES! YES! YES! Our district is one of the best in the country when it comes to supporting , understanding and recognizing the work that School Counsellors do.

I have also advocated at a provincial level by being one of the voices and president of the then Alberta Guidance Council. Today my friend Erin Luong has taken up that advocacy role in the ATA Council Of School Counsellors and they are lucky to have her.

At a national level in 1999 , I was part of the first delegation of Counsellors to go to China along with my leader and friend Maria de Cicco as part of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association . My administrator and district supported me as a School Counsellor advocate on this journey. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will treasure and never forget.

Strong leaders are needed to be the voice along with School Counsellors . We need someone in Canada who has the same powerful, inspiring voice as Michelle Obama does here:


Today although I am semi retired I still want to advocate. I believe School Counselling is one of the most important positions that every school still needs , maybe now more than ever.

So I say Canadian School Counsellors raise up your voices, if you want change , make it happen … be the change!!!!! We need your voice! Being silent won’t produce the changes needed across the country. You are valuable. You do matter . You are needed and you do make a difference.  YOUR VOICE MATTERS!

Want to know how to be a great advocate just follow the #SCCHAT feed on twitter to see how it’s done. Let’s join in Canadians with our world counterparts who are advocating and being the voice for School Counsellors worldwide.



Emotional Intelligence : It Begins With Me.


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  :


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?

Focusing On What I Can Do … Instead Of What I Can’t


This is my first blog post in a long time, I had eye surgery ( crosslinking  plus limited PRK I have keratoconus ) on November 23rd and I realized I have been focussing way too much on what I can’t do instead of what I can. So as 2018 begins, I am going to focus on what I can do instead of what I can’t!

I can ask for help when I need it ( this is so hard for a helper especially for me who is used to helping others).

I can learn to use the accessibility keys on my computer and phone.

I can write more , paint more, sing more dance more , be more ...

I can exercise more, eat healthier more, do more …

I can live more and spend more time focussing on what I can do!!!!!!!!

I can be kinder , more loving , more helpful!

I can elicit the help of others to do more of what I want to do and can do.

I need to stop that voice in my head that says I can’t drive ( for now) , I can’t see as well as I would like ( for now) , I can’t …  I can’t …

Oh yes I can, I just need to figure out how and do it. Just like how I figured out how to fix my computer at school and at home with bigger fonts. At work I asked for help, at home I googled how for my Mac system and did it! I asked for a bigger screen at work and can now easily use the scroll to increase font size to see my email. I am using the accessibility keys on my phone and computer to help me do lots of things. I can and do access online support through a keratoconus Facebook group. I am very grateful . This group and my friends and family have helped me a tremendous amount in my recovery process.

This is the first time in my life that I have lost my independence , but with help and support I can and will do lots of things … sometimes I just have to ask (even when it isn’t easy to do).

There are so many things I can do if I stay focussed on the I can! I can choose healthier options psychologically and physically. Not only can I … I will!

Anxiety: Plugged In Or Out? How Can We Help Mitigate The Effects Of Social Media On Our Kids?

Created with Wordswag


guest post by: S. Helen MacKinnon

The impact that social media has on kids is undeniable. A recent article in the New York Times highlights some of the more concerning issues.

I don’t think we need  much convincing that social media has had an impact on all our lives and it is not going away anytime soon. I am a neophyte when it comes to social media, but in my work with children and their families over the past 30 years has allowed me a first hand insight into the world of children and their families.

What can we do as parents, counsellors and educators to mitigate the impact that social media is having on our young people? As in any situation where we are trying to teach children, we ourselves need to be the role model. We need to examine the message we send our kids when we are engaged in use of our own devices. What parameters do we have for ourselves when it comes to use of devices?  Do we actually have discussions with our kids about amount of usage, times and places that are no go zones for adults and kids? Do we understand the  safety issues and if not do we educate ourselves about these issues and discuss them with our children?  Yes, with any privilege comes responsibility, both for us as the adult and for our children whom we must guide to be ethical digital citizens. Don’t let their media skills fool you! Although they appear to be very savvy in the area of technology, they do not have the life experience or a fully developed brain that allows them to project the outcome of what they may see as just having a little fun or wanting to fit in.