Using Art to Heal

 

 

 

Life is a process of healing and I love to create more than ever before.  Using art with students is a wonderful way to connect with them and let them express themselves. We often use art as a way to talk and share. They inspire me and I have found another way to help them. I am not an art therapist , but that does not mean I or you cannot use art in your counselling sessions to help students. Referring students as always when needed to a certified Art Therapist is ethical.

Here are some ideas to get you to start on your own creative journey. Let go of the fear and create art anyway. You may become a better teacher or counsellor.  I know I have. A new chapter … a new journey. An ever ending journey of learning for me and I hope for you.

I Can See Clearly Now

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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.

Who Matters?

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Who matters?

“Everything you do has an impact. Who you are – that you are – actually matters. In an interconnected world (the only kind we have), our actions and the actions of others are inextricably linked- we are always and forever in a dance of mutual influence with those with whom we directly and indirectly participate. It is the unavoidable reality of being social creatures, only magnified by an ever-increasingly complex and interwoven societal structure. We matter to each other.” – Paul Greiner

This sums up my feelings about so many people and about so many things. Today I sobbed as I viewed the faces of all those lost in the Vegas tragedy. They mattered to so many people and today they mattered to me even though I did not know them.

Life is truly fragile and I am ever reminded of this. I try very hard to live every day as if it is my last. Am I always successful ? No, but I really wish to live life as fully as I can, love those I can and let the people in my life that I am closest to know they matter. I don’t want to wait til someone passes away for them to know that they really matter to me.

So if you are one of those precious people in my life reading this , know that you do really matter to me and I am so grateful to have you in my life. So today and every day let others know that they matter and hopefully you too will see as Greiner says that in this complex interwoven societal structure we matter to each other.

13 Reasons I Personally Choose NOT to Watch 13 Reasons

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  1. Picking up the pieces. I work with so many vulnerable youth and one in particular convinced me to not watch.  This young person was incredibly triggered by watching the show and made me realize that I did not need to watch it in order to know the harm it could cause to those who are at risk.
  2. Was I curious?  Like most of you yes, and I do understand that it is compelling for both adults and youth to want to watch the series, but I also chose to not read the book years ago for some of the reasons I am about to discuss. For those who did watch … this is not a criticism, just a choice I want to make for my own reasons.
  3.  I think young people need to know that there are adults who while they may be very curious about the series will still choose to NOT watch . I know this show was NOT created to really help young people , otherwise they would have based the series on solid research around suicide,  how it is portrayed in media and the impact on youth.  I do realize the creators say they consulted with medical experts and had good intentions however, I do think they missed out on some valuable helpful information when it comes to suicide. Stan Kutcher , a Psychiatrist and mental health expert from Dalhousie University whom I respect believes the show could be dangerous to young people who choose to watch it.
  4. I do not need to see the show to be informed and personally I have NO desire to see a child die by suicide (even if it is television). Some things on TV are even too graphic for me.
  5. I choose not to be triggered by watching the show. I have worked with too many vulnerable youth. I know that I need to practice self-care . Watching this series is not going to make me a better parent , School Counsellor or Psychologist . Being able to discuss sensitive topics is essential and I believe I can do so without actually watching this series.
  6. I plan on reading as many articles as I can that give informed information that is helpful regarding the series .   The National Association of School Psychologists gives important information on how to do so responsibly.  Dialoguing and engaging youth in thoughtful conversations around sensitive topics is essential.  Yes, I certainly know a lot and I mean a lot have already chosen to watch and will watch this series , some will do so with their parents most I am guessing will watch on their own. Parents who watch can and will open a conversation that is useful and helpful with their child. I am just saying for me , I want students to know it is OK to not watch if they have not already done so.
  7. I want all people to know that suicide is complex. We are learning more and more about the brain . I am sure new research in the future will give us a better understanding of some of the complexities.
  8. I want students to know the protective factors, risk factors and warning signs of suicide. We have Canada Mental Health come in every year to speak to all our grade 10 High School Students.
  9. I want all students and adults to become more literate when it comes to mental health. All staff at our school are trained in the go to educator series. You might want to consider this for your school.
  10. I want students to know how to have better coping skills.
  11. This show is NOT hopeful . Students need HOPE in as many ways as possible.
  12. Suicide is never a solution. It is an irreversible choice regarding a temporary problem. THERE IS HELP!  If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, talk to a trusted adult, like your School Counsellor or call Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868.
  13. School Counsellors across the world (#scchat) work very hard to let others know that they work diligently daily to help and serve students . They do save lives . They may possibly be the unsung hero in a child’s life , but that is not often the way they are depicted on tv or in movies and from what I have read definitely not in this series.   There are also lots of other people who do like parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, and friends. I want youth to reach out and keep asking for help until someone they trust makes that difference. WE DO CARE!!!!!

The opinions expressed in this article are mine alone. This is my choice and although I listed 13 reasons I could have listed many more. I do not regret my decision. I know it is best for me.

RESOURCES:

Canada Mental Health responding to Netflix series .

Personal Wellness livebinders : Several topics and resources can be found here .

For Educators Teen Mental Health teenmentalhealth.org

Connect Teen: 24 hour support 403.264 TEEN Link to website.

Kids Help Phone: A space for you. Link to  website

Police / Emergency : 911

Teen mental health Reasons To Live

I love this short video that our wellness team put together for our  Jack Summit .

The Heart of A Community

Our students always inspire me. I am so fortunate to work in a community that encourages creativity in all forms. The people I work with also give their heart and soul to all they do. Thanks to our wonderful Art teacher Sheila Stacey and Counsellor Erin Luong for collaborating on this fun project full of heart.

One of the innovative projects I am pleased to work on this year involves a collaboration between myself, another counselling colleague and our art teacher. BCHS Spectrum Club’s mission is to bring people together and spread a message of love and acceptance. Our aim is to educate and bring awareness to students while expanding our […]

via Heart of A Community: BCHS Students Fill Their Hearts — Erin Luong’s Reflections on Counselling, Education, Leadership and Technology

Reflections … Back to School

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I have been going to school almost every September for the past 53 years. When I reflect on that I can hardly believe it myself. This year as I focus on all the joy each day brings me, I am also going to reflect on my retirement year. The lasts …

The last time I will enter a building as a full-time educator . This awesome responsibility never eludes me. I know I can be the person who makes a difference in a child’s life. I will meet so many new students this year, many who will teach me great lessons. I look forward to that.

I also recognize that teaching and counselling takes great courage and energy.  Often after a full week I feel like the pic above and need to rejuvenate for the week ahead. Weekends are a time for self-care and reflection so that the week ahead is exciting not only for the students , but for me as well.

I also recognize that each day requires me to challenge myself to focus on the positive while acknowledging that challenges will always occur along the way. It is up to me to not sweat the small stuff. Although I will never feel the anxiety I felt my first days of teaching “don’t sweat the small stuff “, still applies as much today as it did then.

I need to take each day as it comes and enjoy the moments. I must say easier to do as I have grown as a person and as an educator over the past years. Do I still fall short ? You bet. This is a life skill that is easy to say , but not always easy to master.

This will be my last first week of school … How did you feel your first week back to school?

What We Say and Do Matters

People have been asking me if I am really serious about retirement and yes I am , but that doesn’t mean I don’t really love my job anymore . I absolutely do. I plan on making this year great! Why? Because each and every day I work with students and what I say and do matters.

I am far from perfect, but I really try my best to help students and create a positive environment in the school I work in.  I love collaborating with educators and others that I know truly care.

I am often reminded that what I say and do matters and that is a scary and awesome responsibility. I never want to hurt a child or anyone for that matter, but I am human and I make mistakes . When I do I need to say sorry , make amends and do my best each and every day to be the best person I can be. I also recognize that I can be that one person who changes the trajectory of a students life , making a positive difference that they remember for a lifetime.

Does what you say and do matter?  … you bet. Students are watching us daily … so as I enter my retirement year I want my students to know that I love what I do and will continue to do so until the day I retire. I love being with them and helping them as much as I possibly can. I look forward to this year and will treasure the memories I make with each and every person that crosses my path.

What I Say and Do Matters  … and so does what you say and do.