Clean Your Mind Clear The Clutter

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Cleaning our minds from the clutter can help us on our journey to deeper thinking. A beautiful walk in the morning can do just that. I walk almost every day during the school year with @ehordyskiluong. We share ideas,  get inspired, and think about innovative and creative ideas. We vent if we need to  (not often). Talk about our families, but mostly we clear our minds of the clutter so we can begin each new day fresh.

As we enter this six weeks of #IMMOOC , I am sure we will discuss all the new things we are learning on our walks. We will refresh some of our old ideas like Walking Talking Counselling.

We have discussed getting treadmills in our counselling offices and allowing those students who are interested to walk , problem solve and share and grow with us. We are interested in what you think. We would love you to share your ideas , thoughts , and possible resources.

Another way to clear the clutter is to build in a lunch time for yourself. I recommend to all new counsellors that I supervise to get out of their office for lunch, leave their phone behind and clear the mind so they are ready to go for the afternoon. Self care is a necessity in our profession.

Our minds when in a relaxed state says Daniel Goleman are ready for optimal performance that is why many times throughout the year Erin and I also start our day with 10 minutes of headspace which is an amazing way to clear the mind.

Wishing you all in #IMMOOC some amazing connections, new ideas and ways to help your students, but don’t forget about you. Clear the mind. Clean the clutter and have fun along the way.

Here is the link  and questions to think about for week 1.

 

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.

Jumping for Joy… as I walk into my retirement year

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Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain  … To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.

Kevyn Aucoin

Every day no matter the situation I try very hard to embrace life. No matter what is happening in my world and yes there are always things, sometimes big things , sometimes little things as most of us experience the challenges that life can bring our way.  I work hard at focusing on the things that matter, but like all humans sometimes I fall short. I love to celebrate the moments.

Being around a lot of others this summer that are less mobile than I , I focus on remembering to be grateful. I have two feet that are mobile, I am able to walk ! Sometimes we take these things for granted. I am able to jump for joy. Even though I cannot jump very high these days I still can jump. So every chance I get I jump for joy.

As I get ready to walk into a new school year , my retirement year. I look forward to the joy of new students and those that are returning. I jump for joy as I celebrate with students the new moments and for me the new chapter to come. I plan on walking through my retirement year with joy , gratitude and revelling in the moments that bring me and others true pleasure!

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Life can take a turn in a minute for each of us, so celebrate each day … jump for joy , take a walk . If you are unable to walk, let someone take you for a walk.  Notice and celebrate all the reasons to experience joy even if it is only in the moment . Do it now!

I’d love to hear all the reasons you will jump for joy this year !

It’s OK To Go With the Flow

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I’ve been thinking about flow a lot lately. Maybe it comes with getting older. I like to be in the flow state more often these days.

According to Milhaly Csikszentmilhalyi, in his national bestseller flow, a joyful life is an individual creation one that cannot be copied from a recipe. I have always worked at creating a joyful life. My version of one to be sure and I want to instill in my students that they can create a joyful life as well (their version of one). I want to focus on their strengths so that they too can find what brings them flow.

“Psychology must be concerned with human strength as with weakness”  says Seligman. I would say we definitely need to look at our young people’s strengths and help them discover their hidden strengths so that they can be more free to enter into states of flow. As Martin Seligman says we should be interested in building the best things in life as we are in repairing the worst. “We need to be concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and with nurturing high talent as we are with healing pathology.”  Below you can take a deeper look at what he has to say.

I find that too many people focus on the disease model of the past. Some describe students as their disorder instead of looking at all their strengths. I still hear words being said when describing students that don’t look at the whole person. Language matters and we need to take the lead when it comes to describing , healing and helping students.

I believe we need to find our own flow states so we can help students find theirs. I love what Csiksezentmihalyi says,

” contrary to what we usually believe, the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times – although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile” .

During flow you can’t feel anything , time stops. That is what happens to me when my mind is being stretched . That is the way I feel when I create. Creating for me is therapeutic. It is healing , it is magical. I love that my mind goes to this space and that is freeing.

I can achieve this through artistic endeavours ( a newfound passion in the last three years), by playing lacrosse and by doing what I love to do … helping. I often find joy in the process of everyday living , but through creating I have found the flow state like never before. Sometimes 15 hours feels like 5 minutes.

In chapter 5 of Martin Seligman’s Flourish he makes a poignant point . If you ask any of us what we want for our children it is not things like achievement, success and  literacy at the top of the list. It is more important things like happiness, love, balance. More to do with the well-being of the child. Yes, we all want our young people to achieve, but we also want them to thrive and be well.That’s why School Counsellors are so important. We do what we love to do and help students to achieve while looking at the whole young person. We help teach students to be well.

We can also help students to find a flow state , to be grateful and to recognize that it is their beliefs about adversity , not the adversity itself that leads to their feelings of worthlessness etc.

So for today I say get your flow on … and go with the flow  …

Please Help Me …

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“Please Help Me”
Please come into my life –
but don’t try to take over.
Please help me think-
but don’t try to think for me.
Please help me to find a better way –
but don’t expect me to do it your way.
Please help me – even if I’m wrong
Help me to stand again –
but don’t carry me.
Please help me to move forward again
even if we move forward in different directions.
And – last of all –
If you can’t help me to be what I want to be,
then please don’t hurt me by trying to make me
what you expect me to be.
~ Bud Hadfield

Bud Hadfield  was the founder of the multimillion-dollar Kwik Kopy printing. He  failed at nine business ventures before he found success at his first printing shop.

As a School Counsellor I think this is a powerful message that we all need to heed when it comes to the young people we serve.

IT IS THE RIGHT TIME to focus on MENTAL HEALTH IN HIGH SCHOOL

Thanks to the Bishop McNally  staff especially Adam, Emily, Loretta and Theresa for your assistance today in having me present. Presenting is always a collaborative effort. A big thanks to the principal Deana Helton @deanaH2 for asking me to kick off her mental health initiative.  I had a great morning with you and your staff.

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Below you will find all the resources I used and a few extra that might help you. Loved the pass the chicken activity organized by Emily and the PE department. It was a great fun and a wonderful team building activity.

Lastly, I really appreciate all of you sharing on your stickies:

  1. One thing I will do to take care of my own mental wellness
  2. One thing I will do in school to aide in the mental health and wellness of students

Hoping you have a great year as you focus on taking care of yourselves and your students.

Here is just a few great examples of things YOU plan on doing:

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Today prejudice, stigmatization and discrimination are deeply embedded in our language, in our beliefs and in the way we interact with one another. Though a mental illness is one aspect of an individual’s life, all too often the label alone bars that one person from achieving a self-directed life with meaningful connections to his or her community.

Dr. Neil Houston Sociologist

According to Patrick Carney positive mental health is ” the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well being that respects the culture,equity,social justice, interconnections and personal dignity” ( public health Agency of Canada (PHAC) , 2006

There are already a hundred things you do right in your High School : Focus on those. There are also a 100 ideas of things you can do to promote mental health and well being. The wellness fund has a few videos to give you some ideas.

Here are a few things we are doing at BCHS:

More about Career Speed Dating …

  • Our personal wellness live binder.
  • We have students post positively to #carrollculture
  • Bishop Carroll wellness committee on Facebook
  • Student voice
  • Google doc with many many resources related to mental health ( feel free to add )
  • Who I Am Makes A Difference ribbons

There Is More to Me Than video:

Who’s Frank?

More resources from Who’s Frank? It’s More Than A Day It’s A Way …

Gratitude affects your wellness take a look:

When it comes to mental health we want students to:

CONNECT

With someone they trust like their Teacher Advisor , teacher, coach or other significant adult in the school who can then assist them in connecting …

CONNECTING

With their School Counsellor who can assist them in connecting with their doctor, health care provider and or parents to assist them with their mental health concerns

CARE

About mental health and wellness and the impact it can have on themselves or their friends or families. Reduce Stigma!

CONCERNED

We want students to be concerned about their fellow human beings and show COMPASSION when it comes to mental health

COLLABORATE

We want educators to collaborate  to make a difference when it comes to mental health and wellness

and lastly we want to …

CHALLENGE you to take action and integrate mental health into your curriculums. We challenge you to make a difference when it comes to mental health. What is one activity that you could get students to do that would increase their mental health literacy and reduce stigma?

We CHALLENGE you to become literate yourself when it comes to mental health.

If you get the opportunity please go to a training with Dr. Stan Kutcher or a Go to Educator training in your area.

One of important things that Dr. Stan Kutcher discussed during a mental health literacy training that I attended was the difference between:

Mental Health Distress (one example lose your keys)
Mental Health Problem (one example a parent dies)
Mental Health Disorder/Illness (one example clinical depression)

We need to teach our young people the difference between distress, problem and disorder and the Mental Health Curriculum Guide does just that. It teaches students and educators the Mental Health Literacy that they need in today’s world based on present day research on the brain. You may get some ideas here to start to integrate this into the subjects you teach.

Are you ready to take the CHALLENGE? If you come up with some ideas please add it to our community doc.

We are excited about the many possibilities and hope you will join us in CREATING several resources that will be beneficial to all.  School Counsellors and educators can make a difference when it comes to the mental health / wellness of our students and ourselves. We can work together all across the world to make this happen. Won’t YOU join in ?

Schools are a positive setting for promoting positive mental health for more background take a peek here.

A great resource to get ideas.

and for all you Educators if you really want to get happier take the The Science of Happiness a MOOC by edX.

You can find some of my haiku deck’s here that I used in my presentation.

  1. It Is The Right Time to Focus on Mental Health in High School
  2. Ten Things You Should Stop Doing
  3. BCHS We Don’t Say Anti – Slur campaign
  4. Digital Citizenship Lessons
  5. Just For Today
  6. One Kind Word
  7. How To Have A Great Day
  8. Life Lessons
  9. Who Matters?

I know you are a champion because you read this post. So here you go some more resources Positive Mental Health Teacher resources from Ever Active Schools.

Sit back relax … take time for you …

I look forward to collaborating with any of you that are passionate about mental health and wellness in High School.

(Alateen) Children of Alcoholics … Soft Is The Heart of a Child

The following is the first in my series of resources and information on various topics for School Counsellors from A-Z.

1. What is Alateen?

Alateen is a group for children of alcoholics. Approximately 6.6 million children under the age of 18 in Canada live in a home with at least one alcoholic parent. So when discussing this with students you can assure them they are not alone, although to them it may feel like it. Children of alcoholics often hear the messages don’t talk, trust or feel. School Counsellors can help these young people change those messages. Here are two great videos about how Alateen can help.

One teens story:

I was so scared at home. I never knew if my dad would be drinking when I got home from school. Actually I never knew what to expect. Mom was always threatening to leave dad and all four of us (my brother and sisters) would often line up at the door to leave, but we never did. None of my teachers ever knew that there was alcoholism in my home. They often told me how lucky I was that I must have had great parents. I guess that was because I behaved so well in school, trying to be the perfect child so no one would find out my secret.

I was embarrassed and ashamed that my dad drank too much. I was also angry a lot (meaning almost every day) . I was angry with both my mom and my dad. Sometimes I was angrier with my non alcoholic mom because I did not understand why we stayed and put up with the drinking. I saw her reaction to his drinking and that had an impact on me.

Often times I would also throw my dad’s alcohol down the sink or hide it around the house so he could not find it. Little did I realize that doing that was just making me sick emotionally. I often felt irritable and unreasonable, but I never knew why. I was in denial about alcoholism being in my family.

Here is a journal entry I wrote in the first few weeks I decided reluctantly to go to Alateen, because I thought it was their problem, not my problem.

“ I wish I could work out my problems. I hope Alateen will help. Mom really doesn’t care about anyone but herself (at least that what she’s pretending to do). I think she needs me as much as I need her, but how do we solve this problem? I depend on mom and dad. I am not mature. I get mad at every little thing without wanting to. I hope Alateen will help with this too. I would try to help myself if I knew how. I remember thinking about killing myself, but I would never go through with it because I was too scared and I did not want to really.”

I’m so grateful I did not go through with harming myself because Alateen did work. Actually my whole family got help. I learned everything I could about how alcoholism affects families and things slowly, but surely got better and better. I recognize that alcoholism affects everyone in the family each to a different degree. Today, I look for the good in everyone and everything. I recognize that I don’t know where I would be today if it were not for Alateen. If you are a teen living with a parent who drinks too much Alateen can help. Reach out!!

There are young people we see in our offices with similar stories. Children of alcoholics often keep their parents drinking a secret, but teachers and School Counsellors can often spot that something is wrong and reach out to these students. Sometimes students show up in our offices sad and scared because mom or dad had been drinking on the weekend and they are feeling helpless and hopeless. Recommending Alateen can help. As School Counsellors we can identify these children using CAST Children of Alcoholics Screening Test.

CAST Children of Alcoholics Screening Test

You as a School Counsellor should not underestimate your ability to have a life long impact on children who are living with a loved one with an addiction. You may be the first person in this child’s life that they have felt safe enough to share what is happening . You may be the one to give them permission to share openly what they have been feeling and going through. This can be life changing.

Things children of alcoholics need to know:

  • They are not alone
  • Their parents drinking is NOT their fault. They did not cause it ,they cannot control it and they cannot cure it.
  • Alcoholism is an illness. You do not need to feel ashamed.
  • Alcoholics can and do recover.
  • There is hope and help for alcoholics and their family.
  • They can live a happy and productive life whether their parent is drinking or not.
  • They can be resilient.
  • They need to understand alcoholism. If their parent had diabetes they most likely would learn all they could about the disease.  They can learn and understand about alcoholism as well.
  • The only person they can change is themselves.
  • It is not a dishonour to their mom and dad to talk and tell the truth.
  • Reaching out takes courage and strength.
  • You as the School Counsellor are there for them.

Sentence Completions for Children of Alcoholics:

  1. As a child of an alcoholic I …
  2. I feel …
  3. I wish …
  4. I want my mom …
  5. I want my dad  …
  6. I wish …
  7. I plan to …
  8. I want to change …
  9. I need to learn to …
  10. It would help me if I …

RESOURCES:

Soft is the heart of a child . As a School Counsellor you can make a difference in the life of a child dealing with addictions . I am sure many of you already do. Please keep up the life saving work.

Please stay tuned for my next Counsellor Talk on Bullying.