The Water Lily Way

A school counselor's story of how to live, work and play…the water lily way


Delicious, nutritious, best friend granola

Did I mention yet that I love to cook and bake?! It tends to get put on the back burner, although this semester I have made a goal for myself to cook just one NEW meal a week. I know one meal does not sound like a lot at all, but when you’re cooking for one, most meals will last a couple of days. I am a lover of leftovers though, so eating something for two or three days does not bother me one bit (well, assuming it turned out right & is tasty…) And by one new meal, I’m not counting the nights of my quick and easy, go-to meals (egg sammies, omelets, roasted veggies, soup, etc.). I know, fine cuisine. What can I say, it’s the life of a student… ūüėČ ūüôā

Together with cooking, I enjoy making my own little treats. I find that eating small, healthy snacks throughout the day really helps me stay energized, and keeps me focused during my classes! I always have granola bars in my backpack, and I usually have some type of granola or trail mix on me as well. While I wish I could always bake my own granola and granola bars, I definitely fall back on buying these snacks at the grocery store for convenience. However, many of these snacks that we often times think are healthy, are full of preservatives and unnecessary ingredients. I totally understand how much easier it can be to just pick up a box of granola at the store and call it good. But before you go to the store next,¬†and get your usual granola, check out this recipe and consider making your own. It really is SUPER quick (maybe 5 minutes to prep)¬†and very tasty! Best part is, you know EXACTLY what it going into your granola and EXACTLY what you will be putting into your body. I’ve made this recipe for my parents, sister and boyfriend, and let me tell you, it does NOT last long. That’s always a good thing, right?

granola r

So what’s with the “best friend” granola? You¬† may have guessed, I received this recipe from one of my best friends. Talk about an amazing, person, friend and an unreal cook… That’s Brooke! I remember the first time she made this granola for me, I couldn’t keep my hands out of the bag! I hope you find yourself doing the same thing…Here it is!

Delicious, nutritious, best friend granola


2/3 c. Rolled oats
2/3 c. Barley flakes (or use all rolled oats, which is what I use)
1/3 c. Unsweetened coconut
¬ľ c. Sunflower seeds
¬ľ c. EACH: walnuts, pecans, slivered or sliced almonds
¬ľ c.¬†Butter or coconut oil (I¬†use butter)
¬ľ c. Honey
¬ľ tsp. Vanilla

Optional add-ins: cocoa nibs, dried fruit, chocolate chips, cinnamon, peanut butter, etc. -My favorite add-ins are chocolate chips, cinnamon and craisins.¬†Although next batch I make I’m trying out peanut¬†butter, yummm!


1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Lightly oil 10 x 13 jelly roll pan
3. Warm coconut oil (or butter) and honey.
4. Combine all other ingredients, and then add the heated oil and honey.
5. Spread in an even layer and bake about 15 minutes. (Stirring up once in the middle of baking.) Bake until the edges are browning a bit.

I HIGHLY recommend making a double batch. Like I said, it¬†goes QUICK! ÔĀä

Enjoy. ūüôā



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Team Building Activity: Tower of Cups

I have to give credit to my practicum supervisor for this one (as I am sure I will be doing a lot over the next few months as I continue on in my practicum course).¬† Every Monday when I am at my site we spend a good chunk of our time in the classrooms. The activity that follows is one we presented to the fifth grade classrooms during the unit, “working together.”¬† I chose to share this specific team building exercise with you because it is one that I really thought all the kids enjoyed doing! They all participated both during the actual activity, and after the activity when we processed together as a large group. I love activities that reach and engage all students and quite frankly, I think this can be quite the challenge when it comes to teaching curriculum in classrooms. As we all know, there are so many different learners, and students with different needs. From what I observed, this lesson captured them all!

Groups: 5 students per group

Supplies (for each group):

  • 5-7 plastic cups of equal size (no handles)
  • One rubber band (must fit around 1 plastic cup)
  • 5 pieces of sting (around¬†24 inches)
  • 5 large pieces of paper ( approx. 2 ft x¬†2ft)

Prep Instructions:

  • Cut¬†5 pieces of string into long pieces¬†(24 inches)¬†for each group
  • Tie each piece of string to a rubber band (evenly spaced apart) -you will have what looks like a five legged octopus
  • Make one of these octopuses¬† for every group of 5 students

Here is a picture just to get a visual of how this activity looks! This example only has a four legged octopus, which would work just fine as well! (Unfortunately, I did not have my camera on handy to take a picture of the kiddos when we did this activity!)



  • Have each group circle around each other all throughout the room
  • Place a large piece of paper in the middle of each group’s circle
  • Give each group a stack of 5-7 cups and one 5 legged octopus
  • Scatter the cups (face down)¬†on the paper in the¬†middle of each group’s circle

Directions for Groups:

  • Build a tower of cups by working together! For the first round, have all cups face down on the piece of paper.
  • Team members may not touch cups with their hands, or any other paper of their bodies (even if a cup tips over)
  • Each person must hold on to one of the strings that is attached to the rubber band
  • The group can only use this rubber band octopus to pick up the cups and place them on top of each other (by pulling and releasing the strings on the rubber band to place around the cup)
  • If there are less than 5 people in a team, select a team member to hold more than one string
  • To make more challenging, encourage students to avoid having their hands cross over the large piece of paper.
  • If time permits, try doing several rounds of this activity. Possibly face all the cups upright for the second round. For the third round, have some cups upright and other face down, or on their sides. Experiment! ūüôā
  • Another option: Use more cups (approx. 10?) and have the kids work together to build a pyramid (5 for the base, 4 cups for the next row, etc.).

Discussion Questions:

  • How did you complete the task?
  • What needed to be done to complete the task?
  • What did your group struggle with? How was your group successful?
  • Was there a leader in your team? Did your team leader step us as the leader, or, were they elected?
  • Why was it important to work together as a team?
  • What does it mean to work together with others?
  • What skills did you use to make this activity successful?

Have FUN! ūüôā


Stronger Than You Think: A Weekend of Fun & Fitness


I hope you all had a fantastic and hopefully somewhat relaxing weekend! I was fortunate to spend this weekend in Chicago at the Midwest Fit Fest which was held at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The conference was for group exercise instructors and personal trainers of various universities across that Midwest. There were some pretty big schools that attended: Purdue, Ohio State, University of Iowa, Notre Dame, and the list goes on (I believe there was about a total of 30 universities that participated). I traveled down with 8 other employees from our Student Recreation Center. We spent the FULL day on Saturday attending different sessions related to fitness and wellness. Thankfully on Sunday our day was only about four hours long, which seemed to go by very quick after an 11 hour day on Saturday.

My passion for group exercise really started when I was in high school, and actually is all because of my momma! I remember the first class I ever went to was cycling, and I only went because¬†my mom¬†begged me to go with her. ūüėČ Of course, I am so happy now that she got me on the fitness class train, and it is actually something we do together when I am back home (which makes it even that much better)! I continued attending group fitness classes all throughout college, it was a great way to meet people, it holds you accountable and there is so much variety when it comes to classes that are offered! When I worked as a wellness coordinator for a year at a YMCA I was certified¬†in cycle, group exercise¬†and yoga.¬†It’s at the YMCA of Southern Nevada where I first began teaching classes, and then¬†once I moved back to Wisconsin for graduate school I was determined to keep teaching! I consider my classes to be “teams” and I love being a part of the motivation, encouragement, relationship building, and all the other aspects that take place in group exercise environments. While I do enjoy classes such as yoga, where it much more independent and individualized, I also crave classes like bootcamp and cycle that bring participants together to cheer one another on!

image (1)

Back to the conference…I attended eight different group exercise classes throughout the weekend and one lecture. I don’t think I have ever participated in that many fitness classes in a week, let alone in a two-day span. However, that is what I, and the rest of my group ex family signed up for when we registered for¬†the event! It was definitely challenging, both mentally and physically, but it’s really quite amazing to see all that your body can do when pushed to another level.

One of my favorite¬†classes this weekend was called¬†Bootcamp¬†Battle¬†and it was presented to us by three different instructors from the University of Iowa. It.¬†Was. Awesome. The motivation¬†from the instructors was unbelievable and definitely got the energy¬†going early Saturday morning.¬† We did a ton of sprints, core work, circuits of strength and cardio and of course, push-ups. If you’re more interested in how the class was set up or the specific details of the workout, message me and I’d be happy to fill you in with further details. ūüôā I love the picture below! I can feel the determination just by looking at it!

image (2)

At the end of each class the instructors provided time for discussion. The first question that was asked was why the class was titled “Bootcamp Battle.” The instructors said that the class was a battle between our minds and our bodies. That often times we don’t have believe in ourselves and all that we are capable of, both mentally, and physically. Not only did this class really reinforce this idea for me, but really the whole weekend did as well.

It’s easy to forget how strong we really are! I hope you are all are able to go into this week and overcome any battles that may come your way…Remember, you are stronger than you think you are!

Have a happy Monday!

Jessica ūüôā

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we. all. have. power.

On Wednesday I attended my first Wisconsin School Counselor Association (WSCA) conference. It was actually a three-day event, however my schedule only allowed me to attend one day.¬†I REALLY wish I could have stayed for the entire length of the conference. With that said, I can not wait to go again next year and am looking forward to future trainings and experiences that will allow me to grow as a professional (if you have any suggestions of great workshops or trainings, please feel free to share ūüôā ).

The conference started off on¬†such a positive note, I can hardly even describe it to you. They keynote speaker was Jamie Vollmer, and if you ever have the opportunity to listen to him, I HIGHLY recommend it. His discussion was so incredibly inspirational and really got me thinking about our current struggles in Wisconsin between our state and our public education system (don’t worry, that’s about all I am going to say about that ;)…). Jamie is not a professional educator, nor had he ever really spent much time in the schools prior to when he began traveling around to speak to companies and eventually schools. Mr. Vollmer is actually¬†a director of one of the top-selling ice cream manufacture’s in the United States. Businesses and schools started to request Jamie to speak with their employees in hopes that he would be able to provide advice and suggestions and move them in the right direction… As you can only imagine, these “motivational speeches” did not go very well when he presented them to educators and administrators in schools. I really would have liked to have witnessed some of those… Especially, the “blueberry”¬†story he shared…

Jamie’s journey in¬†helping our¬†public education system really began as a result of his¬†“blueberries”¬†experience (please, please check it out, this will all make a little more sense and it is a GREAT story). After telling the blueberries story, he shared with us the experience he had when he was invited to spend ONE day in an elementary school. It was H I L A R I O U S! And needless to say, he was exhausted at the end of the day (3pm) and couldn’t wait to get home. But he was also absolutely, down right appalled by¬†the unbelievable effort, responsibility, and passion that was¬†shown from all of the educators he observed and interacted with during that day. He couldn’t believe everything that was expected to be accomplished by the teachers, staff¬†and students during the school day. Around this time, he brought out a poster, a very LONG poster I might add. It was titled, “The Ever Increasing Burden on America’s Public Schools.”¬†It’s amazing, its shocking, but everything on the poster is true, and it’s what teachers, educators and specialist are doing every day, each year,¬†in our public schools in America. To wrap this up, the reason for Jamie presenting this speech, and sharing the stories he did, was to encourage us educators, to use our power. Being¬†a businessman¬†all his life, Mr. Vollmer admitted to not knowing a thing about what actually goes on in a typical school day and all that our educators our held accountable for. He challenged a very LARGE group of schools counselors to use our power to advocate for ourselves and our students. To tell and show people all that we do, all that we are expected to do. While educators are some of the most passionate individuals, I believe, in our nation, there are still a ton of duties that we are held accountable for. Personally, I am doing what I do because I love it, as I am sure most teachers, school staff and helping professionals would agree. I love children and teenagers, I love helping people, I love interacting and building relationships with others, I love encouraging others to take risks and supporting them through, and I’m almost positive that all the counselors that were sitting in the auditorium that morning¬†feel this way as well. But Jamie’s words are true, and we, the compassionate and driven people we are, still need to use our power to gain support from our communities and state in order to best meet the needs of our youth.

So as Jamie motived and inspired me to go forth using my power to advocate for my students, colleagues, families, friends and for myself, I am going to challenge you to find and use your voice, and¬†your power¬†as well…

Happy Thursday, everyone!


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What to expect

So what can you expect from reading this blog? To begin, I am only just starting on my journey as a school counselor. While I am currently a student in graduate school, I will someday be writing as a professional engaging with students on a daily basis in the schools. With that said, I would expect that¬†The Water Lily Way¬†is going to be constantly evolving and quite the experience to be part of! ūüôā

Here are some of my passions and topics that you can expect to see!

Coming Soon…

School Counseling: As of Spring 2014, I am currently enrolled in Practicum (similar to an internship course), Applied Research and Evaluation in Counseling and Comprehensive School Counseling. My practicum placement is at an elementary school (K-5). I will be posting my experiences and resources that I’ve learned/used¬†from my practicum as well as the material I learn in my two academic courses on campus.

  • School counseling curriculum, individual¬†student planning,¬†group counseling ideas, play therapy techniques and activities, responsive services, program assessment and data analysis, and program evaluation

Professional Development: Currently a member of WSCA, and a HUGE believer in networking! Stay tuned to hear about my involvement in professional organizations and experiences.

  • Conferences, trainings, professional organizations, networking,¬†and collaboration

Mental Health: Taking care of ME mentally is an important aspect in my life, even though it can be challenging to find time to do so in the fast paced world we live in. But let me tell you, there is nothing I look forward to more than my weekly yoga class! I am beginning to experiment with different contemplative practices (both in my own life and with students), and I will be sure to share them with you!

  • Mindfulness practices, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and self-care inspiration

Nutrition: I LOVE cooking, and baking, and cooking and recipe searching and grocery shopping (for real, I do). I really enjoy making and eating healthy, nutritious meals, however I am a Wisconsin girl and lover of sweets, so I look forward to sharing and exchanging an array of recipes and nutrition related information with you!

  • Recipes, cooking with kids, nutrition info., and tips

Physical Activity: Staying active helps me stay organized, healthy and mentally strong! I love to run, play tennis and I currently teach group exercise classes at our campus rec and wellness center. I can’t wait to go into more detail about all of these things!

  • Group fitness classes, exercising, work-outs,¬†and physical activity with youth

Family, Friends & Partner:¬†¬†I am surrounded by¬†so¬†many amazing people in my life, I just¬†won’t be able to hold back from telling you about them…

I hope you’re excited like I am!¬†Don’t forget to¬†follow @WaterLilyWay on Twitter! It’s the best way to stay up to date on recent posts, new happenings, links I enjoy and quick reminders!

Please feel free to contact me at anytime with questions, comments, suggestions…

Welcome to The Water Lily Way!


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Monday Mindfulness

You may chuckle when reading the title of this post, “Monday Mindfulness.” You may be thinking, my Monday was anything but mindful!!! What is this girl talking about??? It may exhaust you just to think of all that you did today to start off the work week after the weekend. If that’s the case, let me tell you, I am right there with you! My Monday was very far from mindful. But of course, that is just what inspired me to begin bringing us a little Monday Mindfulness.

Today was the start to week three of my semester. I start off my weeks at an elementary school as part of my practicum course and we are busy! My supervisor is so passionate and extremely involved with her school. I have learned a ton from her already and I have only been at my site for a total of three school days. I am pretty tired at the end of the day, but it is all totally worth it. I love every minute of it!

With that said, I usually leave my site before 4 p.m. and then head to our rec and wellness center on campus. I teach a HIT (interval training) class from 4:30-5:30. Most days it only takes me about 20 minutes to go from my site to campus, but today it was over double that as we received a lot of snow this afternoon. That’s just part of living in Wisconsin, you just never know what your commute is going to be! Needless to say, I got a little “extra” exercise in today as I was running into the rec center to get to my class on time.

Once home, it’s the normal night routine. Dinner, dishes, preparing for tomorrow, and oh yeah, homework time! Homework time, how about bed time? I’m sure you can relate to wanting nothing more than to relax after a long day, but the list of things to do is still there. Well, there is just where mindfulness can¬†come in…

For me, mindfulness is KEY on Monday’s. To keep myself going¬†and mentally fresh after a long day, I’ve found it important to just take a few minutes to simply breathe. By doing this I feel refreshed, but mostly I feel relaxed. Maybe you have another day in your week where engaging in a mindfulness practice could help you feel a bit more centered, at ease, relieve a little stress, or just allow you a few minutes of time for you. Every Monday I will share something related to mindfulness. I am going to challenge you to try and find a point during your day or week to try out a mindful exercise or technique.

Now you be might be thinking, “when do I have time for that?” It’s hard, I know! Our days are packed, they are filled from sun up to sun down. But many of the exercises I will post will only require a few minutes! I understand that time is limited during the day. The links I will share with you today offer some different exercises that are only five minutes! Five minutes of your day, for you, for your mind, for your mental health. I know you can do it!

For my educators and counselors out there, I have posted a site that specifically provides mindfulness exercises that can be done with students. While the school day is full and there are so many expectations of what needs to be done each day in our classrooms, taking five mindful minutes with your students can be so impactful. The website I’ve listed below¬†offers some wonderful research that supports mindfulness in education in addition to mindfulness exercises for youth. And not to worry, we’ll talk more about the research supporting mindfulness for students, for adults, for all, in the future..

For this weeks Monday Mindfulness

Here are two links with different options for you to try out. Each link contains different exercises, different techniques and different styles of practices. If you’re not fond of one, I encourage you to try another! ūüôā

The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society offers a variety of audio recordings for use on their website. The recordings range from 5-12 minutes.

Educators and counselors, next is the link to “Mindful Schools.” Under ‘About Mindfulness’ and then¬†‘Mindfulness Exercises’ you will find several different exercises that you can do in class with your students. Still, while this site is called “Mindful Schools,” the exercises can be done by anyone!!!

Be well, and be mindful. ūüôā



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About Me

Hello, and welcome to my blog! My name is Jessica and I am graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh seeking a degree in professional school counseling. I am in the second year of my program, and will have two semesters left after spring of 2014. The final year in my program will be spent completing my internship during which I will spend time in an elementary, middle and high school.

I have wanted to begin blogging for quite some time, but couldn’t figure out how or where to begin! Just this semester, I was asked by one of my professors to begin developing¬† a comprehensive school program for my future work as a school counselor. She also encouraged us to find ways to share our project and connect with other counselors to begin getting a feel for networking and collaborating with others in the field. While I am extremely passionate about school counseling and engaging with youth, ¬†this will only be one of the many¬†topics you will find in this blog…

One of my favorite quotes is, “To the world you may be one person, but to one¬†person you may¬†be the world.” That is how I see and understand my work as a counselor. I love working with children, adolescents, families and other helping professionals.¬†¬†Every individual¬†I will connect with over the course of my career will have come from a different background and have a different story. Thus,¬†I have dedicated myself to a life¬†ahead of¬†learning and using a variety of techniques and methods to connect with all people, which hopefully allows me to be that “one person” for my current and future students, families, and colleagues. With that being said, I look forward to sharing with you and learning from you!

I completed my undergraduate degree in Community Health Education at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Needless to say, I am also very passionate about health and wellness. I believe life is about balance. I strive to find ways to lead a balanced life outside of working and earning my master’s degree. Eating well, exercising regularly and taking care of me, mentally, are all ways in which I try to lead a healthy life. So, not only will you find the ways I incorporate these aspects into my life on this blog, you will also be able to see how I am beginning to share various ways of wellness with my current and future students, families and coworkers. Sharing with others how to lead a balanced life, and maintaining one of my own,¬†is essentially¬†how I believe one can live, work and play…the water lily way… ūüôā