The Water Lily Way

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

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Be your own cheerleader & cheer on those around you…


What IF the only resolution you made was to love YOURSELF more? It seems like such a simple question, with what “should” be such a simple answer. But for many females in our society, young girls, teenage girls, young adult women, and adult women, loving ourselves is not always something that comes easy. I am 25 years old, and can say that in the past two or three years I have finally began coming to a place where I am feeling more comfortable, proud and confident in my own skin. Have I always felt this way about myself, my potential, my knowledge, skills and body? No. Was it easy to get to where I am now? Absolutely not. Did my negative self-talk hold me back in my roles as a student, friend, sister, daughter and partner? Uh huh. Did I compare myself to others throughout my teenage  years and into college? You bet. Does this still happen for me at times now if I am not mindful of my thoughts? Of course.

What scares me is not that I am alone in any of these experiences or thoughts that I just shared with you. What worries me is that there are WAY too many other women and young girls who are experiencing what I just spoke about (and more) daily. Our society has a way of telling females how we “should” be. What we “should” look like. What jobs we “should” have. All the tasks and responsibilities we “should” be able to manage. Our culture has created an environment of competition among women. Instead of empowering each other and advocating for one another, we compare, we contrast, we judge. We not only make assumptions and evaluate others, but we do this to ourselves. It seems like a never ending circle. It seems like a cultural epidemic that has no answer. And yet, if we try and understand this on a smaller scale, the solution does seem to be a bit more “manageable” (not sure I like that word, but you know what I am trying to get at 😉 ). If we stop and reflect on this vicious issue, we may find that it might not be as difficult as we think to create the change we’d all like to see in order to live in a world that encourages more self confidence and self expression and less judgment and competition.

With that said, as I am female who has struggled with self-talk, self-esteem,  and body image, I am not saying my journey or your journey in becoming more self confident will be simple. I definitely am not implying that. But what I am suggesting, is that the changes we make in our everyday lives can be simple. We can begin strengthening our self confidence and respecting our own self-worth. We can empower those around us, our friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, neighbors, collegues, classmates, the list goes on and on.

I wish more than anything I could give you, or my friends, or my little elementary girls who have very low self-esteem, something that would just take these struggles away. I wish I knew exactly what to tell you and how to tell you to love yourself, your body, and your special and unique qualities. But, I can’t. No one can. My own journey, and every woman’s journey, in learning to appreciate herself (myself) looks different. There’s no magic wand to make it happen. There’s no trick that allows you to wake up one day and poof, all of a sudden you’re confident and proud of the woman you are. Yet, there ARE a lot of us on this planet.  A lot of us that are in conflict with ourselves daily.  A lot of us being our own worst enemies. We can come together, we can struggle together, and we can find ways to support each other while we help ourselves learn to love who we are, all that we are, and all that we do.

Learning to love ourselves comes with time. It takes effort. It takes stepping in your own “stuff” and working through it. It takes strength, and an openness and willingness to grow and learn. While every experience will be different, and the process may take longer for some than others, we can still support one another. As I said before, I don’t know the “secret” but I would like to share some different ideas with you in this post and in posts in the future. Some of these are things that have helped me in my own journey in becoming a more confident individual. Others that I have listed are thoughts, websites, activities, etc., that stand out to me and I feel as though could be helpful to you or for others around you. As always, please feel free to share and exchange any thoughts of your own as well.

  • Be mindful of your thoughts, your self-talk and the way you present yourself to others. Is what you say something you would say to your best friend? To a co-worker? A sibling? Reflect on treatingt yourself the way you do to those you love.
  • Forgive yourself! Everyone makes mistakes, no one is “perfect”…
  • Avoid “shoulding” on yourself. If you find yourself saying, I “should have” or I “must” you might be placing unreasonable expectations on yourself.
  • Encourage yourself!!!! Be your own cheerleader.
  • Create a word for yourself, such as strong, beautiful, intelligent, caring, respectful, driven, etc. When you notice those negative thoughts, recognize that they are, but use your “word” to help you focus back on the positive and present.
  • Appreciate your body. Recognize ALL that it does for you each and every day.
  • Take notice of when you pass judgment and compare. What does this do for you? Instead of looking at how you’d like to be like someone else, VALUE all that you are.
  • Exercise! Exercise increases the release of endorphins (chemicals in your brain that fight stress). Exercise boosts self-esteem and helps decrease stress, tension and anxiety.
  • Listen to your body. Everyone’s needs for exercise, nutrition, sleep, socializing, etc. is DIFFERENT. Know what feels “right” for you. It’s amazing how wonderful we can feel by simply listening to our body and honoring what it asks of us.
  • An oldie, but a goodie! Dove Real Beauty Sketches:
  • Embrace and Empower (“Like” it on Facebook) – A page that encourages self-love and self-acceptance through inspirational quotes, resources, etc.
  • The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz (Just check it out… 😉 )
  • Yoga: This has been a big one for me. Yoga encourages mindfulness, awareness, and it connects you with your thoughts and body. Yoga has challenged me mentally, physically and has been an amazing part of my process. It’s help me learn to acknowledge my self-talk, but then has also supported me in not allowing negative thoughts to interfere with my practice. Basically,  the greatness I’ve found with yoga is that I’ve been able to integrate my awarenesses and greater self-appreciation that I continue to learn on my yoga mat into “real” life situations.
  • Gratitude journal. Treat yourself to a fun, little notebook and begin journaling about all that you are thankful for, and all the strengths and special qualities you have as an individual.
  • No more “fat” talk. “Fat talk” does not refer to just weight, it includes all that we say as women that brings us and others down. It’s more “negative” talk, in my perspective.  The following website is dedicated towards helping to eliminate negative talk.


In Schools:

  • Have a student sit on a chair in front of a whiteboard while other students write positive phrases on the board.
  • Tape a blank piece of paper on student’s backs. Students walk around and write positive comments on other student’s sheets.
  • “Friendship bracelets” —See “Noticing our Kindness” post  (individual/group activities)
  • Bucket Filling—See “Bucket Filling” post (under curriculum)

More to come here….



I hope you have a wonderful end to your week. And I hope you are able to begin embracing yourself, all that you are, and that you are also able to empower those around you to do the same. 🙂



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“Bee Breathing” -A Deep Breathing Exercise for Kids

Hi Friends!

I hope your week is off to a great start. Just wanted to share a fun resource with you that I was able to try out with some kiddos at my practicum site today. Before I say much more, if you haven’t tried deep breathing or relaxation exercises with your children or students, don’t let any nervousness you may have to do so hold you back! All of the kids I have tried deep breathing with respond SO well to it. It amazes me! Maybe it has something to do with how fast paced our society is, especially our schools! There are so many responsibilities and expectations in our classrooms today, there often is not time for just “being & breathing.”

Anyways, my cool tool for you! If you check out the website, “” a screen should pop up offering a free subscription for a chapter from the book “Deep Breathing for Kids.” I have not looked into this book yet, however I plan to do so! The free chapter will be sent to you via email, and it has some great breathing exercises for kids. For instance, one activity is “bee breathing.” In this activity children (or a child if you do this individually as I did) practices inhaling and exhaling. During the exhale you encourage the children to make a “buzzzz” sound as they breathe out. I have the Bee Breathing activity listed below, but definietely check out the website for more  mindfulness fun with children! Have a great week! 🙂 🙂 🙂



Bee Breathing

1) Let’s get in a comfortable position to practice bee breathing. Imagine that you are sitting on a leaf or a flower petal. Sit straight and allow the leaf petal to support you.

2) Breath in, allowing the air to just gently come in through your nose, filling up your lungs.

3) As you breathe out, buzz like a bee. see how far your bee is going to fly before sitting down and resting again. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz

4) On the next breath, see if your bee can fly with a loud, strong buzz.

5) On the next breath, see if your bee can fly with a soft buzz.

6) Does it feel different with a strong or soft buzz? How does your buzz feel?

Ideas for use: After breathing practice, draw a picture of a bumblebee and the leaf or flower that you were “sitting” on in your imagination. This picture can be used as a relaxation practice reminder. When you see the picture, practice being like a bee and practice bee breath!



Pb & Apple Baked Oatmeal (And Let’s Go Wisconsin!!)

Hi Friends!

I have been MIA for the past couple of weeks, but I am back and ready to share more with you! School, work, spring break and some much needed family/friend time kept me busy over the past few weeks…Oh, and a 24 hour bug that had me in bed for 24 hours straight! I have not been sick for a long time, and it made me realize how much I appreciate my health and feeling good! I slept for almost an entire day, which is exactly what my body needed. So not only did it remind me about the importance of my health, but also of the importance of sleep (which in grad school, and I think life in general, often times gets neglected…). And for the last six weeks of the semester, a focus of mine is going to be just that!

With that being said, I have a new breakfast recipe for you to try (maybe tomorrow morning after you get a good nights sleep, right 😉 ). This is the second baked oatmeal recipe that I will be sharing with you, but it is the FIRST recipe that I’ve made up by myself! Well, that turned out I should say… 🙂 The very first time I ever made baked oatmeal from scratch, I WAY over did it with the butter (using both regular butter & apple butter, aka a bad idea). Ironically, I didn’t use any butter this time. Although I came up with this recipe by myself, I still have to thank all the recipes that I’ve tried (and have been delicious!) that inspired me to finally come up with one on my own. Oh, and one more thing, this is one of those recipes that is just NOT photogenic! Don’t let the picture scare you, I promise the taste is similar to a PB cookie… 🙂

I hope you can enjoy this one morning when you are well rested, with a loved one, your family, friends, and of course, a cup of coffee or tea. 🙂

Happy Saturday, and GO BADGERS!!!!!!!!!!

Pb & Apple Baked Oatmeal

pb baked oamteal


2 c rolled oats

1 1/2 c milk (I used almond, but any kind will work just fine)

2 eggs

1/2 c Peanut Butter

1 tbsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1 medium sized apple (chopped)

Craisins or Raisins (optional)

Cinnamon (I never measure cinnamon in anything I make because I LOVE it. I just shake away…)

Brown sugar (Also optional)


1.) Pre-heat oven to 400.

2) Mix together oats, milk, and eggs.

3) Stir in Pb, vanilla, and baking soda.

4) Finally, add your apple and craisins (if desired).

5) Pour into a greased pan (9×9). Sprinkle brown sugar on top (you decide how much).

6) Bake for about 30 minutes.

           Enjoy!!! For a sweeter taste, try drizzling honey or syrup over the top before serving. If you really want to splurge (like my momma and papa Pagel, there’s usually a little whip cream in the house for baked oatmeal mornings… 🙂 ).





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Balsamic Salad

Yay for the weekend! This is one of my favorite salads from I think the original name for this recipe is “Balsamic Autumn Salad,” however I think it’s a great one for anytime of the year! It may not be the prettiest dish ever, but don’t let that fool you!!!! Give it a try!!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. -Jessica 🙂

Balsamic Salad


– 1 lb. green beans

– 1 large sweet potato, cut into chunks

-1 large apple, cut into chunks -1T olive oil

-1/4C sunflower seeds

-1/4C balsamic vinegar

-2T honey

– 1t salt

-1/2T rosemary

Option: 1/4-1/2 C Raisins


1. In a medium/large pot, submergegreen beans in water and bring it to a rolling boil. Boil for 10-12 minutes or until your beans soften. Strain. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, saute sweet potato and apple in 1T olive oil.

3. In a medium sized bowl, create your dressing. Mix together honey, salt, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary.

4. Next, in a large bowl, mix together cooked green beans, apple, and sweet potato. Then poor on dressing and toss.

5. Finally, mix in sunflower seeds (and raisins) and chill in the refrigerator. Eat cold.


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Blogs, Resources, Websites & More…

Hi All,
Here’s a list of some of my favorite blogs, websites, and resources. I’ll be updating these frequently, so stay tuned… Enjoy. 🙂  -Jessica
School Counseling Blogs
School Counseling Websites
Comprehensive School Counseling Programs: Program Development, Implementation, Evaluation, etc.
Play Therapy
Counseling and Such
Mental Health
Nutrition & Physical Wellness

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Monday Mindfulness: 5 reasons why I’ve come to love yoga & all of it’s benefits…

Monday Mindfulness


1.)    Improved flexibility, yes. Improved strength, YES!!!!!! I think a lot of people have the assumption that yoga is solely for stretching purposes, for stress relief, or for relaxation. While it is definitely all of these things, I think what people don’t realize is how much yoga can increase strength! I can’t say that I always push myself hard enough when I’m exercising that my body shakes! Yet, I find myself shaking at some point during EVERY yoga class I attend. Yes, yoga improves flexibility. Yes, yoga is relaxing, it reduces stress, and it’s great for increased flexibility. However, when you are holding warrior 1/2 or crow pose for minutes, or flowing through your sun salutations and doing numerous chaturanga’s in 10 minutes, strength is the word that comes to my mind… Holding yoga postures lengthen and strengthen our muscles.

2.)    There are racquetball courts next to us? I’ve probably been practicing yoga for 5 or 6 years, but I’ve been attending classes regularly in the past year, and I can tell a difference when it comes to reflecting on my increased self-awareness, focus and mindfulness. I practice yoga at a ymca, and the yoga room is literally between a racquet ball court and the cycle studio. You might be thinking, “How can that be peaceful?” The truth is, I forget all about it! As the class wraps us and the instructor instructs us to “bring back our awareness,” I am immediately reminded of what is actually around me, and what I was able to block out for one hour. Not only am I able to forget about the things going on around me, I’m able to leave whatever I may have going on for me at the door. Yoga teaches us to quiet the mind.

3.)    Importance of breath. A key component to practicing yoga is breath. This is not something that came easy to me when I first began. It is not often that we focus on our breath, and I think this is why I first struggled with this. I am beginning to now understand the importance in focusing on my breath to get me through a pose. Not only that, but concentrating on my breathing encourages me to be more in the present moment and bring all of my awareness to my mat. While we may leave our “yoga practice” on our mats at the end of a class, our yoga skills stay with us each day…Yoga teaches us to focus on our breathing which brings us to the present, and also has health benefits such as reducing stress and anxiety.

4.)    Options for being challenged. I think most yogi’s would agree with me on this one, EVERY yoga class is DIFFERENT! There are SO many options as far as styles of yoga practice (hatha, ashtanga, bikram, hot yoga, vinyasa, the list goes on and on). And that’s just talking the different types of yoga classes. Instructors are all different and unique. And even if you go to the same instructor all the time, there so many variations for formatting yoga classes. With that said, the chance of getting bored with yoga is very unlikely, and the change of you being challenged (mentally/physically) each time you practice yoga, you know the answer… 😉 Yoga challenges the body and mind. There are different yoga class styles for everyone.

5.)    Encourages overall health and wellness –for life. Yoga is not just about exercising, it’s about living a healthy life style. The breathing and meditation that is encouraged during yoga practice is something we can incorporate into our everyday lives. The peace and tranquility we can achieve when we quiet our minds, allow us to be still in an often times crazy world. Yoga helps us decrease our stress, and allows us time for ourselves. Yes, that’s right, YOU time.  Yoga is a lifelong gift that increases health and wellness.

It’s time for bed yogi’s. Have a great Tuesday. -Jessica


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Pasta in a Pan: Make it YOUR own

Pasta in a Pan: Make it Your Own

This recipe is SO quick & easy. I’m all about inexpensive, healthy, quick meals!  My mom made this for us lots while we were growing up, and it’s a recipe I now turn to quite often. I think there is something about cooking the noodles right in with the vegetables that gives the pasta extra flavor. You’ll notice I don’t have measurements for the ingredients, and probably think what kind of recipe is THIS? It really depends upon how many people you are serving. I will often times just make enough of this to have for one or two meals, and I never really watch the amount of ingredients I put in (except I always load it up with TONS of veggies 🙂 ). Have fun with it, hence the “make it your own.”

Pasta in a pan


-Pepper(s) (red, green, orange -any color will taste delicious)


(Broccoli and zucchini are other delicious add-ins, you choose!)


-Spaghetti noodles

-Parmesan cheese (to top)

-Salt & Pepper



-Olive oil

-Get creative and add some of your favorite seasonings


1.) Begin by sautéing your veggies in olive oil on low to medium heat for about 6-8  minutes.

2.) Add your spaghetti pasta right to the pan with about 1/4 cup of water to start (staying with low to medium heat). Continue to stir pasta and veggies. Add salt, pepper, garlic and any other seasonings. Continue adding small amounts of water as the pasta begins to cook and soak up the water. Ease off on the water as your noodles begin to expand. This usually takes around 6-10 minutes.

3.) Once water is absorbed and noodles appear to be cooked, top off with your favorite cheese (I love parmesan 🙂 ).

~Serve & enjoy!