The Water Lily Way

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


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Monday Mindfulness: Mindfulness as told in “Thrive”

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend filled with fun, family, friends, and of course, candy! I was in the mood for  a new read this weekend, so I took a little trip to Barnes and Noble. Luckily, one of my professor’s mentioned the book “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington (cofounder of the Huffington Post) in class this past week, otherwise B & N trips can consume an entire afternoon… If there is one store where I can spend hours and hours, sometimes walking around in the same circle, it’s Barnes and Noble.

I spent almost my entire Saturday night (thrilling Saturday night for a 25 year old 😉 ) digging into Thrive, needless to say I HIGHLY recommend this read. Huffington’s novel discusses the definition of success in our world today (money and power) and how it is literally driving individuals into the ground. She stresses the importance, for us as a society, to begin redefining success. “To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric, a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.” These four pillars are what make up the four sections of the book.

The first section “well-being” talks about just that, our health and well-being. Huffington advocates that if we don’t begin to redefine success in our country, our physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health will continue to decline. She offers countless stories of CEO’s and well known leaders who have stepped away from careers that they put everything into and sacrificed a ton for, including their health, to regain a life of meaning, balance, and wellness instead of stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

Together with the stories from influential American’s and personal experiences from Huffington’s own life, she provides readers with tools and tactics to begin living a life where our health and well-being becomes just as important as our work meetings, e-mail’s and deadlines. In her “well-being” section, I especially appreciated Huffington’s sharing of her meaning of mindfulness. She brought in this component to offer readers a simple approach to give more attention and care towards our mental health. This is what I would like to leave you with this Monday.

Mindfulness as Told in Thrive: Habit Breaking or Habit Unmaking

“Each day for a week you choose a habit such as brushing your teeth, drinking your morning coffee, or taking a shower, and simply pay attention to what’s happening while you do  it. It’s really not so much habit breaking as habit unmaking -it’s taking something we’ve placed on autopilot and putting it back on the list of things we pay attention to. The idea is not to make you feel different, but simply to allow a few more moments in the day when you are ‘awake’…If you notice your mind wandering while you do this, simply notice where it went, then gently escort it back to the present moment.”

Mindfulness exercises can be done in a variety of ways and in all sorts of settings, but the point I think Huffington tries to make is that it can be incorporated into our lives in the simplest parts of our day (such as brushing our teeth 🙂 ). After reading this, I started thinking about my own day. I can’t remember the last time I took a shower, without running through a list of things in my head that I needed to do that day. As far as drinking coffee goes, I’m usually trying to inhale a cup as quick as possible as I fly through my morning to get ready and get out the door by 7:30 am. I don’t know that I usually even taste my morning coffee? Someone could put lemonade in my favorite snoopy mug, and I don’t know that I’d even notice a difference? It’s become more of a “get the caffeine in asap” and let’s get the day going! It makes me disappointed to look at the parts of my day when I should be more present, when I am actually physically away from school/work/etc. and yet, I am not being mindful. I’m not being connected, I’m not living as well as I could be. I’m rushing. I’m stressing. I’m thinking about the next thing. Trying to get ahead, not realizing that it’s probably actually setting me back.

I think we all have areas in our day where we can try to be a little more present. More mindful. More connected. By finding parts in our day to focus on our well-being is just how we can begin to, as Huffington says in her novel, redefine success and most importantly, begin to Thrive. Likewise, we can think of it as just another way to begin living our life “the water lily way.”

 

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Monday Mindfulness: Bye, bye Little Monster. Hello, Positive Self-Talk!

Hello all! I hope you had an enjoyable weekend, and are ready to tackle another Monday. 🙂 I am at my practicum site on Monday, and decided to share a little card I began making for some of the students I see individually. One thing I have noticed since being at my elementary school since February is that we have a lot of students with low levels of confidence and self-esteem. While this may not come surprising to some, it still shocks me every Monday when I am at my site and talking with my kids. I suppose I assumed I would encounter more self-esteem related struggles when I eventually entered into a middle and high school during my internship next year. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

A lot of the kiddo’s I have been talking with individually, originally were connected with me because of either behavioral or academic related issues (or so I was told). After spending time with a few of these students, I’ve come to see that their self-talk is very negative and their self confidence is extremely low. How are children suppose to succeed in school when their brains are telling them one thing, and yet they are being challenged beyond belief to perform academically? How is that happening to our little ones at such a young age? What can we do as school counselors, teachers, parents and friends to promote positive self-talk, and increase self-esteem in our youth? Self-talk effects SO many aspects of our daily life: our mental wellness, our ability to cope and handle stress, our immune systems and physical health, our confidence, self-esteem, work habits and relationships. Self-talk. Is. Powerful.

There are millions of resources for school counselors, teachers and parents to use to help increase positive self-talk in our youth. As I continue to explore different activities, I will, of course, share them with you on the blog (this is an area of passion for me!). For now, here is a little card I have been giving to some of my students. While they decorate around the card (we paste them on construction paper -I believe decorating helps make it “their own”) we discuss the “little monster” that feeds them negative thoughts. By externalizing the self-talk, it takes the blame off the child and any extra frustration that may have been connected with the self-talk being “their fault.” Talking points can include things such as:

-What does the monster say?

-How does the monster impact you at school? Home? With friends?

-How can we stop the monster?

-What are some of your strengths? What do you enjoy? What makes you feel good about yourself?

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Feel free to let me know what you think, as always. 🙂

One final thought for your “Mindfulness Monday”…

Remember: “Your thoughts only have as much power as you give them.”

Be well,

Jessica 🙂

 

 


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IPad Apps

Hi All,

Another list of resources that I will slowly be adding to as I discover more IPad apps to use with kiddo’s. At this point, I have not used a ton of apps when working with my students, however I find they get REALLY excited when I pull out the IPad! Hmmmmm, wonder why? 😉

Please feel free to share any other apps you enjoy using with students!

Be well -Jessica

P.S. All of the apps listed are FREE!

 

Mindfulness/Deep Breathing/Relaxation

(Great for teaching kids deep breathing skills and a good “calm down tool” for kids who need a break. AND, I enjoy a couple of these myself. 🙂 )

Breathe 2 Relax

Relax Melodies

Calm Talk

Smiling Mind

 

Feelings/Emotions

(These seem to be more appropriate for elementary students.)

Focus on the go!

Touch & Learn Emotions (Younger children)

Moody Monsters

Dusty D. Dawg Has Feelings Too! (Younger children)

 


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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, “www.kidsrelaxation.com” 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! 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

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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!

 


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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… 🙂