Reflections on Resilience

medication/meditation

  Medication? The casual statement over dinner was not tossed into the centre of the table as a controversial conversation starter. To the one saying the words, it was a matter of fact and as practical as leftovers. “There’s no way we are meant to make it through this life without self-medicating.” Resistance bubbled up from somewhere deep inside of me. Wait! That can’t be right. Can it? And what does she mean by ‘self-medicating”? Does she think, like me, that self-medicating refers to anything that significantly distracts or numbs us to the way things really are? To take the ...
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a mindful student’s guide to managing stress

Mid-term mania is sweeping through high school hallways like a mid-autumn tropical storm. Research shows that the adolescent brain is not quite done ‘baking’ yet and is very much still in the developmental stage, so teens cope with stress much differently than adults.  Add an over-commitment to activities in and out of the classroom, teacher and parental expectations for consistently self-regulated behaviour and the increasing pressure on teens to figure out their future plans and you’ve got the makings of the perfect storm. Fear not, oh overwhelmed adolescent!   Not only does it get better as you get older, there ...
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ideal conditions

ideal february   It was unseasonably warm. A clear sky gently sheltered a light dusting of snow on a path in a secluded wooded area. Under these ideal conditions, a fellow introvert and I dressed lightly and put on our cross-country skis to enjoy the solitude, together. It seemed as if nothing could make the experience any better. Gratitude was abundant. Relating to each other was easy and the mood was light and carefree.   a less than ideal february   Two weeks later on a different ski trail, in a distant place, the conditions were much less than ideal. ...
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withholding judgment (revisited)

  In a small exam room, I was overseeing a group of students who, due to any number of physical or cognitive challenges, were being assessed in a smaller, quieter space away from the large auditorium of exam writers. Some of the student behaviour I witnessed was completely expected and predictable for this demographic of students.  Forgetting pencils, rulers and calculators. Despite reminders, forgetting to turn off their phones, or not taking hats and jackets off.  Forgetting that they were not to view their exam before formal instructions were given to do so. All of these instances occurred even though ...
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withholding judgment

here comes the judge This is, by far, the most challenging part of my practice, currently. And my life.  Since forever. My reaction is often swift, heavy-handed and, in my own distorted mind, is completely justified because it is based solely on principle. The principle according to me.   i had hoped practice would help My yoga/ meditation practice shines a glaring light on this ingrained, reactionary habit. When I sit, the judgments come. When I don’t sit, they also come. When I label my thoughts, the judgments come. When I watch my breath…well, you get it. Then when I ...
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the red light of gratitude

  I’m well-acquainted with the incredible physical and mental health benefits of gratitude.  It’s a genuine game changer. So why do I ‘forget’ to do it?  Same reason I ‘forget’ to drink enough water or to get up close and personal with my yoga mat.  It’s one of those habits that is apparently not too hard to break. I’ve used gratitude journals before and, during the summer months when I have more time off work, that method works very well.  But not so well during the other ten months. Recently, I’ve started practicing red light gratitude moments.  It’s as easy ...
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decaying gracefully

November. The birth-month of the colour grey. The dim season that reminds us, in cool hushed tones, that all things decay then pass. Because our seemingly fool-proof escape plan includes the perfect hibernation scenario, we forget.  Surely we will be one of the ones who succeeds to see yet another spring.  It will not happen to us so we sleep even while awake and make plans of the forever kind. Wake up! The gift of the November grey is the necessary reminder that we too will pass and we know not the time or place. We all pass. The gift ...
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not alone even in solitude

  When November Comes Long days tented under gloomy skies, wet leaves beneath our feet and the cooler temperatures all forecasting an even darker season yet to come can weigh on even the most optimistic person. Hope can turn to apathy as quickly as a burnt red maple leaf can be tossed by the wind to reveal a paler, less vibrant underside. This is also the season of preparing to put gardens to sleep and to acknowledge that new emergent growth will not happen for a long, long while. And that some of the richest, most significant growth will surely ...
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grace from fall

sock season This season is made only more delightful for how it recently reintroduced me to my socks.   And while relishing the renewed warmth of my toes, I engage in the ritual chopping of veggies for large pots of bone-warming soup. The soup boils slowly on top of the stove, teasing the flavours together, until it’s hard not to notice the amazing aromas in every room of the house. All the while, the gardens outside are putting themselves to sleep with only a few interventions from me. And what about those compelling bold, soft and subtle hues of a season ...
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why i love being an educator

  Despite the many roles I play in life, I spend most of my days at a school.   With that comes moments of “are you sure you’re cut out for this line of work” only to be balanced  with “I am one of the fortunate ones to love the work I do“.  This often surprises me because I didn’t much like adolescence the first time so never would have guessed that I’d be working with this sub-species of humans. Adolescence is a time of remarkable growth and change. As you may know, neuro-scientists, with the help of the MRI, ...
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