Reflections on Resilience

repetition – repeat after me

Real learning happens most often and effectively in light of: 1)  Danger 2)  Personal relevance 3)  Repetition I heard this years ago at a professional development day for teachers and it has helped me tremendously in supporting students with working memory challenges for whom repetition becomes a most dependable academic ally. I guess it makes sense, doesn’t it? A toddler who burns himself on something hot will most likely learn quickly not to touch. But what is learned in school is rarely dangerous enough to tattoo less-then-fascinating course content on even the most impressionable of minds.  Second only to that ...
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little discomforts

In three seasons out of four, I most often read and write under an espresso-brown fleece throw in my overstuffed living-room chair. Especially on the chilly days, I even have a space heater at my feet as the winter wind whips around the bare branches of the tree right outside my window.  Inside, my home is dressed in a warm palette, with textured and inviting fabrics, round edges, fresh flowers and candles waiting to be lit in most rooms. My place is a pillowed sanctuary from the occasionally-harsh conditions of the world for an introvert and one with more than ...
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not special

  he was not special I attended a workshop of the Psychology of Yoga and Mindfulness with Michael Stone, a psychotherapist, Buddhist teacher and social activist. Despite having read his books and listening to his podcasts for years, this was the first time I had studied with him, in person. I thought he was special. When he learned that I was there for some professional development as a high school guidance counsellor on the cusp of launching a mindfulness program at my school, he elegantly wove helpful suggestions like “this would be great to use with high school students” into ...
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time after time

“Don’t wish time away”   I heard this phrase many times growing up. But we do that very thing every time we unconsciously use languaging like “I can’t wait!”,  “I wish it was already the weekend.”, or  “Is it 5 o’clock yet?” More subtly, we do it whenever we rush.  We scurry from one activity to the other without lingering because we’ve got so much life to live and so little time in which to do it.  A full day of the flurry of hurry finds us slumping into our easy chair with an exhausted sigh at the end of ...
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preparing students for what?

In my role as a guide for students to help them navigate their academic, social and post-secondary potentialities, I am deeply saddened by the news of yet another first-year university student who sought a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The brief version of this recent news story reported that the deceased young man’s father believed his son to be fully equipped and prepared for the rigors of university.  As parents and educators, that is our fiercest hope for all our children who pack up their books, bags and emotional baggage for the sake of life experience and a higher ...
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the power of a teacher

Throughout my youth, and especially around the time when I eleven years old, I can only assume it was often challenging for my mother to find time to arrange the extra-curricular lessons for the four of her six children born at that time. In the case of piano lessons, mine occurred during half of my lunch hour once a week in my Grade 6 year. This meant I had twenty five minutes to walk home from school and eat lunch then have my half hour lesson leaving me five minutes to walk back to school. Conveniently, the piano teacher lived ...
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the matter of grey matter

The mighty mind.  The brilliant brain.  Where grey matter matters. Many of us view our minds as the essence of who we truly are.  The ‘real’ us. Thereby relegating our bodies to the role of receptacles that house our ever-important thoughts, ideas, visions and brainwaves. Our minds are the mighty monster machines that leap moments in a single bound; jumping from past to future faster than a speeding bullet. But our bodies cannot be anywhere else but here. They can’t drift off on fantastical adventures. They are rooted here. They root us here. They are tailor-made for the present moment. ...
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life is not messy

  Life is straightforward; a continuous cycle of beginnings and endings. That’s it.   It’s not messy.  It’s not neat.  It’s not complicated or controllable.  It just is. We’re fond of saying “life is messy” when we forget that. We show that we have forgotten it when we concretely label the ups and downs of life as good and bad, when we react to situations with disbelief that something like this could happen to us, when we are frequently overcome by heavy emotions that are weighted down with distorted thoughts or even when we are running high on ecstatic thoughts ...
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scattered mind syndrome

When our thoughts, heartstrings and even our body’s cells are tied to balloons of drama, made-up stories, perceived expectations and preferred outcome, we are the mercy of the wind. We are no more grounded than a balloon on a windy day in the hand of a toddler. In such a state of uncertainty, we react with confusion, anger, tears, indignation or some other storm-filled emotion that swallows our energy. Mindfulness is seeing the balloons with their clear labels of “ecstasy”, “fear”, “projection” or “contentment”, “distraction”, “busyness” or “expectation” and accepting that label. Why do we feel the need to cut ...
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practice makes practice

I love puzzles. All kinds. Jigsaw, crossword, mazes, lateral-thinking brain teasers. Although, I do find the last ones a tad frustrating since I tend to be too much of a linear, sequential thinker to consider the myriad of potential solutions.  Usually end up thinking “how did I not come up with that answer?” when I finally find it out. I also love to guess whodunit long before the last clue is dropped in the plot of a suspenseful, crime drama. This fondness for puzzles extends to when I am dealing with someone who is expressing a level of anger, for ...
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