Anxiety vs. Presence

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(Picture Courtesy of Amber Rae @heyamberrae on Instagram)

So, it’s that time of year, again.

Frenetic pace.

Anticipation of summer. Deadlines and due dates.

All pistons are firing.

The banality of lunch-making has reached epic proportions. I would rather barter 3 weeks of delivering our garbage to the curb, than pack another blessed lunch kit!

I don’t know about you, but I often feel restless about the change in routine. Transitions get me every time. They sneak up on me like a shadow in the sun. I forget how much I struggle, but lurking close behind is the restlessness of something not-quite-right.

My husband kindly reminds me that every year the transition from school-year to summertime shakes me up. I guess, like most educators, I’m a creature of habit.

So, I thought I’d share this graphic because it resonates with me.

Anxiety can often be derived from an obsessive focus on what’s next. Needing the certainty in an uncertain future.

The alternative?

Presence. It’s simple but not easy. When I feel a sense of restless discontent that I often associate with transitions, the best thing for me to do is to get still. Dialing back into the “now,” with a sense of observant presence is what can deliver us from anxiety and stress within the context of transitions.

So, whether you’re like me or not, I wish you a mindful June…a month when more than ever, you might just benefit from carving out some intention time dedicated to tuning back in YOU!

#kindsight101 #smallactbigimpact

How to Build Trust in Hostile Environments

Building Trust in Hostile Environments

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

A friend of mine, who works in a factory-type workplace, took it upon herself to be a little innovative. She realized that the 2-component job she was doing was inefficient. Everytime she attached the fabric to the frame of a piece of furniture she was making, she was losing time picking up and putting down different tools. So, she decided to batch her work. She’d build 10 items, then switch tools and continue the second component of the job. She shaved minutes off the process and felt very successful. Except, a company like this values automation, rule-following, and process over innovation and creativity. The floor supervisor walked by her station and immediately lost his mind on her. What was she thinking going outside of the confines of the pre-determined process? He went straight to his supervisor, who then reprimanded my friend. Finally, after lunch, the issue was brought up once more in front of the other employees, stating weakly that they didn’t want to “single anybody out.” Right…My friend felt the eyes of her disapproving coworkers watching her throughout the meeting and felt flushed with shame.

When we think of the way we deal with students and the manner in which they often deviate from the processes we establish in our classrooms, how do we respond? Does that response contribute to or sabotage an environment of trust and creativity?

Dr. Darryl Stickel is a consultant who works with world-renowned organizations to develop trust. In fact, his favourite work is building trust in hostile environments.

He outlined some key rules that any leader can use to foster a sense of trust and three key qualities that foster trustworthiness.

Every leader has three levers at their disposal that enable trust within the organization. Here are the qualities and the questions you can ask to evaluate whether you are using these qualities as effectively as possible:

  1. Ability – Are you capable in your job? Do people trust in your abilities to get the job done?
  2. Benevolence – Do you have people’s best interests in mind and do they believe it? Do you think about the needs of the people you serve or do you think first of advancing your own mission and goals?
  3. Integrity – Does your behaviour reflect the values you hold dear? Are your actions consistent with your beliefs? Do you follow through on your promises?

Trust is the willingness to make yourself vulnerable to another party when you could choose to do otherwise and when you cannot be certain that they will act in your best interests.

People often base trust off of the balance between perceived uncertainty (How likely am I to be harmed?) and perceived vulnerability (How badly will it hurt?). If you can decrease the risk in both of these areas for the people you serve, the higher the trust will be in your organization, school, or classroom.

When I think about my friend, her trust in the organization for which she works is rock bottom. How can you increase the trust people have in you? Start asking some of those important questions.

 

E 62 How to Build Award Winning School Culture (With Hans Appel)

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https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

How do you build a culture at school that truly reflects values rooted in belonging, kindness, and celebrating the innovative capabilities and individualism of each student?

In this episode, we talk about going beyond the limits of the 21-century model of education to create school cultures that value the individual and celebrate kindness. You’ll learn specific strategies that can positively shift your school culture and actionable tips for encouraging excellence.

Hans Appel is a counselor at Enterprise Middle School in Washington State, which just recently won the 2018 Whole Child Award for Washington State, the 2018 Global Class Act Award for Kindness, and is now a finalist for the PBIS Film Festival for a video on their award winning culture. Hans is also a blogger, supervises a student-led podcast and loves all things kindness in creating positive school culture.

You’ll learn the three questions every staff should be asking themselves to align themselves to their culture.

You can find Hans on awardwinningculture.com or by seeking him out on social media.

How to Recalibrate After a Crash

 

How to Recalibrate After a Crash.

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Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

What do you do when you’ve hit rock bottom? Everyone goes through transformative, life-altering events that have the power to change the trajectory of your life forever. How you respond to the hardships is what determines your character. Whether you’ve suffered a loss, received a devastating diagnosis, experienced divorce, or gone through challenges that have pushed you to the brink of your sanity, we all need a roadmap to help us find our footing after a big crash.

I recently spoke to the amazing ultra-marathoner and pro-athlete, Janelle Morrison about her journey recovering from a car crash that left her body broken. By the way, she recovered to race again. She now has a newfound sense of self-compassion and a rejuvenated appreciation for life. She offered a simple approach that anyone can take when faced with difficult times and I wanted to share it with you.

Here are three questions to ask yourself that will transform your journey and help you to bounce forward, embracing the new you!

  1. What’s the opportunity within the challenge? Within every hardship is the opportunity for growth, self-learning, and transformation. The faster you are able to lean into the gifts of the experience, the less pain and resistance you’ll feel during the experience. Easy to say? Sure. Although it’s hard to practice this thinking, it truly is the key to freedom.
  2. So what, now what? What are you going to do now? What (micro) action can you take to propel yourself forward?
  3. Finally, ask yourself: Who am I? What do I need right now? You heart always knows. When you can quiet your thoughts and the “shoulds,” clarity comes more readily.

My hope is that you incorporate it within your work as an educator for your own benefit, but also for the benefit of your students.

 

 

E 61 – Tumbling into Success through Kindness and Faith (with Ruban Rebalkin)

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What do business and generosity have in common? How does someone grappling with their own mortality bounce forward stronger than ever, with a newfound understanding of what matters in life? How do we teach what truly matters to our own children through our honest modelling?

In this very special episode, you’ll meet Ruban Rebalkin, a loving father, husband and the Owner and operator of Tumblebums (a local toddler playcentre business that saved my sanity on numerous occasions when my two were little.

I invited Ruban onto KindSight 101 because his story of resilience, courage, and faith is inspiring to anyone-parents, teachers, humans alike. He overcame some of the most challenging circumstances when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer with a baby daughter, bounced forward, and continues on to pay-it-forward to the community through the work that he does serving families. He provides hope for those going through dark times and does it with grace and humour. This story has the power to shift a person’s perspective on what matters in life and the importance of generosity in creating community. You can learn more about Ruban by searching Tumblebums online. Hope you enjoy our conversation!

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

Three Steps to Resilience

The Three Keys to Resilience

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Photo by Yugal Srivastava on Pexels.com

I’ve often wondered what the difference is between those who are able to bounce forward from adversity versus those who get bogged down by their challenges. I recently stumbled upon the work of Martin Seligman, the “grandfather” of positive psychology. He states that there are three keys to resilience (that can be taught) that contribute to a more positive outlook on life.

  1. Personalization “It’s all my fault” – Someone who encounters difficult times may tell themselves the story that they are to blame for the hardships they endure. Resilient individuals tend to recognize that challenges are part of life and not their fault. Do you often find that you blame yourself for the hard knocks? What if you depersonalized your struggle?
  2. Permanence “I will always feel this way. Things will never change”- Despair is the belief that things will always be the way they are. Hope is the belief that there will be a better tomorrow. When you believe that your circumstances can change, you develop a more resilient mindset. Tell yourself: “This is temporary. This will not last forever. I can get through this tough period.”
  3. Pervasiveness “Bad luck always happens to me” – Pervasiveness in the context of resilience is the belief that bad luck will permeate every corner of your life and that you are predestined to be a victim to it. What if you challenged the notion that challenges permeate every aspect of your existence by seeking out the good. Gratitude practice is a great way to counter the negative effects of adversity. What’s good right now?

 

E 59 – Trauma, Meat Trays, and Bottom Hands Only

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If you want to make a big impact on those around you, to truly make positive change in your school, workplace, and community, check out this game-changing episode with the one and only, Dr. Jody Carrington!

In this episode, we talk about trauma, ways to connect with the kids in our lives, and some of the ways we can take care of ourselves along the way.

Jody is a passionate believer in the power of the relationship with the people
we love, lead, and teach. Her favorite thing on the planet to do is to speak with
educators – they have the power to change the trajectory of a life every single day.
It is time, she believes, that we need to start focusing less on Kids These Days, and
more on those of you who hold them. The core of everything she speaks and writes
about comes down to this: We are wired to do hard things. We can do those hard
things so much easier when we remember this: We are wired for connection.

Jody Carrington is a clinical psychologist, mom, wife, author, minor hockey coach, and game changer. She grew up in rural Alberta and was inspired by a teacher, way back when, to pursue a career in psychology. She received her undergraduate degree (with distinction) from the University of Alberta, and her Masters Degree and PhD from the University of Regina, in Saskatchewan, Canada.
After completing her residency in Nova Scotia, Canada, she spent ten years working at the Alberta Children’ Hospital on the Mental Health In- and Day Treatment Units in Calgary. After having an (impressive) three babies in two years, she and her (lucky) husband Aaron moved to rural Alberta, where they currently live. There she runs a small private practice, is growing her business of changing the world, and raising her sweet babes.

You can find her on social media by searching Dr. Jody Carrington (and join her on Facebook/Instagram Live on Sundays at 8pm CST) or at www.drjodycarrington.com

Become a Connection Ninja

Become a Connection Ninja

In this growing global world, it continues to be more and more important to create meaningful connections with those with whom we work, live and play.  I recently had the pleasure of interviewing David Knapp-Fisher, who has been nicknamed the Connection Ninja. He shared 4 easy tips for making the most of your interactions in order to live a meaningful, service filled life.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  1. When you engage with someone new, it’s important that you greet them first. Say “hi”, ask them some questions, be authentically interested in who they are!
  2. Offer some support in terms of getting them closer to their own goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean offering to help them move their house on the weekend or babysitting their kids all the time. It can be as simple as offering the title of a helpful book you read or forwarding a powerful podcast that aligns with what they love.
  3. Ask for help. That’s right! In order to push along a reciprocal relationship, it’s a good idea to ask them for help. Maybe they have expertise about something you don’t. Perhaps they’ve learned how to plan a trip to place you’d like to go. It could even be as simple as asking them to give you some feedback regarding a project you’re working on.
  4. Finally, this is often the part that people neglect. Circle back to them. You may have had lofty ambitions to connect in the future…how did that go? Did you follow through? A quick email or check-in text can go a long way in solidifying your new connection.

When I think about the skills we need to be teaching our students in preparation for this uncertain world, connection is an important one. How might you weave these 4 tips into your practice as an educator, leader or parent?

 

Power of Moments

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What makes for a powerful, memorable moment, in school or otherwise? Naturally, we all seek to be memorable. Nobody dreams of living an unremarkable life. We all want to be special to somebody. Some of us seek accolades from the masses, while others seek to be important to just a select few. That’s part of what makes us all so unique. We can all agree that there are magic moments that permeate our lives, but the tricky thing is creating magic, memorable moments for those we seek to serve. How do we make ourselves and the experiences we offer those around us, remarkable enough to make an indelible mark on our souls?

I recently read the incredible book The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, which outlined an easy-to-follow framework for creating remarkable memories.

Here’s the framework:

E: Elevate – Rise above the every day

Rise above the every day by marking transitions in special ways (100th day of school, 50th book read), building peaks, sensory appeal, raising the stake, and creating an element of surprise for the people you seek to serve.

P: Pride – Build in a sense of buy-in and pride

Celebrate those who have worked hard to achieve their goals! Help them to see their growth. Help them to develop affiliations with you and your tribe. The #1 reasons people leave their jobs is a lack of recognition. Break tasks into small and measurable goals…celebrate every milestone. Always be appreciating and noticing people…but know whether they want the recognition to be quiet or public (that’s important to note, especially with kids). The tribe’s win is everybody’s win!

I: Insight – Help people to learn about themselves in a supportive environment 

We tend to want to protect people from risk, but discomfort is where growth lies.

High standards + Assurance + Direction + Support = Insight

C: Connection

When we share our positive and negative moments together, lifting one another up and celebrating one another’s successes, it solidifies the bonds we have in a group. We feel tied to one another on a neuro-chemical level.

 

How might you apply these four pillars to create powerful moments for those you serve?

#26: What you Can Say to Help Someone Living with Cancer (Hint #1: Say Something…Don’t Avoid the Topic) (with Genevieve Stonebridge)

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Cancer is a far-reaching, often-devastating illness that touches everyone either directly or indirectly. Oftentimes, navigating grief and loss can be complicated and confusing, especially for children. In this surprisingly uplifting episode, you’ll hear from a very special guest about her personal experience living through Cancer at the age of 18, how the experience enabled her to gain a unique perspective on the effects of cancer on families, and actionable ways teachers can support children affected by the disease.

Through her positive storytelling approach, you’ll learn the 7 specific needs that well-children (specifically siblings) require in order to develop resilience in the face of familial cancer. This is such an important conversation; I hope you learn as much as I did!

Genevieve Stonebridge is a clinical counsellor (RCC) at InspireHealth (www.inspirehealth.ca) supportive cancer care, as well as at Rise Health (www.risehealth.ca).

She is devoted to creating safe and inspiring places for people to explore their experiences. This includes holding space for both the suffering and joys of life. With compassion, creativity and openness she believes in meeting patients wherever they are at. She is passionate about helping people explore their relationships with themselves, their loved ones and their bodies.

Her research thesis entitled, You Matter: Retrospectively Exploring the Needs of Adolescents who had a Sibling with Cancer developed into a short film called [You Matter][1]. You Matter succinctly summarizes her research in a digestible way for the general public and was accepted to premiere at the 2015 Boston International Kids Film Festival. For more information check out (https://siblingsyoumatter.squarespace.com/)
Genevieve lives in Victoria with her husband. She loves good quotes, gardening, dinner parties, random acts of kindness and pondering the meaning of life on the bluffs of Dallas road.

The seven needs are:
1. Familial social connection
2. Acknowledgement and attention
3. Clear communication and information
4. Validating difficult emotions
5. Emotional support for the well-sibling (coaches/teachers)
6. The need to be a kid (help with the losses of childhood)
7. The opportunity for Humour and lightheartedness
For more information about [Genevieve’s Video and the 7 needs][2] she identified visit my website [smallactbigimpact.com][3] and search for episode #26.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNHt54zUtAU
[2]: https://www.childhoodcancer.ca/sibling-support
[3]: http://smallactbigimpact.com