Tag Archives: Mental health

#WATWB March Indigenous Mindfulness app

#WATWB A mindfulness app for Indigenous Communities

For the past two years, on the last Friday of each month, We Are the World Blogfest has invited bloggers to join together in promoting positive news. This month they are celebrating their second anniversary. Now that’s an achievement. Thank you for helping to spread light on the world.

If you would like to join in by sharing “stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit . . . (to increase) our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world”, please check out the rules and links below.

This month, I am sharing a news article about Aboriginal women who created a mindfulness app in their own languages with the aim of improving mental health in Aboriginal communities.

Mental health and suicide, especially among young people, is a major issue for many Aboriginal communities. What I like about this project is that it is empowering the local communities to take actions that will contribute to improvements. That this is occurring in the International Year of Indigenous Languages, makes this project even more special.

The app combines singing, meditation and breathing exercises and combines ancient wisdom with western knowledge of mental health.

To find out more about this wonderful project, click here.

Here are the guidelines for #WATWB:

1. Keep your post to Below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Paste in an excerpt and tell us why it touched you. The Link is important, because it actually makes us look through news to find the positive ones to post.

3. No story is too big or small, as long as it Goes Beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD badge or banner on your Post and your Sidebar. Some of you have already done so, this is just a gentle reminder for the others.

5. Help us spread the word on social media. Feel free to tweet, share using the #WATWB hashtag to help us trend!

Tweets, Facebook shares, Pins, Instagram, shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month are most welcome. We’ll try and follow and share all those who post on the #WATWB hashtag, and we encourage you to do the same.

The co-hosts for this month are:   

Sylvia McGrath,
Damyanti Biswas,
Shilpa Garg,
Dan Antion,
and Belinda Witzenhausen

Please pop over to their blogs to read their stories, comment and share.

Click here to join in and enter the link to your post. The bigger the #WATWB group each month, the greater the joy!

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

Mr Potato Head

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Five a DayEvery week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenges writers to respond to a prompt with 99-word flash fiction. The prompts provide an opportunity to practice craft while having a little fun in a supportive writing community. Although participation is voluntary and never prescribed, the benefits to mind and spirit equal the benefits to physical health by the five-a-day servings of fruit and vegetables recommended by many health departments around the world.

 

This week, Charli challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Five a Day. It does not have to be five servings of fruits and vegetables. What is needed five times a day? Have fun with what pops to mind for the prompt.

It’s a good thing Charli not only allows, but encourages, writers to “Go where the prompt leads”, as I’m not always satisfied with the obvious, literal interpretation. My mind jumps about like a rabbit in a vegetable patch, trying out different thoughts and ideas.

While Charli was talking about the five serves of fruit and vegetables as day for our physical health, I wondered about essentials for mental health that help us navigate each day.

sweet hearts

Mental health

How about a daily dose of these?

  • Self-worth – a sense of being valued, of having the right to occupy space in the world
  • Confidence – a willingness to approach tasks and face what life brings
  • Trust – an ability to trust others and feel safe in one’s environment
  • Empathy – making connections with others on a deep level
  • Compassion – giving and accepting kindness, contributing to a positive community and environment

What would you add?

I also wondered about the essentials for nurturing children’s growth and development. What would those five servings a day be?

girl child dancing

Children’s needs

First and foremost, children need to be loved and to have their physical needs met; for example food, water and warmth. They are givens.

Then to have their minds stimulated, every day, they need adults to:

  • Talk with them
  • Read to them
  • Sing songs with them
  • Play with them, and
  • Laugh with them.

What would you add?

world earth map

The world’s needs

And what about for the world, what do we all need?

  • Friendship
  • Understanding
  • Tolerance
  • Empathy
  • Peace

What would you add?

Why don’t children like vegetables?

But let’s get back to Charli’s five, and children. Sometimes getting children to eat their five serves of fruit and vegetables a day can be difficult. While fruit is often enjoyed, vegetables are frequently rejected. Researchers have investigated reasons for children’s refusal to eat vegetables and found these reasons (reported here and here):

  • Children burn lots of energy and need foods that are high in calories – vegetables aren’t.
  • Children are generally more sensitive to bitter tastes, which are often nature’s warning of toxicity.
  • Children have not yet learned through repeated taste tests and observations that vegetables are safe to eat.
  • Children associate vegetables with unpleasant situations (parental nagging) and associate other “treats” with more pleasant situations.

vegetables

How to get your children to eat vegetables

Suggestions include:

  • Reduce the natural bitterness by adding salt, sugar and other flavours
  • Serve small amounts of vegetables with other foods familiar to children
  • Present vegetables in different ways and repeated times
  • Avoid using food as reward or punishment and don’t nag

Of course, there are the old camouflage tricks – dress them up like a funny face – or play games like the “aeroplane” spoon trying to land food in the mouth.

What works for you?

Thanks Pixabay!

Thinking about the relevance of bitterness to toxicity and food refusal in children got me thinking about dementia patients who refuse food, believing it to be poisoned. I did a quick internet search (not very thorough) but could see only articles in which food refusal was linked to paranoia.

I wonder, with their changing realities and sensitivities, could they become more sensitive to certain tastes? Could taste contribute as much as the paranoia. Many would find it no easier to express than children. I’m certainly no expert, and it’s an uneducated thought, but it’s the thought that’s led me to my flash fiction response. I hope you enjoy it.

Mr Potato Head

Jamie’s head shook, and his bottom lip protruded as tears pooled.

Mum sighed.

“But you love Mr Potato Head,” coaxed Dad.

Jamie lowered his eyes and pushed the plate away. This was not Mr Potato – just a stupid face made from yukky stuff.

Dad moved it back. “Just a little try,” he urged. Mum watched.

Jamie refused.

Jamie visited at meal time. Mum was in tears. “He won’t eat anything.”

Jamie considered the unappetising mush. “Who would?” he thought, as he replaced the cover and opened dessert.

“May as well enjoy what you can,” he said. Dad smiled.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

Life: a choose your own adventure – how do you choose?

Made with Quozio https://quozio.com/

Made with Quozio https://quozio.com/

Do you grapple with making choices of how to use your time? Do you find that the things you want to do are often squeezed in after the things you have to do and the things you are expected to do? Or worse – squeezed out entirely? Do you ever find yourself doing one thing and wishing you were doing something else? Or worse: procrastinate, and then feel guilty for doing so?

I do; and I find it very frustrating.

I have a solution:

Live in the here and now and enjoy every moment.

I’m not saying it’s easy, and I’m not saying I’m good at it, but the more I practice the better I get and the more enjoyable my time is.

While some things do not seem like a choice, usually they are; and if they are not a choice, our attitude is.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because the time I had intended for one thing seems to be very easily devoured by other things. I can choose to feel frustrated about the loss of time for my desired activity, wish I was doing something else and generally feel miserable. The time still passes and I am no better off.

Alternatively I could:

  • view these activities as a choice (e.g. I could leave the house dirty, go without food, let my teeth rot, ostracize myself from family and friends)
  • appreciate that I am able to do them (e.g. I have a house to live in, I am fit and able to clean it and have all the things I need)
  • focus on what I am doing and quieten those wishes to be somewhere else, doing something else (e.g. a lengthy wait for the doctor can provide thinking time that may have been difficult to schedule otherwise)
  • banish feeling guilty about choosing time with people, pleasure (fun), or procrastination, all of which are essential to a happy life.

Procrastination you say?

Well procrastination can give you that all important time to reflect, re-energize and create new ideas.

I am not alone in thinking about the effect of choice upon our use of time. This week the flash fiction prompt posted by Charli Mills was to:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a decision between two clashing priorities.

In her post Charli talks about “muddled priorities” and being “confronted with distractions and decisions”. She suggested that the writers among us need to “prioritize our priorities so we can swath writing time as if we were farmers of words.” She talks about the need for balance, prioritizing and planning; looking after oneself as well as one’s work; which means making choices about how one’s life is lived.

If we accept that life really is a series of choices and that we have control over the choices we make, then acceptance of the choices and their results must follow.

Sometimes the choices are easy, and it’s simply a matter of going with the flow. But sometimes going with the flow can be difficult; especially when the waters are a raging torrent and you are wishing you could grab hold of the reeds on the bank and pull yourself out for a little respite, such as in the analogy I have used in this first flash piece:

Overwhelming expectations

The waters raged around her, pummeling her against the rocks, tossing her every which way, pushing her under and holding her there until she thought she must drown. She clawed at the rocks and grasped at the reeds, gasping for breath. The bank beckoned invitingly. The torrent sucked her back, playing ‘now you see her, now you don’t’ before swirling her back to bump inelegantly over the rocky shallows, dumping her battered body on the edge. She gulped the air begging respite and revival. Her choice: the safety of the sideline bank or back to navigate a journey through.

 

 

Sometimes the choices are difficult because they appear to promise equally attractive (or unattractive), if different, outcomes. We may think a crystal ball could make the decision easier, but perhaps the only way to find out what the future brings is to live it, as discovered in this next flash offering:

 

Future seeker

“What do you seek?”

“Knowledge of the future.”

“That knowledge comes at a price.”

“I’m willing to pay.”

The eyes as deep as the ocean and dark as coal lifted from the shiny globe, contemplating the petitioner.

The globe’s soft glow in the dimness cast eerie shadows across the youthful face accentuating his desperate need.

One eyebrow raised, questioning. “It involves . . . a sacrifice?”

“I have more money than I could spend in a thousand lifetimes. Just tell me the price.”

The dark eyes flashed.

“Your life.”

He saw it all in a moment, and was gone.

 

Of course, as adults, it is important for us to have developed some self-regulatory skills or nothing would ever be accomplished. But what about children. How can we help children learn to make effective choices?

 

In honour of your time and mine, I will leave that for a future post!

 

I always enjoy reading your comments. I invite you to share your thoughts.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy others. Please click the button at the top on the right to receive future posts by email.

 

 

 

Flash fiction – Innocence shattered

Here is my contribution to the seventh flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch Communications. I hope you enjoy it.

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a biography for a character, alter-ego or you. 

Innocence shattered

She hurled it with such force that had it been his head, as she had wished it was, it too would have smashed into smithereens, just as the figurine had.

“You ab-so-lute monster!” she screamed.

She fell to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably.

All her life she had thought it was her; something wrong with her; she that was wanting.

But it wasn’t her. It was him. His wanting. His vile taking.

The repulsive visions made her want to turn inside out and eradicate any trace of connection.

Her ignorance had offered no protection; and now no solace.

 

I welcome your comments.

Flash fiction – Prize possession: Stripped

The second flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch Communications:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a character from any perspective who has to part with a prize possession.

I hope you enjoy it:

Stripped

She could hear them.

They didn’t think she could. She couldn’t talk. Why should she hear?

Caressing soft leather covers, fingering embossed lettering, she smelt the welcome of well-read pages and familiar characters.

In her mind.

While they annihilated shelves of prized possessions.

“No value here.”

“Dump them!”

Stripped of speech and movement, her twisted body dumped in her “favourite chair” for “minding” while they pillaged her collection: a lifetime in the making; seconds to destroy.

Laughter. Her eyes flickered. She knew those words by heart. She had written them –

Her last refuge.

Shit!

and that’s gone too!

I welcome any feedback.

“You say it long enough, it starts to be a part of you.” (Rita Pierson)

Affirmation, encouragement, praise . . .  

“You say it long enough, it starts to be a part of you.”

Recently I came across this great TED talk by Rita Pierson “Every kid needs a champion”.

Rita’s entire life centred around education. Her parents and her mother’s parents were teachers, and she was a teacher.

She observed numerous teachers at work – some of the best and some of the worst – and believed that relationships are the key to learning.

She said that

 “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Rita spoke about having classes of students whose academic level was so low she wondered how she could “raise the self-esteem of a child and his academic achievement at the same time”.

One year she told her students

“You were chosen to be in my class because I am the best teacher and you are the best students, they put us together so we could show everybody else how to do it.”

Affirmation, encouragement, praise . . .

She talked about giving a student a +2 with a smiley face for getting 2 out 20 questions correct. She encouraged the student by saying

“you’re on a roll . . . and when we review this, won’t you do better?”

The student agreed “I can do better”.

Affirmation, encouragement, praise . . .

Rita told of her mother’s past students expressing their gratitude for the difference she made in their lives, saying

“You made me feel like I was somebody, when I knew, at the bottom, I wasn’t. And I want you to just see what I’ve become.”

Affirmation, encouragement, praise . . .

She tells us that teachers won’t always like all the children they teach, but it’s important that the children never know it. Acting is part of the role description!

She says that

“Teaching and learning should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion? Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

Affirmation, encouragement, praise . . .  

Go ahead and listen to this inspirational talk. It will take less than 8 minutes listening time but its effect will be more lasting. It has already had more than 2 600 000 views. Why not add one more to the total. I’m certain you won’t regret it.

I can find nothing to dispute in Rita’s talk. I’d like to underline every word and make it compulsory viewing for all aspiring and practising educators in any field.

Affirmation, encouragement, praise . . .  helpful or harmful?

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts below.

Refer to these previous posts for discussions on self-esteem, affirmations and praise:

Happy being me

Affirmations: How good are they?

Seeking praise – Stephen Grosz revisited

Examining praise: Stephen Grosz – the third instalment (guest post by Anne Goodwin)

I came across this talk on a great educational website edutopia. It was included in a Five-Minute Film Festival: Videos on Kindness, Empathy, and Connection. Check the others out. You may find something else to inspire you.

Sadly Rita Pierson passed away in June 2013. I’m grateful that we may continue to share the strength of her wisdom through her appearance with TED.

Click here to find out more about Rita and to read a tribute posted by Tedstaff.

“You say it long enough, it starts to be a part of you.” (Rita Pierson)

Let’s make sure it’s the good stuff that learners everywhere are hearing!

Seeking praise – Stephen Grosz revisited

Praise may be defined as an expression of approval or admiration.

Who wouldn’t want that?

If you write a blog, don’t you love it when others “like” a post, leave a positive comment, re-blog your article or link to it via theirs? I do. Aren’t these all expressions of approval or admiration?

What about on Twitter when someone Re-tweets, favourites or replies positively to your comment, engaging you in conversation?

Aren’t these also expressions of approval or admiration?

I love to receive all these signs of encouragement and support that let me know that my efforts are appreciated and confirm that I am on the right track. If I did not receive any of this feedback I would feel quite isolated and consider my efforts to be fruitless and a waste of time. I would probably just give up.

As a teacher I have always considered it of primary importance to create a happy and welcoming classroom environment in which children feel valued, affirmed and supported. Expressions of approval and admiration for behaviour, effort and achievement were generously given with the aim of encouraging the desired response, a happy child being foremost. I have written about this in previous posts, including:

Happy being me

Affirmations: How good are they?

As a parent too I considered it important to affirm my children and display my approval and admiration for them. I still do, even now they are adults. The need for approval never ends. I know sometimes you just have to go out there and say what you know is right, even though others will disagree or ridicule you. I am not talking about those instances here.

My strong belief in the power of affirmations and approval stems partly from the dearth of them in my childhood and school days. I have also mentioned this in a previous post: 

Mouthing the words – the golem effect

Recently I listened to a fabulous (audio)book, “The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves” by Stephen Grosz. I wrote about it in my previous post A book worth reading: Stephen Grosz “The Examined Life” saying that

“What appeals to a reader about a book, or what a reader takes away from a book is as individual and personal as the reader. What is of most significant to one, may be of lesser importance, or even insignificant to another. “

For me the chapter of most significance is chapter 3 “How praise can cause a loss of competence”.

To say I was startled by the title would be an understatement. I was puzzled, intrigued and challenged. How could praise cause a loss of competence? Surely negative feedback or a lack of encouragement altogether would be major contributors to diminishing competence. Was everything I had believed and practiced wrong? (Oh no –there’s my need for approval and affirmation!)

Grosz says that during the past decade studies into self-esteem have found that praising a child as “clever” may not only inhibit school achievement, it may cause under performance. He suggests children may react to praise by quitting. Why would you try to improve or do something new if you have already done something really well or are the “best”?

Studies showed that children who were praised for effort, rather than for being clever, were more willing to try new approaches and were more resilient. Children who were praised for being clever, tended to worry more about failure and chose unchallenging tasks, tasks they knew they could achieve or had already achieved. Being told they were clever led to a loss in self-esteem and motivation and to increased anxiety. Some children who had been praised for being clever (rather than working hard), when confronted with a more difficult task and asked to comment on it, were so unhappy with the results they lied about them, exaggerating their achievements to others.

Grosz questions whether we may lavish praise on our children nowadays in order to demonstrate that we are different from our parents who possibly used criticism, rather than praise, on us. I hinted at something similar earlier in this article.

While admiring our children with words like “Good boy” or “Good girl” may temporarily lift our self-esteem by showing others what wonderful parents we are or how wonderful our children are, Grosz says, it isn’t doing much for a child’s sense of self. He says that in trying to be different from our parents we end up doing the same thing: doling out empty praise where an earlier generation doled out thoughtless criticism.

Grosz says that if we offer this empty praise without thinking about the child’s individuality and needs we are effectively showing the child indifference.

So what do we do?

I think the emphasis here is on the empty praise. I think support, encouragement and positive feedback are all essential. Sure, knowing in yourself that you have done well is fine but a little recognition certainly helps too. I think the difference is in recognizing what has been achieved, the learning or progress made, and the effort it took, the message communicated in a story or painting and the techniques used; not a hollow “Well done”, “Good work” or “Good boy” but “Tell be about . . .”, “Why do you think that?” “How did you work it out?” “I like the way you . . .”

As Grosz says, this is being attentive to the child, to what the child has done and how it has been done.

To read more on this topic:

Sian Griffiths interviewed Stephen Grosz and reported on the interview in the article “Praise her . . . and see her fail” which adds even more clarity to my precis above.

Maria Popova delves into the messages of this same chapter in her article “Presence, Not Praise: How to Cultivate a Healthy Relationship with Achievement

Being attentive, being present, being really with someone, noticing what they have done and how they have done it – is it more precious than praise?

In these days of constant distractions and must-dos to put all aside to be in the present with the child, friend or partner to talk, listen share and laugh, what better affirmation is there than that?

What do you think?

How has praise encouraged or discouraged you?   When has criticism hindered you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.