Tag Archives: feelings

Boy Meets Girl

Boy Meets GirlLast night, my partner and I watched Boy Meets Girl, a touching, funny film  about transgender love and friendship.

No, we didn’t pick the title because of the hubbub around Caitlyn Jenner (though I’m sure Netflix moved it to the top of their list due to recent controversy and publicity).

I’m glad we had the chance to view the film. Powerful and witty, it offers insight into the world of a transgender woman, her friends, family and lovers. I don’t want to spoil the plot so I won’t give away too much information but, if you want to experience life from someone else’s perspective (unless of course you’re a trans person), I suggest you give this sweet, simple and funny film a try.

It was refreshingly honest without being cloy, depressing or one-sided. And, Michelle Hendley is a force to be reckoned with. Check out Michelle and her gorgeous web site. I’m simply in awe of people who are willing to “put themselves out there” and truly be, well, themselves.

When Vicious Behaviour Goes Viral

Towards the Light

Towards the Light

By now, most of the world has heard about Rehteah Parsons’ life and death.

Beautiful, young and said to show great compassion for both humans and animals, Rehteah was sexually assaulted at a party, photographed and then victimized all over again when the photo was posted and shared by who knows how many students.

Ironically, the cause of so much of Rehteah’s pain and torture (social media) is now one of the vehicles being used to express outrage and promote justice.

Just this morning I signed a petition on Change.org demanding an independent inquiry into the police investigation which declared that no crime had taken place regarding both the rape and distribution of graphic and revealing photos. There are also Facebook pages set up, tweets posted and emails being sent to Justice Minister Ross Landry.

Why does it take death and despair to invoke a change in our laws? How can we use social media in a way that’s innovative and useful without promoting hatred, bullying, stress and destruction? Obviously, the way we engage in and rely on social media must change. Now.

Maybe It’s the Music

Take the edge off with some tunes.

Take the edge off with some tunes.

Mornings can be rough in our home. Nine times out of ten someone’s had a crappy sleep or is having a grouchy morning. If we get out to school/work on time, it’s a very good day.

My personal issue is that no matter how many times I tell myself, “Be patient” (through closed eyes and clenched teeth), I often end up yelling, cajoling, or making threats — No video games after school! No dessert after dinner! — in order to get the crew moving. That’s not fun for any of us.

However, the other day, I put a few videos on YouTube while the kids were doing last minute school prep. Before everyone got too stressed out, the mood lightened as we listed to Trouble by Taylor Swift and Dynamite by Taio Cruz. Heads bobbed, lyrics were sung… it was a very relaxing and fun way to head out the door.

Anything I can do to avoid the crazy half-dressed-where-are-my-socks-I-can’t-open-the-toothpaste-cap type of morning is absolutely worth it. And, if music is added to the mix? Even better.

SNAP to it!

Stop Now and Plan program logoWhat if, when confronted with a stressful or contentious situation, instead of instinctively fighting or fleeing, we made the decision  to SNAP – stop now and plan?

Sounds simple doesn’t it? Alas, if it were, there were be a lot less brutality and trauma in this world. SNAP was developed in the 1970s at the former Earlscourt Child and Family Centre, Toronto, Canada (now called the Child Development Institute). The program teaches children to come up with positive and proactive strategies and is aimed primarily at kids under the age of 12 who experience behaviour issues.

A more formal definition from the SNAP web site: It is a cognitive-behavioural strategy that helps children and parents regulate angry feelings by getting them to stop, think, and plan positive alternatives before they act impulsively.

More key info:

  • SNAP is available across Canada and is utilized by social workers, psychologists, parents and teachers in Australia, the U.S., Sweden and the Netherlands.
  • Its emotional regulation techniques are universal but social workers do tweak the program to accommodate clients in different regions/cultures.
  • Dr. Leena Augimeri, SNAP’s co-creator, explains that behaviour can’t be changed overnight but the techniques help clients to “slowly undo and unwind”.
  • The program is free of charge for clients who meet the SNAP criteria!

“Families are the key to success,” explains  Dr. Augimeri. However, she understands that sometimes “families are depleted and have nothing else to give...” Based on this, SNAP staff work with what/who they have in the program.

I was wowed by the awards and honours bestowed upon SNAP and its creators.

  • Just recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented SNAP with the inaugural Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award. SNAP won in the category of Social Innovator in Ontario.
  • Last month, Dr. Augimeri was the recipient of the 2012 Elizabeth Manson Award for Community Service in Children’s Mental Health from the Department of Psychiatry at The Hospital for Sick Children.

If you know a child who fits the criteria outlined in the SNAP model, I urge you to read up on this fantastic program. If it’s not available in your area, try asking your local social services agency to adopt it or contact the CDI or Children’s Mental Health Ontario for more information.

Is Your Kid’s Glass Half Full?

Is positive thinking the key for kids?

Is positive thinking the key for kids?

I haven’t been feeling motivated to blog lately. That’s ironic because today’s post is all about positive thinking.

As a freelance writer and researcher, it can be hard to stay positive and focused. Deadlines and money are certainly motivators but when writers pitch ideas to magazines or bid on projects without an immediate return,

it can be difficult to stay on track.

What about kids? What keeps them positive and motivated? Certainly personality plays a part. My own children have wildly different personalities: one tends to be naturally upbeat, curious and positive while the other tends to be more serious, philosophical and wary.

Parents and teachers also influence this thinking. A study, written about in The Atlantic, found that parents have a role in helping children learn how to use positive thinking to feel better when things get tough. Re-framing potentially negative situations into positive ones helps children to cope with stress.

While I’m not going to suggest that positive thinking is the be-all and end-all of emotional success, I am trying to put into practice more of a “glass-is-half-full” approach. Teaching children to be grateful, optimistic and to re-frame situations is a life-long skill that can be used during challenges with school, friends, homework or family.

Do you or the children in your life tend to fall into the “half full” or “half empty” category? What have you done to teach kids to see the positive? I’m eager to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Kids’ Mental Health & Family Resources

Bringing colour and light to kids with mental health challenges

In contemplating the next post for this blog, I came upon an article in the Hamilton Spectator about the possible closing of Canada House – an eight-bed home in the Burlington area for teenage boys with mental health issues.

In light of this, I decided to compile a short list of the resources, groups and education services that have recently come across my radar.

This post also provides some background on mental health experts and online resources.

Please note: This is not an exhaustive list nor do I necessary endorse any of the following.

Canada House: This residence and its operator, Woodview, provides service to children, youth and their families with social, emotional, psychological and/or psychiatric difficulties. Located in Burlington, Ontario.

Autism Speaks: North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families

Kinark: A range of treatment services including individual, family and group counselling is provided to children and their families within local communities. These services are provided to children who are living at home or youth living on their own in their communities, as well as to children who are in residential care.

Vanier Institute of the Family: Not necessarily a resource for mental health, the Vanier Institute of the Family seeks to create awareness of, and to provide leadership on, the importance and strengths of families in Canada and the challenges they face in all of their structural, demographic, economic, cultural and social diversity.

What resources are on your radar? What else should I add to this list? Feel free to contact me or leave your comment below.

Wild: Boots and Hearts

Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Image from Amazon.com.

This post contains affiliate links meaning that if you purchase this book through my link below, I may receive a commission.

I just finished reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was chosen by a book club member which gave me a reason to quickly purchase and read the memoir but I would have read it anyway given the fascinating subject matter.

The story centres on Strayed who, when she was 26 years old, decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail after suffering a series of devastating events including the death of her cherished mother, a heroin binge and the disappearance of her abusive biological father.

Stayed admits she was woefully unprepared for the journey: She had never  backpacked overnight; she hadn’t tested her hiking boots or too-heavy backpack (which would end up being a serious mistake) and ventured out solo on an approximately 2,600-mile journey!

Still, through near-death experiences with rattlesnakes, wild life and creepy men and enduring excruciating injuries to her feet, Strayed reaches her goal, hikes the trail and changes her life forever.

I was proud to accompany Strayed on her hard-won journey (albeit wrapped up in blankets in the comfort of my home) and so admire her resilience and fortitude.

Have you read the book? What’s your take? Did you find the tale inspirational?

It’s Canadian ADHD Week: Learn. Understand. Inspire.

CADDAC’s 2012 ADHD Week banner

The Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada has launched ADHD Week. Celebrated October 14-21 2012, this week is meant to inspire, educate and inform.

In light of the launch, last Thursday and Friday I attended CADDAC’s annual ADHD Conference which was held in Markham, Ontario. The four day conference included distinct presentations for educators, parents, adults and girls.

Thursday night’s presentation was aimed at parents of children with ADHD. About 200 parents of children ranging from toddlers to those heading off to university took in a presentation from Dr. Kathleen Nadeau, a woman who has ADHD and an American licensed psychologist.

Here are highlights from Dr. Nadeau’s talk on ADHD-Friendly Parent Coaching:

  • Medication is NOT a magic bullet that solves all problems
  • Develop a CLOSE* relationship with your child
  • Don’t hold a grudge: you can be loving and still set limits and consequences
  • Get enough sleep. Work on your own bedtime as well as your child’s sleep habits
  • Perfection is not required! (Be a GEM = Good Enough Mom/Man)
  • Engage in “social engineering” to help your child make and keep friends
  • Proper nutrition, sleep and exercise is key
  • Anticipate and avoid the “upset zone” i.e. late afternoons
  • Understand the difference between a “punishment” and a “consequence” i.e. a consequence does not come from anger
  • Learn the art of habit-building to set the path for success later on in life

Do these tips and suggestions resonate with you? Do you know someone with ADHD to whom this could be helpful? Feel free to share this post and/or the ADHD Week Facebook page or share your comments on this blog. We all have a lot to learn.

*The CLOSE model involves: choices, consequences, collaboration, calm and consistent parenting, loving, looking out for good behaviour, special time every day, and empathy for your child.

Who Are You? Creativity Springs from Despair

Rock Star Status. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This past weekend I watched a fascinating interview with The Who’s Pete Townshend on the CBS television show Sunday Morning.

Much of it focused on Townshend’s love/hate relationship with his “rock star” status but a chunk of the interview was dedicated to his rocky childhood.

At the age of 6, Townshend’s parents sent him to live with his grandmother who was mentally ill.

The boy suffered tremendously; here’s an excerpt from the interview:

“That probably more than anything, probably far more than whether or not my grandmother tried to drown me or made my life miserable or denied me sleep or food or whatever it was that she did, whether or not any of her weird boyfriends abused me in the middle of the night, that stuff I think I could understand,” Townshend said. “What I can’t understand is why that feeling of being abandoned is so huge and so difficult to get past.”

Townshend believes that much of his intensely creative musical compositions stem from that dark period of life. The synergy between melancholy and creativity is nothing new; I’ve also blogged about this connection. It’s an arena I find deeply intriguing.

I wonder: Do all great artists/writers/singers/actors/composers come from a place of pain and despair or can you live a life of happiness and peace and still be a creative genius?

New School Year, New Outlook

Bound for new horizons

Bound for new horizons

Like many children in Canada, today is the first day of school for my children.

Despite the hot, dry conditions much of Ontario endured this summer, it boomed with thunder, cracked with lightening and flooded with rain this morning.

Perfect way to start the school year, no? No.

Exhausted from lack of sleep (my older child must have gotten up about 18 times last night) and wet with rain, we scooted over to the local school and gathered in the gym. My son, whom I thought would be most nervous,  seemed happy with both his teacher and classmates. My daughter however was nervous, quiet and not pleased that one of her best buddies is in a different class this year.

As a parent I aim to present a positive, cheerful outlook without glossing over real anxieties. Honestly, I remember being pretty nervous about going back to school and seeing friends and teachers each year so why pretend it’s not a little nerve-wracking?

How will the first day of school pan out for my kids? Will there be cheers? Tears? Tales of gossip, friends who’ve moved, new teachers hired? I will discover all of this in about three short hours from now. Clock’s ticking…