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The 3 G’s of Mental Health

I have recently completed a series of courses through The Institute of Child Psychology for children’s mental health.

The final essay topic I submitted was about strategies that help children move from negative mental health outcomes to resiliency.

In this paper, I talked about the importance of modeling and teaching what I have called-The 3 G’s of Mental Health; Growth Mindset, Grit and Gratitude. The interlocking link between these three is Grace.

This five letter word continues to show itself in my life in many forms. I know it’s to be part of my journey and for me, it has to come from within.

Grace is self-love. Grace is patient. Grace is tenacity and strength within your own convictions.

Grace is humble and wise. Grace is growth with soulful discovery. Grace is pushing back and unpacking mental and physical discomfort disguised as guilt and shame; holding space for it while learning and healing from it.

Grace is time, unmeasured by traditional means but rather moments and memories.

Grace is whispered in the wind and felt in every cleansing exhale. Grace is the forgiving watchful eyes of our beautiful children; waiting for us to show them the strength of our own resilience.

Grace is allowing yourself to see opportunity; making a wish instead of pulling a weed. 💚

What does Grace look like for you?

#The3GsOfMentalHealth

Little Bear’s Journal of Gratitude and Kindness for Anxious Times-Free Digital Download.

Little Bear’s Journal of Gratitude and Kindness for Anxious Times.

Download your FREE digital copy here (little-bears-journal-of-gratitude-and-kindness-for-anxious-times…pdf)

My hope is it will foster conversation and a time to emotionally check in with each other to fill it out.

May you always be strong and kind, with a brave spirit and a fierce mind. Always remember, you can do anything!

Peace, love and health to all. We are all in this together.

-C.

Things I have learned during a global pandemic.

1. Time is merely a judgement call, measured primarily by the sun and social norms that have all since crumbled. Being present, well trying to be, is my new norm and some days it’s damn hard.

2. The 5-step analogy of grief to describe this situation is bang on. Every step. Sometimes every day.

3. Self doubt is a bitch. This has been a common thread in my anxious life as far back as I can remember, but now, when we’re bombarding our social media and social standards with isolation and turning inward, I’ve found it to be tricky to silence that voice in my head-did I do enough, am I enough, I can’t possibly do this but I have to, while navigating the unknown-like Joe Exotic in a tiger cage with sardine oil covered shoes. See Netflix.

4. Guilt for having all the feelings when I’m not the one being asked to the front lines and I’m merely having to shelter in place is overwhelming. I am moved beyond words in thanks, admiration and gratitude to all my friends and family who are front line essential workers. I am going to unapologetically acknowledge that this is also one of the hardest things we will all ever (hopefully) go through in our lifetime and although some may view this perception as selfish, it is hard, and it gets to me some days. Please don’t mistake this for undermining the value and importance of those who are front line workers. Thank you is not enough, you are making a difference and we love you. Thank you also to those who are sheltering at home, working from home, teaching from home and navigating unchartered waters. I see you and I salute you all in an isolated solidarity. 💗

5. I consistently flow between being completely A-ok and full on panic mode. The grey in between is there, but I have to dig deep to find it. See number 3.

6. Mental exhaustion is real. I’m technically getting more sleep now than before, but I’m more exhausted than ever. Trauma, mourning, grief and uncertainty do nothing for dark eye circles and an anxious brain. Daytime naps have become a point of negotiation. So far, it’s a losing battle against an 8 & 5 yr old.

7. My ego, being a helper, some would even say a fixer has taken a blow. I can’t fix this alone, but doing anything together while isolating is too complicated for my tired brain to comprehend.

8. My idea of doing my part and taking care of those I care about is feeding them with food and love. My freezer is stocked with cooking and baking and the quarantine-15 is likely gonna be a reality up in here.

9 Patience is a test for me daily. In every. single. facet. Hurry up and wait is not something I have ever excelled at. See number 5.

10. Unconditional love and support can be found and expressed in other ways than physical interaction. I’m a hugger. This is hard, but thank goodness for technology.

11. Having answers for questions at the tip of our fingertips has made me so aware of how tech-convenient our society is which is a double edge sword when raising the next generation. Also, Siri can be quite smug and sarcastic and “Hey Google make fart noises” isn’t the catch phrase I wanted my 5 yr old to learn during a language arts lesson but hey, she knows how to Google, so she’ll be fine.

12. Wealth is not measured in dollars and cents. It’s collected in smilies and laughter from our children, self care, comfortable routines that are forgiving during hard days, chats with friends and family, in-home date nights and gratitude for the small things which are now the most important.

Please stay healthy and safe. It’s ok to feel however you are feeling right now. We are all in this together, let’s keep practicing physical distancing so the next time we can all be together, one of us isn’t missing.

#Covid19in2020

#DoYouRememberTheTimeWhenTheWorldShutDown

#ThisIsOurPartOfHistory

#ThankYou

#StrongerTogether

#YouAreLoved

#StayHomeShelterInPlace

Pink shirt day; the impact bullying has on mental health💚

As I sit here, about to pen my thoughts on this day, the weight of the message behind it brings tears to my eyes.

Today is so much more than wearing pink shirts and speaking about being kind. To me, today holds a sacred space in my heart because of past trauma and the effect that I’ve seen on mental health-both my own and in others. “Bullying is a conscious, willful, deliberate, repeated and hostile activity marked by an imbalance of power, intent to harm and/or threat of aggression” (Alberta Human Services, 2015)

For me, bullying started in elementary school and continued from there. Grade 3-9 to be precise. It started off with “minor” name calling, alienating from peers; those I considered friends. I had little to no friends and the friends I did have came and went just as frequently as the wind blew in the Prairies of Alberta.

The details to the bullying I experienced are not pretty and really unkind. I experienced physical, verbal and mental abuse-sometimes all at the same time. I can’t even tell you how many times I was told to “just walk away”, “don’t let it bother you”, or my personal favourite (insert sarcasm here) “you need to toughen up” 🤦🏻‍♀️. I was pushed, tripped, spit on, cornered on the playground, ignored, and at age 11 I was told by the “popular kids” that they wanted to take a death picture and that I’d be better off not here; just to name a few things.

Pink shirt day means inclusion, spreading kindness, advocating for change, standing up for the beliefs and rights of others when they struggle to find their own voice. Our society has evolved so much over the past 20-something years, but yet, bullying and mental illness is still happening, likely worse than 20 years ago because now there’s also cyber bullying which is a whole new realm.

Did you know that children/youth who experience perpetual bullying are 7-9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims and that 1 in 3 children/youth have been or are being bullied?

So, what can we do? We can collectively, as parents, caregivers, educators, friends and mentors, come together and rally to end bullying; for our children and adults. We can teach kindness, inclusion and acceptance and lead by example for our children. We can wear pink or any other color that reminds us to celebrate love and friendship. We can teach our children to have a voice and not suffer in silence, to ask for help when needed and not be afraid to be different.

Today, the bullying stops here, so mental illness such as anxiety, depression, low self confidence and thoughts of suicide can be reduced and those affected can begin to heal.

Be Brave, Be Strong, Be Kind and stand up for what’s right.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”-Maya Angelou

#KindIsCool

#BeABuddyNotABully

Here we go again…first day of school and all the feelings.

Verklempt. One word that sums up my last two days perfectly.

So much beauty and gratitude far outweighs the pensiveness of these transitional days.

I’ve watched them both like a hawk in the passing weeks of summer. I’ve seen them grow and blossom into more confident, strong, capable little beings; eager to tackle the excitement of all that the first days of school brings.

I’ve seen the apprehension in the littlest ones eyes as she looks to me for reassurance when we talk about school, making new friends and all the new uncertainties in her growing world.

I’ve seen the smile on the biggest ones face as he lists off all the things he gets to do this year with all the friends he’s missed over the summer and I’m feeling all the feels. All of them. I hope and pray we’ve done a good job to prepare them for yet another year of growth and change.

To combat my own anxiety, I’ve kept my mind and body busy. Busy baking, busy writing, busy thinking, busy remembering; how their little fingers used to wrap so tightly around mine, how they relied solely on us, as their world to keep them safe and nourish their zest for knowledge through endless games of hide and seek and answering the 1000’s of questions to the best of our ability.

Every year I think it would be easier, but every year it’s just the same.

A glutton for emotional punishment, I throw on all the songs that have an important meaning in my kids life-like an 80’s montage as I flip through baby pictures and reminisce in the days gone by and day dream of where they’ll be in the future, trying so very hard to breathe in the sweetness of the present and relish in all the time we spend together. My heart is full of pride and so much love, a my brain is working on overdrive checking off the mental to-do list and my gratitude is extended to all the teachers and educators and support staff for everything that you do for our children.

Happy first day and first week!

May you always be strong and kind with a brave spirit and a fierce mind. Always remember, you can do anything.

And never forget to hug your parents and brush your teeth!

-Love, Your Mama Bear