The start of the new school year is fast approaching.  Some school districts know what their instructional plan is going to be; others are still trying to put it together.  No matter where your school district is in this process, there is more than enough angst for parents and their children related to Covid-19 as it relates to school and how it will impact their families.  Added to that are the usual concerns of how their child will get along with his/her classmates.  Will their child be able to handle the subject matter?   Will a particular issue be handled in a positive way by the new teacher?  Children also have uneasiness as the new school year begins too.  They wonder what their teacher will be like.  Will their friends be with them this year?  Will the work be too hard?  There is more than enough concern for sure plus the Covid concerns, over the top this year!

Teachers and administrators are dealing with angst too as they approach the new school year with numerous Covid precautions and restrictions in place, and they come up with the best plan for their communities based upon how the virus is affecting their state/towns and cities.  They, too, are concerned about the well-being of their families.  These concerns amplify their usual concerns of meeting the needs of all their students.  Will they be able to balance family and school responsibilities?  Will they be able to successfully follow all of the Covid-19 safety protocols expected in school?

The decision for parents is enormous and very difficult for sure as they weigh the pros and cons of in-school, hybrid, virtual, or home schooling, with their particular family’s health issues and needs.  A pediatrician recently told all the parents of her patients who are struggling with making the best decision for their children that the decision they make is the right decision.  No decision is the wrong decision; all are imperfect.  How they choose to think about their decision makes the difference.  The future is uncertain so just do your best.  These are wise words for parents, school teachers, and administrators alike.   Here is the link to her video. https://youtu.be/XwG5UqbePj8

I’d like to offer a few suggestions for taking care of the uneasiness that may exist as the beginning of school approaches and throughout the school year as well:

*Have either a family meeting or private discussion regarding how your child feels about the start of school as he/she will be experiencing it.   Quiet any fears your child has by positively relating your reasons for the decisions you have made.  The degree to which you go into this is dependant upon the age and understanding of your child.  Give them only as much information as is appropriate.  How you feel about your decision will be conveyed to your child through your body language, tone, and actions, impacting how he/she moves forward. This same idea can be used by teachers in their classrooms as well as they explain the steps that the school is taking to keep them safe and healthy.

*Fears might be 

written down as a list or on separate pieces of paper, discussed, and then ripped up and tossed into the trash can, synbolically releasing their worries.  (The list can be your child’s concerns or the family’s concerns.)

written down or drawn and put in the Worry Eaters mouth, a plush toy with a zippered mouth, to be gobbled up, another symbolic release. (Haywire Group Worry Eaters)

*Releasing Breath, which I call Dragon Breath with younger children, helps to quiet uneasiness.

Breathe in deeply from the belly up.

Exhale, puffing the air out forcefully.  Feel the navel draw back to the spine to expel all of the stagnant air and toxins.  I tell younger children to imagine they are a dragon breathing out all their firey, worrisome feelings until they have all been released.

Continue repeating the process of inhaling and puffing out the exhalation until the air expelled becomes a soft whisper.  Notice how you feel.

Do whenever uneasiness is taking over.

*Finger walking a spiral is another way to quiet the body/mind.  You can use the spiral below, draw your own on a sheet of paper, or make the outline with your finger tip on a desktop, pant leg, bed spread, or any surface.  You can even draw it small in the air with the tip of your nose and spiral back out.  That’s a subtle way to do it if you are with others and don’t want the spiraling to be obvious.

Print the paper spiral.  Start at the opening (the mouth) and glide your finger between the twiggy lines of the spiral to the center.  Go slowly, focusing on your finger as it spirals to the center.

Pause at the center.  Leave your worries in the center and then spiral out again.  This process allows you to move forward in a more relaxed way.  (If you have preschoolers – 1st graders, you may e-mail me for a more appropriate spiral with a larger pathway for little hands.  sandy@peaceablepathways.com

When you come to the opening again, pause and notice how you feel.

Know that whatever plan your school district adopts for the coming school year, there are things that you can do to quiet your angst.  Be as positive as you can and pay attention to your body and how it’s feeling.  Make supportive communication and self-regulation a part of your wellness plan as the new school year starts and continues.  

Wishing you well ….

Sandy

(More ideas can be found in my book Creating the Peaceable Classroom, A 21st Century Wellness Guide for Teachers, Students and Parents.)

FYI Spirals are archetypal symbols of growth and transformation. Thus, when finger walking the spiral, one is bringing their concerns, worries, fears into the center for transmutation so that they can spiral out into their world in a better, more relaxed way.

“You don’t have to be the tallest tree in the forest.”  Those words came as a message for me from Dr. Lewis Mehl Madrona, M.D., psychiatrist, and Native American healer in ceremony the last day of a week-long healing workshop some time ago.  How did I know the message was for me?  I knew because as he said it, I could feel his eyes on me as I sat with the others in the circle. I was directly opposite him.  I opened my eyes and saw that he was looking right at me.  The message was directed to me….  I think about those words from time to time, and they have once again come up for re-examination.

From time to time during the Covid-19 stay-at home orders, I have had a number of dreams of two types.  One is where I have lost my purse that has all of my money, insurance cards, credit cards, and most importantly, my driver’s license, my identification, in it.  I search all over, retracing my steps but am unable to find it and am very distressed.  I wake up feeling uneasy.

The other recurring type of dream is that I have traveled to a conference, parked my car, participated in the conference sessions, and go to my car to head home.  The problem is I can’t find my car.  I search and search but can’t find it and can’t get home.  I try walking but am confused about which way to go.  I never get home and wake up very unsettled.  

So, what does all this mean?  What is the message? I imagine that one who specializes in dream interpretations would have an answer for me in a snap.  I have puzzled these dreams for some time, waiting for a meaningful interpretation to come to me.  No ‘Ah Ha ‘moment of understanding has come forth until recently.   While walking my labyrinth and asking to receive whatever it is that I need to know at this time, the meaning for me became clear.

What came to me is that who I have been before the current restrictions is not who I am going to be after we get on the other side of the current pandemic.  My identity was lost in my dreams.  I was lost and couldn’t get home in my dreams.  My dreams were telling me that I can’t go back to what was, who I was?  I am going to be a different me, no longer the me I have been in the world I’ve known before.  I am going to have a new identity.  I am on the way to rebirthing myself, a new version of me is coming forth.  I don’t know exactly what that will look like, but it doesn’t matter.  I’ll let the new me unfold as time and life allows.   And to that end, I have adopted this mantra from a recent Zoom meditation session with yoga teacher, Melissa Goodwin, in Punta Gorda, Florida.  “I open myself to all good the universe has for me…,” which includes who and how I’ll be in my world.

So, I open my arms and my heart to what is coming and am excited to discover who I am becoming.  This word, ‘becoming,’ reminds me of when I was in graduate school and going to class one long weekend each month for two years at the same time teaching full time.  My teenage daughter would ask me at the end of the weekend, “How’s the becoming coming, Mom?”   “It’s coming,” I would answer.  And so it is now that I’m moving into my next becoming.  

Might you be on the way to becoming a new you too?  If so, allow the new you to bud, blossom, and flourish.  The time is now.  Let the new you shine in the new world emerging!

Peaceful blessings,

Sandy

Not long ago, I was asked what I have learned through my teaching and healing work.  After reflecting, this was my answer:

I’ve learned the importance of Heart-Centered Presence. 

When I am truly present with someone, whether it be a child in the classroom, a student’s parents, a client on my table, or anyone I connect with, I am coming from the heart, Heart-Centered Presence.  I am listening and hearing their story.  I am also observing what they show me through their state-of-being, their body language, their actions, or lack of action.  I’m with them, immersed.  We are energetically joined together.

Most important and essential to listening is the hearing part.  We can all listen to someone, but it’s actually the hearing what is said, being present as you listen, taking it all in, that makes the difference.  Being present: observing, listening, and really hearing another is fundamental to the person’s sense of self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-success, self-healing.

When I am connected in this way, a bond of trust is created that allows us to work together in a way that can be beneficial to that person’s success: school success, success in releasing an emotional stressor, success in relaxing muscles, success in a relationship, success in whatever is needed at the time.  I can understand a student better and come up with a strategy that will help him/her learn a concept more easily.  I can know more clearly where to start a healing session with a client.  I can more easily determine how best to help reduce a child’s anxiety.  It may not happen the first time you engage in this way, but over time, the successes can happen; patience and persistence are needed. I am successful too, experiencing the joy of being the mentor, witnessing the journey, and the sucesses realized. 

It’s my feeling that Heart-Centered Presence is effective in any aspect of one’s life.  Being heard, really heard opens the heart and promotes trust between two individuals who are energetically joined together at that time.  Wonderful things can happen, sometimes inmediately other times down the road.  Notice the positive outcomes for you and another when you listen, hear, and observe with intention…. It’s sure to warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.

In peace,

Sandy

   

There are times when life sends us more to deal with than we expect, want, or feel we can deal with.  I’ve heard it said that we never get more than what we can handle at any one time.  Sometimes I wonder about that….  How about you?

When life comes crashing in on you from all directions, how do you handle it?  Do you hide your head in the sand, pretending that the difficult issues don’t exist? Do you jump right into all the scenarios and try to put out all the fires in one, big blast?  Do you consult someone, a friend or professional, seeking their advice?  What do you do?

Having felt overwhelmed recently with too many emotional pulls, I’ve had to deal with this problem.  Not easy!  Here are a few ideas on how to ride the emotional waves of overload.  They helped me.  Maybe they’ll help you too.

*Feel the emotions tied to the difficult situation(s) you are experiencing. Feeling releases.  Releasing frees your body of stuck energy that can only cause problems down the road for you it it’s not dealt with.  That is not something you need to create.  Get those feelings out of your body: dance them out, scribble them out, scream them out, paint them out, garden them out, massage them out, move them out of your body in a way that is right for you.  Then fill in the newly, opened space within with the image of something that’s beautiful to you. i.e. a sunset, your favorite flower, a rainbow, whatever it is that makes you smile. Breathe into the newly opened space, filling it on the exhalation.  It may take more than one round, repeat as many times as needed to bring you to a place of balance.

*Breathe.  Breathe deeply, releasing the toxic energy from your body, calming your frazzled nerves.  As you breathe in, you might say a mantra to yourself, I am still. Exhale, I am still. Inhale, I am calm.  Exhale, I am calm.  Inhale, I am peace.  Exhale, I am peace.  (If you prefer, choose just one ‘I am’ statement.)  Breathe the mantra into your body.  Fill it up, every cell.  Exhale, seal the mantra in.  You are creating stillness, calm, and peace within, transforming yourself, which will impact those around you and beyond, like ripples in a pond.

*Go withinto the always peaceful place inside you located in your heart center, the center of your sternum.  Spend some time in this sacred space just being, noticing, feeling peace.  Here is a technique for dropping into your peaceful place:

*Sit forward on your chair with a long spine, legs hip width apart, knees over your ankles, sit forward of your sitz bones on the rami bones (just in front of the sitz bones), with the crown of your head pressing upward.

*Imagine a little elevator that starts at the perineum running parallel to your spine all the way up to the crown (top center) of your head.  

*Picture yourself in the elevator at the bottom floor, the perineum.  Inhale and ride the elevator up to the top floor, the crown of your head, your mind.  

*Next, exhale and ride the elevator down to your heart center at the center of your sternum.  Settle into your heart space, the ever quiet and peaceful space that lives inside you: the place of love, compassion, peace, and your truth. 

*Stay in this still place, allowing yourself to become peace.

*When you feel complete, imagine yourself in the elevator again.  Inhale, then exhale yourself down to the first floor at the perineum.  

*When ready, imagine yourself stepping out of the elevator back into your world balanced, ready to move into your life in a relaxed way. 

NOTE: When you take your first breath up to the top floor (crown of your head), if you don’t sense yourself making it all the way to the top, just inhale wherever you are then take another exhalation upward to the crown of your head.  Do this as many times as needed to get you there.  

Likewise, when you are ready to leave your heart space, after you inhale there, if you don’t drop down into the first floor at the perineum on the first exhalation, just take another breath and exhale down again. Do this as many times as needed until you get there. 

*Accept, accept what you have been dealt.  Whatever you are dealing with is yours to experience even if you don’t like it.  There is something for you to understand, to learn from it, which often comes down the road after some reflection.  I know this seems counterintuitive, especially if what you are experiencing is considered to be negative. Challenging experiences offer you lessons you need to further your spiritual growth.  You have free will to determine how you handle the challenges, which will determine if growth is made.  If your choice doesn’t help you grow in a certain way, you can be sure that you’ll be given future opportunities to do so.  

*Ask for guidance.  Talk to someone you trust.  Pray.  Meditate.  Consult whoever, whatever resonates with you.  In some way, seek assistance, clarity, in determining how best to proceed.  Take in the advice you receive, be with it, then make your decision with intention.  It is important that your decision is your decision, coming from your heart, the place of your truth.  Go within to your heart space and ask if the choice you are considering is in your highest good and that of those involved. Be still. Listen.  Sense.  The true answer is there waiting for you.

Dealing with life’s challenging experiences may be unpleasant and often untimely.  But with intention, effort, and assistance you can handle what the Universe has sent your way and even grow from it.

Peace,

Sandy 

Sandy Bothmer Copyright 2019

‘Tis the season of gift giving, boxes wrapped in colorful papers with bright bows, and cards or tags attached with the receiver’s name artfully penned.  They are lovely to look at and fun to open.  But there are other kinds of gifts, simple gifts, that don’t come in gaily wrapped boxes that can be given this time of year as well if one’s eyes and ears are open to the possiblity or opportunity ….  Here are some examples I’ve noticed:

people of the world

“We’re all one family under one sky. We’re a family under one sky. No matter what differences we have….” Those are words from a song that my grandson’s, diverse kindergarten class performed recently.  How true those words are.  We are all human beings, one family, with differences, living under one sky on our precious Mother Earth, but so often, our actions don’t always reflect kind, caring, respectful family relations.

Two people walking together.

Life isn’t always a ‘bowl full of cherries’.  Things don’t go the way you’d like them to go, or you find yourself in a messy situation and wish you hadn’t acted or said what you said.  You might even realize this as it’s happening, but it’s too late.  What was said was said.  What was done was done.  With life’s, messy situations that you find yourself in, come any number of negative emotions: sadness, frustration, anger, depression, guilt, fear, etc.  What can you do the next time you find yourself in an unpleasant, messy, life situation?

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