The real reason why I started Gratitudeworks

I’ve spent 14 years working with teens EVERY DAY as a high school English Literature ( or as we say here in Calgary, English Language Arts) teacher.

In my local school district, students have been reporting increasing levels of anxiety and depression each year. In my last semester of full time classroom teaching, two of my students were hospitalised for their mental health. It was then that I realised that my purpose was no longer to be a classroom teacher, but to teach teens, parents and teachers how to incorporate strategies into their lives that would support their mental health.

We’re all so busy, worried, frustrated, and overwhelmed and

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!

I’m on a mission to transform the lives of teens and parents LIKE YOU through

SIMPLE

DOABLE

SUSTAINABLE practices to improve the quality of YOUR LIFE.

Mindfulness is one of those practices.

I know that going to a concrete building swarming with teens can wear you down! Mindfulness practices, whether that is quietly drinking a cup of tea, or sitting for meditation for 5 minutes, or 20 minutes,  are what have sustained me in the busyness of school for years. Research has shown that mindfulness practice is effective in improving sleep, lowering stress, and improving self-compassion. No only do our thought about ourselves improve, but our perspective about life shifts to be more positive with mindfulness.

In October 2016, I interviewed Dr. Dzung Vo, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at British Columbia Children’s Hospital, and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, Canada. Dr Vo  has created a mindfulness based stress reduction program for TEENS as a response to the stress and depression that he is seeing in his teenage patients in Vancouver, Canada.

If you’ve got 3 minutes, I invite you to CLICK HERE and watch the video on Dr Vo’s mindfulness for teens website, the video is called “Youth Voices” where you’ll hear from REAL TEENS about how mindfulness has transformed their lives.

On his website, Dr. Vo also shares REE DOWNLOADABLE GUIDED MEDITATIONS

If you don’t have time to try some of these meditations right now, just pull out your calendar and schedule in 15 minutes later today to check them out.

You deserve a life that FEELS GOOD!

Be well,

Deanne

 

 

Teens finding HOPE amidst despair

Does your teen dare to hope?

Teens are reporting higher levels of anxiety, stress and overwhelm each year; despair looms larger than hope. Many of my students feel like everything has already been thought, it has already been said, and they wonder what they could possibly contribute to the world. In this disconnected and isolated space, hope becomes a radical proposition. I’ve heard from many parents who are worried because their teen DOESN’T have any hopes or dreams.

So, how do we nurture our children’s hopes and dreams? How do we hold open the door of possibility?

Hope is all about having a new perspective. It is about seeing the evidence in the present moment that good things are on their way in the future. My students who have been involved in service projects or community groups all see evidence that that their presence is valuable.  Whether they volunteered at a Senior’s home, spent time babysitting small children, or volunteered at a community event, they all report feeling connected to the people they serve, and knowing that their presence makes a difference. Teens need to see evidence of their efforts being worthwhile. If they can see the face of a child or a senior light up, they have the undeniable instant feedback that THEY MATTER. This is just one way of providing our teens with the HOPE that their life will continue to matter.

Another powerful way of nurturing dreams and cultivating hope is through inspiring stories. In October I have the incredible honour of interviewing Mark Black for the LIT FROM WITHIN speaker series.

Mark Black is a man who knows about hope. At age 23 Mark faced an unimaginable challenge; His doctor informed him that his heart was failing. Without a rare and dangerous heart and double-lung transplant he would not see his 25th birthday. Three years later, after receiving his second chance at life, Mark ran his first marathon. Since then, Mark has gone on to run more marathons, develop a successful career, and raise a family. Mark Black, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is a Heart and Double-Lung Transplant Recipient, 4-time marathoner, resilience expert, speaker, and coach. Mark helps people “Thrive in Challenging Times”.  A Certified Speaking Professional, Mark has inspired more than 100,000 people in more than 350 presentations. CLICK HERE for the interviews

Not only is telling stories of hope about other people important, but as you’ll see from Mark’s interviews, the stories we tell ourselves are also critically important. One of my favourite take-aways from these interviews was Mark’s question about “which bucket are you rummaging around in?” which is really his metaphor for asking which stories we are telling ourselves, about ourselves, most often. One of the most powerful themes of the LIT FROM WITHIN speaker series is the importance of training your mind to focus on thoughts that are helpful and life-affirming. When we can tell ourselves the best version of our story, we can dare to dream about a compelling future ahead.

CLICK HERE to enjoy this video encore with Mark Black. My hope is that you’ll be inspired to dream a bigger dream.

Expand.

Open the door to possibility.

Think bigger.

HOPE

How can we support “wellness” for high school students?

img_1130I’ve been teaching high school English Language Arts in the province of Alberta, Canada, for the past 14 years. In 2009, Alberta Education developed a definition of wellness which states :

Wellness is a balanced state of emotional, intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual well-being that enables students to reach their full potential in the school community. Personal wellness occurs with commitment to lifestyle choices based on healthy attitudes and actions.  (2015, Alberta Education,   Framework for K to 12 Wellness Education  )

Alberta Education has divided Wellness into five categories,

  1. emotional wellness,
  2. social wellness,
  3. intellectual wellness,
  4. physical wellness
  5. spiritual wellness

In the past number of years, I’ve been working with my teaching colleagues on wellness initiatives that address each of these categories within high school classrooms, which for me included incorporating meditation and self-reflection into my English courses.  The heart of wellness education is not just for students to learn about the concepts of wellness, but to create a culture of wellness where students can have experiences and opportunities to practice making choices that are good for their health.  This clear focus on Wellness Education inspired me to step outside the classroom and create a 25 day online speaker summit, LIT FROM WITHIN: Connecting teens to their own inner resources for success in school AND life, which was available in October 2016. LIT FROM WITHIN directly addresses  the questions faced by high school youth and their parents as they reach for a life of making healthy decisions.  Here are each of the five categories of wellness as they are defined by Alberta Education, with the questions I’ve posed in the interviews on LIT FROM WITHIN.

Emotional wellness is acknowledging, understanding, managing and expressing thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner.

  • Do you hate spending time alone because of the thoughts in your head?
  • Wishing you were prettier/taller/stronger/cooler?
  • Are you tying yourself in knots trying to think your way into feeling differently?
  • Which is worse: the guilt of cheating, or the shame of not feeling like you’re enough?
  • Are you willing to break down your fears and learn about yourself?
  • Do you have ALL THE SELF CONFIDENCE YOU COULD EVER WANT?
  • Feeling overwhelmed or anxious?
  • What is meditation, and how can it help me?
  • Are you tying yourself in knots trying to think your way into feeling differently?

Social Wellness is relating positively to others and is influenced by many factors including how individuals communicate, establish and maintain relationships, are treated by others and interpret that treatment.

  • Does everyone else’s life on Facebook and Twitter look better than yours?
  • Are you wondering how to find a mentor?
  • Have you been world schooling without knowing it?
  • Do you have the travel bug?
  • Are you tired of people asking what you’re going to do after high school?

Intellectual Wellness is the development and the critical and creative use of the mind to its fullest potential.

  • Do you have great ideas but struggle to get things done?
  • Do you know that there are scientific reasons that teens still need their parents?
  • What kind of person do you want to be on, and off the web?
  • How can we set limits for our technology use, and why would we want to?
  • How do we go from knowing something to ACTUALLY doing it?
  • What are you curious about? Do you even know HOW to be curious?
  • Why are so many “successful” people so miserable…and how to avoid that trap!
  • Are you waiting to get out of school and into the “real world”?
  • Study-distraction-stress, how do I get out of this cycle?
  • How do I move closer to my goals?
  • What is actually happening in my brain when I learn?
  • Do you every feel like your brain has been hijacked and you’re doing things that just “aren’t you”?

Physical Wellness is the ability, motivation and confidence to move effectively and efficiently in a variety of situations, and the healthy growth, development, nutrition and care of the body.

  • What is sugar doing to your body and mind?
  • How can you actually develop self-compassion for your body?

Spiritual wellness is an understanding of one’s own values and beliefs leading to a sense of meaning or purpose and a relationship to the community.

  • What story do you believe about yourself?
  • What is possible in the midst of your difficulty?
  • What lights you up? What inspires you?
  • When did you feel like you were at your best?
  • Why is passion so important for young leaders?
  • How can I learn to trust myself to make decisions from the heart?

Through the 25 days of LIT FROM WITHIN, participants not only learned about the brain science of adolescence, and immersed themselves in a culture of inspiration and strategies to develop confidence in making healthy choices, they also had 5 different mindful meditation experiences as a way to kick-start a life-long practice of cultivating a sense of wellbeing.

Gratitudeworks is committed to developing support and resources for teens, parents, and teachers to develop a culture of wellness in the lives of individuals, within families, and in classrooms.

Book a 15 minute strategy call today to get one step closer to THRIVING in high school!

What makes a great teacher…and more, on this podcast interview

music-680561_1920I had the great pleasure of interviewing Kevin Mincher of Unstoppableteen.com on LIT FROM WITHIN, and in turn, he interviewed me for his  podcast series. Kevin has the most amazing gift of being able to ask excellent questions which elicit revealing responses. He also has a great British accent, which is a great contrast to my Western Canadian accent. If you have the interest and the time, check out the podcast interview by clicking this link.

Here’s what you’ll discover about me in the podcast:

  • How Deanne become a teacher(3:01)
  • What makes a great teacher (4:11))
  • What Deanne was like as a child and teenager (5:07)
  • What you can do to improve your reading skills and English grade (6:28)
  • Deanne’s top 5 favourite books for teenagers (9:41)
  • How to accept the unique personal traits and not conform to the crowd during your teen years (11:23)
  • Top tips if you’re considering a career as a teacher (14:10)
  • What’s brilliant about our education system (17:10)
  • What Deanne would do to improve education (19:07)
  • Why it’s important for young people to know what their strengths are (21:15)
  • What students can do to take control of their own learning and improvement (22:48)
  • The common mistake that students need to avoid when learning (25:07)
  • What parents can do to help and support their teen’s learning (26:39)
  • What the “Lit From Within” online summit is all about and how you can get involved for FREE! (28:02)
  • What Deanne believes it takes to be unstoppable (33:00)