Increase The Dose

It's Mental Health Month and my guest post over at Free Spirit Press focuses on a mind, body, spirit three-pronged approach to mental health and wellness. 

Click the graphic to go read the post.
What are your go-to strategies to maximize your mental health?

One huge thing for me after the trauma of that head-on collision was finding things to be thankful for, blessings in the burden. Did you know that gratitude can tack on up to seven years of life? Gratitude creates such a win-win because it blesses the giver and the recipient

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week 2016, so I set out to thank our school staff by putting these little sticky-note pads together for them today.

It made my heart happy to spread a little sunshine.

Yesterday I was blessed by the invitation to give a one-hour keynote about grace at the women's renewal retreat at our church. Committee members made one of these for each of us. Don't you love this? Grace. 

To close today, a few reflections to ponder from my research and presentation.

For more from Craig Denison, visit First15.org 

Photo credit: Amy Homa
Photo credit: Jennifer Runde
So I ask you the same question I posed to retreat participants:
How will you increase the dose this week?


The Un-Prescription For Autism: A Review

Today I'm excited because I finished this book while it is still

I've always had a heart for children with Autism and this comprehensive newcomer, written by Dr. Janet Lintala, the mom of a child with autism, kept me engaged through each and every page in each and every chapter. As far as I could tell, there isn't a pebble that Dr. Lintala left unturned as she walks her readers through everything imaginable to, first and foremost, help ease the physical pains from which children on the spectrum suffer. Dr. Lintala's masterpiece spells out how behavioral and academic issues become easier to navigate once a child's physical issues and concerns are under control.

The book's format is super reader-friendly to get through and use. Dr. Lintala generously shares what has and hasn't worked for her child while she gives suggestions and options for managing the daily ins and outs of helping children with an autism diagnosis. I especially love the "Why I ask?" boxes in Chapter one. 
Getting to the why always matters.

There are so many things that I appreciated about this text, but one of the things that stands out is how honest and authentic, at times even blunt, this mom/author/doctor/advocate is. So be warned; you will be reading about BMs and urine and GI function. But the end more than justifies the means as you make your way through this thorough "Natural Approach for a Calmer, Happier, and More Focused Child." Oh, and there's even a chapter for adults on the spectrum.

Here are some related links that might interest you:

If you or a loved one is living with autism, check out this book!

From the Publisher:

The Un-Prescription for Autism
A Natural Approach for a Calmer, Happier, and More Focused Child

By Janet Lintala with Martha W. Murphy
Published by AMACOM
Paperback: 304 pages
April 1, 2016


Each year, more than 50,000 U.S. families receive an autism diagnosis. On top of turmoil and worry, they share the same urgent question: What can we do to help our child?

The answers parents find can be contradictory . . . even dangerous. The conventional approach (employed by too many pediatricians) is to medicate difficult behaviors into submission -- suppressing symptoms while leaving underlying health challenges untouched. Surfing the Internet for alternatives just leads to confusion.

Now, Dr. Janet Lintala, founder of the Autism Health center and an autism mom herself, shares the natural protocols used in her practice to dramatically improve the function and well-being of children on the spectrum. Drawing on the latest research developments, as well as personal and clinical experience, she targets the underlying issues (chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, gastrointestinal dysfunction, immune dysregulation) associated with the behavior, bowel, and sleep problems so common to autism.

Correcting these overlooked conditions with digestive enzymes, probiotics, antifungals, and other nonpsychiatric treatments brings transformative results: less pain, less aggression, and a child who is more receptive to behavioral and educational interventions.

While the medical profession is slow to change, autistic kids need help immediately. The Un-Prescription for Autism provides clear explanations, detailed protocols, and examples to help parents act quickly to restore their child's health, self-control, and language -- paving the way for reaching their full potential.

Author Bio: Janet Lintala, author of The Un-Prescription for Autism, founded and heads Autism Health!, which serves children and adults in 12 states. Her advice integrates the clinical expertise of a nonprescription autism practice with the firsthand experience only an autism parent can deliver.

Martha W. Murphy is an award-winning health writer.
For more information please visit http://janetlintala.com/ and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

". . . [T]he extraordinary outcomes Dr. Lintala has helped hundreds of patients and their families achieve over the past 10 years is why I am delighted to see her accessible and affordable health support strategies gathered into a book. . . . By reading this book, you can benefit from the lessons learned the hard way by a dedicated autism mom and savvy clinician. . . . Above all, what you'll find here are valuable clinical insights packaged into doable action plans to help your child." 

-- From the foreword by Elizabeth Mumper, MD, FAAP; President & CEO, Rimland Center for Integrative Medicine; Former Medical Director, Autism Research Institute
"Amidst a sea of confusing opinions, techniques and advice, this book provides a rare combination of science-based research and practical strategies for parents and professionals. . . . [Dr. Janet] possesses a deep understanding of autism that enables her to cut through the misconceptions and deliver common sense, effective strategies for moving these children toward optimal cognitive, behavioral and physical health. . . . I have witnessed transformations in children with autism that professionals and parents alike thought impossible. Following the clear, concise approaches outlined in this book gives children the best shot at obtaining their maximum potential." 

-- Maureen H. McDonnell, BS, RN, Health Editor, WNC Woman Magazine; Former Medical Coordinator, The Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer; President, Health Education Services, Wellness Workshops, Inc.; Cofounder, Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet


A Berry Different Perspective

It's that time again, dewberry season.
I used to think that staying home to whip up a homemade pie crust and wait for the call that they boys had found the motherlode and were headed home was the ultimate labor of love
For 25 years, that's what I thought. 
Until today.
Today, I decided to go along with John and Joshua,
to pick dewberries.
I had no idea that the actual picking might trump 
the pie-making process in the labor of love category!

I didn't put two and two together when John gently suggested that I find some old jeans to wear instead of the shorts I had on.
I didn't think much of it when he put on his rubber boots.
I didn't click when he put the walking sticks in the back of the van.

Empathy is funny that way;
you don't always know what to expect
until you walk in someone else's boots for a bit.

When we got to the field, it all started to make sense.
The stick, he told me, was to keep away critters ...

{Wait, what?}

but I also found it very useful to move the bramble out of my way so that I could get to those treasures without getting hurt because sometimes they hide deep inside the thorny vines that they call home and it's super tricky to get to them.

I couldn't help but think how this kind of parallels life.
It can be tough to stay the course and get to the treasure.
But it's usually worth it.

And sometimes we think we have it harder than other people do.
But comparison is the thief of joy, so we're wise
to celebrate what is and not worry about what isn't.
Better yet, if we really want to know first-hand what the other person's experience is like, go berry picking with them and see the other side.

After an hour and a half, 
the three of us came home with this ... 

so that we could enjoy this treat this afternoon.

So today I'm grateful 
to have a berry different perspective
that will make my tasty piece of pie even more delicious.


PPBF: What Does It Mean To Be Green

Today I'm happy, because we're celebrating my Dad's 79th birthday. 
On Earth Day. 
So fitting for a farmer, who made his living off the land, right?
Today's PPBF is the perfect fit for Earth Day, too.

Title: What Does It Mean To Be Green?
Author: Rana DiOrio
Illustrator: Chris Blair
Publisher: Little Pickle Press
Date: March 15,  2010
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes: recycling, conservation, citizenship
Brief synopsis: This treasure trove offers lots of ideas that we
 {young and old alike!} can all use to go green and save our planet.
Opening page: What does it mean to be green?

Resources:  Sign up to download lesson plans for the book {here}.

Encourage students to upcycle something, like this, brought to me by a fifth grader. It's an empty tissue box that he filled with handwritten, heartfelt cheer-up notes, perfect, he said, for a counselor like me. And he was spot on! 

Download an Earth Day freebie from Denise at Sunny Days {here}.
Watch the book trailer on You Tube:

Let your students host a recycling campaign.

Our Student Council is collecting clean grocery bags this week.

Don't you love their handiwork that's hanging all over our school?

Or make a Go Green wall of fame, like this one spotted by the character cam in the second-grade hallway at the school next door.

Why I like this book: Its silly start and simple conservation suggestions hooked us; its adorable illustrations reeled us in.

Looking for green things like the frogs subtly placed on the pages sealed the deal. Actually, it took an observant kindergartener to point that last part out ... 

and oh, what fun we had going back through the pages once we realized that there were little green frogs hidden on most every page!

We started the lesson with Boris the bear, who told our young sponges that he was "green with envy" that they get to go to school at Westwood, his former school. That engaged them and got them laughing and thinking and ready to read. 
But first, a song.

If You're Green And You Know It
by Barbara Gruener
Sing to the tune of If you're happy and you know it. 

If you're green and you know it, plant a tree. {clap clap}
If you're green and you know it, plant a tree. {clap clap}
If you're green and you know it,
then the world will surely show it; 
if you're green and you know it, plant a tree. {clap clap}

After singing the first verse, let the students write the next verses by suggesting phrases to replace the lyrics plant a tree. 


We sang about four verses, then we read the book aloud before singing a few more verses, all sparked by the new ideas we gleaned from the book. Check it out and enjoy going green!

For other PPBF picks today, hop to Susanna's blog next.
While you're there, wish HER a blessed day as well.
{A little birdie told me it's her dad's special day, too!} 


Finding Balance

Let's start the week off with an inquiry:
 and helping the children in your care find balance?
I was recently tasked with addressing that concern;
click the graphic below to read my guest post at Free Spirit 
and add five concrete suggestions for this issue to your toolbox.

Need even more help with balance or with some other situation?
Why not start with the school counselor. He or she stands ready to listen and assist students of all ages and stages through their troubles, difficulties, and conflict as they learn to become independent thinkers and problem solvers themselves.

Oh, and now there's a book to better explain our role. Check out Mrs. Joyce Gives The Best High-Fives by author (and Texas school counselor) Erainna Winnett. It's about a school counselor and some of the strategies she uses to connect with kids. But make no mistake; Mrs. Joyce does a LOT more than just giving the best high fives. In fact, she's a superhero of the caring kind, ready to come to the rescue and provide a safe place and a sounding board for students in distress. 

Raymond, who's new to Emerson Elementary, doesn't know Mrs. Joyce yet, so he's not sure what to make of her, until he gets a invitation to go to her office and finds out all about this friendly favorite, that is.

Mrs. Joyce explains her role as the counselor
 so gently and eloquently. Check out the book's trailer:

I was especially delighted to find Savvy School Counselor's suggestion in the back of the book that a school counselor (or teacher!) use a Circle Map to introduce yourself and your role to the students at the start of school. 

I could also see reading Mrs. Joyce's story as we close out the school year and reflect on all of the time we spent together and all of the leadership skills we sharpened through counseling classes.

High Fives to Erainna {and her illustrator} 
for this colorful addition to my counseling collection.


There You Are Empathy Chat

Today I'm excited because I've been invited to lead a Twitter chat on Sunday night for a group of educators in Texas and beyond whom I really admire. We are going to have seven questions, based on this acrostic I created.

UPDATE: Click picture for a transcript of the chat!

This week, I've been reflecting on something I heard on the radio about there being two kinds of people, those who enter a room and say, "Here I am." 
and those who enter the room and instead say, "There you are." 

And the latter sounded so much like empathy to me.

Here's a sneak peek at the questions we'll be discussing.

So this is your official invitation, to join us on Twitter Sunday night, April 17th, at 8 pm {CST}; use the hashtag #txeduchat to talk about elevating empathy. I'll be there, ready to welcome you enthusiastically and passionately with the words, 
"There you are!"

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