Out of Chaos and Into Discovery

Change can be hard. Very hard.

Change can feel like chaos and a huge disruption in your life.

And change can also be transformative. Both can be true.

Deepak Chopra says “Every great change is preceded by chaos.” It’s a good reminder to stay the course because something great is coming, so get excited. For what? That’s for you to discover!

Sometimes change is not a choice we would have made if given the opportunity to choose. And sometimes change is the choice we make. When change is not our choice it may feel like things, or you, are “out of control”. The global pandemic which began in 2020 is a perfect example! Not one of us has been a willing participant, right? But the thing we do have control over is how we respond to the changes. Do we fight it or struggle with it? Do we accept it, adapt to it? Sometimes the very thing that changes, the thing that we try to control, or fight to keep the same, has turned into something positive which came as a result of that chaos. Sometimes the change leads to expanded opportunities for personal growth, relationships, or discoveries you may never have made if this change had not happened. 

Out of the pandemic chaos I found ways to connect to family who live far away in ways I was not previously doing which helped us to be more closely connected. I grew closer to my community as a result of its efforts to support one another and, from that, it helped me to meet some dear people I have developed beautiful friendships with. 

Out of the chaos came my earnest efforts to connect more deeply and spiritually with nature and finding my greatest support for my mental health well-being. This led me on a path of studying eco-psychology and forest bathing which I now offer through nature-based mindfulness retreats. Being in stillness and coming into coherence with nature’s vibrations have also led me on a path to study sound healing, another vibrational force to bring mind and body into balance through the the vibrations of crystal singing bowls at various healing frequencies.  I am excited to utilize my new learnings for my own healing and to support my own self-care practices, as well as for sharing with you in the coming months.

Additionally, out of the chaos of the pandemic, some chaos within my own home was also stirred up which led to re-evaluating a long term relationship with my partner. When the chaos did not settle, I knew it was time to make a significant change and close that chapter. When the decision was made and we parted my home became a safe and healing refuge which I am deeply grateful for. Funny – what prevented me from breaking up was the worry of feeling alone, even unhealthy as it was, but once alone I felt at one with all that is good and right in the universe. I was lonelier in the relationship than I was after ending it! This change was exactly what I needed but I resisted it for years!

Of course one change can create a cascade of changes. This change meant other changes too – most notably with my work situation. I have had to return to full time work as a speech-language therapist in the public schools. I thought I had stepped away for good, but as it turns out, it was there, available for me when I needed it. So I am secure with a new job and yet, with all new things, there are changes. Many changes. I have lots of adjusting to do and I have lots and lots to learn in my new position which has put me well out of my comfort zone. 

I’ll be honest – it feels like chaos. But this time, I feel different. I feel fortified and empowered to turn to all the tools and resources and supports I have been teaching about for many years for resilience and well-being through selfcare. Being empowered does not mean it isn’t hard and it doesn’t mean I don’t have my meltdowns of tears and doubts. Change is hard. In fact, I feel like a thousand piece puzzle was dumped on the floor in front of me and I’m supposed to have it all put together in an all-too-short time frame. It feels impossible at the moment. Change is hard. And… I can do hard things. One piece, one choice at a time. I am possible. It is possible. Friedrich Nietzsche said

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

I’m looking forward to moving past this chaos and discovering the light and goodness that will eventually shine, and for the beautiful ways I can connect with the children, families, and staff whose lives I will intermingle with. With patience and persistence my doubts will turn to confidence, my fear will turn to courage, and my worries will settle because everything changes. The chaos will settle. I will be transformed. Discoveries await. I’m excited. 

I know many of you are also going through changes and chaos and challenges. I’m excited to have you on this journey with me. Once in a while it’s ok to look back and notice how far you’ve come. Celebrate. And keep moving forward –  choosing one step, one puzzle piece at a time. Do what you can. 

Continue to learn about taking care of your mind, body, and heart. You can control how you respond to emotions that show up, to the thoughts that persist, and to the situations and people which may feel like chaos and confusion in your life, while also choosing to look at the good that has or will come out of this. Connect to the things and people in life who support you rather than drain you. I’ll be here cheering you on. 

Please let me know how I might support you! And feel free to share your discoveries.  ~ Dee DiGioia

 

Dee DiGioia is founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity. Learn, practice, and grow skillfully with us through “Mindful Explorers” school web-based programs, and through our adult retreats and sound healing by the sea, in the forest, or at my home in Los Osos, CA (San Luis Obispo County). Mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements:

 

Loosening knots of stress

Other than being in a forest or in the mountains, walking on a beach is my gateway to feeling soul-level peace ~ especially on a quiet, uncrowded beach where I happen to have lots of access to on the beautiful central coast of California. Although I frequent many of my favorite same beaches for my walks, I always know it’s going to be a different experience each time. I often think of Maya Angelou’s quote ‘This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.’ How true that is because the tide, the winds and weather, the seasons all have a role in what the beach will look like each time. I feel like a child with wild curiosity and anticipation of what will be awaiting discovery and welcome it all. Some days many sand dollars may have washed up, another day lots of stones are exposed, and another day moon jellies, or even the contour of the beach can be significantly changed.

Also quite notable is the varying amounts of beach wrack from day to day. Beach wrack is the scientific term for the seaweed and seagrasses that the ocean waves wash up onto the beach.

Some days there are just a few uncomplicated strands gracing the sandy shore…

…while other days, the beach wrack looks like a catastrophe –  a giant, tangled, twisty, heavy mess wound tightly into unbreakable knots. 

Expectations vs Acceptance

When I first moved to the central coast I remember the initial feeling of judging the “ugliness” of the beach wrack and wondered why “they” didn’t clean the beaches here. On the next breath, catching myself in this judgmental attitude and tendency, like many of us, to have expectations of how things “should be”. I suppose I had the image of a tropical beach with its white sandy shores. But I moved to the central coact of California and this coast has its own way of showing up in the world apart from my expectations. Living with an attitude of expectations is certain to disappoint. Expectations add tension… and knots within. Acceptance of “what is” allows us to see life for what it is and be open to infinite possibilities and gifts. Of course these thoughts and insight were all within a minute and I dropped those expectations. Afterall, nature has a way of softening the heart!

I returned to my curious nature and became inquisitive – why is there so much sea wrack here? Why is there more some days than others? My curiosity helped me to learn that the beach wrack has an important place and role in the cycle of life as it creates a unique coastal ecosystem. It creates shelter and a food source for the kelp flies and other organisms on the sandy beach. In turn some sea birds feed on the organisms. As the wrack decomposes, it provides nutrients which decomposes which becomes beneficial to the kelp and other plants that grow offshore. Furthermore it has an important role acting as a natural barrier to storm surges and large waves- by holding sand that would otherwise be taken away with the wind and surf. It helps create dunes that can act as a structural support for other plants being established on the beach. For these reasons, beach wrack can be considered an important player in protecting coastal communities. Of course the kelp forests in the ocean provide so many benefits as well. 

Appreciation

It didn’t take long to begin to appreciate the different patterns temporarily left like art, Nature’s art, whenever I visited! We can be mere observers of these delightful patterns, shapes, and colors which are present in this moment only and will be erased and re-arranged the next time by the tides and the weather. Being in awe and gratitude is a lovely and healthier way to counter an attitude of expectations and trying to control things which can’t be controlled. 

Stress knots

On one of my beach walks a few weeks ago, when I saw some massive tangled, knotted heaps of beach wrack it brought to mind some similarities when it comes to stress. Stress comes in all sizes and shapes that come and go in our lives like the waves washing up the beach wrack! It may be a singular strand of a stressor that shows up, or it can be a complex tangle of stressors from your day, your week, or your life. Sometimes we use the term “nerve-wracking” to describe how stressful something is/was — those things that are struggles or challenges causing stress, anxiety; irritation, anger, annoyances or even unhelpful ways of thinking. And quite often when we feel “wound up” or stressed we get tension headaches or our muscles get tight in our neck and shoulders and become knots. 

Make an offering of your “package”

We can connect our experiences to this metaphor of the beach wrack and ask ourselves, What are the tangled knots in my  life? What is that “thing” or things that keep returning like the beach wrack washed up on shore? Sometimes it’s one thing, and other times it’s a big tangled mess, wound tightly with a pile of other stressors that seems to go on and on and weigh us down. Sometimes we go on with our day or week or lives without stopping to notice the knots winding around and around one another until something happens… impacting moods, attitudes, relationships, sleep, and even creating physical pain or health issues. Living mindfully helps us notice these things so we can take care of the knots as we begin to notice them tightening or growing massively! 

When we come to the “end of our rope”….when we are at the point of “I can’t do this” or “I don’t know what to do”, we can put “it” down, trusting the guidance of someone or something else to guide our next steps and help loosen the knots.

Let nature be your guide. If you are open, if you are truly present with the experience of being out in nature you can open all your senses one by one to facilitate a deeper connection with nature and all it has to reveal. Receptiveness allows for spaciousness within and this spaciousness allows for wisdom and creativity to take shape. This is when you may receive a message, an idea, an answer, or an inspiration and become a participant in creatively connecting with nature and your own heart in a deeper way and loosening the grip of the constricting knots.

The slow reveal ~ a package in it’s new form

One of my favorite “activities” to share at our nature retreats, is creating the opportunity for our participants to tap into this creative space, to open up to this spaciousness, to loosen the knots, and to tell a story through their symbolic art of what came up for them in the “slow reveal.” 

Reminders from the sea

By pausing, connecting, and paying attention, we find healthy ways to take care of ourselves. Nature and mindfulness are a powerful combination to show us how to let go of worries or other strong emotions, our piles of “to-do’s” and expectations. Welcome nature as your guide in revealing how to let go and loosen those knots and take to heart some of these reminders from the sea:

Take time to relax and coast

Let cares drift away

Sea life’s beauty

Adapt to changing tides

Hang loose

Sea treasure in simple things

I found this “tangle” just as you see it – a rather lovely message that will mean something different to each one of us. May your heart be nourished by Nature’s whispers!

 

“Discovering this idyllic place,

we find ourselves filled with a yearning to linger here,

where time stands still and beauty overwhelms.”

~ Vincent Van Gogh

Join our mini-retreats, including our nature retreats for a few hours of dropping anchor and allowing nature to hold and nourish you. We meet at various locations by the sea,  or into the forest on the central Coast of California, San Luis Obispo County  ~ LEARN MORE

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County (and virtual) for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements:

Teach children compassion towards birds

It is such a blessing to live near the coast and I never, ever take it for granted. The natural beauty of the coastline nourishes my heart and soul and fills me with awe and deeply felt gratitude. Taking walks on the beach and connecting to nature is my go-to practice for de-stressing. I always come home refreshed and uplifted. One of the blessings and highlights of walking is observing all the coastal birds that live here on the Central Coast of California (or visit here on their migratory paths). It is a privilege and a joy to witness them in flight, feeding, foraging, singing, building nests, and feeding their babies… Sometimes I take videos or photos as a way to savor the moment a bit longer.

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Living on the coast means sharing the coast with the birds who depend on nature’s resources for survival. Living on the coast also means sharing with others who come here: visitors, tourists, vacationers, or people coming from the hotter interior of our state to enjoy a refreshing day at the beach. Although my beach walks help me to de-stress, this can be interrupted with stressful things to navigate such as finding less busy stretches of beach so it’s quieter and less hectic – fortunately I know some areas which are much less crowded. It’s nice to know that most people who come to visit are also enjoying and appreciating the beautiful coastline and wildlife experience. 

photo by Dee DiGioia ~ great blue heron

 

When I saw an article headline this morning “How To Approach Birds Without Scaring Them” I thought of the one thing that always “zings” my stress meter and hurts my heart: when I see a child, or group of children, chasing birds who are foraging and feeding on the beaches… and no one saying anything to help the child learn that it’s not okay.  I know many of you belileve this is “harmless” and “good fun” and many of you will argue and present justification why it’s “no big deal”. I disagree whole heartedly and would like to suggest using this as an opportunity to teach kindness and compassion AND to teach an alternative approach that fosters respect and awe. Help cultivate a sense of stewardship rather than domination.

Chasing birds is not okay and should never be acceptable. It is unkind, disrespectful, and can be distressing and traumatizing for the birds. It can cause parents to abandon their nesting areas and babies, or fall prey to other predators due to exhaustion. By allowing children to chase birds we are sending the message that it’s acceptable to frighten them – they get a surge in the brain of “pleasure” from this cause and effect. When they get bored of this, what will they do next time to feel that “pleasure”? Sometimes chasing turns into throwing things at them.  It turns to laughter and sometimes shared laughter further ingraining the “okayness” of this activity. What other animals will they chase or taunt? By practicing empathy and compassion in our relationship with animals, we are also instilling these values and relationships with people!

I am NOT saying every child who chases birds has mal-intent. They just may unaware of the impact it has. Model empathy and concern for the bird. Help your child imagine how many times a day birds are having to be alert for other birds trying to take their food, or take them out as food. Why would we want to add one more stressor to their day? Multiply that one chase by all the people walking by them, and worse, chasing them, throughout the day. According to the National PTA Congress, “Children trained to extend justice, kindness, and mercy to animals become more just, kind, and considerate in their relations to each other. Character training along these lines will result in men and women of broader sympathies; more humane, more lawabiding, in every respect more valuable citizens.”

In another blog I wrote a few years ago about kids taunting a seagull I shared this important quote:

Studies have shown that children learn cruel and violent behavior from those around them, and that animal abuse often precedes violence toward other people. Indeed, in almost every major act of violence, from the Columbine massacre to serial killings, authorities have found animal abuse in the perpetrator’s background. This common origin of violence perpetrated against animals and against people makes it imperative that we teach compassion and demonstrate concern for all living things. By the time young people exhibit cruel behavior toward animals it is often very difficult to change that behavior, making it essential that adults in every part of the community help children learn to treat animals with kindness. While not every child who is cruel to a pet grows up to be a criminal, there is a strong correlation between cruel behavior toward animals and lack of empathy for human beings. *

*From Be Kind to Animals: Encouraging Compassion through Humane Education
photo by Dee DiGioia ~ even birds rest and take in the serenity of their surroundings!

 

It is our adult responsibility to help impart this wisdom on our children, beginning with the first time they chase a bird. Even a baby in diapers crawling towards a bird we can lovingly scoop them in our arms and whisper “Oooo! Pretty bird. Let’s watch! Look at those beautiful white feathers.”  Model a gentle and respectful way to engage with, and share space and time with these diverse creatures through observation, appreciation, and awe. Look, listen, and feel connected. We can let nature be our teacher. You can be the bridge and help guide children on a lifelong journey of compassionate engagement with all of life, from feathered beings, to furry beings, to human beings. Let us be kind and be loving.

Model Mindful, Kindful, Peaceful Engagement with Birds:

  • Cultivate curiosity, focus, and appreciation while observing birds. What do they look like, sound like, and behave like from a safe and respectful distance? Do we always have to approach or can we just watch?
  • Cultivate appreciation, attention to detail, and connectedness by sketching/drawing or taking photos. Or simply observe.
  • Cultivate awareness and sensitivity by observing their behaviors when they are relaxed vs stressed and backing off if they are showing signs of stress. Learn tips for getting closer for observation, photography, or sketching (learn more: https://nature-mentor.com/how-to-approach-birds/)
  • Cultivate curiosity and love of learning ~ learn identification and interesting facts via books/apps.
  • Cultivate awareness, stewardship, and wisdom – notice posted signs about staying out of fragile nesting areas or about refraining from feeding birds human food (such as bread) for your own amusement. There’s reasons we may nothing about.
  • Cultivate compassion, caring, and stewardship by encouraging birds to come to your backyard with bird feeders, bird baths, trees, flowers or other ways you have learned.
  • Learn about Wildlife Rehab Centers in your own area such as the Pacific Wildlife Care Center in Morro Bay, CA

 

photo by Dee DiGioia – black bellied plover

ADDITIONAL READING:

“Am I Being too Sensitive?” A few summers ago I wrote…

“Am I being too sensitive?” The thought crossed my mind the other day following an upsetting incident near the end of my walk on the beach. I dug deep within and listened for my answer. What came up was a mighty voice roaring within — “I would rather be ‘too sensitive’ than not have any, or enough, sensitivity!” I was fighting through some tears and trying to calm my agitated mind and distraught heart. I had just encountered three children, likely siblings, ranging from about 5 years to 12 years, who were taunting a very sick seagull. > READ MORE <

‘Let’Em Rest, Let’Em Nest’ Set to Save Shorebirds

“When the birds are on our beaches it’s like a layover when traveling on an airplane — they haven’t reached their destination yet and they are tired, hungry and desperate to rest and refuel. Any disturbance to migrating birds during their time spent on the S.C. coast can be life-threatening. Extra strength used to escape or fend off intruders, being chased by dogs or children, or even scarcity of food and habitat can derail a bird’s migration and nesting. The best thing we can do is simply to let ‘em rest, and let ‘em nest and give the birds plenty of space so they don’t feel threatened,” Schillerstrom adds. “For these birds, it’s the difference between life and death.” > READ MORE <

Nine Ways To Share The Beach With Shorebirds This Summer

Birds on the Beach

Learn about our outdoor Summer 2021 series

“Nourished by Nature”

Retreat style meet-ups for adults and fun family “field trips”

on the Central Coast of California in San Luis Obispo County

and our virtual self-paced “Mindful Explorers” nature-based mindfulness program for families and classrooms

 

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County (and virtual) for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Roots of Resilience Resources

Resilience is adapting to, and coping with, the inevitable challenges that arise in your lifetime whether it’s day-to-day challenges or major life-changing events. Resilience helps you to bounce back and even come back stronger. Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.

(McDonald et al., 2012)
“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
Carl Jung
When we have the skills to handle things that come our way, we can help ourselves, and our loved ones, thrive and flourish. While confronted with the unsettling, emotional challenges of life during the pandemic, the greatest gift we can give our loved ones is our presence – our well-nourished, balanced and healthy presence, like a well-rooted tree that can withstand the storm! Learn simple practices to transform stress into resilience in each moment of life as it unfolds. This is how each of us can contribute to a legacy of healthy, thriving families ~ beginning within ourselves ~ and modeling these essential life skills for our loved ones. Mindful, Kindful, Peaceful.

Behind every resilient person is some ONE that is there for them,

whether it is a parent, teacher, coach, mentor, friend. If you feel overwhelmed or like you are drowning, you don’t need to go it alone. Who is your light, your one, that helps you through difficult times? Who do you light the way for?
If you are not feeling like you are making progress, it’s important to reach out for help from a trained professional.
Twenty years ago, for several years, I was drowning in deep depression and felt intensely alone. That was before internet (OMG). Family relations were strained and no close friends. It was tough! Thank goodness I made it through – I could say that I was the “one” for myself but the journey is so much better having support from those who understand or those who can provide effective tools and techniques that are more effective than ill-advised family or friends who do not understand the psychology and root of your challenges.

Finding freedom from my own trauma are the reasons why I am so passionate about the programs and services I offer through Mindful Kindful YOUniversity.

My experiences have shaped who I am today and I now stand “on the shoulders of the giants before me” – passing along their teachings and wisdom that supported me, and now I can share to support you! Mindful Kindful YOUniversity is here to help inspire and support you whether it’s through TLC Personal Coaching, our Mindful Explorers membership program for kids and their grownups, School programs, Personal and Professional Development, or simply from an inspiration or meme shared on social media. Explore the resources below, explore this website, or reach out to me. You are not alone. I want you to know, that I am here for you, and your children.
May you and your loved ones be healthy.
May you and your loved ones be strong.
May you and your loved ones feel the power of love and peace.
~Dee DiGioia, Your Mindfulness Coach

Stay up to date on all of our announcements:

SUBSCRIBE TO MK YOU NEWS

Let Nature Be Your Teacher ~

On a recent walk I discovered an amazing tree family on the edge of a cliff along the shore in Cambria that took my breath away. I might have missed the discovery if I had not taken a mindul moment to pause and “look, listen, and feel,” my go-to grounding practice in daily life. Trees often inspire me and this family did not disappoint. It had a story to tell and became my introduction to my “Roots of Resilience” webinar.

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”

– Elizabeth Edwards

“Roots of Resilience” Webinar Recording ~

“The Roots of Resilience” live webinar took place on December 2, 2020. Counselors Jill Lewis and Melissa Chitwood, Lucia Mar Unified School District, hosted this Wellness Webinar for parents and educators, with Presenter Dee DiGioia, Mindful Kindful YOUniversity. Below is my edited version of the webinar with extras (including extra notes and images, an updated version of the guided practice “The Willow Weathering the Storm”*, and an extra story about John Lewis “Walking in the Wind” which we did not have time for during the live webinar). In the webinar I cover 5 “seeds of resilience.”  When working with children I refer to these as “superpowers” that we are growing – to become mindful, kindful, peaceful (the skills for becoming resilient).
While confronted with the unsettling, emotional challenges of life during the pandemic, the greatest gift we can give our loved ones is our presence – our well-nourished, balanced and healthy presence, like a well-rooted tree that can withstand the storm! Learn simple practices to transform stress into resilience in each moment of life as it unfolds. This is how each of us can contribute to a legacy of healthy, thriving families ~ beginning within ourselves ~ and modeling these essential life skills for our loved ones. Mindful, Kindful, Peaceful. (Video ~54 min)

Guided Grounding Practice ~

SUBSCRIBE to “Mindful Kindful Peaceful Times” and receive a link to a guided grounding practice “The Willow Weathering the Storm” to help you withstand the storms in your life today. It was inspired by something I read in the book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, by Thich Nhat Hanh and another guided practice I have done called “Eye of the Hurricane” which I have found to be very helpful when things feel overwhelming.

Walking in the Wind ~ an inspirational story of resilience

This true story is from the late, great Rep. John Lewis. May his legacy live on through his example of how to live life ~ in our homes, and in our world ~ walking together, hand in hand, you and I, walking with the wind. Together, we can get through the storms and inevitable challenges in our lives, coming out stronger and wiser.

Well-being is a skill and all skills require practice ~

Your well-being is the most important education you will ever receive! Learn, practice, and grow skillfully with us! Let me be your guide. MK YOU equips and teaches children, teens, and adults HOW to cultivate the inner resources, or “superpowers,” for coping with life’s challenges. By setting the intention to practice mindfulness and kindfulness in our daily living, we plant the seeds for transforming unskillful responses to life’s challenges into healthy habits for inner peace and happiness. As a result, each one of us is positively contributing to a thriving, resilient, compassionate and peaceful world beginning within ourselves, and positively impacting our relationships at home, school, and in our communities.

EXPLORE Programs and Services

for YOUTH and ADULTS

including our virtual Mindful Explorers Membership

for kids and their grown-ups at home or school.

Learn, practice and grow skillfully with us!

Skills for resilience and well-being

Additional Resources ~

I will be adding to this over time. Come back and check!

RELATIONSHIPS:

Behind every resilient person – research findings: the number one common variable – is some ONE that was there for them, coaching them, believing in them to move through the challenge. If you are interested, I provide Personal Coaching for youth and for adults. You do not have to go through this alone.

“During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, you may experience anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness and loneliness — to the point that those feelings become constant and overwhelming. Existing mental health conditions, including severe anxiety and major depression, may worsen. If you’re feeling hopeless and having thoughts about suicide, or you’re concerned about someone else, learn how to find help and restore hope. Most often, suicidal thoughts are the result of feeling like you can’t cope or recover when you’re faced with what seems to be an overwhelming life situation. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 any time of day.” Read more: COVID-19 and the risk of suicide

BOOKS / ARTICLES:

Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, by Thich Nhat Hanh ~ Book or free audio link (youtube)

We recently finished reading this in our Book Club. Fear is destructive, a pervasive problem we all face. Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet, scholar,  peace activist, and one of the foremost spiritual leaders in the world—a gifted teacher who was once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr.—Thich Nhat Hanh has written a powerful and practical strategic guide to overcoming our debilitating uncertainties and personal terrors. The New York Times said Hanh, “ranks second only to the Dalai Lama” as the Buddhist leader with the most influence in the West. In Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting through the Storm, Hanh explores the origins of our fears, illuminating a path to finding peace and freedom from anxiety and offering powerful tools to help us eradicate it from our lives. “Written in words so intimate, calm, kind, and immediate, this extraordinary book feels like a message from our very own heart….Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most important voices of our time, and we have never needed to listen to him more than now.” ~Sogyal Rinpoche

11 Ways to Cultivate Resilience

How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times (this may not be what you think!)

How Mindfulness Boosts Resilience

Is Your Child Resilient?

Listen to Stress ~ Dee DiGioia

Mindfulness Is Essential to Wise Choices, Compassion Is Essential to Wise Action, Community Is Essential to Wise Coping, Our Practice Is Essential to Dealing Skillfully with Disappointments, Difficulties, even Disasters

Remembering Wellness ~ Dee DiGioia

Right Now it’s Like This ~ Dee DiGioia

The Most Difficult Year Ever as an Educator ~ Dee DiGioia

What Nature Can Teach Us About Resiliency

When Things Fall Apart ~ Dee DiGioia

 

VIDEO:

Dropping Anchor ~ Guided Mindfulness Practice ~Dee DiGioia

Heartfulness Practice ~Guided Mindfulness Practice to feel connected ~ Dee DiGioia

My Special Journey – Guided Mindfulness Practice ~ Dee DiGioia

R.A.I.N. ~ Guided Mindfulness Practice – Dee DiGioia

 

A Steady Heart in Times of Crisis | Guided Meditation – Jack Kornfield & Tara Brach

Insight and Resilience in Times of Change – Oren Jay Sofer

The Opportunity to Build the Circuits of Kindness and Resilience – Dan Siegel  – Opportunities for parents to help shape the minds of their children – so good!

 

MUSIC:

“Resilient” ~ Rising Appalachia

“The Keep Going On Song” ~ performed by Goeke/Staton-Marrero // and The Bensons original version

“Together” ~ King & Country

for kids: “Bounce Back

EXPLORE Programs and Services

for YOUTH and ADULTS

including our virtual Mindful Explorers Membership

for kids and their grown-ups at home or school.

Learn, practice and grow skillfully with us!

Skills for resilience and well-being

Resources supporting “Why Mindfulness in Education” and Resources – Mindfulness for Adults

 

Stay up to date on all of our announcements:

SUBSCRIBE TO MK YOU NEWS

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs online and across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

 

Why a little black boy joined the Peanuts gang

Why and how a little black boy joined the Peanuts gang

…and helped change the world

I saw this and had to re-share! This morning a friend posted this on Facebook, who got it from a friend, who got it from The Jon S. Randal Peace Page on Facebook, and maybe got it from someone else… let’s keep sharing!!!

Do you know how and why the little black boy, Franklin, came to join the Peanuts comic strip? I have so much gratitude for the inspiration of  Harriet Glickman, a school teacher and the courage of Charles Schultz, an influential cartoonist, for bringing Franklin to life and being one of Charlie Brown’s friends and a part of the Peanuts gang. Schultz had to buck the system. Peanuts is among the most popular and influential in the history of comic strips.  The story demonstrates how each of us can change the world in simple, yet powerful ways, one caring and courageous choice at a time. ~Dee DiGioia

On July 31, 1968, a young, black man was reading the newspaper when he saw something that he had never seen before. With tears in his eyes, he started running and screaming throughout the house, calling for his mom. He would show his mom, and, she would gasp, seeing something she thought she would never see in her lifetime. Throughout the nation, there were similar reactions.

What they saw was Franklin Armstrong’s first appearance on the iconic comic strip “Peanuts.” Franklin would be 50 years old this year. (2018)

Franklin was “born” after a school teacher, Harriet Glickman, had written a letter to creator Charles M. Schulz after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot to death outside his Memphis hotel room.

Glickman, who had kids of her own and having worked with kids, was especially aware of the power of comics among the young. “And my feeling at the time was that I realized that black kids and white kids never saw themselves [depicted] together in the classroom,” she would say.

She would write, “Since the death of Martin Luther King, ‘I’ve been asking myself what I can do to help change those conditions in our society which led to the assassination and which contribute to the vast sea of misunderstanding, hate, fear and violence.’”

Glickman asked Schulz if he could consider adding a black character to his popular comic strip, which she hoped would bring the country together and show people of color that they are not excluded from American society.

She had written to others as well, but the others feared it was too soon, that it may be costly to their careers, that the syndicate would drop them if they dared do something like that.

Charles Schulz did not have to respond to her letter, he could have just completely ignored it, and everyone would have forgotten about it. But, Schulz did take the time to respond, saying he was intrigued with the idea, but wasn’t sure whether it would be right, coming from him, he didn’t want to make matters worse, he felt that it may sound condescending to people of color.

Glickman did not give up, and continued communicating with Schulz, with Schulz surprisingly responding each time. She would even have black friends write to Schulz and explain to him what it would mean to them and gave him some suggestions on how to introduce such a character without offending anyone. This conversation would continue until one day, Schulz would tell Glickman to check her newspaper on July 31, 1968.

On that date, the cartoon, as created by Schulz, shows Charlie Brown meeting a new character, named Franklin. Other than his color, Franklin was just an ordinary kid who befriends and helps Charlie Brown. Franklin also mentions that his father was “over at Vietnam.” At the end of the series, which lasted three strips, Charlie invites Franklin to spend the night one day so they can continue their friendship. I just thought this was a good re-introduction of Franklin to the rest of the world – “I’m very glad to know you.”

There was no big announcement, there was no big deal, it was just a natural conversation between two kids, whose obvious differences did not matter to them. And, the fact that Franklin’s father was fighting for this country was also a very strong statement by Schulz.

Although Schulz never made a big deal over the inclusion of Franklin, there were many fans, especially in the South, who were very upset by it and that made national news. One Southern editor even said, “I don’t mind you having a black character, but please don’t show them in school together.”

It would eventually lead to a conversation between Schulz and the president of the comic’s distribution company, who was concerned about the introduction of Franklin and how it might affect Schulz’ popularity. Many newspapers during that time had threatened to cut the strip.

Schulz’ response: “I remember telling Larry at the time about Franklin — he wanted me to change it, and we talked about it for a long while on the phone, and I finally sighed and said, “Well, Larry, let’s put it this way: Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How’s that?”

Eventually, Franklin became a regular character in the comic strips, and, despite complaints, Franklin would be shown sitting in front of Peppermint Patty at school and playing center field on her baseball team.

More recently, Franklin is brought up on social media around Thanksgiving time, when the animated 1973 special “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” appears. Some people have blamed Schulz for showing Franklin sitting alone on the Thanksgiving table, while the other characters sit across him. But, Schulz did not have the same control over the animated cartoon on a television network that he did on his own comic strip in the newspapers.

But, he did have control over his own comic strip, and, he courageously decided to make a statement because of one brave school teacher who decided to ask a simple question.

Glickman would explain later that her parents were “concerned about others, and the values that they instilled in us about caring for and appreciating everyone of all colors and backgrounds — this is what we knew when we were growing up, that you cared about other people . . . And so, during the years, we were very aware of the issues of racism and civil rights in this country [when] black people had to sit at the back of the bus, black people couldn’t sit in the same seats in the restaurants that you could sit . . . Every day I would see, or read, about black children trying to get into school and seeing crowds of white people standing around spitting at them or yelling at them . . . and the beatings and the dogs and the hosings and the courage of so many people in that time.”

Because of Glickman, because of Schulz, people around the world were introduced to a little boy named Franklin.

Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz that ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward. Peanuts is among the most popular and influential in the history of comic strips, with 17,897 strips published in all,[1] making it “arguably the longest story ever told by one human being”.[2][3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peanuts

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to become leaders for a more mindful, kindful, peaceful world. 

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

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Invitation to a Magic Tea Party (for kids)

Magic Tea Party (for kids!)

Online party on Zoom

Friday   *   March 20   *  10:00 – 10:20ish

This live event will be recorded and available for viewing at a later time if you are unable to attend. The link will be posted on this page.

Additional sessions to come. Stay up to date on announcements:

This is the first in our online series of live mindfulness and movement mini-sessions for children offering a you-nique mind-body-heart experience for nervous system regulation, resiliency, and well-being through the art and science of mindfulness, movement, and music during our “Shelter at Home” period. San Luis Obispo County has issued an executive order to “Shelter at Home” to slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For those of you in San Luis Obispo County (like me), you can stay updated and informed on the evolving COVID-19 situation with resources from the SLO County Department of Health at the link HERE.

Parents! Let’s meet online with your child(ren) for our magic “tea party”! The targeted audience is elementary school-aged children but siblings of all ages are welcome to join in ~ grownups are encouraged to participate as well.

During this time of “shelter-in-place”, children (and their grownups) are going to feel a heightened sense of worry, anxiety, fear, or other difficult emotions. As adults we can provide a sense of safety to calm the nervous system through relationships and having fun to help ease those emotions. The magic is in the movement and refocusing attention on the the things that ground us. So get ready to play with me!

The only thing you need to bring is your imagination and curiosity! (Tea cup not required!)

Mindful Kindful YOUniversity offers mindful, kindful, peaceful programs for the well-being of individuals and the community as a whole, for anyone living in or visiting our community in San Luis Obispo County. Using the online platform, we can connect with others around the world!

Please invite your friends! Share our Facebook Event!

Join our scheduled Zoom meeting

LINK: https://zoom.us/j/614378822

Be sure to download Zoom ahead of time on your computer, tablet, or phone.

Computer will provide the best visibility for participation.

Magic Tea Party for Kids ~ Mindfulness, Movement, Music
March 20, 2020          10:00 – 10:20ish  AM (Pacific Time)

Meeting ID: 614 378 822

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This Zoom meeting is FREE OF CHARGE, however, DONATIONS IN ANY AMOUNT ARE WELCOME! Please consider supporting local small business solopreneurs, like myself, if you are in a position to do so. There are many of us small business entrepreneurs in your community that will be struggling financially due to our current national pandemic and the cancellation of our community programs and services – we are pouring our heart, time, and love into our new online offerings because we love our work and we want a healthy, happy future for generations to come. Many of us have lost 100% of our revenue stream “overnight”.  So I’m learning how to move to online classes to continue sharing my love of mindfulness and movement because I know how essential it is, now more than ever. So please consider a donation – no amount is too small! I still have to pay monthly fees for the large companies like Constant Contact to send out emails, to Zoom so I can record these new videos for you and your children, and I desperately need toilet paper (laughing but true!). If your finances are scary right now, no worries. Come enjoy the session for free! 

If you would like to send a DONATION:

 Venmohttps://venmo.com/Dee-DiGioia   or   Paypal https://www.paypal.me/deedigioia

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

When Things Fall Apart

When Things Fall Apart

One day, in January of this year, my “sweetheart’s” life changed abruptly ~ life as he knew it, life as we knew it. His body began a chaotic fight within. Symptom after symptom began showing up and he made various trips to Urgent Care centers. He doesn’t have a primary care doctor because he is normally so healthy and fit. The doctors kept sending him home with “it’s just a virus” and “there is nothing” they can do. I have a love-hate relationship with doctors. Maybe it’s more accurate to say I don’t always trust in them. It’s complex, and some of that is from layers of complex trauma – my mother died from a sepsis infection in the hospital, a podiatrist screwed up my foot surgery, and on and on.

I have been so scared that the doctors were missing looking deeper because this is so out of the ordinary for him: rashes, intermittent fever day in day out for weeks and months, debilitating joint pain, swelling moving throughout his body like an alien within. A week ago he had some symptoms that I insisted he go back again to get checked — that voice within that knew it was serious, and long story short, it WAS serious and he was admitted to the hospital.

Trust that inner voice. Trust that gut feeling. Go with it. Sometimes it is difficult to discern between what is over-worrying or what is a genuine concern. It’s important to really go deep within. Listen.

He was released from the hospital with no real answers yet, other than ruling some things out. It looks like he may be experiencing autoimmune challenges, and the ER doctor told him to see a specialist. (August is the soonest he can get an appointment – argh!) At least we have some ideas of what this could be: an auto immune disorder. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes the immune-system misfire. (Source Autoimmune)

It’s been quite the emotional ordeal for me to see my beloved suffering and my feeling so helpless in providing any ease. As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), and with my trauma being activated, and the normal worries of “what if’s” about his situation, my nervous system has been in chaos! I’d like to say my mindfulness practices have helped, and they have to some degree, however, mindfulness also teaches us to be with whatever is arising, and the fact is, sometimes it feels like things are falling apart, and we fall for a while. It feels like this sometimes. He has had some things under control and seems a bit more himself in the last few days so I am also feeling relieved and better able to re-focus on my work and my own self-care. I’ve had to let go of some planned things, and I may have to let go of some more, and hopefully people will understand. Some won’t – I’ve already disappointed some people with cancellations, and that hurts too, but I know I am doing my best and have to let go of the judgments of others, too.

What I’ve been REminded of in these past very long months is that things are impermanent, and no matter how hard we fight to keep things the same, the fight is what creates the tension and struggle in our lives. Whether we are talking about the weather, or our feelings, or our health, or our relationships, things change. They just do. And to fight this reality is to create our own suffering. And so I realized I can still share a sunset with my beloved and if he is unable to open his eyes because he is in pain, I can take it in for him and send him my warm wishes. I can still pour a cup of tea for both of us and we can feel the warmth of the mug on our hands, and sip the healing ingredients. I can still laugh with children at school, and I can cry my tears as I go out the door in the morning hoping he will be ok on his own while I am away at work.

It’s important to REmember that gratitude is an essential elixir – in fact he was the one to say “you know, I can’t complain – I have had a very good, active life and I just may need to make some adjustments but I’ll be alright.” He has even been asking me for help with mindfulness and meditation, something he hasn’t done in the past, so I get to share my passion with him and feel like I can be helpful after all. I am currently training in Subtle® Yoga — Subtle Yoga is a sustainable yoga practice that adapts to varying needs depending on your health, lifestyle, age and energy. It’s therapeutic and balancing with postures that are accessible and adaptable. I also recently finished my Restorative Yoga training ~  the timing couldn’t be any more serendipitous. These will be so perfect for him. And for me.

Learn more >>> Slow Yoga for Resilience

In a book I read years ago, “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times”, Pema Chödrön writes:

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”

And in another book I have, “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness”, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes:

“Catastrophe here does not mean disaster. Rather it means the poignant enormity of our life experience. It includes crises and disaster but also all the little things that go wrong and that add up. The phrase reminds us that life is always in flux, that everything we think is permanent is actually only temporary and constantly changing. This includes our ideas, our opinions, our relationships, our jobs, our possessions, our creations, our bodies, everything.”

He also tells us

“We all have limitations. They are worth befriending. They teach us a lot. They can show us what we most need to pay attention to and honor. They become our cutting edge for learning and growing and gentling ourselves into the present moment as it is.”

If it feels like your life is falling apart, may your day be blessed with many mindful moments of joy and full catastrophe living! Don’t hesitate to reach out for help! That’s what I train to do, even as I journey through my own challenges.

UPDATE April 6 ~ I wanted to share an update on how my beloved is doing. He has a strong will and an indomitable spirit and is taking charge by doing things to promote his well-being. Many of his symptoms have subsided, while many symptoms continue but he is resilient and has found ways to manage these symptoms. He is much stronger, more clear-headed, more “himself”, and is able to get out on longer and longer walks with me. I also wanted to introduce him to “Earthing” so we watched the documentary and he spends time off and on throughout the day and stands in the sand in our backyard with bare feet to get grounded. He feels it is helping him reduce the inflammation + swelling and is very optimistic! I am so grateful that this turn-around has happened during this COVID-19 pandemic period so we can luxuriate in gratitude for our health and all the things that support us, in spite of the challenges this pandemic and “shelter-at-home” brings.

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

It’s Storytime!

Educating the Heart and Mind

~ Storybooks for Elementary School-aged Children ~

“For listening to the stories of others … is a kind of water that breaks the fever of our isolation. If we listen closely enough, we are soothed into remembering our common name.” ~Mark Nepo

If you would like to help our library grow, click on image above to see our wishlist!

Reading aloud may be one of the most important contributions that we can make toward developing good character in children. Why? For several reasons.

  1. First, because stories can create emotional attachment to goodness, a desire to do the right thing.
  2. Second, because stories provide a wealth of good examples – the kind of examples that are often missing from a child’s day to day environment.
  3. Third, because stories familiarize youngsters with the codes of conduct they need to know.
  4. Finally, because stories help to make sense out of life. Stories, because of their hold on the imagination, can create an attachment to goodness. The nature of stories enables us to “rehearse” moral decisions, strengthening our solidarity with the good.
(Excerpts from “Books That Build Character” by William Kilpatrick and Gregory and Suzanee Wolfe)

Storybooks are super important in my work with children in my school and community programs and in my personal coaching. Stories open the door to rich conversation by helping us relate to what’s happening in the story to our own lives and creating a buffer space between what is happening to the characters and ourselves – only revealing the similarities if we feel safe to say so.  I am continually adding books to my shelves and trying to keep track of what I have. And people often ask for recommendations so I began indexing what I have. The books below are the ones currently on my bookshelf in the areas of Mindfulness, Kindfulness, Emotions, Sensory, Peace, Bullying Awareness, Special Needs Awareness and more.  I listed the books under these categories to help me in my planning and maybe it will help you, too! Some books are in multiple sections and some sections may be incomplete as some books can go in multiple sections but I may not have put it in that section. I am always adding more books and it’s possible I haven’t included some of my newer ones yet so keep checking back.  I may eventually add video resources to this page as well. ~Dee DiGioia

Last updated 12/16/19

BRAIN / NEUROSCIENCE

Hey Warrior (Karen Young)

How Does Your Brain Work? (Don L. Curry)

Some Days I Flip My Lid – Learning to be a calm, cool kid (Kellie Doyle Bailey)

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain (JoAnn Deak)

EMOTIONS: ANGER

Angry Octopus (Lori Lite)

Anh’s Anger (Gail Silver)

Cool Down and Work Through Anger

How I feel ANGRY (Marcia Leonard)

My Many Colored Days (Dr Seuss)

Shubert Rants & Raves (Dr. Becky A. Bailey)

Some Days I Flip My Lid – Learning to be a calm, cool kid (Kellie Doyle Bailey)

Steps and Stones: Anh’s Anger Story (Gail Silver)

When Sophie Gets Angry- Really Really Angry (Molly Bang)

EMOTIONS: ANXIETY, FEAR, COURAGE

A Little Spot of Anxiety (Diane Alber)

*All Too Much for Oliver

Feeling Afraid – Let’s Talk About (Joy Berry) 

*Help Your Dragon Deal With Anxiety (Steve Herman)

*Hey Warrior (Karen Young)

How I feel SCARED (Marcia Leonard)

The Invisible String (Patrice Karst)

There’s a Nightmare in My Closet (Mercer Mayer)

They Call Me Chicken: A Story of Courage

We’re Going On a Lion Hunt (David Atell) -sensory, emotions, listening, impulse control

What to Do When You Worry Too Much (Dawn Huebner)

When My Worries Get Too Big: A Relaxation Book for Children Who Live With Anxiety 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Practice Being Brave – Owning My OCD (Molly Gambrel)

EMOTIONS: GENERAL

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Judith Viorst)

How I feel FRUSTRATED (Marcia Leonard)

How I feel HAPPY (Marcia Leonard)

How I feel JEALOUS (Marcia Leonard)

How I feel PROUD (Marcia Leonard)

How I feel SAD (Marcia Leonard)

How I feel SILLY (Marcia Leonard)

If You Plant a Seed (Kadir Neslon)

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings (Jo Witek)

Listening to My Body (Gabi Garcia)

Today I Feel Silly

Visiting Feelings (Laura Rubenstein)

EMPATHY, UNDERSTANDING OTHERS, ONENESS

Am I a Color Too? (Heidi Cole)

Captain Tommy (Abby Ward Messner) – autism

The Crayon Box that Talked

How Do I Stand in Your Shoes? (Susan DeBell)

Those Shoes (Maribeth Boelts)

Why Does Lizzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload

Zero (Otoshi)

EMPOWERMENT, BELIEFS, THOUGHTS, AFFIRMATIONS, beYOUtiful

Finding the Green Stone (Alice Walker)

Hooray for You (Marianne Richmond)

Howard B Wigglebottom Listens to His Heart (Howard Binkow)

I Am Enough (Grace Byers)

I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness (Susan Verde)

I Believe in Me- A Book of Affirmations (Connie Bowen)

I Think, I Am! (Louise L. Hay)

I Wish I Were a Butterfly

Know Who You Are – Katy Finds the Confidence to Be Her True Self (Katrina Welch)

No One But You (Douglas Wood)

Oliver Button is a Sissy

On My Way to a Happy Life (Deepak Chopra)

Spaghetti on a Hot Dog Bun

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon

Thanks for the Feedback, I Think

The Invisible String (Patrice Karst)

You Are Not Your Thoughts (Brian Despard) (Jennifer Veenendall)

FRIENDSHIP, SIBLINGS

ALSO SEE SOCIAL CHALLENGES: BULLYING, DISCRIMINATION, RACISM

Enemy Pie  (Derek Munson)

Little Squarehead (Peggy O’Neil)

Maybe Tomorrow? (Charlotte Agell)

My Secret Bully (Judy Ludwig)

No Girls Allowed (Berenstain)

One of Us (Peggy Moss)

Our Friendship Rules (Peggy Moss)

Peace, Bugs, and Understanding: an Adventure in Sibling Harmony (Gail Silver)

Pink Tiara Cookies for Three

Secret of the Peaceful Warrior (Dan Millman)- bullying, compassion, empowerment

Shubert’s New Friend (Dr Becky Bailey)

The Invisible Boy (Trudy Ludwig)

The Other Side (Jacqueline Woodson)

Too Perfect (Judy Ludwig)

Trouble Talk (Trudy Ludwig)

GRATITUDE

Thank You Body, Thank You Heart – A Gratitude and Self-compassion Practice (Jennifer Cohen Harper)

The Want Monsters and How They Stopped Ruling My World (Chelo Manchego)

IMPULSES, SELF REGULATION, DISTRACTIBILITY

Don’t Push the Button (Bill Cotter)

I Can’t Believe I Said That (Julia Cook)

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Laura Joffe Numeroff) -to discuss distractability!

If You Plant a Seed (Kadir Neslon)

My Mouth is a Volcano (Julia Cook)

No Jumping on the Bed (Ted Arnold)

Press Here (Herve Tullet) -great for impulsivity

Puppy Mind (Andrew Jordan Nance)

Simon’s Hook

Squirmy Wormy -How I Learned to Help Myself (Lynda Farrington Wilson)

The Want Monsters and How They Stopped Ruling My World (Chelo Manchego)

Waiting is Not Easy

KINDNESS, COMPASSION, HEARTFULNESS, HEARTPRINTS

Because Brian Hugged His Mother (David L Rice)

Each Kindness (Jacqueline Woodson)

Good People Everywhere (Lynea Gillan)

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? (McCloud and Messing)

Heartprints  (P.K. Hallinan)

How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids  (Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer)

If Everybody DidIf Everybody Did

If You Plant a Seed (Kadir Neslon)

Kindness is Cooler Mrs Ruler (Margery Cuyler)

Listening to My Body (Gabi Garcia)

Listening With My Heart: a story of kindness and self-compassion  (Gabi Garcia)

Maybe Tomorrow? (Charlotte Agell)

May All Beings and Pigs Be Happy (Micki Fine Pavlicek)

Moody Cow Learns Compassion (Kerry Lee MacLean)

One (Otoshi)

One Smile  (Cindy McKinley) 

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed (Emily Pearson)

Secret of the Peaceful Warrior (Dan Millman)- bullying, compassion, empowerment

Thank You Body, Thank You Heart – A Gratitude and Self-compassion Practice (Jennifer Cohen Harper)

The Invisible Boy (Trudy Ludwig)

The Village Bully  (Maria Broom)

MINDFULNESS, MEDITATION, MINDFUL AWARENESS, MINDFUL LIVING 

A Little Peaceful Spot – A Story About Mindfulness (Diane Alber)

Happy – A Beginner’s Book of Mindfulness (Nicola Edwards)

I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness (Susan Verde)

Listening to My Body (Gabi Garcia)

Listening With My Heart: a story of kindness and self-compassion

May All Beings and Pigs Be Happy (Micki Fine Pavlicek) and VIDEO (narrated by Dee DiGioia)

Moody Cow Meditates (Kerry Lee MacLean)

Peaceful Piggy Meditation (Kerry Lee MacLean)

Puppy Mind (Andrew Jordan Nance)

See Hear, Feel: Mindfulness for Children, One Moment at a Time

Silence (By Lemniscates)

Six Healing Sounds: Qigong for Children (Lisa Spillane)

Slowly, Slowly, Slowly said the Sloth (Eric Carle)

Take the Time: Mindfulness for Kids (Maud Roegiers)

Thank You Body, Thank You Heart – A Gratitude and Self-compassion Practice (Jennifer Cohen Harper)

The Boy Who Searched for Silence (Andrew Newman)

The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth (Chris Burkard)

The Three Questions (John J Muth based on story by Leo Tolstoy)

The Want Monsters and How They Stopped Ruling My World (Chelo Manchego)

Waiting is Not Easy

When the Wind Stops (Charlotte Zolotow)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom (Dharmachari Nagaraja)

Zen Shorts (John J. Muth)

MOVEMENT, YOGA

Six Healing Sounds: Qigong for Children (Lisa Spillane)

Slowly, Slowly, Slowly said the Sloth (Eric Carle)

You Are a Lion! and Other Fun Yoga Poses (Tae-Eun Yoo)

NATURE, EARTH, EARTH-KIND

Not for Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green (Maria Godsey)

Rainbow Weaver (Tejadora del Arcoiris)

Scribble Stones (Diane Alber)

The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth (Chris Burkard)

The Hugging Tree (Jill Niemark)

The Magic and Mystery of Trees (Jen Green)

What Joe Saw (Anna Grossnickle Hines)

PEACE

A Little Peace (Barbara Kerley)

A Quiet Place (Douglas Wood)

Good People Everywhere (Lynea Gillan)

I Am Peace ~ A Book of Mindfulness (Susan Verde)

Old Turtle and the Broken Truth (Douglas Wood)

Seeds and Tree: A children’s book about the power of words (Branden Walden)

Peace Begins With You (Katharine Scholes)

Peace, Bugs, and Understanding: an Adventure in Sibling Harmony (Gail Silver)

Peace Tales – World Folktales to Talk About (Margaret Read Macdonald)

Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class (Eileen Spinelli)

Peaceful Piggy Meditation (Kerry Lee MacLean)

The Peace Book (Todd Parr)

Somewhere Today A Book of Peace (Shelley Moore Thomas)  

The Invisible String (Patrice Karst)

The Other Side (Jacqueline Woodson)

RESILIENCE

Maybe Tomorrow? (Charlotte Agell)

The Hugging Tree (Jill Niemark)

SENSES – Listening, Seeing, Hearing, Silence, Feeling

A Quiet Place (Douglas Wood)

Can You Hear a Rainbow? The Story of a Deaf Boy Named Chris (Jamee Riggio Heelan)

Can You Listen With Your Eyes? (Nita Everly)

Ian’s Walk: A Story About Autism

Listening to My Body (Gabi Garcia)

Love is the Color of a Rainbow (Kathy Parra)

No One But You (Douglas Wood)

Silence (By Lemniscates)

See Hear, Feel: Mindfulness for Children, One Moment at a Time

Six Healing Sounds: Qigong for Children (Lisa Spillane)

Slowly, Slowly, Slowly said the Sloth (Eric Carle)

Some Kids Are Blind

Some Kids Are Deaf

Squirmy Wormy -How I Learned to Help Myself (Lynda Farrington Wilson)

We’re Going On a Lion Hunt (David Atell) -sensory, emotions, listening, impulse control

Waiting is Not Easy

What Joe Saw (Anna Grossnickle Hines)

Why Does Lizzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload

 

SOCIAL CHALLENGES: BULLYING, DISCRIMINATION, RACISM

(+ STANDING UP)

VIDEO: Which Team Will You Choose? (45 min) by Dee DiGioia – inspired by the story “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” 

Alley Oops (Janice Levy)

Becoming Someone’s Hero: A Book for Bystanders of Bullying

Being Bullied (Kate Petty)

Benjamin and the Word

Better Than You (Judy Ludwig)

Bird Child (Nan Forler)

Brand New Kid, The (Katie Couric)

The Bully Blockers: Standing Up for kids with Autism

Desmond and the Very Mean Word (Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams)

Enemy Pie  (Derek Munson)

Howard B Wigglebottom Learns About Bullies (Howard Binkow)

Howard B Wigglebottom Listens to His Heart (Howard Binkow)

I Didn’t Know I Was a Bully

If the World Were Blind

Just Kidding (Judy Ludwig)

Kindness is Cooler Mrs Ruler (Margery Cuyler)

Little Squarehead (Peggy O’Neil)

My Secret Bully (Judy Ludwig)

No Girls Allowed (Berenstain)

Nobody Knew What to Do: A Story About Bullying

Oliver Button is a Sissy

One (Otoshi)

One of Us (Peggy Moss)

Our Friendship Rules (Peggy Moss)

Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class (Eileen Spinelli)

Pink Tiara Cookies for Three

Roses are Pink, Your Feet Stink

Say Something (Peggy Moss

Secret of the Peaceful Warrior (Dan Millman)- bullying, compassion, empowerment

Simon’s Hook

Spaghetti on a Hot Dog Bun

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon

Sticks, Stones, and Stumped

Stop Picking on Me

The Boy Who Searched for Silence (Andrew Newman)

The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth (Chris Burkard)

The Bully Blockers Club

The Bully Blockers: Standing Up for kids with Autism

The Invisible Boy (Trudy Ludwig)

The Juice Box Bully

The Lunch Thief (Ann C Bromley)

The Other Side (Jacqueline Woodson)

The Recess Queen

The Village Bully  (Maria Broom)

The Other Side (Jacqueline Woodson)

They Call Me Chicken: A Story of Courage

Those Shoes (Maribeth Boelts)

Too Perfect (Judy Ludwig)

Trouble Talk (Trudy Ludwig)

SPECIAL NEEDS, DIFFERENT ABILITIES

Captain Tommy (Abby Ward Messner)

I Can’t Believe I Said That (Julia Cook)

Ian’s Walk: A Story About Autism

My Mouth is a Volcano (Julia Cook)

Practice Being Brave – Owning My OCD (Molly Gambrel)

Some Kids Are Blind

Some Kids Are Deaf

Some Kids Have Autism

Some Kids Use Wheelchairs

Some Kids Wear Leg Braces

Rolling Along, The Story of Taylor and His Wheelchair

The Bully Blockers: Standing Up for kids with Autism

The Don’t-Give-up Kid and Learning Disabilities

The Wrongway Rabbit

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome (Clarabelle vanNiekerk & Liezl Venter)

What Joe Saw (Anna Grossnickle Hines)

Why Does Lizzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Questions? Email Dee DiGioia

or text/call 805-270-5523

Learn more about Dee DiGioiaCertified Mindfulness,Yoga Calm, & Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & Life Skills Coach +

San Luis Obispo County, CA

RESOURCES:

 

Planting Peace

If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in our communities.

If there is to be peace in our communities, there must be peace in our schools.

If there is to be peace in our schools, there must be peace in our homes.

If there is to be peace in our homes, there must be peace in our hearts.

If there is to be peace in our hearts, there must be seeds of peace planted there.

~Dee DiGioia ~ adapted from Lao Tse’s “Peace in the Nations”

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If we are to have real peace, we must begin with the children” which I wholeheartedly agree with AND the responsibility of adults is to provide this type of education beginning with their own embodiment of the practices in their daily lives. We cannot expect children to learn and live a peaceful life when it is not being modelled by adults in their lives and in the world. For a peaceful world, we begin within. In so doing, each ONE of us, together, can transform the world, one mindful, kindful, peaceful choice at a time.

Student from our Peace Pals class.
Mindful Kindful YOUniversity (MK YOU) offers mindful, kindful, peaceful community and school programs for the well-being of individuals and the community as a whole, for anyone living in or visiting our community. Learn about all of our programs and services for youth and for adults at Mindful Kindful YOUniversity and consider how we can collaborate and work together to bring the vision of mental health and well-being to our communities. 

NEW! Online Membership Program for

Youth and their Grownups at Home/School

>>> Mindful Explorers <<<

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

 

Why Mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning is Essential in Your School 

After working with youth for over 35 years, including special education, Dee DiGioia founded Mindful Kindful YOUniversity (MK YOU) to offer Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Enrichment Programs intentionally designed to address the challenges youth, and adults, face in school, and in life, which interfere with learning/working, relationships, and mental well-being.

Let’s explore the possibilities for a mindfulness program in your school so that all students, and staff, can have access to learning and practicing the essential life skills proven to potentiate well-being, happiness, and success throughout all stages of life. With my training and your leadership, we can create an effective, dynamic program that will positively impact your staff, students, parents, and the community ~ now and for future generations. 

PROBLEM:

Chronic Stress in Our Schools

STUDENT IMPACT: According to the World Health Organization, stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century and youth today are under more pressure and experiencing higher levels of stress than ever before whether from academic pressures, sensory overload, and more. 

  • 30-50% of youth in schools are in a chronic state of stress; 
  • Stress inhibits memory, attention, and the ability to take in learning;
  • Direct correlation to learning readiness and academic underperformance;
  • Stress impairs emotional and behavioral regulation; mental and physical health (including anxiety and depression)

EDUCATOR IMPACT: A recent study showed 93 percent of elementary school teachers report that they are experiencing a high stress level. Researchers linked resulting data to the behavioral and academic outcomes of their students:                                                                    

High teacher stress levels were usually associated with 

  • poorer student results, such as lower grades 
  • and frequent behavior problems; 
  • Similar results in a yet-to-be-completed follow-up study with middle school teachers.
*http://neatoday.org/2018/05/11/study-high-teacher-stress-levels/ 

SOLUTION:

Mindfulness Based Social Emotional Learning

RESEARCH has proliferated on mindfulness in education. It strengthens the important executive functions of the brain which supports social emotional intelligence and academic (or professional) success. Mindfulness is foundational for education because it contributes to optimal conditions for learning and for teaching, providing coping strategies for students and staff. Because the roots of toxic stress lie deep in the nervous system, we need tools that go beyond the conceptual mind to directly target that system.  

MINDFULNESS

IMPROVES COGNITIVE OUTCOMES 

improved // focus/attention // memory  // academic scores 

IMPROVES SOCIAL EMOTIONAL SKILLS 

emotional regulation // reduced reactivity // reduced behaviors // increase in empathy // greater self-compassion // improved perspective taking & social skills 

IMPROVES RESILIENCE & WELL-BEING 

reduced stress & anxiety // reduced post-traumatic symptoms // reduced depression // reduced at-risk behaviors                                                   

(Source-Mindful Schools

Mindful Kindful YOUniversity

LINK to School Programs

Mindful Kindful YOUniversity (MK YOU) programs provide a rich experience for students and staff through learning and engaging in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and and backed by research to support mental and physical health and well-being while developing the essential life skills of emotional intelligence, or “Sm’Heart skills” — the essential education for responding more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!  Equip your students and staff with the life skills for stress management, resilience, and mental health & well-being.

Student programs ~ grades pre-k through 12 

  • School programs // After School programs // Referral based programs
Program is adapted from evidence-based curriculums including Mindful Schools; MBSR-T; Yoga Calm; as well as The Zones of Regulation, GoZen for Anxiety Relief, and more, using trauma informed practices. Bullying intervention can also be a facet of this program.
  • Staff Professional & Personal Development
  • Consulting

About Dee DiGioia, Founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity

  • Certified Mindfulness Educator; Certified Yoga Calm Youth Instructor; Trauma Informed 
  • 35+ working with children (special education, preschool director, and more)
  • Pioneered a mindfulness program at an inner city school in Sacramento
  • Bullying Intervention Specialist, Author and Founder of Caring and Courageous Kids

 

Go to SCHOOL PROGRAMS for more info.

 

Leave a Mindful Message

Leave a Mindful Message

In memory of Salty the Seagull
Walking on the beach is my favorite mode of “going inward” by “connecting outward” to the AWE of nature. Any time we are focused on and tuning in to our senses (looking, listening, etc) we are practicing mindfulness ~ it is grounding. Gratefully, I usually am able to find a stretch where few humans are encountered ~ just the way I like it! It’s not that I don’t like humans ~ I just love my alone time for “recharging” and being uninterrupted!
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more. 
~ George Gordon Byron
However, with all the bird life along the beach, my experience was being interrupted with thoughts about “Salty the tormented seagull” on my recent walk the other day on a more human-populated beach (see blog called “Am I too Sensitive?”) So I began collecting broken shells that adorned the shoreline with a mission to create a “mindful message” in the sand in memory of “Salty” and to invite any human that saw my message (on the beach or social media) to pause and contemplate what this message might mean in their day or life.
The broken shells, for me, represent the brokenness in our lives (some of us with more pieces than others). Yet, if we put all the broken pieces together, we can still be beautiful (inside and out), and we can still be kind no matter what has happened before. Kind and compassionate within as we heal… kind, compassionate, and respectful to others ~ do no harm.
The feathers, for me, represent Salty, and any one of us, who had difficulty taking flight from the pain and ugliness in life. Salty was unable to fly away from the children who tormented him. How many people are unable, or unaware of how to escape the things that hold them down or torment them in life – their own thoughts, or the actions of others.  And on the flip side, feathers can also represent the ability or new-found freedom in being able to fly/rise above it all, or to be the wings to lift others up. 

The message “be kind” is a REminder (bringing back to mind and heart) which represents a message each one of us needs to hear over and over. Being kind in words, in actions, both inward to self and outward to others. Be kind and when you forget, repair any brokenness or pain it caused. It’s a message we need to look at each and every day – it reminds me of a quote by Henry James:  

Three things in human life are important:
the first is to be kind;
the second is to be kind;
and the third is to be kind.
Although this beach-made mindful message or reminder may be washed away by the tides (although it was still there the following day), I chose to capture it in a photo to share with you. I invite you to leave a mindful message as you go about your day so that it may enter the hearts of people you come in touch with. 
Don’t write your name on the sand, waves will wash it away.
Don’t write your name in sky, the wind may blow it away.
Write your name inside the hearts of people you come in touch with.
That’s where it will stay.

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Am I being too sensitive?

Am I being too sensitive?

“Am I being too sensitive?” The thought crossed my mind the other day following an upsetting incident near the end of my walk on the beach. I dug deep within and listened for my answer. What came up was a mighty voice roaring within — “I would rather be ‘too sensitive’ than not have any, or enough, sensitivity!” I was fighting through some tears and trying to calm my agitated mind and distraught heart.

I had just encountered three children, likely siblings, ranging from about 5 years to 12 years, who were taunting a very sick seagull. I had seen the seagull earlier when I first started my walk – I named him “Salty” because he reminded me of an old sailor who had a rough life at sea. He was discolored and looked like he may be blind on one side. And now I could see that he couldn’t fly because he was trying to escape from the taunting but all he could do was waddle and then he clumsily stumbled as the children approached closer and closer with youngest child repeatedly throwing fists full of sand at him. All 3 children laughed in unison at him as he fell head first into the dune and was desperately trying to upright himself. That laughter sent chills down my spine and I am tearing up as I write this. They continued to approach him and taunt him. When I first saw this I was a distance away and ran to catch up to them shouting “HEY!! STOP!!!” in hopes my voice would stop them. By the time I got close enough, they were just a few feet from Salty.

My adrenaline was running high and I was trying my best to remain calm, but firm and “be the teacher” – at this point just trying to get them to stop from throwing sand and terrifying Salty any further. Inside my mind I’m screaming “Stop being so mean!” but when I spoke, I blurted out things like “that’s unkind — he’s sick– how would you like it” … They looked a little startled but then seemed to ignore me, moving away a bit but simply changing their route and circling around the mound where Salty was still trying to upright himself. OMG- if only I could scoop him up and take him to a safe place! I could see that their parents were a distance away, out of range of being able to talk to them, but they had their eye on me. “Why were they not getting up?” I wondered. Conflicted whether to continue protecting Salty from the children with my “I’m watching you” stares or leaving to talk to the parents, finally the father got up and came to me. I explained to him what I was saying to the children, thinking that he might thank me. He told me I “didn’t need to do that” and it’s “just kids being kids chasing birds”!!!! I’m pretty sure he wanted to tell me “Don’t be so sensitive…” I argued that I did need to say something because it hurt my heart and I wanted to help the sick bird who was unable to fly away. I could see we weren’t going to agree on this matter — he just didn’t seem to care that his children were doing this — so I finally walked away after arguing my point. It looked like the kids had stopped approaching Salty… I’m not sure – I had to leave because my heart was bursting with a flurry of pain, frustration, anger and I just wanted to scream to the world “BE NICE!!!!”

This situation brought up lots of pain for me. The children taunting Salty reminded me of my younger days of being bullied. It reminded me of my students I have worked with who have been bullied. It reminded me of my two ex’s who were unkind and taunted my dogs and treated me with disregard. It reminded me of my “ex” stalking me and me running in fear. It reminded me of the insensitivity in the daily news across the world. The father’s callous response reminded me of family members when I was growing up telling me “don’t be so sensitive…” as though being “so sensitive” was a negative trait. That father’s insensitivity reminded me of my own father who told me not to be “so sensitive” and yet he would become enraged and whip me with a belt. It reminded me of the judge who ignored my plea a restraining order against an “ex”. I tried to explain, in my then small voice, that he often taunted my dog, which was one of many reasons for leaving. Any judge should understand the patterns of abusive behavior:

Studies have shown that children learn cruel and violent behavior from those around them, and that animal abuse often precedes violence toward other people. Indeed, in almost every major act of violence, from the Columbine massacre to serial killings, authorities have found animal abuse in the perpetrator’s background. This common origin of violence perpetrated against animals and against people makes it imperative that we teach compassion and demonstrate concern for all living things. By the time young people exhibit cruel behavior toward animals it is often very difficult to change that behavior, making it essential that adults in every part of the community help children learn to treat animals with kindness. While not every child who is cruel to a pet grows up to be a criminal, there is a strong correlation between cruel behavior toward animals and lack of empathy for human beings. *

*From Be Kind to Animals: Encouraging Compassion through Humane Education

I have healed many layers of trauma over the years, but every now and then, a situation like this triggers trauma stored deeply within and I have to take some time to gently navigate through the waterfall of emotions. I have grown to embrace my sensitivity and have learned that I actually am considered a “Highly Sensitive Person” (see resources below to learn more). This gift, yes, gift, has helped me attune to others, especially in the work that I do as a life coach. And this sensitivity seems particularly heightened with animals. I am no longer ashamed of it. I still cry if I let myself think about the Bambi story or the Dumbo story. I can’t go to a circus or a zoo. I can’t watch any commercials, shows, movies about animals suffering. When my two now grown-up sons were little, and also when caring for my daycare children, I always modeled and taught kindness, compassion and respect for animals. I never allowed them to taunt animals or even to chase birds — I know — some of you are thinking “don’t be so sensitive” or “it’s normal and what kids do” – but I didn’t allow or tolerate it and I’m not sorry. I always used this as a learning opportunity to help my children, or children in my care, cultivate compassionate hearts. I simply explained that it would be terrifying for the birds and taught them to be curious and to fill themselves with awe and wonder, and to observe rather than chase. My two sons, now adults, are the most compassionate and kind human beings. MK YOU’s youth programs provide a great opportunity to discuss compassion towards people and animals. I am honored to work with many highly sensitive children and teens in my personal coaching program. And I will never hesitate to stand up and educate when opportunities like this arise, especially when others, like Salty, do not have a voice.

As I walked away from this situation I was trying not to cry. But I did. As a salty tear rolled down my cheek I sent some loving wishes and said “This one is for you, Salty – may you be free from suffering! May these children think twice about their actions in the future. May all children and adults be more sensitive.” 

Sensitivity: sensitivity to emotional feelings (of self and others) // sensitivity leading to easy irritation or upset // refined sensitivity to pleasurable or painful impressions // emotional or moral sensitivity (especially in relation to personal principles or dignity) // insight, perceptiveness, perceptivity, a feeling of understanding // the experiencing of affective and emotional states

“If you have men who will exclude any creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”  –Saint Francis of Assisi

Updates:

I have disabled comments on my blogs due to ridiculous amounts of spam. If you would like to share your thoughts or have questions about my services, feel free to email me. ~Dee

After sending out my blog in a newsletter, I received this email response:

No you’re not too sensitive! You’re One of God’s lightworkers who’s here to teach others how to show LOVE. And in that situation you did the best you could. That Dad is lucky I didn’t come across them or he would’ve gotten an earful – some people are so maddening. They see cruelty as children playing. So sad! Think how they must treat those children and deal (or more like not deal) with their emotions. My heart went out to old Salty in that story. Poor old bird being tormented by poor neglected (emotionally at the least) children. Glad you were able to derail their sick “play”. Ugh it’s just so sad people think cruelty is perfectly fine. Stay sensitive Dee. ~VM

See related and follow-up blog:

Leave a Mindful Message

More resources on this topic from others:

This song always touches me deeply:

Nurturing Children’s Love for Animals

Teaching Children Compassion Toward Animals – The Most Important Lesson of All

VIDEO: The incredible story of how leopard Diabolo became Spirit – Anna Breytenbach, “animal communicator”

21 Signs That You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

What It Means to Be a Highly Sensitive Person

Your Highly Sensitive Child Is Normal. No Wait, She’s Extraordinary.

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Can we fast forward through father’s day please?

Can we fast forward through Father’s Day, please?

It’s Father’s Day. It’s marketed as a day of joy and celebration of fathers and many of you will be celebrating joyfully with loved ones on this day. And yet today may anything but a day of joy and celebration. It may be a day of grieving or a day of haunting memories. Many of you (and myself included) will be struggling today for so many different reasons, whether it’s about your own father and/or the father of your child(ren), or your role as a father. For so many reasons, this day can be a difficult reminder or “trigger” of the passing of a beloved father, or a painful, difficult reminder of divorce, abuse, strained relationships, infertility, absentee fathers, fathers who rejected LGBT+ children, or complicated situations such as step-families, foster families, adoption. Perhaps there are other reasons not even listed here. We cannot know all of one another’s stories, nor do we need to. We can know that today, like all holidays or days of honoring, can be a day many of us wish we could push “fast forward” through. And as “Debbie Downer” as this sounds, it is important to be aware of this because, if not you, or like you, likely someone you know is silently suffering and we can be mindful and compassionate in our interactions. Before we automatically say “Happy Father’s Day” or tomorrow “How was your Father’s Day?”, can we greet someone in a different way? “Hey! How’s it going today?” “What did you do this weekend?”

Fortunately I have been practicing mindfulness and compassion work long enough to help me to cope with the “triggers” of trauma and be with arising difficult emotions. My mindfulness practice and training has helped me immeasurably which is why I love to teach and coach others. Some of the additional ways I personally cope is to stay away from social media around holidays or Father’s Day to avoid seeing all the ways others are celebrating in joy. It can trigger my haunting memories and spin me in a direction I do not wish to go. Instead, I practice being my own inner superhero and partake in the things that bring compassion, love, and peace to my mind and heart today, like every day. I will also practice gratitude for what is present in my life that provides joy.

Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, whom I have mentally adopted or chosen as my father figure, said:

“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.”

“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.”

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”

“There is no way to peace – peace is the way.”

You, too, can always return to your own inner resources of love and compassion to be with difficult emotions. You are not alone. May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be at ease. May this day, and every day be filled with love, including loving yourself from your own well of well-being. Please let me know if I can help in any way. ~Dee DiGioia

Additional articles from others that you may find helpful:

If Father’s Day feels hard for you this year, read this

How to Cope When Father’s Day Feels Tough

The Individuals We Find Difficult Are Our Greatest Teachers

By practicing mindfulness and kindfulness in our daily living, each one of us is positively contributing to a thriving, resilient, and compassionate world beginning with ourselves, and positively impacting our relationships at home, work, and in our communities. Come learn and grow with us at Mindful Kindful YOUniversity!

Sign up by June 30 for Personal Coaching this summer
and get one bonus session FREE:  For youth // for adults

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Cool, Calm, and Connected

Cool, Calm, and Connected

Summer Kick-off LOBP Chamber Mixer

Hosted by Dee DiGioia, Mindful Kindful YOUniversity

Networking & Mingling! Enjoy some summer-themed refreshments!

Come chillax with us. Optional mindfulness activities will be available!

Wear your flip-flops for easy removal (we remove shoes in the house).

LOCATION: 1520 4th Street in Los Osos

Mindful Kindful YOUniversity (MK YOU) offers mindful and compassionate community programs for the well-being of individuals and the community as a whole, for anyone living in or visiting our community.

MK YOU invites communities to bring mindfulness and compassion to life in practical, specific ways through compassion-driven actions — in neighborhoods, businesses, schools and colleges, healthcare, the arts, local government, peace groups, environmental advocacy groups, and more.

Consider how can we collaborate and work together to bring the vision of mental health and well-being to our communities. Join, host, or sponsor our Adult and Youth Programs and Services.

By practicing mindfulness and kindfulness in our daily living, each one of us is positively contributing to a thriving, resilient, and compassionate world beginning with ourselves, and positively impacting our relationships at home, work, and in our communities. Come learn and grow with us at Mindful Kindful YOUniversity!

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

My Sm’Heart Filter

My Sm’Heart Filter

A Social Story for Elementary Aged Students & Beyond!

Although I wrote this social story as a learning tool for my elementary aged students, it’s really a story and lesson for all ages, including YOU!!! All across social media we are tweeting and posting our every thought! Media, news, television shows, and movies no longer filter or censor sex and violence. Anyone can view it 24 hours a day.  As an educator, I feel that social-emotional skills, impulse control, and self-regulation are declining rather than improving, despite these skills being developmental in nature. Research has shown that this ability to control impulses and manage strong emotions are predictors of success in school and in life. If the adults and teens-soon-to-be-adults are struggling with this, or not teaching these skills, our younger generation is in trouble!

Mindfulness teaches us how to relate to our thoughts. We don’t have to give every thought that arises our full attention, nor do we have to act on each of these. We can also discern if the thought even needs to be shared aloud. In brief, “My Sm’Heart Filter” story is about mindful communication and making heart-centered decisions when we are communicating and interacting with others at school, at home, at work, in the community, on social media (thinking smart, aligned with the heart = sm’heart!). Not so easy in our culture of sharing every single thought and feeling and opinion on every single issue. Not so easy, but so very necessary! This simple story presents the difference between a thought bubble and a talking bubble and using a heart filter to decide which words would be best to stay in our head, and which words are ok to express aloud. And when is the “right” time to share that thought? Is it as it arises, or can you hold it for a better moment (so it’s not interrupting others, or so it’s not in the middle of math class or a movie). This can be used for many examples of mindful communication and some of the examples in the story below are the examples my elementary-aged students are working on, with a box to add other samples as the need arises. Perhaps you can use the metaphor for yourself, or with your family or classroom! Here is the story:

“My Sm’Heart Filter” is a Social Story written by Dee DiGioia and adapted from the book “I Can’t Believe You Said That” by Julia Cook. I have also blended in some language on the Zones of Regulation that I regularly use with my students.

My Sm’Heart Filter

I am learning about using my heart filter.

I have two bubbles full of words in my head. There’s a thinking bubble and there’s a talking bubble. These are connected by my heart filter.

When thoughts and words form inside my head, they form inside my thinking bubble. The only person who knows what thoughts and words are  in my thinking bubble are just me! They only way someone knows what I am thinking is if I send these thoughts and words to my talking bubble, or if I write it down. (People might be able to guess how I am feeling by my body language – but that’s for another story.)

When words come out of my mouth, they come from my talking bubble. The words that make it to my talking bubble are for others to hear.

My heart filter makes sure that

only some of the words

in my thinking bubble make it to my talking bubble.

When my heart filter is “turned off”…

some of the words in my thinking bubble make it to my talking bubble that are “unexpected” (not ok).

I am learning about which words should stay inside my thought bubble and which words are okay to come out. Grown-ups will help remind me when it is expected to keep these thoughts inside my head until I can remember on my own.

Sometimes I forget to use my heart filter. Sometimes I might say these words on purpose. This is “unexpected” (not ok) and may result in others having feelings in the blue or yellow or red zone.

Here are some examples of “unexpected” words tumbling into my talking bubble:

If I say something off topic >>> then others may feel confused or frustrated.

If I say something unkind >>> then others may feel sad, mad, blue, hurt.

If I say something disrespectful or rude >>> then others may feel hurt, frustrated.

If I say something that interrupts or “steps on someone’s words” >>> then others may feel frustrated, hurt, upset.

If I say something untruthful >>> then others may feel frustrated, confused, untrusting (won’t believe me like the boy who cried wolf).

If I say something that makes others feel unsafe >>> then others may feel worried, scared, stressed.

Can you think of some other examples?

When “unexpected” words come out,

I have an opportunity to “flip it”

by turning on my heart filter

and make it better

so that I can show I care about others.

 

When my heart filter is “turned on”…

it helps me separate words that should stay in my head from words that are okay to come out. This is “expected” (ok) and helps those around me, including myself to be in the green zone.

Here are some examples of “expected” words that went through my heart filter:

If I say something on topic >>> then others may feel happy, good, calm, grateful.

If I say something kind >>> then others may feel happy, good, calm, grateful, awesome.

If I say something respectful >>> then others may feel happy, good, calm, grateful, valued.

If I wait for my turn to talk or save it for a better time >>> then others may feel happy, good, calm, grateful, delighted.

If I say something truthful >>> then others may feel happy, good, calm, grateful, trusting.

If I say something that helps others to feel safe >>> then others may feel happy, good, calm, grateful, safe.

Can you think of some other examples?

IMAGINE:

Imagine that I have a bucket filled with sand and stones in it and a sifter. The sifter is like my heart filter. My thought bubble is above the sifter and what comes out of the sifter is like my talking bubble for others to hear

  

If I pour some some sand and stones into the sifter, the stones will stay on top inside the sifter. That’s like it’s keeping the words that are “unexpected” inside my head for just me to know about.

The sand that goes through the filter are the like words that are “expected” to say out loud in my talking bubble. That’s what is expected – from me – and from everybody!

I can’t put back the stones or words that come out that are unexpected, but I can try to “flip it” to help everyone, including myself, to be in the green zone.

I am ready to start sifting through which words stay inside my thinking bubble and which words can come out the other side of my heart filter – words that help grow my heart skills so that everyone can feel good, including me! 

IMAGE ABOVE: I asked my students to make a poster of an example of an “unexpected” situation and then how to repair it or, as we say, “flip it” (from yellow/red zone to the green zone). One of my students drew this amazing image (above) to depict what he thinks the process looks like. I absolutely love the detail! He started with the drawing of the pair on the right to demonstrate “unexpected” behavior showing one person talking and not letting the other person talk (because this student works a lot on “not stepping on words” when someone else is speaking). The circles swirling up to the character’s left are his thought bubbles > above him are the “stones” (unexpected behavior or dominating the conversation) pouring out of the tipped filter and spilling into his talking bubble (“blah blah blah blah”). Then the drawing of the pair on the left shows how to repair this ~ now two people are engaged in conversation – note one talking bubble higher than the other to show taking turns. Again their thought bubbles going up their sides, each one considering the other’s feelings, and their sifters are level and only the “sand” is coming out for the expected social skills of conversational turn-taking. So clever! The idea is we don’t have to blurt out every thought that comes to mind ~ self control is managing those impulses – instead of shouting out “you’re a $%&*”, for example, I can keep that in my thought bubble and filter out words that align with how I want to show up in the world. I know a few adults who need this lesson!!!! Don’t you?

By practicing mindfulness and kindfulness in our daily living, each one of us is positively contributing to a thriving, resilient, and compassionate world beginning with ourselves, and positively impacting our relationships at home, work, and in our communities. Come learn and grow with us at Mindful Kindful YOUniversity!

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Are YOU a Peaceful Warrior?

Are YOU a Peaceful Warrior?

Calling all warriors to our upcoming retreat.

Recently I attended a workshop on “Breaking Down Resistance”, based on the book “War of Art – Winning the Inner Creative Battle” by Steven Pressfield. The speaker started out saying that we are at war every single day. War? C’mon! Isn’t that a bit negative?  I found myself cringing as I consider myself a practitioner of nonviolence. No! I’m not at war! Couldn’t there be better way to say that?  But I realized that I was battling the presentation and let go so I could be more present with the talk. She went on to share from the author, “The enemy is RESISTANCE. Resistance is ANYTHING that is keeping you from doing your work.” (1) Oh ~ I see where this is going! And, yes, I admit I have resistance that I am… uh, fighting, or trying to win over in my daily life. Don’t we all?

The foundation of what I teach in all my beginning classes and workshops is about the “stress response” because, for me, it helped me to understand what I am trying to conquer in my life (stressors). “The body has a built-in automatic emergency response that uses the nervous system and endocrine system to enhance the body’s performance when danger is perceived. Think of it as an emergency mechanism that the body mobilizes to give us an extra edge or “super-strength” when dangerous situations occur.” (2) For millions of years, there is a part of our brain that has helped us survive as a species. In a very simplistic description, we could say that if a saber-toothed tiger is attacking the caveman, his stress response kicks into fight or flight for survival. He either goes into fight mode to “kill or be killed” or into flight mode to escape ~ either way this increases the likelihood of his survival. This primitive part of the brain is still very much a part of our modern day brain and although there may be no more saber-toothed tigers, our brain responds to any “threat” – whether it’s from the piles of bills on our desk, to trying to fit in all our to-do’s, to handling our children’s arguments and tantrums, etc. The sympathetic nervous system is activated to immediately provide the resources to the parts of our body needed to fight danger (or to retreat to safety). Ready for battle! So, yes, it could be said, we are at war every day. 

Stress shows up in many guises ~  angry outbursts at the very people we love, tossing and turning in bed, irritability and impatience with the car in front of us, or the person taking up space in the grocery aisle with their cart, worrying about how to cover next month’s rent, lack of focus or motivation, and more.

For me, and for so many others, emotional pain and resistance are what show up on our mental battlefields daily. These are the contributors to the stress in our lives. When emotional pain, such as shame, anger, loneliness, fear, despair, confusion, shows up, we may resist (causing tension in body and mind) or allow ourselves to be conquered. We may become self-critical and end up in battle with ourselves. “Why can’t I cope?” ”Why me?” “What’s wrong with me?” We are often kinder and more compassionate to others than to ourselves. We’re often harsher and more unforgiving to ourselves than anyone else in our lives. So we tend to avert our attention away from our difficult emotions. We push them away, yell them away, even drown them away with business so we don’t have to face them. W. B. Yeats once wrote:

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

Is it any wonder that, at times, we feel like retreating from life?

Emotional pain can be our daily landmines. And then there are the stressors of all of our “to-do’s” to keep up with ~ personally, professionally, and in our families or relationships. Is it any wonder that at times, we feel like retreating from life?

To retreat:

~withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat

~an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable

In article “The Disease of Being Busy” (3), Omid Safi writes, “How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life? This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is… destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.”

Peaceful Warrior ~ Mindfulness + Kindfulness

Mindfulness teaches us a different way of relating to emotions in a healthier way. Put down the fists, drop the self-judgment, and instead of fighting emotions, we can be a witness to any difficult emotions arising, and to our own pain. We can then learn to respond with kindness, compassion, and understanding. This is an approach-state, moving toward a challenge, rather than away from it will help us to get through difficult emotions. 

“Respond to your pain with the same type of kindness you would show to a friend you cared about… we’re often harsher and more unforgiving to ourselves than anyone else in our lives.” ~ Kristin Neff

YOU are INvited ~ Retreat for Well-being

Join me for our upcoming mini-retreat (see link for date/info) for learning and practicing together the essentials of mindfulness and self-compassion to re-nourish YOU!  Enlist to become a peaceful warrior to free yourself from unhealthy, unhelpful, or destructive thoughts, emotions, and habits! 

A Retreat:

a quiet, private place that you go to in order to get away from your usual life;

a period of time when someone stops their usual activities and goes to a quiet, peaceful, safe place;

refuge ~ something to which one has recourse in difficulty

“All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.” ~ Herman Melville

The seeds of self-compassion already lie within you — learn how you can uncover this powerful inner resource and transform your life. Cutting-edge research shows that self-compassion is not only a skill anyone can strengthen through practice but also one of the strongest predictors of mental health and wellness.

Mindful habits and attitudes can positively impact and support you in responding to life as it is — the good stuff, the tough stuff, all of it– with grace and skill. Get your questions answered, receive guidance on challenges you may have, and get immediate feedback that you won’t get from an app or a book! You don’t need to do this alone! I will guide you along the way. 

This content is based upon the work from Kristen Neff, leading researcher on Self-Compassion, Tim Desmond, Christopher Germer, and more!

>>> Learn about our next Retreat <<<

“I don’t have time!” says Resistance.

Is your resistance telling you that you don’t have time? Carve out the time. You’re right – you don’t have time. You make time. For you, as well as for those in your life. 

“Resistance is ANY act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity – or expressed in another way – ANY act that derives from our higher nature than our lower.” (4) 

“If we do not know how to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves,

we cannot take care of the people we love.

Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person.” 

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Benefits of Practicing Self-Compassion~

  • feel less stressed
  • improve ability to regulate and defuse intense emotions and depression
  • suffer from less maladaptive perfectionism
  • feel less shame
  • have less performance anxiety
  • have less body dissatisfaction
  • have less eating disorders
  • generates positive emotions and reduces negative emotions at the same time
  • increases happiness
  • increases coping and resilience
  • increases motivation
  • increases concern with others, more present and compassionate with others
  • increases health behaviors
  • increases immune function

In the few randomized control trials of the program, we’ve found that participation in the program increase self-compassion quite a lot, actually – by 43 percent. One thing we are really excited about is none of the gains we made in the program were lost after a year. Once you learned how to practice these skills, once you build that muscle, you can still continue to use the skill later on.

*Source of benefits above: Finding the Friend Within: The Science and Art of Self-Compassion  

By practicing mindfulness and kindfulness in our daily living, each one of us is positively contributing to a thriving, resilient, and compassionate world beginning with ourselves, and positively impacting our relationships at home, work, and in our communities. Come learn and grow with us! 

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Sources:

1, 4 – “War of Art – Winning the Inner Creative Battle” by Steven Pressfield

2- What is the Stress Response?

3- The Disease of Being Busy

Courage ~ The Season for Nonviolence

Courage ~ The Season for Nonviolence

The Season for Nonviolence began last week. Co-founded by Gandhi’s grandson, Arun, and the Association for Global New Thought (AGNT), the annual 64-day Season for Nonviolence was launched at the United Nations in 1998 and has been at the heart of the work I have done for “Caring and Courageous Kids” back in 2009, and for what is now “Mindful Kindful YOUniversity”. The season spans these two memorial anniversaries: Mahatma Gandhi (January 30th) and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4th). It’s the first time in years I forgot to start on January 31st. In actuality, it doesn’t matter when I start posting “Reminders” because, afterall, Thanksgiving isn’t the only time we practice gratitude, or Valentine’s Day isn’t the only time we practice kindness and love! Likewise practicing non-violence is a life-long commitment, and like any virtues, value, or habits, it takes a life-time of reminders and practices to keep coming back to the heart, and back to peaceful intentions. The Season for Nonviolence offers a “thought for today” for 64 days. Today’s thought for the day is COURAGE.

AGNT shares: “When you discover that everyone is contained in you and you are contained in everyone, you have realized the unity of life, which is the divine ground of existence. Then you are not just a person; you have become a beneficial force. Wherever you go, wherever you live, those around you will benefit from your life. Even one unassuming man or woman in a community has the courage to lead a nonviolent life, she will make her contribution, and she will slowly inspire others to make the same contribution, because human nature responds to such an example. When we can say, “Whatever comes, we will not be afraid because the divine Self is within us,” then this resoluteness and faith will enable us to work free from tension, agitation, and fear of defeat. The person who works in this way is at peace, because he or she is not anxious about results.” (1)

In our daily lives, we can inwardly reflect about our own thoughts and actions and reflect on whether our thoughts, words, and actions align with how we want to show up in life. Sometimes it takes a great deal of courage to be honest about ourselves, and it takes courage to try again.  Anne Frank once said “I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

This week Mindful Kindful YOUniversity launched our Mindful Teen Program and the students were asked to journal their thoughts about the following two questions:

  • What would you like different in your life?
  • What is going on in your life right now that isn’t working for you and is possibly a problem?

When they finished writing I told them that since they already have to deal with this/these problems in their day- to- day life, they don’t need to hold on to this/these problems – the problem they wrote about can stay in this class/in the journal. Then they were to journal a response to these questions:

  • What do you think of the idea of letting go of your problems and leaving them here?
  • Is this something you can try? If so, how?

After finishing this part, this being our first class, some were reluctant to share to the group, however the most reserved person said, “that feels really good – I didn’t know I could do that.” Another added, “I realized some of the stress I have I put it on myself and I can maybe try to let go.” They are on their way to learning how to let go of harmful thoughts and to begin developing the habits which will contribute to their well-being and positively impacting those around them.

In our Dragonfly Circles class this week (for younger students) we also had a journaling activity:

  • #1- Draw or write about a time when something didn’t go as expected and you got upset with yourself. How did you feel? What message did you think or say to yourself that was not being a friend to yourself ? Write the message in a talking bubble.
  • #2- After you finish #1 cross out the old message with an “x” and write a new message in a new talking bubble. Say something that feels like you are talking to a good friend. What could you say that would create good feelings in your heart? Use words that are kind and caring. Does that change how you feel about yourself? When we create good feelings inside our hearts we call that “heartprints”. You can make a heartprint next to your new message!

To teach and practice non-violence and world peace with youth, and with ourselves, we begin within, by paying attention to the very thoughts that come up in our own minds.  We can learn how to notice judging and harmful thoughts and meet each one with compassion. We can let go of thoughts that do not support our well-being, and open our hearts to peace.

Today you can light a candle to symbolize a commitment to accept the COURAGE

to practice 64 Ways of living nonviolently.

I’ll be posting on Instagram & Facebook with daily REminders throughout the Season for Nonviolence! Join me!

(1) Season for Nonviolence, 64 Ways in 64 Days http://www.agnt.org/64-days

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers a Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Program for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Remembering Wellness ~ A Guided Meditation

~ Remembering Wellness ~

It’s funny (not funny) how we know things to do to be safe and to be well in mind and body, but we choose to ignore these things as if it doesn’t apply to us. Well, once in a while we are given a clear reminder. A week ago I was reminded, loud and clear, after lifting something heavy and carrying it away from my body because it was wet and had a spider web on it. Did I mention it was heavy? Can you guess what happened? Right. I hurt my back.There are rules and guidelines we are given throughout our lives but sometimes we ignore them. I did not pay attention to the voice in my head on proper technique for carrying heavy objects. As a result, I spent the week in severe pain in my lower back and down my left leg ~ something I have not experienced before at this level. After going to a chiropractor he determined I likely have a herniated disc which is causing sciatica.

Although I am improving daily, the first 5-6 days were quite impactful because of the constant pain. And I can tell you my mental state was being rocked with fear and anger at myself and what I may have caused (“what if…”, “how stupid I was…” “did I screw my life up…” “will I ever…” “I’ll never…”) — our imaginations can try to convince us of some pretty crazy things.
“In the midst of intense negative feelings, whether fear, anger, depression, etc., it can feel as though they will last forever, like they will never end. It promotes emotional balance to maintain an awareness that all feelings {and situations} are temporary, and that they always change.”
~adapted from “Pain Recovery: How to Find Balance and Reduce Suffering from Chronic Pain”
Gratefully my mindfulness practices helped me to not get swept away with those emotions. I stayed focused or returned my focus repeatedly, on giving myself tender loving care with patience.
“Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.”
~Jon Kabat Zinn, author of “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness”
So I offered self compassion each time anger or fear arose, and I embraced my peaceful warrior side to patiently heal and celebrating each gradual change. There are many things we have learned, or can learn, to support our well-being. Our practice is to be mindfully aware and make choices that have been proven to support us with positive results. May my story be your reminder to make choices that contribute to your well-being, whether physical or mental!
Years ago, a dear friend of mine was recovering from surgery and I sat with her and guided her with a meditation. The meditation came to mind this week so I looked it up, re-wrote it, and recorded it so I could listen to it. I would like to share the guided meditation with you (see link below) in case you are struggling with pain or health challenges. It’s a good one and I feel it absolutely contributed to my healing.
“Do not resist the pain. Allow it to be there. Surrender to the grief, despair, fear, loneliness, or whatever form the suffering takes. Witness it without labeling it mentally. Embrace it. Then see how the miracle of surrender transmutes deep suffering into deep peace.”
~Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

 >>> Remembering Wellness <<<

 This guided meditation is approximately 12 minutes and can be done seated or lying down.
Settle into a position that helps you find comfort and begin the recording.
Please let me know if you are unable to access the file.
Recorded by Dee DiGioia. Adapted from The Mindfulness Skills Workbook ~ Debra Burdick

“No matter how many scars we carry from what we have gone through and suffered in the past, our intrinsic wholeness is still here: what else contains the scars? None of us has to be a helpless victim of what was done to us or what was not done for us in the past, nor do we have to be helpless in the face of what we may be suffering now. We are also what was present before the scarring—our original wholeness, what was born whole. And we can reconnect with that intrinsic wholeness at any time, because its very nature is that it is always present. It is who we truly are.” 
~Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness
We are all here to remind one another of the things that can support one another in life — to remind one another to pay attention to what our inner wisdom is telling us!!! And, of course, to embrace ourselves in kindness and love when we forget. It’s why social media is so popular, right? Sometimes you provide the light for me to see my way out of the “darkness” (I am grateful for all the loving suggestions on Facebook for “favorite remedies” for what I thought was a pulled muscle) and sometimes, I can be the light for you, or we share the inspirations from others. Together we add value and breath and heart to our lives. That’s why I love to share daily REminders on my MK YOU Facebook page. I am also now on Instagram You are invited to “follow” me! REminders = bringing back to mind those things we may already know but need to hear again and again…
May you be well in body, mind, and spirit! ~ Dee

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers a Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Program for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of secular mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

 

“Happiness Seeds” Project

Setting Mindful, Kindful, Peaceful Intentions for the New Year

What is the number one thing we want for our children (and/or ourselves)? To be happy and healthy, right? Happiness is an “inside job” and yet many, if not most of us, aren’t taught how to cultivate it in our lives. We tend to be chasing happiness. “Maybe when I get ___ I’ll be happy.” “I’ll be so happy when___.”

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we’d have a pretty good time.”

~Edith Wharton

What is happiness?

There are 5 interconnected elements of happiness and emotional well-being, identified by psychologist, Martin Seligman. Each area is important and interconnected. If any of these areas are missing, the good news is that we can learn and strengthen the area by learning and practicing science-based strategies to experience happiness.

One element of happiness is “positive emotions” such as joy, pride, gratitude, inspiration, awe, love, peacefulness, etc.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

~Marcus Aurelius

In our classes at Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, students learn to identify negative, critical, unhealthy, and unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors, and instead focus on, practice, and nurture positive thought patterns and behaviors to support their well-being and increase happiness. Our weekly themes help identify an area of focus that a student may practice outside of class.

When we notice a self-critical thought, we can plant a seed of kindness and self-compassion by practicing a mindful loving-kindness wish. When we notice that stress and overwhelm when working on a difficult assignment, we can plant a seed of peace with some mindful breathing, feeling our feet on the ground, noticing the temperature of the air, feeling our breath as we inhale and feeling our breath as we exhale.  In taking action, happiness may warm the heart!

“Positive relationships” (such as friends and family) also contribute to happiness.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

~ Marcel Proust

Happiness is an “inside job” and we “begin within” to practice befriending our thoughts and emotions which in turn helps us to understand and have compassion for those around us at home and in school.

In our classes, students develop positive social skills and relationships with others they might not ordinarily befriend. Through shared experiences of fun activities, they can enjoy positive experiences together creating positive links to their world in their community. When self-awareness notices judging another, we plant seeds of acceptance when we can drop that thought and allow them to be who they are. When we notice someone is being left out or hurt by the words or actions of another, we plant seeds of compassion when we take action to support that person. By nurturing positive, kindful, and peaceful thoughts, words, and actions within, we transform, not only inner peace and happiness, but also nurture social dynamics at school and home!

The other equally important elements of happiness include engagement and enjoyment of activities; finding meaning in life; and accomplishments.

Through self-reflection, journaling, and practices outside of the classroom, students will begin to increase self-awareness of their real-life in-the-moment positive experiences to define their own happiness — learning what truly brings them joy (not what is culturally or peer conditioned) ; discovering their strengths, gifts, and passions that can be shared with others; and celebrating accomplishments whether privately or publicly (in class, with their friends, family).

Focus on the seeds

For a tree to grow and thrive, the required conditions are fertile soil, both sunshine and rain, proper temperatures, and the co-existance with the surrounding plants and animals.

“As you think, so you are. As you dream, so you become. As you create your wishes, so they create you.”

~Wendy Garrett

Rather than chasing happiness, we can think of happiness as the tree that exists from the seed that was planted with the resources it needed to come into being. Instead of waiting to be happy, we can create the conditions for happiness to grow. With each breath, plant peace. With each smile, plant joy. With each kindness, plant love. Begin within. Then scatter widely. Repeat.

Plant Happiness Seeds with us!

Join our Dragonfly Circles ages 6-11 in Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo, and Atascadero! Or request a school program!

Join our Mindful Teen Program (ages 12-19) in Arroyo Grande, CA.

Join May I Be Happy: A Course on Self Compassion for Adults in Arroyo Grande. Or request a class in your area!

Host a screening of May I Be Happy: Mindfulness for the Classroom and Beyond

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity offers a Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Program for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of  secular mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research  to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

When you finally get it ~ “The Awakening”

“The Awakening”

Although I do not know the source of “The Awakening”, I believe it is everyone’s journey! I know it was mine!

A time comes in your life when you finally get it . . . 

When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out – ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening.

You realize that it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming or she is not Cinderella and that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance. And there’s nothing wrong with being single too. I love it most of the time. But it gets lonely too.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are . . . and that’s OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval. You stop bitching and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn’t do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it’s not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself and in the process a sense of safety & security is born of self-reliance. You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties and in the process a sense of peace & contentment is born of forgiveness.

You realize that much of the way you view yourself, and the world around you, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. And you begin to sift through all the crap you’ve been fed about how you should behave, how you should look and how much you should weigh, what you should wear and where you should shop and what you should drive, how and where you should live and what you should do for a living, who you should marry and what you should expect of a marriage, the importance of having and raising children or what you owe your parents.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with and in the process you learn to go with your instincts. You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for your next fix.

Your learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life. You learn that you don’t know everything; it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away. You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of who is on your arm or the child that bears your name.

You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that just as people grow and change so it is with love and you learn that you don’t have the right to demand love on your terms just to make you happy.

And, you learn that alone does not mean lonely . . .

And you look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 7 and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you “stack up.” You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things that you want and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands. You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won’t settle for less. And, you allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with their touch . . . and in the process you internalize the meaning of self-respect. And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begin to care of it and treat it with respect. You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest.And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn, that for the most part, in life you get what you believe you deserve . . . and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen.

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it’s OK to risk asking for help. You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time. FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms.

And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things. You learn that your deity isn’t punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It’s just life happening. And you learn to deal with evil in its most primal state – the ego. You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about; a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself, and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart’s desire.

And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind…

And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in your heart and a renewed spirit you take a stand, you take a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want and begin to live as best as you can.

Photos by Dee

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant

MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

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Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

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Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

I have served youth for 30+ years, including those with social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and communication challenges in my roles as a Speech-Language Therapist, Autism Movement Therapist, Preschool Director, Bullying Intervention Specialist, Author, and more. Founded “Caring and Courageous Kids” in 2009 (bullying intervention), and founded “Mindful Kindful YOUniversity” in 2017. Pioneered a mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, and am developing youth and adult programs where I now live on the Central Coast of CA. Made a decision to follow my own advice for well-being by leaving the stresses and challenges of working in special education in the public school setting. Following my heart and calling to share mindfulness and well-being programs to address the challenges youth (and adults) face in school and in life, which interfere with learning, relationships, and mental well-being. I believe mindfulness is the missing piece (and peace) in education and am bringing my vision to fruition! I am grateful to have the experiences and resources to share the wisdom, science, and evidence-based practices of mindfulness and more, which have proven over and over to lead to greater resilience, more joy, and peace in life.