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Do you ever take a moment to look back on your life and reflect on the people, the events, and the moments that define where you're at today? That happened at an event the other evening.

Do you ever take a moment to look back on your life?

The event was a teachers' conference for women in leadership. My main reason for attending was to hear the keynote speaker. Her name is Dr. Florence Glanfield and she is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta. She is Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming and Research) and a Professor of Mathematics Education. She was the professor for my final class in my master's program in education back in 2016. She facilitated a summer session called the Gandhian Principles of Peace put on by the University of Alberta.

My main reason was to hear Dr. Florence Glanfield speak

During our classes, she shared principles of teaching from her culture. This was a time of learning for me as I had never participated in Indigenous teaching before. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the importance of waiting in silence for us to process her questions. I also enjoyed the times when we would participate in a sharing circle as she passed around a stone that held stories for her. Only the person holding the stone was to speak. It was freeing to hold that stone and be able to choose if you wanted to share with the group. No judgement. I was so happy to let her know when I saw her the other evening, how much I enjoyed incorporating a sharing circle with my Grade 5 students. She was touched to see that her words had an impact on me and my students.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning from her Métis teaching.

I truly believe that my time with her prepared me to be more open and accepting of the dialectical behavior therapy teachings that I learned two years later when I was first introduced to DBT. I'm not sure I would have been as accepting of concepts like no judgment, everyone is doing the best they can, everyone has their own truth regarding perceptions, mindfulness, and so many more.

My time with her prepared me to be more open and accepting.

During Dr. Glanfield's presentation, she shared a picture of a quilt that her great-grandmother had created back in the early 1900s. Currently, it is in the Royal Alberta Museum. Each silk square is from a package of tobacco. Her great-grandmother collected these squares, as did many other women of the time. She sewed each square painstakingly into this beautiful quilt.

As I looked at the quilt, I was reminded of each person in my life who has painstakingly been stitched into my journey and how each one has been placed at a specific time, at a specific place, and for a specific purpose. Dr. Glanfield was one of those people and I was thrilled to be able to share that with her.

The quilt reminded me of each person in my life who has been stitched into my life story.

Kelly with Dr. Glanfield

I loved hearing her presentation for women in leadership and it reminded me once again of the powerful women in our lives who continue to lead and inspire and encourage the rest of us to be strong and courageous and leaders in our own right.

Powerful women in our lives who lead and inspire and encourage us to be strong and courageous and leaders

As I continue my journey of sharing DBT-informed skills through SILA Skills I am thankful for the foundation that she and others laid for me. I hope this inspires you to reflect on those who have led you by example and who continue to speak to your heart and teach you to be your best self.

Maybe I can be part of your journey.

I would love that. 💟

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Updated: 5 days ago

If you were asked what drives you crazy about teaching or what you love about teaching, what would you write? How can you improve your mental health as an educator? Read to learn more.

What do you love about teaching!
What drives you crazy!

Recently I asked this question at two different teachers' conventions in Alberta. These are a small sample of some of the answers given. As you can see, people love the kids and the connections that they make, and the relationships that are so important. And, they also have difficulties with the workload, funding, resources, behaviors, class size, and so much more. Many people just laugh and say that I don't have enough paper for all of the rants that they have as a teacher. It wasn't a joyful laugh.

"You don't have enough paper for all of my rants," they laughed

The fact is, teaching is much more difficult than it's ever been. As an educator for more than 30 years, I have seen a lot of changes but the one that is most troubling is how difficult teaching is for so many people. I've spoken to student teachers, brand-new teachers, veteran teachers, administrators and so many more. What they all agree with is that teaching is hard.

Teaching is hard!

When I explain that the workshops we teach with SILA Skills are based on DBT-informed skills, they often ask me what DBT is. I explain that it's all about acceptance and change. Acceptance of all of those things we rant about and the fact that we can't change them, and finding the capacity and the resilience to be who we want to be so we can enjoy all of those things that we rave about with teaching.

We CAN find the capacity and resilience for teaching.

Unfortunately, many of us get lost in the negative side of teaching. We don't have the connections or the tools to manage our own emotions and so we are affected deeply by the stressors that are all around us. We finish the day and we wish we had done things differently. We get home and cannot handle the emotional needs of the people in our home. It feels overwhelming. And for many of us, it is overwhelming.

It can be overwhelming.

What I tell everyone who comes and talks to me is that these skills work. I know it because I've experienced the impact of using them. I know it because I have observed their impact on the people who have learned these skills for themselves. They truly make a difference.

Maybe you're not a teacher. The concept is still the same.

So next time you are faced with a question like the one I gave teachers, what would you write? Would you be drawn to the rant side or the rave side? Maybe you're not a teacher. The concept is still the same. We can get lost in the negativity of our jobs and forget why we loved it in the first place. With skills, we can acknowledge that both are part of our lives and we can have the resilience and capacity to be our best for our students, clients, colleagues, and the people around us every day.

Skills can help us remember WHY we loved our jobs in the first place.

Would you like to learn more? Check out our website or follow us on social media. We'd love to share these skills with you!

Let's get back to what we love about teaching!

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Updated: Mar 6

Monday was Family Day in Alberta and in many other provinces in Canada. This is our fifth Family Day since our son, Tom passed away.

As a parent who has lost a child to suicide, Family Day has a different meaning. You look back at past memories and are thankful for the happy ones. Your heart aches for those who are also experiencing an empty place in their home because of mental illness and loss.

As a co-founder and spokesperson for SILA Skills, I talk about our son Tom every time I share DBT skills. I tell people that it's like a gift wrapped in barbed wire. If Tom hadn't been ill and we hadn't been so desperate for help, we would never have learned about DBT skills. I will forever be thankful that we were introduced to them five years ago. They gave us peace in our home for the first time in years.

I am thankful that I have these skills to continue being the kind of mom, wife and grandma that my little family needs.

I sometimes ask my husband and my daughter if skills have changed me and they always say yes. They comment that I'm not as emotional as I used to be and I'm not as easily offended. I'm not perfect by any means and there are still moments when I struggle, but the skills give me the ability for 'do overs'. And for that I am forever grateful.

So for this Family Day 2023, I encourage you to put down the phone and shut off the TV and pull out a board game or just sit and talk. Family is the greatest gift we will ever have. I'm thankful that there is a day in Canada that is set aside for it.

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