Morning SEL Update: April 7

Good Morning Families,

Join us today for our SEL moment Regarding Learning pt. 2. Today we’re looking at roads. All types of roads.

Actually, not all types, really just metaphorical ones. The ones least traveled, the ones most traveled…the ones in need of series pothole repair.

Click on the link and listen in Spanish, or listen in English, or read in Spanish.

https://www.whytheface.org/post/16-regarding-learning-pt-2

Best wishes to you all,

Manzo

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/04/07/morning-sel-update-april-7/

Morning SEL Update: April 6

Here is a new format for our daily SEL moment.

You can click the link and choose to listen in Spanish or listen in English or read in English.

https://www.whytheface.org/post/15-regarding-learning-pt-1

I hope this helps you access Social Emotional Learning in a more efficient way.

Best wishes,

Manzo

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/04/06/morning-sel-update-april-6/

Morning SEL Moment: April 3

Good Morning Families, today is Friday April 3rd 2020 and it is now time for our moment of SEL.

Listen in Spanish: https://soundcloud.com/hearourvoices/regarding-loss-pt-14

Listen in English: https://soundcloud.com/hearourvoices/regarding-loss-pt-5

As we complete our week thinking about a sense of loss, particularly in this time I would like us to consider the loss of the art of patience. Patience is a virtue. Actually, it’s not technically a virtue, it’s more like a combination of several virtues. To be patient one must understand mercy, generosity, tolerance, humility, and certainly self-control. Patience is familiar with perseverance and prudence. Patience is also present in the virtues of hope, faith, and love.

And, unfortunately, patience seems to be in short supply, particularly as our nation faces grave if not profound loss. This loss is creeping across our country, limiting social connectivity, sickening many, assaulting our economy; and when it’s over, many of us will have paid the ultimate sacrifice. It is scary. I feel fear. I’m not afraid of my fear, but it is uncomfortable.

I’ve already expressed that I feel sadness. You know I feel anger. Fear, anger, sadness, that’s like the trifecta of discomfort. And in the face of this, I am actually being asked to use a skill that so many of our leaders either fail to model for us, or simply don’t have.

The skill of patience.

Patience is a skill we ask our students to use every day. Here are some very common phrases I hear teachers say all the time to help students practice building their skills of patience. “You just went to the bathroom.” “Lunch is always at 11:05” “Slow down” “Walking feet” “One at a time” “There’s no prize for first”. We want our kids to learn patience because we know that they will benefit from having this skill. But patience is tricky and though we may want it for others we may not grant it to ourselves. It is amazing how quickly we can forget to use the skill of patience when we invoke words like crisis, emergency, deadline, or in this case pandemic. I mean, those words push against patience because they work to invoke the potential of loss. Inviting sadness, fear, and anger to come to the table.

And when the fear of loss is present in our nation, leaders have often spurred citizens to action by calling upon “heroes”, “fighters”, “defenders of freedom” and this week, for me personally I was labeled “essential to national security”. I mean really. I can’t think of a time in our nation’s history when anyone has ever said, “You know who will protect us? The professional school counselors!” Look don’t get me wrong; I’d love it. But, really?

Look all of these are truly inspiring words and they often elicit truly inspiring responses. However, true heroes and fighters and defenders, and especially the most essential, understand patience.

Take the fighter, in the ring. Were he to impulsively leap forward and swing wildly at the first bell in short time he would likely become tired or simply get knocked the heck out.

Take the hero who cavalierly throws herself into the fray, only to be instantly mowed down because she took no time to truly survey the scene. Was that even the time or the fight to be had?

Consider the defenders of freedom, who, without forethought or goal exhaust all resources and energy at the first sign of threat, only to be trod upon by the feeblest of aggressors, because they had spent all their means to fight.

Or even those, who were suddenly declared “essential to national security” not because they have ever been considered that before but because it is a convenient label designed to stir the soul to act without thought. What newly assigned duties would these suddenly essentials succeed in?

Without patience, none of these folks would be successful. Patience is in the moments between the recognition of the need for action and the execution of action. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but it has to be an intentional time. A time when the person who knows they must act, considers what actions are necessary. When he or she considers the steps, they need to take in order to act, and when they give pause to consider both the consequences of action and the consequences of inaction.

Patience is indeed something special, and again, there is little for us to model patience on. So, I would encourage you to become the model of patience. Consider the virtues of tolerance, humility, self-control, generosity. Ask yourself, what would my day be like if, today, before I made any big actions I stopped and said the words, humility, generosity, tolerance, and self-control.

This is asking a lot. We are facing an enemy that generates sadness, anger, and fear. All of those, in me, promote the opposite of patience, impatience. The immediate need to act and impulsively run down those uncomfortable feelings. But that is not the way to fight this enemy. That is not the way we will beat this back. Temperance is the way. Self-control is the way. Generosity is the way. Humility is the way. Patience is the way.

Of course, medicine is also the way. Sweet, sweet medicine. And that medicine is coming! In 10 months. So, yes, patience will be a part of that medicine too. We can do it. We will settle on the right course of action. We will not be complacent, or helpless, or victims. We will not wallow in our situation, or be stunted by fear, that is not who we are.

We can be the models of patience for our kids. It will be hard. I will still feel sadness and anger and fear. I will face loss. We all will. But we will also be given the opportunity to rediscover our connection to mindfulness, to tolerance, to humility, to self-control, to generosity, to mercy, to patience.

I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in any way we can, on Monday.

Until Monday,

May your thoughts and feelings be with you.

Bryan Manzo
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary
bjmanzo@seattlschools.org

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/04/06/morning-sel-moment-april-3/

Morning SEL Update: April 2

Good Morning Families, today is Thursday April 2nd 2020 and it is now time for our moment of SEL.

Listen in Spanish

Listen in English

I want to follow up with something from yesterday. Why it might be for some of us that, when we face a sense of loss, we may experience anger or why we may substitute anger for sadness.

Growing up Italian American and in West Virginia I got a pretty solid education in sadness being for girls and anger being for boys. Both from the Latin blood of my father and the Scots-Irish culture deep in the Appalachians that gave rise to both me and the modern American redneck. I don’t think I ever saw an adult male cry. I also never heard an adult male say the words, “That makes me sad.” Not in my home, not in my school, definitely not at the Mall or any sporting events. I think that it must have happened from time to time. I’m sure some of the behavior choices me and my friends made gave our fathers or uncles reason to be sad. Sad for us, sad for them, they were and probably sad for our entire generation. #Hypercolor, what the heck was that.

When I reflect on loss, I realize that even though I know I experience sadness in the process of coming to terms with loss, I often choose to go through anger first. I think there are a couple of reasons for this and maybe these are true for you also.

There is something built into loss that feels “unfair”. You can see this on the playground when a team loses in kickball or someone gets out in bump or during a game of tag. A lot of the times the first thing you hear is, “That’s not fair!” And, I suppose it makes sense in that we don’t encourage kids to cry when they get out. I don’t. I don’t know anyone who does. Maybe I’m wrong. We do teach and coach kids the meaning of “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn” (which is reframing loss as learning, and a strong mode for teaching reappraisal, which is great) So for many the initial reaction of sadness is perhaps covered by some form of protective anger. The kids are getting the message that sadness is not within the social expectation, whereas anger, particular when associated with sport may be safe, being viewed as intensity or investment or even care.

I have found that anger can also be protective for profound loss such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of something precious, the loss of something that can’t be replaced. For me something about that profound loss feels cosmically unfair. I find myself focused not on the sadness of loss but on the anger at the injustice of the loss. It’s not fair!

I certainly recognize this feeling with anger these days as I think about all the things people are losing right now. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t mad. But mad at what, the Corona virus? At those I perceive of as authority; those who are supposed to protect us from this, those who are supposed to be better than us, after all, they said they were, that’s we gifted them with power. See, I’m mad right there. Or maybe mad at the perceived absence of something even larger. Maybe I don’t even know what it is.

This kind of anger can be pervasive, difficult to pin down. It can be stealthy, creeping out on minor inconveniences, perceived slights, leaving me anxious, irritable, short-fused. And when you combine this with social distancing, removing many of the mainstays of anger reducing activities like going to the gym, playing sports, running, climbing, socializing, stay home stay safe could easily turn into stay home stay angry.

This cycle could be true for people of any age; the 6-year-old, 12-year-old, 27-year-old, 45-year-old, 85-year-old. So, what do you do about it? Well, that’s where there is also sadness because unfortunately, not all people can express anger in the same way and expect the same social consequence. I’ve not met many people that truly believe that anger is bad. I’ve not many people who believe that a person should never experience anger. However, there are many, many widely varying ideas about how anger is expressed and who gets to express it. I would also note, I’m talking about anger, not rage. Rage is not anger. Rage can be scary. We’ll use some emotional granularity later to differentiate between anger and rage or fury. For right now we are talking anger.

I will speak for myself, and Julio, who is interpreting and translating the audio will speak about me Mr. Manzo. For those of you listening, when in Spanish, you’ll hear Julio referring to he or him. I (He) am (is) in a very privileged class of anger expressors. I’m (He’s) a white, cisgender, heterosexual, man, from a Judeo-Christian background. Sure, I (he) have (has) that Latin blood, but I’ve (he’s) also got that white skin. I’ve (He’s) got the complexion for the protection when it comes to anger expression. When I (he) express(es) anger it is possible that I (he) could be considered passionate, dedicated, strong, intense, handsome. (I/He just put that last one int there). Those are nice descriptors. I (he) don’t (doesn’t) want to change them. I (he) likes them. Who wouldn’t like that? I’ve (he’s) lived a life in a society that has confirmed that it’s okay for me (him) to at least think those things. And certainly, others like me (him) support me (him) in thinking those because it’s good for them al. I (he) don’t (doesn’t) want that to change. But I (he) do(es) want others to be able to join this club. What others? All others. I (he) want(s) everyone to be considered passionate, dedicated, strong, intense, handsome when they are feeling anger. All people, all colors. All families welcome. Welcome to the “it’s okay to be angry, express it, and be considered good” club. We meet once a month at TJ’s house. Just kidding. Okay Julio, you can go back to saying me.

Right now, in my “stay home stay safe” club house my family, all of whom are members in the “it’s okay to be angry, express it, and be considered good” club meet every day around 2:30. That’s about the time we just can’t do it anymore.

But here’s the thing. We have to established for our house, what it means to have safe anger expression look like. We have to talk about what we do with anger. If we all agree that it’s okay to yell and throw pillows at the couch, then I suppose when any one of us does that, it’ll be okay.

In our schools and in our communities, we don’t often make a social management plan for expressing anger. If we did, and we ALL agreed on it, great. We could all express it with the same consequence. Maybe we can work on that as we venture out, when it’s safe for others and for ourselves. Until then, maybe we can take a moment today and reflect on how we are feeling. Are you experiencing any sense of loss? Can you put your finger on it? Do you feel sad about it? Do you feel angry about it? If you do feel sadness or anger, how can you express it in ways that support your feelings, but don’t harm those around you? If you aren’t experiencing anger, how can you support those around you who are, in ways that allows them to express themselves?

Taking a time, when you and everyone with you are calm, to talk about anger, could really do wonders for helping to express it and manage it in a way that works for all. Maybe start by asking everyone to try to describe how his or her body feels when it is angry. Just describing the physiological experience of anger can help build awareness about when it is present. After everyone has shared, see if you can make decide, how, as a home community, you can make space for everyone there to express anger when it arises. If you can recognize it when you are experiencing anger, and you have a plan for how everyone can express anger, you may find that it’s easier to maintain healthy relationships and those around you.

I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in any way we can, tomorrow.

Until tomorrow,

May your thoughts and feelings be with you.

Bryan Manzo
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary
bjmanzo@seattleschools.org

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/04/06/morning-sel-update-april-2/

Morning SEL Update: April 1

Good Morning Families, today is Wednesday April 1st 2020 and it’s now time for our moment of SEL.

Listen in Spanish

Listen in English

Today I’d like us to learn about a powerful tool we humans can use to support ourselves when life events happen and the messages we tell ourselves about those events make us feel bad. I want to tell you, I think SEL skills are like Jedi skills, and this particular thing we’re going to learn about today this tool is like a lightsaber. And trust me, you’re gonna want to have a lightsaber.

The tool is called re-appraisal. In SEL when we say awe are appraising something it means we are assessing it, or we’re evaluating it, or we’re attributing some kind of value to something. Say there’s a situation or event that happened and there’s a shift in our thoughts, feelings, or physiology. For example, you recognize that your fists are clenched, your neck and shoulders are tense, your eyes are wide, you are yelling, the basket goes in the hoop, your team just lost, you’re not going to states. At some point either immediately or later you may notice some thinking about this loss. You may start to hear yourself saying all kinds of things about the loss. Now, for some us, particularly folks who are prone to optimism, the messaging may not be painful, the explanatory style may not be one that brings up uncomfortable feelings. In fact, they may be sharing with themselves some type of understanding, or compassion, or awareness, or even hope.

Just so you know, I’ve not typically appraised loosing that way. At least not in the immediate aftermath. For me I hear myself saying all kinds of negative things like “we suck”, “they cheated”, “I don’t care anyway.” None of those have ever really been true by the way and I could probably avoid that whole cycle if I were using my emotional intelligence to simply be aware of and comfortable with the fact that among the many things I feel, the most prominent is sadness. However, I need more practice to make that happen. And practicing using re-appraisal can help me.

So when re-appraise something we are looking at it again. We are looking for things that we may have missed in our primary appraisal. We may approach it from a different angle. We might reframe it. In the case of loss or of the explanations about loss we are doing another evaluation, but this time exploring other possible thoughts and feelings that we did not experience the first time. And, students, just so you know, the ability to reappraise a situation is a college and career readiness skill. In fact, it’s a highly sought-after skill in the adult working world.

So, back to my initial appraisal of losing the game. First, I was entirely is focused on the material event and looking to assign blame. We lost a game and it was someone’s fault. In this manner I was trying to assign a place for my anger to focus, because I am more comfortable with anger and I can express anger that something or someone made me sad and thus was making me suffer. Which is unfair. Hence anger.

There are couple levels of re-appraisal I could use to help me manage my suffering. I will go from the surface level to the deeper level. On the surface level I could begin by reframing what just happened. I could shift my focus on some of the positive aspects of my team’s season. For example, we clearly worked hard, we were one game away from making the state playoffs. Not bad.

On a little deeper level, once I was calmer, I could reflect on how, losing this game may help my team to improve. Maybe there is a chance to discover some aspect of our play that we could improve so that next time we make different choices.

On a deeper level still, I could reappraise what it is I am putting on this game that may be causing me to feel such distress. And I could see if the message declaring that this loss is causing my discontent is actually true or if there isn’t something else that is the source of my deeper discontent.

On the deepest level I could reappraise my experience with sadness in general and consider why I should disfavor this emotion so much more than others. Maybe I’m missing some experience with sadness that could benefit me in many different parts of my life.

If you visit https://www.berkeleywellbeing.com/reappraisal.html you will find several activities to help you start to be able to use reappraisal.

One thing to consider, there is no right or wrong about when to use reappraisal, it’s going to be individual experience. However, do try to recognize if you see yourself using reappraisal as a mechanism of avoidance. That is, something has happened, and you recognize anger or sadness and as a response to these perhaps unwanted feelings you jump straight to reason the event that brought on these feelings was actually great!

I’m not advocating for that you try to make yourself suffer unduly, just that you also give yourself the permission to feel the uncomfortable feelings as well. Which, in my example above, I did not do. I felt sad so I went straight to anger instead. Anger that was directed at the thing that made me sad, which I appraised as, “my sucky team” or “those cheaters”. So, when I reappraised the situation, what I was actually able to do was to recognize and experience sadness.

Here is a way to practice today. Again, you can find more at www.berkeleywellbeing.com. Here are two easy questions you can ask yourself that can help build your skills with reappraising.

Consider a situation you recognize you are appraising as bad. That is, it is associated with uncomfortable or even unwanted feelings. And I would recommend you start with situations or events that present mild discomfort. I would not recommend doing this with something that is associated with profound loss. Once you recognize the situation or event, ask yourself, are there any possible positive outcomes that could result from this situation? Really allow yourself to consider what could be gained, no matter how far-fetched, after all, we’re just practicing. After that, ask yourself if you are able to identify something that you have learned for this event or situation. Remember, even learning that “you would never do that again” can be positive learning. And that last statement alone is a method of reappraising.

I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in any way we can, tomorrow.

Until tomorrow,

May your thoughts and feelings be with you.

Manzo

Bryan Manzo
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary
bjmanzo@seattleschools.org
206.252.4648

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/04/06/morning-sel-update-april-1/

Morning SEL Update: March 31

Good Morning Families, today is Tuesday March 31st 2020 and it is now time for moment of SEL.

You can listen here in English

You can listen here in Spanish

How are you feeling? What thoughts are you thinking? How are you feeling in your body? How do you want to express yourself? How can you express yourself?

Here’s a big question; what do you do with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings? Here are some common uncomfortable feelings: apprehension, worry, envy, fury, restlessness, anxiousness about something bad, loneliness, alienation, hopelessness, helplessness, unwanted fear, embarrassment, shame, self-pity, deep sadness, high anger, humiliation, regret, remorse, disgust, unwanted surprise, self-loathing, and guilt. That’s a lot. By the way, just hearing those words may be priming those feelings. Sorry. How about this.

All of those feelings can have corresponding or complimentary or inciting thoughts such as: Something unwanted is going to happen – apprehension, I can’t control that unwanted thing – helplessness. It’s my fault that unwanted thing will happen – guilt or regret. That unwanted thing doesn’t happen to such and such – envy. I can’t do anything about it – hopelessness, I deserve it – shame, because I’m terrible – self-loathing, I’m the only one who these things happen to -self-pity, no wonder I’m utterly alone – alienation.

Here are some of the less healthy behaviors I find myself choosing when I experience this type of cycle: complain, gripe, plow through a whole bag of chips, complain some more, really dig into myself that I’ve been forsaken by God, I deserve it, complain some more, where’s the salsa for these chips, look at my stomach in the mirror, swing my arms wildly in anger at the sky, get the hummus out too, you see the pattern.

I’m not making light of these feelings, they are real and they are very uncomfortable and I probably experience some of those thoughts and feelings a little each day. Not in the extreme but they are as much a part of my life as positive feelings. However, when these feelings are around I notice them way more. Probably because of the discomfort I experience when they are with me.

These feelings can all be connected to loss. They can come in the form of what Martin Seligman, the pioneer of positive psychology termed, attributional or explanatory style.

You can go to https://positivepsychology.com/ for a ton of supportive reading and learning.

Essentially, explanatory style refers to the ways in which we explain to ourselves the reasons behind why things happened or could happen.

In the case of loss, the way in which we frame the “why” something has happened can shape our ongoing thoughts and feelings. And that can be very tricky many times there is no definitive explanation as to why something has happened. I have recognized that in many instances when I have experienced loss I my find any wide variety of uncomfortable feelings and thoughts that arise in my own mind, as a way to explain to me the why.

So for today, regarding loss or any sort, try to identify the way in which you explain to yourself the “why” behind the event. You’ll want to give yourself the opportunity to listen, without prejudice, to the way you explain the loss to yourself. This will help you when it is time to talk to your kids or loved ones about loss.

One of the best ways to help others gain SEL skills is to model the use of the skills. For example, it is definitely okay to say to a friend, “This thing has happened, and I can hear myself saying that it happened because of *blank*, and when I think that I can recognize I am feeling *blank*” If you use this language you are demonstrating for others that it can be natural to have those thoughts and feelings and that a person is capable of recognizing and labeling his or her feelings without immediately acting on them, which is a form of self-management.

Please be patient with yourself. These skills are wonderful in the abstract but can be very elusive when the temperature is turned up in real time. But, like muscle memory, the habit of practicing when things are calm can help when they are not.

Also, this question came up yesterday from a family I want to provide a some support here. What do you do if while you are building these skills your kids or friends bring up something uncomfortable that you’re not ready to talk about?

Here is the million-dollar skill that teachers practice all the time, especially, since this happens all the time in classrooms. Ready for it? It is simply this, Focus on the Feelings. Let me repeat it. Focus on the Feelings.

What that means is this. If you recognize that someone has shared something or asks something that involves details that you may not be ready to discuss or that are not appropriate to divulge, you focus on the feelings, not the details of the event that brought the feelings.

For example, in a class meeting a student shares his or her sense of loss that their dad is going to jail. Happens more than you think, and it can produce a feeling of panic for the adult in charge because, as I’ve heard more than once, “I’m not a counselor, this is not what I signed up for.” True. So what teachers who are using Social Emotional Skills will do in a situation like this is: thank the child for sharing, and then ask, how are you feeling about that. Notice they didn’t say, “What? Why?” “What or why” questions could elicit details that would not be appropriate for the whole class. However, asking a student to name the feelings associated with this loss would elicit emotion words like, sad, scared, angry, disappointed, depressed, relieved. Now the teacher is able to help the student connect the feelings with others by asking the class, “I hear such-and-such saying they feel, sad or scared or angry or disappointed, who else has ever had those feelings?” The teacher can then ask the whole class to share some strategies they use to handle those feelings. In this way the teacher has provided a safe place for other students to connect with the student who shared the loss and a means to support the whole class without going into the details as to why. The teacher of course can follow-up with the student privately after the class meeting or connect with the family or counselor later in the day.

You can use this same skill at home, if your kid or kids ask you about corona virus or Covid 19 or express some anxiety about health and wellness in general. If you are not feeling ready for going into details, or you think that details right now could make things worse for the kid, gently steer the conversation toward the feelings. You could say, “how are you feeling about that?” or “how is that making you feel or think?” Try to get them to name a specific feeling. Once they have, you are now able to validate their feeling by telling them that you also experience that feeling and here’s what you do when you experience it. In a lot of instances, just sharing that you also experience that feeling tends to drive the conversation to a solicitation of some past life experience of yours. Kids love stories. Why? Because they’re people and people love stories.

I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in whatever way we can, tomorrow.

Until tomorrow,

May your thoughts and feelings be with you

Manzo

Bryan Manzo
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary
bjmanzo@seattleschools.org
206.252.4648

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/04/01/morning-sel-update-march-31/

Morning SEL Update: March 30

Day 10 SEL Morning Update

Good Morning Families, today is Monday March 30th 2020 and it is now time for a moment of SEL.

Hey, would you rather listen to these announcements? Now you can! We have a Spanish version and an English version.

Click below! If you would still like to read them, by all means, it is still available in writing.

Regarding Loss pt. 1 English

Regarding Loss pt. 1 Spanish

SEL Moment for Monday March 30th 2020

When I was 5 I lost my blanket. Actually, my father left it in a hotel in Tennessee. I was very, very sad.

When I was 14 I lost my grandmother. I was sad, but to my memory, it was a different kind of sad from when I lost my blanket.

When I was 17 I lost all the privilege of using the family car and of being left at home alone. Can’t say too much about that other than choices have consequences. I felt angry. But also darkly proud as if I’d joined an elite club of fictional 1980’s hero/nerds.

My freshman year of college I lost the extra weight I’d been carrying through high school and I felt joy. Don’t worry, I found that weight again in Texas. #Lonestar.

All of these things represent different kinds of loss. Loss can be experienced over surface level things. Things we have little attachment too. As in, I lost a new sock, again.

Loss can also be profound. Loss of a significant item, or, a highly desired experience, or a loved one.

The greater attachment we have to the thing, be it real or hoped for, the greater degree of loss we may experience.

I think about all of us right now. The health care gains we will make during this time of social distancing may be hard to recognize. One great challenge prevention has always faced is that success from preventative actions is measured by the absence of a thing. Me, you, we, may all feel as though we are sacrificing a lot for something invisible. Without the good reminders of how this sacrifice is helping we may have the tendency to focus more on what can be measured more easily, and that is loss. Loss is the something leaving, something gone.

I think about students. I think about the things they’ve lost. Yes, they’ve lost instruction, and for some they are devastated and for others perhaps are less so.

But what I really think about is the loss of experience. I feel very sad for students. For the pre-schoolers and kindergartners who were learning to make friends and have lost time playing with people they were just getting to know.

I feel for the 5th graders who are losing the experience of going to Islandwood to dive deep into science and nature and camp for 3 nights away from their families, many for the first time.

I’m sad for the 8th graders who may transition to high school without the recognition of the rite of passage from middle school.

I’m there with the seniors who may forgo prom and commencement, in the sacrifice for the health and well-being of us all.

For the young musicians who may not get a chance to perform their works. The young actors whose plays will go unseen this year.

The athletes whose chance to compete either against others or against themselves has been prevented.

The relationships that teachers have formed with and for students and families, and the families who are suffering the pain only families know, when a young loved one, is grieving; the empathetic hurt we feel alongside our students when they hurt.

I feel for the adults who have had to make these tough decisions and who have had to be bearers of the bad news.

Our hearts go out, as hopefully our dollars do also, to those whose livelihoods are either on hold or gone at this moment. For the loss of security, for the loss of predictability, for the loss of routine and what now seems like the privilege of day-in-day-out work boredom.

I’m not trying to be a downer. I promise. In fact, I bring this all up only so we can spend some time this week considering loss. Considering what our kids and our friends and our families and our communities and ourselves are currently experiencing.

So when you reflect on loss, how do you feel? What thoughts accompany loss? How do you feel in your body? How do you want to express yourself? How can you express yourself?

We certainly don’t want to ruminate on all the worst things around us. That’s not the point. I want us to be able to reflect on loss. However, we do want to be able to give ourselves the permission to feel. A little time, each day to build our feeling muscles. We want to strengthen our backs and shoulders and hearts for what may come.

As we move forward through this time we will likely see and experience loss on many levels. It is for this reason that I’d like us to spend a little time practicing strategies for how we will handle this.

For today, try to give yourself just 5 minutes thinking about loss. Recognize the emotions that come up. See if you can recognize a familiar or automatic response. What is it for you? Sometimes for me it is engagement with those feelings? Other times it’s avoidance. Sometimes it’s the fear of being overwhelmed. Sometimes it is being overwhelmed.

Consider, what support mechanisms can you identify that help you shoulder those thoughts and feelings? Once you’ve done this take a moment for some calming breaths. Breath in through your nose. As you inhale say the word “Strong”. Hold the breath for just a second and then slower than the inhale, exhale and say the word “Healthy”. Allow all other thoughts and feelings to be dismissed as you breath. Repeat as necessary, if you find it’s helping you after you give sometime reflecting on loss.

I encourage you to talk to you kids and students and friends and loved ones about loss. Not to fear monger or worry or to bring unease, but rather to build the skills so that if you should need them, you have them. That’s what SEL does. It prepares us to be able to recognize and label and manage our thoughts and feelings.

I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in whatever way we can, tomorrow.

Until tomorrow,

May your thoughts and feelings be with you,

Manzo

Bryan Manzo
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary
bjmanzo@seattleschools.org
206.252.4648

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/04/01/morning-sel-update-march-30/

Morning SEL Update: March 27

Good Morning Families, today is Friday March 27th 2020 and it is now time for our morning moment of SEL.

How are you feeling?

Let’s take a nice deep breath. Hey, it’s Friday! And after this long and arduous week locked in my house, I’m ready for a weekend, locked in my house. Maybe, as I read both the sarcasm and privilege in that last sentence, it’s time for me to use some mindfulness.

So, for today, and this weekend, and maybe twice a day every day if you can, let’s try some 4 – 7 – 8 breathing. I know of 4 – 7 – 8 from the Mushroom Man himself, Dr. Andrew Weill, you can check him out here https://www.drweil.com/. I believe this breathing exercise is based on an older Pranayama practice, so if you know what it is, please email me. Oh, and for these breaths our exhale will come out through the mouth.

Here’s what Dr. Weill says about how to do this breathing:

Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.

4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. This is one breath.

5. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

I typically use this breathing pattern when I am having recognizing I am experiencing anxiety. It really works for de-escalating my mind and my body. I also use this breath when I am having trouble sleeping. It makes me sleepy. I like that. I hope you like it too. I also wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in whatever way we can, on Monday. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I will be on email each day at bjmanzo@seattleschools.org.

Until Monday, best wishes,

Manzo

Bryan Manzo, M.Ed., NBCC
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary
206.252.4648

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/03/27/morning-sel-update-march-27/

SEL Morning Update: March 26th

Good Morning Families, today is Thursday March 26th 2020 and it is now time for our morning moment of SEL.

Is your phone also your alarm? Mine is. It’s great, I can watch shows and read news right until I fall asleep and when my alarm goes off in the morning, I can hit snooze and immediately watch more shows and read more news. It’s a great routine and, sadly, it’s not very healthy for the brain/body, or the mind, or the spirit.

Here is a mindfulness exercise we can try together; Early Morning Mindful Breaths! (Like Early Morning Lap Swim, but you can stay dry.)

When your alarm goes off, for the final time, after the 3, 4, 7 snoozes, don’t get up (but don’t go back to sleep!) Before you get out of bed, give yourself a nice stretch. While you’re stretching, say, “Stretch” but really stretch out the word as long as your stretch takes. Once your stretch is over, try to get into a comfortable position, on your back. If you’ve ever taken any yoga this would be Shavasana. While you are in Shavasana give yourself 10 mindful breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your nose and during these breaths try to dismiss all the thoughts that arise. Just gently, with no-judgement for what you’re thinking or feeling, simply recognize them and breath them out. You can pick them ALL up again once you’re done BUT, let your first few moments of being awake NOT be spent running through your daily calendar.

Personal disclosure, sometimes, first thing in the morning I can make myself feel like it’s lunchtime at Grand Central and I just missed the train to Pleasantville. Not to get too “counselor-metaphor” on you but you know you can “fear a bear without seeing a bear”? Counselors and therapists often describe anxiety in terms of how you would respond if you saw a bear in the woods. The fight or flight response would be totally legit and necessary for survival, if you actually saw a bear. The anxiety connection is that anxiety is like feeling those feelings when there isn’t a bear there, hence, “you can fear a bear without seeing a bear”.

If your day is full of stress (too many demands, not enough resources) or full of pressure (you perceive that something at stake is dependent on the outcome of your performance) you could trigger yourself to feel the effects of that stress and pressure, while still in your bed. That’s no way to feel! At least not that early. Give yourself a gentle start and see how it shapes your day.

I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in whatever way we can, tomorrow. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I will be on email each day at bjmanzo@seattleschools.org

Until tomorrow, best wishes,

Manzo

Bryan Manzo, M.Ed., NBCC
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary
206.252.4648

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/03/26/sel-morning-update-march-26th/

SEL Morning Update: March 25th

Good Morning Families, today is Wednesday March 25th 2020 and it is now time for our morning moment of SEL.

How are you feeling?

Using our awareness and focus to study that wonderful Mood Meter can help induce mindfulness. In fact, some people use Image Mediation as a part of their mindfulness practice. Essentially, image mediation uses a picture, likely inspiring in some way, as the source of focus. Sometimes when we just give ourselves a moment to sit and be still and look at a wonderful image, maybe a picture of favorite place, or a picture of a friend, pet, loved one, can help us to be more receptive to the feelings we may associate with that image or what the image represents. For me, this Mood Meter produces a feeling of joy and a feeling of hope.

And this joy and hope can help me when I face two big obstacles of mindfulness, Stress and Pressure.

In his recent book on emotional intelligence titled Permission to Feel Marc Brackett provides some granularity between stress and pressure.

“Stress”, he says, “is a response to too many demands and not enough resources. Pressure can be found in situations in which you perceive that something at stake is dependent on the outcome of your performance.” I think a lot about stress and pressure these days, particularly when I think of folks who work in the medical profession. Right now, there are too many demands and not enough resources on these people. To my mind that could create a lot of stress. I think of how these folks will function, not necessarily from patient-to-patient but in the moments between. What do they tell themselves on the way to work, or after work when they are with their families? The perception of “the stakes” for all things seem to be high these days. How are these folks measuring their performance and against what outcomes?

For today’s mindfulness practice let’s try to use some mindfulness in a way that may send “the good vibes” to our friends in the health care profession.

First, let’s hold in our minds an image of ourselves. See yourself, maybe you are standing, maybe you are sitting, maybe you are lounging. Hold that image and shift your breath to your nose. As you inhale, see yourself, and ty saying in your mind the word “strong”. As you exhale, still holding the image of yourself, say in your mind the word “healthy”. Try that for a few breaths. Remember, if any thoughts other than the image of you and the words strong/healthy creep in, gently dismiss them.

Now, do this same practice with the breathing pattern and the words “strong” and “healthy” but this time, hold the picture of a person you know who works in health care. Maybe your nurse or doctor. Or, maybe you work in health care, in that case imagine a professional colleague.

Giving your mind the chance to balance some the other messages it is receiving can be a real act of kindness, that a lot of us could benefit from right now.

I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in whatever way we can, tomorrow.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I will be on email each day at bjmanzo@seattleschools.org

Until tomorrow, best wishes,

Manzo

Bryan Manzo, M.Ed., NBCC
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary
206.252.4648

Permanent link to this article: http://sandpointelementarypta.org/2020/03/26/sel-morning-update-march-25th/

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