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Highest achievers?

 

The results of Ireland’s Leaving Certificate State Exam were released on the 13th of August.

This exam is the culmination of five years of study and it holds the key to the future of many students.

For months before the exams, which are held each year in June, two things happen.

1.  Some students don’t cast the upcoming exams a thought.

2.  Some students stress themselves to the point of mental and physical distress over sitting these exams.

For weeks before the results are released in August, two things happen.

1.    Some students don’t cast the upcoming  results a thought.

2.  Some students stress themselves out worrying about the outcome or points they will achieve.

And that is the story of life.

The students at 1. above, takes things in their stride, they do not struggle with their emotions or become anxious.

The students at 2. above, are predisposed to an anxious nature.  They struggle to handle their emotions and cope with stress.

And that is the human story or condition.  We are all different, in how we see the world and how we cope in the world.

The Leaving Certificate acknowledges the high achievers and rightly so!  It tabulates the results and rewards students accordingly.  It is a grading system.  It however, fails to grade students on how they function and cope emotionally or psychologically.

So please consider a few important things.

1.  Look past the A4 sheet of Academic Outcomes and see that each student, teenager, boy, girl, non-gender, behind the A4 grading system is individual, unique, different and consider how they truly feel. They may not be the highest achiever in maths or biology but they might be the highest achiever in resilience or mental health management.

2.  Don’t compare them to others.  It doesn’t matter what their friends or peers got.  Don’t expect them to get the same results. Do expect them to react or cope in very different ways and be there for them, if their world falls apart.  Be calm, be capable and let them see that by supporting each other this will all work out!

3.  If you are a teacher or parent and your student, son or daughter haven’t reached the exam stage yet, then make the most of it!  Tell them, right the way through school, how unique and different they are.  Watch out for and acknowledge their high achievements, whether it is academic or simply turning in for school.  Remind them that they have numerous talents, some of which will be uncovered academically and many, many more which will only surface when they study at the college of life!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Perpetuating Social Norms…

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

Today I would like to share T.S’s very emotive, true story from his blog “Crazywriterof6.” As I read T.S’s distressing reality, I felt my body became anxious.  I felt his apprehension and fear.  His sense of loneliness and isolation is palpable.  He says… “Maybe some of you can relate and see that even then, you weren’t alone”. No child should be in dread every day, isolated and living with the fear of bullying!

In my last post I wrote about the difficulty I had in supporting my children, both victims of bullying, because of the pressure on victims to remain silent.  You might like to read it… Big Boys…Don’t Cry!

We now hear in T.S’s own words, his deeply ingrained and debilitating belief as to why he was bullied… “The torture continued. Many moments before this event, many after. I have written some of them out, just to get them out. All this because I was different than the “normal people”, different from what society says I should be. Different because I was overweight”.  I believe he was not different… everybody is different and everybody has the right to be respected for who and how they are.

Please enhance your understanding by reading his story…

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/48424428/posts/20

At a funeral yesterday, one sentence struck me, that sentence was “We could all be better people,” meaning we could all do more to be there for others.

Let’s break down the silence and begin a cross cultural, worldwide conversation about bullying.  Let’s educate ourselves and our children about bullying and let’s tear down out-dated social norms.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

Gardens… the path of life

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge…Gardens

 

 

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The path of life…

 

Japanese Gardens

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…Inverted

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

Inverted means to turn (something) upside down
Or to change the position, order, or relationship of things so that they are the opposite of what they had been.

When you live with something challenging like bullying for long enough and see the destructive effect it has on you and your family, you need to realise that you have two choices, namely

1. stay trapped within the challenge, trying to escape, or
2. find the gift within the challenge and grow it!

When all else failed us as parents, and we could find no solution to the destructive effects bullying had on our children, we stopped trying to find the solutions we wanted to find.

We didn’t admit defeat but we accepted that this was where we were, nothing more, nothing less. We took our focus off all that had gone wrong. We shifted our lens to focus on building our resilience. We stepped back, paused and regrouped. Then we hit back with the most powerful weapon of all… love.

We opened ourselves up, to just love. We didn’t hold out expectations. We didn’t compare. We didn’t complain that life was unfair. We refocused instead on every positive we could find. We spoke from a place of positivity and within a short space of time we began to notice change!

And now, a mere 12 months later, our son has completed his first year in college and has spent his summer touring a number of European countries.  Our daughter is pushing forward with her campaign to have Psychiatric Service Dogs recognised in Ireland and is in the process of training Ireland’s first every Psychiatric Service Dog, Doris.  I’ve experienced, for myself, how cathartic (healing) writing and sharing is, especially when it is done within a safe and creative space, surrounded by a supportive community who identify with my posts and offer positive and affirming feedback.  Because of this support I’ve written over thirty posts on the topic of bullying.

I was recently nominated for an award by Terri at Reclaiming Hope.  https://reclaiminghope.blog/

However, living with fibromyalgia/CFS means I have to constantly prioritise my time and energy.  I don’t commit time to taking part in awards but I am always pleased to be nominated for an award and I am grateful to Terri for her thoughtful introduction which I’d like to share with you…

Marie from Create Space. 

Marie shares her family’s story of bullying, and the devastating effects it has on the mental health of those affected. Although the subject matter has the potential to be weighty and heartbreaking, Marie balances this by sharing how one can rise above the effects of bullying and make a difference in the world.

So, when you face your next challenge, what will you choose?
Will you choose to…
1. remain devastated, weighed down and heartbroken, or will you turn the challenge you face on its head, inverted and
2. rise above your challenge to make a difference in the world!

The choice is yours!

Thank you to all who continue to follow, read and share their feelings, thoughts and comments on my bullying posts.  I would not have reached this point without you!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Petition please support…Bullying & Beyond… Painting the Pain, Part II

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

It is now five months since I shared my Bullying & Beyond post, Painting the Pain, part one.  It is not an easy read and comes with a trigger warning.  You can access it here… Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part one.

Those past five months have been very challenging for our daughter and for us as parents, as she tries bravely to cope with her anxiety.   She refuses to give in and her resilience is remarkable.  As well as accessing professional health support, she has also started a campaign, to try and set up a Psychiatric Assistance Dog charity in Ireland.  Sadly in Ireland while there are guide dogs for the blind and Assistance dogs for autism, Psychiatric Assistance Dogs do not exist.

To understand the whole area of Psychiatric Assistance Dogs, Emma has been busy educating herself via books, blogs, Social Media and YouTube.  A year ago, she began her campaign, contacting political representatives and support organisations.

Emma’s campaign is driven by her goal to have legislation enabled in Ireland to give Psychiatric Assistance Dogs equal status to that available to users of guide dogs for the blind and Assistance dogs for autism.  Having the company of a Psychiatric Assistance Dog to pre-empt the onset of panic attacks will enhance Emma’s life, allowing her to leave home for the first time in months feeling comfortable and safe as she goes about her daily life.

Emma has purchased a Golden Retriever puppy, which she has named Doris.

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Doris, just newly arrived…

 

It is hoped that in time and with the correct training Doris will be the first recognised Psychiatric Assistance Dog in Ireland.  Emma dreams of offering this service of trained Psychiatric Assistance Dogs to others.

To see this goal realised, Emma has also worked unceasingly to set up her website www.candocanineire.com and you can read more of her mission and goals here.

Emma has been in regular contact with the office of the Minister of State for Disability Issues, Mr. Finian McGrath and she has created a petition, which she hopes will receive lots of support and help her have Ireland enact and recognise equal status for Psychiatric Assistance Dogs.  I would be forever grateful if you would make Emma and Doris’ day by signing their petition and finding one other person to do likewise.

I hope I’ve attached the petition link correctly, for convenience, just as you’ll find it on Emma and Doris’ Instagram account…

https://linktr.ee/dorismakesmy.day

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Doris and Emma together making the best of their day

 

Emma and Doris have also started an Instagram account @dorismakesmyday where they would love you to keep them company as they both document and share their journey towards an Ireland that recognises Psychiatric Assistance Dogs and offers people like Emma who live with a mental health condition access to the love and support of a Psychiatric Assistance Dog.

And we can’t finish without recalling this trailblazer… Andy, Emma’s first dog.  Although it broke Emma’s heart (and ours) to let him go to a playfilled future, it had to be done.

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A shoutout to Andy…who still holds a special place in our hearts.

Do you struggle with mental health issues?  Do you have panic attacks?  What do you know about Psychiatric Service Dogs?  Do you know anybody who would benefit from reading this post, if so, please feel free to share.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond… No EXCUSE…Part 1

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

Bullying is often experienced by children who;

Are shy or meek,
Are overweight or underweight,
Are neglected or dirty,
Have a learning difficulty,
Are taller than, shorter than or different from the average,

Have low confidence or self esteem,

Are seen as the high achiever; class swat, or

Are of an alternative ethnicity or race to the majority of the class

But our son didn’t fit into any of these categories… or so I thought,

and I was curious as to why he was targeted.

I asked him why he thought he was a victim of bullying…

He reminded me of a phase he went through in primary school when he grew his hair.  For a while he was the only child with longer than average hair and then I realised this simple step, outside the norm, meant he had fallen into the “different” category…

Eventually the phase wore off and he cut his hair but it was too late…the foundations of bullying had been laid.

But during that conversation something very important struck me!  As he was explaining his experience, he also added a… “BUT” or an “EXCUSE” as to why the bullies behaved this way…

He said…
“but the bully had issues of his own”
and
“but the other boy had ADHD”
and
“but another bully had a physical impediment and could easily have been bullied himself so he sided with the bully to protect himself.”

My initial reaction was how generous our son was, willing to make excuses and forgive their wrong-doing and destructive behaviour and all these statements made me feel proud;

speaking volumes about his personal values, his humanistic, empathetic private logic and how he saw the world,

but on reflection, it also made me sad;

it spoke volumes about valuing ourselves and expecting to be respected by others.  It spoke of our son’s willingness to under-value himself.  It spoke of the need for healthy boundaries and knowing when those boundaries have been disrespected.

And while I agree that each of those bullies probably had a difficult back story, or issue of their own…

victims of bullying are innocent and do not need to make excuses for or take ownership of the nasty behaviour or acts perpetrated by bullies.  It is however, vital that victims learn the importance of self-respect.

So the bottom line is that it’s NOT OK that bullies treat you disrespectfully

And it’s NOT OK to make excuses for them.  You deserve respect!

There is no BUT, there is no EXCUSE

Have you been bullied? Do you fit into a stereotypical category? Have you made excuses for your bully? Do you still think there is an excuse?

Le grà,

Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… Yes, you were bullied too!

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

Did you know that every time your child is bullied, it leaves a mark, physical, emotional or psychological

And did you know that every time your child is bullied… so are you!

Every time you seek support and fail to get the support you need for your child, you and your family are being bullied again through neglect and broken, dysfunctional systems.

Don’t stand by and let that happen.  Trust your gut instinct.  If it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right!

Don’t stop looking for and expecting solutions until you receive some.  If you failed to find answers in the past, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty, instead, keep in mind this quote “I did then what I knew how to do.  Now that I know better, I do better” Maya Angelou.

Now, refocus you efforts and more determined than ever, continue your search for answers.

Have you ever felt bullied because your child was bullied?  How did it make you feel? Did you listen to your intuitive gut feeling and renew your efforts to find answers?

You may like to start your search to find some of those answers here on Create Space in my Bullying & Beyond series, here are two suggestions,

Bullying & Beyond…3.Improve your Listening Skills!

And when the challenge becomes overwhelming, remember

Bullying & Beyond…4.Self-care x 10!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… Whose expectations?

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

Have you ever expected or wished for the easy path?  I know I have on many occasions!

 

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The Path of Life or The Easy Path at The Japanese Garden, Irish National Stud, Kildare and in life!

 

Life is easy if as a parent/teacher your children/students excel at sport, are the high achievers, are highly academic or simply, functioning!

But that’s not always reality and as a parent or teacher you’ve noticed your child/student disengage and opt out of school and fail exams. Your dreams and expectations are fading in front of your eyes.  You’re upset, disappointed maybe even embarrassed.

Your child/student ‘should’ be independent, ‘should’ be academic, ‘should’ be functioning… but they’re not!

They’ve just ruined all your well laid plans and you feel bad!  Now, spare a thought for how bad your child/student feels and that’s before you opened your mouth and added insult to injury.

So now what?

Well now is the perfect time to review YOUR expectations!

If your child/student had just been diagnosed with a major heart complaint, what expectations would you have?  I bet you’d focus on what they can still achieve.  You’d admire them for getting out of bed.  You’d be pleased they pushed through their health limitations and managed to attend school!

So please, also take mental health into consideration and revisit YOUR expectations .  The verbal and non-verbal messages you give your child/student, can be life-defeating when they struggle with mental health issues, bullying or what may even seems like an uncomplicated adolescence.

So if your child/student manages to turn back in for class…

1. Start by acknowledging that there is some issue.

2. Next acknowledge the fact that your child/student is in attendance TODAY.

3. Note the possibility they may not make the grade… but look for the bigger picture.

4. Practice unconditional, non-judgemental love and see the effort they are making, no matter how small.

5.  Acknowledge their presence.

6.  Recognise their engagement. Tell them you see that they have pushed through their health limitations to attend school and mix with their peers rather than self-isolating themselves in their bedroom!

Now you’ve realigned YOUR expectations!  Now you’re telling them they are good enough, exactly as they are!

This approach will help your child/student learn to accept themselves as good enough.  They may even let themselves feel happy!  This very powerful feeling is addictive and soon they will want more.  They will, in their own time, step into the driving seat and begin to empower themselves.

As a parent/teacher, try to understand, what is run of the mill and easy for one child/student, can be very challenging for another child/student.  Placing value on their efforts not their achievements can be a game changer.  (If you can see no effort, review your expectations again.  Maybe just breathing and staying alive is taking all their effort). Love them even more, they need it more!

Watch them as they engage with life on their terms, at the level they are able for, at this precise moment.  Now you’re encouraging them to pass the more important and real test – the test that is not the easy path but the path of life!

Have you ever had your expectations dashed?  Have you realigned your expectations and seen your child/student flourish?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

Where are you?

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I enjoyed some relaxing leisure time with colleagues and students on our yearly outing recently.   Our trip included time at The Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden.  This display of flags represents all the countries that have completed The Irish National Stud Breeding Course.  Can you spot your flag here?  If you can or if you can’t, please say hello and tell me where you are on the globe?  Better still tell me something interesting about where you live?My geography is improving daily thanks to the little map on WP Stats!

Learn more here…https://irishnationalstud.ie/attraction/japanese-gardens/

Le gra,

Mindfully Marie,

Ireland.

 

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