Skip to content

Category: Uncategorized

The new normal

For some of you, this sudden shift from regular school to learning from home has completely stressed you out. For others, it feels like an adventure and you’re kind of looking forward to seeing how it’s all going to play out.  I’m here to tell you, both are okay!  The trick is going to be to allow each other (and yourself) time and space to figure this out…and you will figure out a system, a new normal, a new routine – you just have to choose to and figure out how to best move forward.

If you need someone to cheer you on, give you some tips or you just need to talk, send me a message!  You can either use the “email Mrs. Martens” link at the top of the main page, or if that doesn’t work, you can email me directly at . We can set up a video chat, a phone call or just plain ol’ email. Take care of yourselves, kiddos!  Try to get outside in your yards and enjoy the sunshine!

p.s. this isn’t just for students – parents are welcome to email me as well 🙂

Spring Break – practicing how to deal.

Well this is turning out to be a different kind of Spring Break than I thought it would be only a few short weeks ago! A lot of us are sad about plans that got derailed because of Covid 19.  It is disappointing for sure, but here’s where we can put into action the “controlling my thoughts” exercise. (Also called the CBT triangle…Thinking-Feeling-Acting).  I can keep thinking about how disappointing this is, which will make me feel irritated, angry, sad (sometimes all at the same time!) and will cause me to have a bad attitude, say things I will be sorry for, and mope around, eating chips and feeling gross. Or, I can force my thoughts to more positive places. Such as…there are lots of things I can do around home.  I can learn a new song, a new dance, some new art, read some new books  etc.  When I think this way, I will feel accomplished and happier, which will help me to speak more positively, have a more pleasant attitude and get along with the people in my house better.  I know that it is much easier to say those words than to live them, but with practice, it does get easier.

Changing your thinking part 2

Yesterday I talked a little bit about how important it is to choose your thoughts carefully.  Sometimes, however, we find ourselves in a thinking “rut” and can’t seem to get out of a negative way of thinking. One way to change the thinking is to replace the unwanted thought with a more positive thought. In the example yesterday, I replaced the negative thought “I suck at drawing” with the more positive one, “with practice I’ll get better”. Sometimes our unwanted thoughts are a bit more destructive, but they can be replaced, too – and with intentional practice, you will usually find yourself with a more positive outlook.  I’ve attached a “Cognitive Triangle” picture that might help.

I  hope this visual helps you change your message to yourself.  🙂

Be careful what you think…


This is probably one of my favorite quotes 🙂   And if you’ve been in my office, you’ve probably seen it on my wall, and you’ve likely heard me say it to you.  It’s ancient…but it also incredibly current.  Our thoughts create feelings which create behaviors, which just reinforce thinking patterns.  It’s a cycle that can be controlled best when we control our thoughts.

Example:  Let’s say I tried to draw a picture but it didn’t turn out how I had hoped.  Thought: I suck at drawing.  Feeling: disappointment, discouragement.  Behavior: putting down my pencil and walking away.  So the next time I think of drawing, I’ll remember that feeling and likely choose not to try again.  Let’s change the thinking. Thought: I’d better keep practicing.  Feeling: determined, hopeful. Behavior: keep at it until it looks better. Now, the next time I think of drawing, I’ll likely remember that with practice it’ll get better and I’ll be more likely to keep trying, and I’ll feel more positive as well. 

Counselors sometimes call those negative thoughts, “thought distortions”. Kind of looking in a trick mirror and seeing a picture of yourself that’s not real. It is very important to choose kind words not just for others, but ourselves as well.  We become what we tell ourselves we are.  I would like to encourage you to think positively!  With practice you can change the habit of being hard on yourself, and become a more positive person.

One breath at a time…

shawnzrossi Flickr


Yesterday I promised I’d post a bit about Deep Breathing and Grounding.  The first part is something I’ve talked to many students about and we’ve practiced a few different ways to settle ourselves down.  There are LOTS of different ways to do deep breathing and different names and techniques.  Sometimes it’s called the Hot Chocolate breath – you take a deep, slow breath in through your nose (smelling the hot chocolate) and then a slow even breath out through your mouth (cooling off the hot chocolate).  I like that one because I like hot chocolate!

Sometimes it’s called square breathing – you breathe in as you go up one side of the square, hold your breath for the next side, then imagine going down the other side and letting your breath out, then hold again for the last side…then repeat.

Other names are belly breathing, figure 8 breathing, star breathing etc. etc. etc.  It all amounts to the same thing, which is slowing down your breathing, paying close attention to relaxing your muscles and breathing deep into your belly – and all of this helps us to calm ourselves, relax and think more clearly.


When we are in the middle of an anxiety or panic attack, or we are just so overwhelmed we feel like we have lost control, “our upstairs brain” – the part responsible for thinking and being in control – disconnects from our “downstairs brain” – the part that helps us to know if we are in danger (flight, fight or freeze)…and we kinda do lose control.  We might yell, cry a lot, curl up on the floor and just try to hide away. Grounding exercises help us in that moment when we are losing it.  When we intentionally bring our minds and bodies back to the present moment, we can often give our brains the time and space they need to “reconnect” the upstairs and downstairs parts, and we can hopefully function better again.  Here are some very simple exercises that you can do.  You just repeat these until you feel more in control and rational again.

Don’t Panic!

Have you ever felt like you were just DONE with all the stress?  If only you could get away from it all?  I get it!  I’ve felt that way too – and now, with “social distancing” and “self isolation” becoming a necessary part of life, we have fewer options that help us get away.  That is why it is so very important to practice calming strategies … they really, REALLY do help! The next time you find yourself in a bit of a panic, or you find that worry and anxiety seem to be all you can feel, or you just want to scream at your siblings (or your parents :/) …take a few minutes to try some of these tips and tricks, and see if they can help you find your calm.

5 Quick Ways to Calm Down

  • Imagine your favorite place – it’s like taking a mini vacation wherever you are

  • Think of your favorite things

  • Name animals alphabetically (alligator, bear, cow, dog, etc…)

  • Squeeze Something (play dough, clay, silly putty, your fists, a stress ball)

  • Get a Cold Drink of Water

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about 2 other ways to settle your mind…Deep Breathing and Grounding. As always, you are welcome to connect via the email link in the menu bar (don’t worry, it doesn’t get posted!) and let me know how you are managing – if you need to chat over the phone, that is always an option, too – just let me know!

Self Regulation

Here at Kleefeld School we often talk about the Zones of Regulation.  I put a blurb about the Zones in our Newsletter, and we talk about Zones throughout the school year.  Basically, the Zones are a way of understanding our emotions and learning how to manage our feelings and reactions.  The link below shows the Zones poster, along with some “tools” that help us to find our way back into the appropriate zone.  Usually we like to be in the Green Zone – this is where we are comfortable, calm and ready to learn.  The Blue (low energy) zone and the Yellow (high energy) zone have their places, but most often we might find that we need to find ways (tools) to bring our energy down or up. Take a look at the link, and let me know if you have any questions or stories to share!

zones of regulation 


Stay calm and carry on….

Keeping our minds calm when everything around us feels uncertain is something that we know is a good idea, but is sometimes hard to manage. One thing that has helped me, is something called “Mindfulness”. I think of Mindfulness as simply learning to be aware of my feelings and thoughts, and through practice, learning to let go of negative or stressful thought patterns or behaviours. There are many ways to practice being mindful. I have attached a link called Smiling Mind that is helpful for all ages, and walks you through different breathing exercises, thought exercises and sometimes even physical activities that teach you how to calm your mind and be kind to yourself 🙂 .


Red Rover, Red Rover….

Well, this certainly has been an unusual sort of week for us here at Kleefeld School.  I have been quite impressed by how well our students, parents and staff have managed to navigate all the changes that seemed to come at us so quickly.  Well done, everyone! As part of “navigating change”, I have created a blog as a way of staying connected and continuing the many conversations that we have throughout the week. So…Welcome!

You might be wondering at the title of this post. When I was a kid, we used to play Red Rover quite a bit on the playground. This game has stood the test of time and I see kids playing it outside still to this day.  Everyone links their arms as tight as they can, and someone yells out “Red Rover, Red Rover…send [insert name] over!” Out charges the person called over and he/she tries to break through the chain.  This is kind of what this week has been feeling like for me.  “Red Rover, Red Rover…send Covid-19 over!” …and we are all linking our arms, standing together and keeping this virus from slamming through our communities.  We beat this thing by standing together, united and strong.  Each person doing their small part…by staying home when they’d rather be going out;  by cancelling trips and outings; by remembering to wash their hands, and recite your A, B, C’s while you do it – even when our hands are dry and chapped from so much washing; by “social distancing” even when we’d rather be hugging and shaking hands.  This season won’t last forever, but it will forever change our lives…hopefully also in positive ways, as we learn how to support, encourage and stand together (even as we have to stay apart – for now).

With that, I invite you to come over to my blog. Visit me here, comment or send me an email to let me know how you are doing. Comments will not be posted, and I will respond to you via email to ensure your privacy. If you have any questions, need to chat or just want to tell me what you’ve been up to – please reach out.  I will be posting updates and some helpful tools for you along the way. If you’d prefer to email, my email address is .




Skip to toolbar