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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

We're Gonna Have Fun, I Know We Will: The Arbor Hill ABCs

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Pet the Lizard

I would hazard a guess that the primitive parts of our nervous systems have been on high alert for the majority of the past year, for most of us, anyway. This is not surprising given the circumstances, but it is exhausting. And that reptilian or lizard brain tends to get into a self-repeating loop of reactivity to threats and stressors, then more stress, more reactivity, etc. Neuroscientist, author and teacher Rick Hanson has lots of great ideas for dealing with this. The most recent one? He calls it "Pet the Lizard." Here are the basics:

  • The reptilian brain (aka the Lizard) is always on protection alert (i.e., Don't be eaten!!)

  • It can't help it--it's just the way it is.

  • When there is lots of stress the Lizard can dominate the brain.

  • We can soothe and pet the Lizard:

    • Try saying "Right now I am alright" to this fearful primitive part of yourself. Or to put it another way, at this particular moment, in terms of basic safety, you are okay.

    • Remind your lizard self of this as you go through your day...kindly.

    • Reassure and soothe your body

      • Take a deep breath and notice that you are okay, in this small moment.

      • Shift your posture, or stretch a bit, or move in some other way that can help you be a little more comfortable.

      • My addition? If you are cold, find some warmth--lizards love warmth.

Pet your lizard. You will be a little happier.

Here's a link to the full article. There's a nice little story there about his interaction with an actual lizard.

We're Gonna Have Fun, I Know We Will: The Arbor Hill ABCs

For a change of pace I thought I'd share this lighthearted song that I wrote years ago when I was teaching at Arbor Hill Nursery School in Charlottesville, one of the three nursery schools/day care centers where I've worked. (Arbor Hill, sadly, closed its doors a few years after I left.)

Although it is specific to Arbor Hill, it could also be a song about any nursery school. I hope it brightens up your day, bringing back some good memories--your own or maybe your kids' or grandkids'.

The Arbor Hill ABCs

A is for Arbor Hill, we're gonna have fun, I know we will.

B is for building blocks and beautiful books we read a lot.

C is for clean-up time--but I don’t want to!

When we’re all done it looks so fine.

D is for the dolls we love and dress-up clothes and Please don’t shove!

E is for easels, all covered with glorious paint.

F is for the fish and frogs who swim around like pollywogs.

G is for the gooey mess

we make with glitter and glue--oh yes!

H is for the hugs we give and get to help each other live.

I is for I can do it! but sometimes I need help.

J is for the juice we drink,

when we don’t pour it down the kitchen sink.

K is for kicking--please don’t do that, it hurts!--

it really isn’t nice.

L is for the lunch we munch,

we really like to eat a bunch!

M is for marbles that move so marvelously.

N is for nap time--Please close your eyes and sleep.

O is for Uh-oh! I just made a mistake!

P is for We’re not perfect!

and for the postman at the gate.

Q is for the Quiet Room and

Quick, let’s get outside!

R for roaring lions--RRRRRRR!

Come on, let’s run and hide.

S is for the swings; I pump

and feel like I have wings.

T is for the trucks and toys and teachers

and the total noise!

U is for umbrellas we bring on rainy days.

V is for volcanic rocks that exploded out

when they were hot.

W’s for Wash your hands!

X for Exactly right!

Y for yellow and for Yes!

Z for a zillion hugs--no less!

So here we are at Arbor Hill, we’re gonna have fun I know we will.

These are the Arbor Hill ABCs, next time won’t you sing with me?

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Lizard, Rick Hanson

Pouting boy, Mick Haupt, unSplash

Paint all over, Alice Dietrich, unSplash

Lunch, Partnership for a Healthier America

Napping cat, Wes Hicks, unSplash

Swinging, Myles Tan, unSplash

Three kids, Nathan Durmlao, unSplash


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