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Sharing on National Feelings Day

National Feelings Day began as an online movement to promote well-being, creating a safe space to express the wide range of feelings human beings experience.

In the 1970s, I was teaching at Good Shepherd School in Evansville, Indiana. I hadn’t heard of National Feelings Day.

Nevertheless, I began having my second grade students share their feelings at the beginning of the day. I would ask one child by name, “______, how do you feel today?” They were free to share or to pass if they did not wish to share.

That child would share what they were feeling and why. Then they would ask the next child. We did not respond to the feelings. We just listened. Some students liked this exercise so much they taught some first graders how to do it.

At one point, instead of asking them how they felt that day, I chose a particular feeling such as “What makes you angry?” For three days, we did different feelings.

At the end of the third day, one little girl raised her hand and said, “Sister, you have not allowed us to tell you how we feel for three whole days!”

Expressing feelings matters

In another school, a shy second grader was moving from my classroom to a different city. When meeting his new teacher, he inquired: “Well, there’s just one thing I want to know. Do you have feeling time? If you don’t I’m not coming to this school.”

I have no idea how that story ended.

In another case, this simple exercise brought about a truly life-changing experience for a particular child.

When I began this practice, I had no idea it would mean so much to the children. As a teacher, this information was helpful to my interaction with them that day.

“Today, National Feelings Day serves as a reminder that it’s OK to feel and that our emotions are an integral part of who we are. It encourages us to engage in self-care, reach out to others in need, and foster a culture of emotional support.”

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Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler has been a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for more than 60 years. Sister Donna has served in elementary education, parish ministry, diocesan social justice, as well as the Congregation’s liturgy office, archives department and social justice outreach. She also administered as the director of the Providence Volunteer Ministry. Sister Donna currently volunteers in outreach with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students.

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  1. Avatar Marsha Speth, SP on April 5, 2024 at 6:44 am

    Thank you, Donna, for this lovely reminder.

  2. Avatar Mary Lou Ruck on April 5, 2024 at 9:00 am

    Well done. Thanks, Mary Lou,sp

  3. Avatar Denise Wilkinson on April 5, 2024 at 10:10 am

    I loved this story when you related it to a group of us at the lunch table and loved it just as much reading it today.

  4. Avatar Laura Parker on April 5, 2024 at 11:30 am

    Thank you, Donna, I enjoyed hearing about your experience and relating it to today. Good reminder for our own self-care.

  5. Avatar connie SP on April 5, 2024 at 2:33 pm

    WOW! This one was outstanding Donna! Those were lucky students to have their feelings affirmed!

  6. Avatar Jeannie Smith, PA on April 5, 2024 at 3:30 pm

    Donna – what an amazing thing to do, and such a gift to find out how very important such a simple thing could be. It reminds me of Mother Theodore’s’ advice “to love the children first.” What you did was a beautiful act of love!

  7. Avatar Paula Modaff SP on April 5, 2024 at 7:02 pm

    You are just the right person to share the importance of feelings, Donna. Thank you.

  8. Avatar Debbie Griffey on April 6, 2024 at 6:51 am

    Thank you! As a children’s therapist I applaud your act as a teacher who allowed children to recognize and acknowledge feelings. Bravo!!

  9. Avatar Linda Doyle , PA on April 8, 2024 at 9:20 pm

    S. Donna : I think you created a connection with your students for a lifetime and now they think about how spiritual and meaningful god’s love is in the world because of your faith and love and caring .

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