We All Need Resilience

Resilience was my November word (12 Words for 2018). You won’t find it on the original list. It snuck in there last month. I just got a strong intuition that Resilience had something to say to me and ask of me, so I bumped Whole-Heartedness, November’s original word, into December.

Here is what Merriam-Webster has to say about “Resilience: An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Sign me up!

I would propose that all of us need Resilience, because our lives are in constant flux and change.

And that is what I most learned from a month of focus on Resilience: it isn’t just the big stuff where we need Resilience. We need Resilience in the constant stream of little challenges and changes in our lives.

Perhaps we need Resilience even more for the little stuff than the big stuff in our lives.

I think we all tend to discount the cost of little stresses and challenges and changes in our lives, because we have developed an inner toughness and resourcefulness that has us “toughing it out” and “pushing through it”.

This approach can be useful, of course, but it can also take a toll and wear us down if we are constantly facing little challenges and changes in our lives, and we don’t have a toolkit of strategies with which to nourish and replenish ourselves, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

It doesn’t work if our sole strategy is girding our loins and pushing forward, through it all.

We all experience times in our lives where what is coming our way isn’t expected, or feels disappointing or frustrating.

Here’s an example of what I mean. For me this month, I experienced what felt like one thing after another, all relatively minor, but persistent:

  • I had a series of health challenges that showed up, one after another, that kept me on the bench for a few weeks, and this was compounded by some medical re-schedules and new-schedules.
  • A blizzard dumped over a foot of snow, nixing my husband’s birthday celebration.
  • I needed to postpone a few small work projects that looked, finally, like they could get going in November.
  • I had no energy for my usual art projects, much less the new ones. I had to continually let go of starting those too.

None of these things, especially by themselves, are very challenging. But they happened to come in a continuous flow, and it started to feel a bit relentless.

Also, as a result, I felt like I was keeping up with the absolutely essential work commitments, but nothing much else. At the beginning of the month, it had looked like there was a wide expanse of time and space available to begin a few new creative endeavors.

This was the perfect set-up for Resilience.

Yes, we definitely need Resilience for the big challenges and changes in our lives.

But, the little stuff can really wear us down if we are not paying attention. It is erosion, and it can challenge our good spirits and our energy levels.

For me, Resilience is the feeling that my inner well is replenished and full, so that I can handle what comes my way.

About mid-month, this point about the little stuff and Resilience started to sink in, and I kicked my go-to Resilience strategies into high gear. My favorite replenishing and rebalancing strategies are:

  • Meditation
  • Guided Visualization
  • Walking
  • Journaling
  • Eating Well
  • Hydrating

None of this is rocket science, and I do all of it most of the time. But I made the connection that all of it is crucial to my Resilience, and I began to make it my top priority, and to give myself as much of it as I needed, no matter what. I stopped second guessing myself about whether I was being indulgent. I realized that all of it was essential, not optional.

I realized something else about Resilience, too. If we don’t tend to our Resilience on the small stuff, we certainly won’t have it for the big stuff.

Your favorite Resilience strategies will be different. But, it might be handy to be very conscious of what they are, so that you can pull them out whenever you need them. A sort of Resilience Toolkit, customized specifically to meet your needs.

What is Resilience for you? And what are your top Resilience strategies?

Flow Has Me Flummoxed

Flow is my July word (see the original 12 Words blog post, if you are just tuning in).

Flow has me flummoxed.

What is Flow?

We hear “Go with the Flow,” or “Tune into the Flow,” or “Align with the Flow.” But what is Flow?

When I look back at my whole life (what I can remember, anyway!), there is a discernible order in what, at the time, felt like chaos and uncertainty. There seems to be an organic unfolding. Sometimes I went with it easily, sometimes more reluctantly, and sometimes kicking and screaming.

I guess I have lived enough life at this point to believe that there is a creative flow or force operating in my life, one that underlies all the individual circumstances and situations. All the things that I thought at the time were bumps, roadblocks, stumbles, and wanderings, now make sense in the larger picture of my life.

Maybe that is Flow.

But in the daily moments, my life still often feels anything but Flow-y. It feels twisty and turn-y and at times inscrutable.

Maybe Flow just isn’t always to be known in the moment.

Yet, I still trust that there is an order, and a creative flow, and maybe that is what is important.

Maybe Flow is right here, and I am just not feeling it all the time.

You can see that I still have several crossed wires about Flow.

However, I trust that even as I write this, my understanding of Flow is sorting itself out, and all will be revealed in good time, and in right order.

In the meantime, What is Flow?

 

Receptivity is Living Surrendered

We’re already at the end of April, and I have not posted much about Receptivity. This month has been very interesting, as have the past 3 months, with the 12 Words.

I’ve thought a lot about Receptivity, and journaled a lot about it. I’ve been committed to embodying Receptivity, as much as I can.

For me, Receptivity has been the most challenging of the words so far to understand, at a deep level, and to embody.

At first I thought that Receptivity is easy, just to receive. What could be easier than receiving?

But the more I learned and experienced Receptivity, the more it became clear that it isn’t a passive state. It’s an active practice, and an active presence.

It is a constant, conscious shedding, or letting go, of my expectations and assumptions of how things should be, or how they should go.

It is continual clearing of my “field”, so that I may be an open, fertile field of openness and awareness.

It is living surrendered.

It’s not a destination, but a practice.

To really receive the fullness of anything, inner wisdom, someone’s love, an opportunity, a possibility, a surprise, a challenge, we need to be open and aware.

And, if we are looking for something in particular, or we are expecting something to come in a particular way, we’re not open.

If we are assuming that something in our lives is broken, and needs fixing, all we tend to see is the “broken,” and we miss the inspiration that is flowing through us continuously, moving us towards an even fuller experience of deep well-being, and a knowing of our true nature.

Once again, it essentially comes down to living our lives actively present in the moment.

As I have said before, for me, that’s a pretty big challenge, but so worth it.

What have you learned about Receptivity this month?

Inscrutable Eagerness

Eagerness is my word (see 12 Words) for March.

I’ve thought a lot about Eagerness this month. I’ve “hearted” a lot about Eagerness. I’ve even written a lot about it.

Eagerness has been inscrutable for me.

I have noticed that Curiosity (my January word) and Eagerness are frequent companions. At first, I thought they were the same thing. Then I realized that Curiosity is something that I choose to invoke. Eagerness is something that arises spontaneously from within me, and invites me to respond to it.

They have a similar feeling to me: a quickening, and a palpable sense of positive anticipation.

As a kid growing up in Northern California, I was fortunate to spend many summer vacations in Yosemite National Park. This was before it was an insanely popular tourist destination. It was one of my parents’ favorite places. I  spent quite a few summers in my 20’s backpacking Upper Yosemite. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Yosemite.

One of Yosemite’s hallmarks is its sheer granite cliffs.

I still remember Curiosity driving me to the edges of those sheer drops of thousands of feet in Yosemite. I couldn’t wait to see what I could see from the edges, and to feel the sense of expansive vistas.

Curiosity pushes me to the edges of my comfort zone, and into new and expansive experiences, and Curiosity brings Eagerness with it.

Eagerness is an energy that bubbles up spontaneously from within me.

It’s a pathfinder. It points to an opportunity for joy.

Eagerness invites me to follow it.

I’ve been playing with the invitations of Eagerness this month.

When I feel its spark within me, I stop, breathe, and allow it to fill me with its delicious and enticing energy.

I see where it leads me.

I savor the experience of Eagerness, and the joy it leads me to.

What is Eagerness for you?

 

The Last Word on Vitality (Maybe)

Today is the last day of February, and tomorrow, I am on to another of my 12 Words, Eagerness.

Vitality, to me, is the flow of creative spirit from within. It is the part of me that is always becoming, ever emerging and seeking expression. It urges me, and when I allow it, it radiates in and through me.

Its face and rhythm change.

Sometimes it is quieter and meandering, like a waning autumn stream, in the mountains.

Sometimes it is a torrent, like a current that is robustly fed by spring rains.

My “job” is to join the river and the flow, and for me, this is primarily done by frequent pauses during the day, breathing deeply into the flow of Vitality.

When I do that, I feel the rhythm of the flow in my body. I know that on some level, I am this flow. I empty myself to receive the insights and intuitions of the flow, and when it feels the right time, I move as the flow into action.

For me, Vitality is a flow of ephemeral moments, to be seized and and savored:

  • To reach out to someone or something in love and gratitude, in a passing moment.
  • To realize an easier way of moving through something, just as a river finds its way through the boulders.
  • To have that knowing that I am on my right path, and that all is well.
  • To embody a more visionary perspective in the challenges.
  • To act, with a knowing that it is the right thing to do.

Vitality asks much of me, as it flows with inspiration and radiating energy.

I must choose to join the river. It is a surrender to the flow of the deep wisdom of creative spirit emerging. But I am still, at times, reluctant to give myself fully to it.

I must respect the timing of the flow. Sometimes it is moving slower than I think I would like, or faster than I think I can keep up with.

Vitality always demands that I be present in the moment. I need to breathe and to sink into presence countless times during a day.

I need to be a clear space to receive and sense the flow of Vitality, and to radiate it back to others. Sometimes there are the boulders of my cluttered mind, and I need to open up spaces for the flow to make its way through, in its full flow.

Sometimes I need to clear away an ancient beaver’s den of old outdated beliefs and assumptions, so that Vitality can flow clearly and fully.

But as much as Vitality demands of me to be committed to allowing its flow, and as much as it needs clear space within me, I’m in.

In welcoming Vitality as my constant companion for this month, I have felt the joy of inspiration and the power of radiating energy flowing. I have had moments of knowing that this is how I want to be in my life, living as one with the Emergence of creative spirit from deep within.

Vitality is a commitment I am willing to make.

 

 

The Real Harbinger of Spring

This morning a male cardinal was singing from the top of a big old oak in our woods, about 15 minutes before sunrise.

This, for me, is the real harbinger of Spring. He starts singing a few weeks before the robins get here. Robins are considered by many to be a harbinger of Spring, also.

This cardinal lifted my spirits. His song represents an inevitability, evidence of the certainty of life’s rhythms, nature’s turning of the wheel of the seasons.

There is still over 2 feet of snow in our woods. The cardinals have been silent all winter, and this morning, the song rang out.

I give thanks for the grace to be aware of these signs, and of the predictable force of nature moving forward.

As the wheel of life turns, so do my own rhythms and energies. I am ready for a new beginning.

 

Meeting Vitality

The first question for me, when I meet a new word, of the 12 Words, is: What is it?

February’s word is Vitality.

I have the sense that I know more about what Vitality isn’t, than what it is:

  • Going through life distracted and preoccupied
  • Just putting one foot in front of the other
  • Walking through the day with a sense of obligation rather than purpose
  • Stoic forebearance

But, what is it?

I know it when I see it.

We have all seen people who are very challenged physically, or quite elderly, and who light up a room with their sense of radiating energy of aliveness and Yes to life. What is that quality of being that they are tapped into, radiating, choosing, or allowing?

Having seen and known people like that, I believe that Vitality is different than being an outstanding specimen of physical health. It is a quality of being.

And, I know it’s an inside job.

What is that quality or essence?

How do we “be” Vitality?

 

Enter

Last week, I ventured out to my outdoor altar, to refresh it for the Spring.

As I returned to the house, I picked up this crumpled, muddy bit of yellow tape. Curious about what it was, I opened it up and this is what I saw: just the one word, Enter.

This is unusual, because our house is in a woods, about 400 feet from the road, out in farm country. Who knows how far this traveled to get here, over the Winter, so I feel like I have been handed a gift.

I post it here as an inquiry for you: Where, or what, are you called to enter?

Waiting Again

Nature has been showing me a lot of examples of Waiting lately.

This wren house is waiting for the wrens to return from their warmer winter grounds.

The cycles of nature comfort me, and they invite me to relax into patience, and into waiting with equanimity.

These rhythms of nature reassure me that they is a time for every thing and that my life has momentum, and that I will benefit from moving with that momentum, rather than pushing on it.

How would you like to be with the Waiting, in your life?

 

The Rhythm of Gray

I sketched this view out our front window on a dense, gray day.

I find it hard to love gray. I prefer sunlight, no way around it.

But gray is an invitation. For me, it is an invitation to retreat, rest, reflect, and rejuvenate.

Gray days are “cave days”.

What is the invitation of a gray day, for you?

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