To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.
- Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
I'm the daughter and granddaughter of two bona fide resilient women. It's from those two that I began to witness the sweetness and bitterness of life's truths. A life that's prepared me to feel the full range and depth of emotions. I'm a woman who sobs easily, with equal measure to ecstatic joy. And although now, in my 40s, I've experienced enough to say I feel resilient in my own right, there are days when I wonder how much more can I withstand. Knowing full well none of us escapes suffering. It just comes and goes. In sharing and releasing our stories, we can begin to heal and find our strength - our true strength.
Sometimes, they say - the healing is in the aching.
Eight months ago, I wrote a post Rose-Colored Glasses describing my imperfect resilience. My protection. I try to see the good in everything. Yet there are points in our lives where we feel there is no solid ground, like we are hanging on the edge. We meet ourselves there in our own discomfort. I've felt like this off and on lately - not because of what's going on around me, but what's happening inside me. Aside from my marriage, I'm solely going through so much growth and transformation.
We all are.
"Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still."
During college, I began to seek out stories of women with brave hearts and resilient spirits - especially of women who led interesting lives and followed a non-conventional path (Anaïs Nin, for one). I'm intrigued how she managed a double life. It surely made her sound more interesting than - finished college, got married, bought a house, had babies, etc. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but rarely are our lives always so linear. Being resilient, in many ways, has to do with going with the flow (not swimming upstream all the time), creating your own path, and not caring too much about other's ideas about your life. It's your one and only life.
As AnaÏs said, "Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people's."
Over the years, I've come to the awareness that I have a high tolerance for emotional pain (i.e crap). That's sometimes my own - sometimes other people's. This occurred to me one day many years ago while I was sitting in a very uncomfortable yoga posture - when I moved my foot just an inch, I felt such relief that it got me thinking of how this physical pain played out in my emotional life. A slight shift - our foot or otherwise - can change our whole outlook on a situation, so why do we stay in uncomfortable places. The signs of this started showing up more and more as I paid attention. But even now, I'm learning to listen to this inner knowing. Having my own back is something quite new for me.
Resilience is defined as "the ability to recover quickly from or adjust easily to misfortune or change" by the Oxford Dictionary. Almost all of us have heard or seen extraordinary courage after heartbreaking tragedy. Yes, tragedies occur and injustices exist. Bad things happen to good people. Although we feel like some things should hurt more than others, there's no hierachy of pain. My hurt will be different than your hurt, but they both matter. Each of us shows resilience in smaller ways, when we find the courage to have the hard conversation, when we're hurt, or when things didn't go as planned. We need to honor that in ourselves, so we can more fully show up for others.
This is the essence of emotional wellness.
When life doesn't go as hoped for, we often think something has gone wrong. We want to fix it - and fast. I believe that everything happens as means to slap us awake and show us where we need to grow. Not to make us hard or bitter, but to soften and open us. To make us….
more brave hearted.
Let there be room for it all.
The question you must ask yourself: not if you will heal after hard times, but how?
You must trust the process and timing of your life, forgive yourself and others, and be gentle, which is at the heart of a resilient woman.
And remember - you always have access to
your own inner reservoir of strength.
Some books I've found helpful for
the Brave Hearted + Resilient Spirited Woman:
- Broken Open: How Difficult Times Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, by Pema Chöndrön
- A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times, Jack Kornfield
With Big Hearted Love -