Reflections on Resilience

the thawing process

Perhaps you were a quiet child.  Calm and compliant.  Perhaps you preferred stillness to movement.  Silence to conversation.  Books over people.  Thinking over talking.  Slowness over urgency.   You kept the hard, dark and scary things to yourself knowing that expressing them would rock the boat.  And rocking that boat may put your survival into question.    There were times you didn’t have the regulation skills to numb the overwhelm so explosive moments of fight or flight energy were desperately expressed.  Those expressions of hurt, fear or anger were not welcomed and instead were strongly discouraged.     So you conserved ...
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it’ll all end in tears

  Home to moist cobwebs and well-fed centipedes, the cement basement is not a welcoming space for beings with fewer legs. In one room, the washer and dryer stand shoulder to shoulder, stoically among the arachnids and arthropods waiting in the dark to be useful. In two others, repurposed shipping pallets have been turned into shelves that keep boxes of forgotten mementos and seasonal items off the floor and free from their fear of spring flooding.   Looking under the lids of dust-covered boxes, I rediscover tokens of a life that seems to have happened a lifetime ago. Each thing ...
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naturally present

  Years ago, fresh off a small town bus, I was alone at a city crosswalk alongside dozens of strangers. I felt a collective impatience urging the “do not walk” signal to change.  My impulse was to notice everything as if I had been enlisted to catalogue it.     Sunlight reflecting off a bus windshield. Signs with catchy colours and slogans. The backs of those near me and the facial expressions of those on the opposite side of the street.  Engines roaring, horns honking and conversation snippets. Exhaust and floral perfume.   My heart was racing and I began to ...
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heart of the matter

My father used to say “nothing good happens after midnight”. Was it a deeply held belief or something to keep his teenagers in line and in the house before dark?   This phrase leapt to mind when my phone buzzed at 3 am. My daughter-in-law asked if I could go to the ER to be with my son, her husband, while she stayed at home with their sleeping toddler. After 13 hours of waiting and tests, more waiting and more tests, my son was admitted for surgery.   Moving through a series of waiting rooms full of lethargic strangers, I ...
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kind of blue

January.   (sigh)   If you’d ask Thoreau about how to manage a blue season, he’d say   “Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.”   That’s quite a different approach than my tendency to want to hibernate until the blue storm has passed. I’m in good company, though, as I lean deeply into John O'Donohue's advice that says   “This is the time to be slow, Lie low to the wall, Until the bitter ...
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from the outside, it looks like i’m meditating

From the outside, it looks like I’m meditating   Assuming the noble posture feels like a homecoming after exploring seated practice from monks, mystics and madmen, through pages and in person, for three decades. Stillness is my home.  Silence is my preference. And has been so since those early days when playing possum kept me safe. The silhouette of my meditating body on the cushion is deceiving though because there’s a battering ram of resentment behind my solar plexus pushing outward. It’s anger and disappointment directed at myself for not setting a clear boundary allowing someone to take advantage of ...
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death backyard

Squirrels. Mice. Ducks and their eggs.  An unstable pigeon.  Countless mourning doves.  And bones and carcasses of unknown origin.   These are just some of the casualties that my backyard has witnessed and, as a by-product, so have I.  As I write this, I know there are several feathers being tossed around by the vigorous autumn wind in the side yard leading to the back.  I also know that when I wander out soon to put the gardens to bed for the winter, I will be greeted by more signs of decay.   My son has dubbed this natural, urban ...
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a mind of its own

Many moons ago now, I began exploring self-care practices and getting professional support for the residual stored survival stress from childhood trauma with every fibre of my…brain. I remember saying “I want to be well”.  So, I analyzed, took courses, read books, set goals, reframed distorted thoughts, researched the latest techniques and implemented as many as I could.   When I eventually considered my body at all by starting a yoga practice, it was because it was the next logical step. Also, an ER doctor suggested it after my late night visit to one of his many curtained offices. He ...
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what do you need?

What do you need?     What is it that you need right now?  At this very moment. To get some clarity, can you take a moment to pause and orient towards yourself?   Get quiet. Get curious. Listen with compassion to what comes up when you ask yourself what you need.   You may want to place your hand over your heart, notice the feeling of it beating in your chest as you check in with yourself.   What resource would support you in meeting that need right now?   A moment or a few minutes of quiet and ...
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big clutter

“You manage clutter well”. This came from a visitor to my home many years ago now.  Be still my organized heart! My guest was referencing my use of baskets, boxes, hooks, and other clever, hidden storage spaces to control the clutter. For me, visual calm in my environment creates calm in my body and mind. Unfortunately, other less-tangible life messes cannot be so easily contained with such control or mere organizational bins.  There are no tidy places to tuck away significant disruptions, distressing confrontations, physical pain, demoralizing disappointments, personal regrets, toxic shame and death. In fact, attempting to hide life’s ...
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