Reflections on Resilience

the sharpest tool

  “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a sharp pencil.” (shamelessly modified Chinese proverb)   Tucked into a corner classroom, far away from the hum of row-upon-row of high school exam-takers in the large auditorium, two dozen other students, with extra time and separate space testing accommodations, are hunched over math exams, graph paper,  unsolved x’s and y’s, calculators, word problems and flecks of eraser residue. The discomfort in the room is palpable. Compulsive glances at the clock, nail-biting, deep sighs and the occasional frustrated forehead dropping down onto a desk in a moment of utter math despair. ...
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the gift of waiting

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. (Joseph Campbell)   Waking up this past week in la belle province was a gift I gave myself in light of several significant losses that were weaved loosely throughout the fabric of my autumn. Although not intended as a way to avoid the discomfort of the stories that often accompany my sadness, the simple of act of choosing a new action despite my learned pattern to become inert with grief was a beneficial choice, for me.     A ...
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sunday hand

  When I was in primary grade school, I had an art teacher who was delightfully adamant about order and process. Before each student was allowed to dip into their genius, their inner Van Gogh, or the three paint pots suspended on the easel, it was imperative that they designate one of their hands as the “Sunday” hand.   The concept of wearing your “Sunday” best would have been widely recognizable to the students at a time when the majority us still attended a place of worship with our parents and would have understood the idea Sunday being a different ...
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how to cure a people hangover

  You know the feeling.   Your head aches, ears buzz with that post-concert-like hum, mouth is cotton-dry from repressing outbursts of irritation and nervous system is set on “If one more person even speaks to me, I’m gonna lose it”.  And when in this state, we promise ourselves that we’re never going to indulge again.  We’ll move to a shack on an island devoid of all other humans to avoid ever having to feel this terrible again.   Forget the shack. I’ve discovered a much more accessible cure for the People Hangover that doesn’t involve perpetual isolation. With practice, ...
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my precious morning routine

  “I am not a morning person. I have to ease into my day slowly. First I have my coffee. Sans eggshells or anything else one tends to pick out of the garbage. Then I have a low fat, high fibre breakfast. Finally I sit down and read a crisp, new newspaper. If I am robbed of the richness of my morning routine, I cannot function. My radio show suffers, and like ripples in a pond, so do the many listeners that rely on my advise, to help them through their troubled lives. I’m sorry if this may sound priggish, but I ...
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3 steps to pacify the panic

As a young student, I quite enjoyed going to school. Despite my social awkwardness (and maybe because of it), I was able to achieve relative academic success especially in tasks that allowed me to work alone. I had never considered myself slow to process information but I do recall that the subject where my comprehension was the lowest and slowest was the one that coincidentally caused the most personal panic. Math! Ugh!   Math seemed much more like a foreign language to me than French ever did and, for some reason, Math had the added element of time pressure.   ...
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pattern interrupted

  We each contain within us a multitude of patterns and unconscious reactions. They’re often thinly disguised in thoughts and phrases such as “I can’t help it, this is who I am”.  Or perhaps they come to light in a moment of “Why do I always do that?” or when we catch ourselves consistently and insistently complaining about a particularly annoying person or event.   But what if a pattern is no longer beneficial and even becomes a hindrance to our growth and prevents us living freely, then what?  What if a pattern is trapping us in our own Groundhog ...
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a reluctant coach

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, I was sitting on a bench in a playground watching my two preschool-aged children.  They navigated the jungle gym with a raw, adventurous curiosity as only children not yet been formally educated seem to do.   By that point in my life, most of my curious wonderings were tucked firmly away in deep, dusty pockets of parental responsibility, exhaustion and occasional bouts of generalized cynicism.   I was feeling protective of my precious pseudo-solitude on the bench that day.  No one needed me to wipe something, tie something or solve ...
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from overwhelm to okay

  “Danette cries easily even when making minor errors like reversing her ‘b’s and ‘p’s while printing.”   In my defense, I was only 5 years old when this was written. And kindergarten was hard!   My magically-kind teacher was as close to being Glinda the Good Witch as any human being could get.  But she wasn't magical enough to prevent the overwhelm.  To keep the too-muchness of my new learning and social schedule at bay.   Glinda was spot on. Danette was definitely overwhelmed.   Somehow, I managed to conquer the internal chaos long enough to successfully learn.  I ...
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forging a path

"Forging" is a word that has some serious heft to it.   I think of firm-bodied men and women who come from hearty peasant stock.  They clear the land of dense forest to set up shop in their newly tamed patch of land.  And they bear litters of stocky children to help them claim and clear more land.  It speaks of fierce determination and a mighty horse-drawn work ethic. To be honest though, I was originally leaning towards  “faking a path to overcoming the overwhelm” as a tagline.  On any given day, I walk out into the world wearing my ...
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