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Our Resilience

I was thinking this morning about my father. I don’t allow too much thinking about him – too much pain. But in the name of gratitude, I challenged myself to list three things I am grateful for having him as my father.

The first is I learned to garden, to sow seeds, care for growing plants, harvesting, canning, freezing all kinds of vegetables.

Second, I learned how to ventilate a hot house, shade the windows with full sun and open windows in the shade, monitoring the windows as the sun moves around the house. A concept I discovered not everybody is aware of.

Third, I learned resilience. I learned how to survive. I’m not saying all my survivor skills have been helpful. I’m saying I learned to persevere through dictatorship. I learned being nice makes more sense than being mean. I learned how I didn’t want to behave. I learned how I want to treat my children. I learned about individuality because I had to hunt for mine. I learned to work hard because I always had to prove myself.

Resiliency is an ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change. No one says it’s easy. Resilience is a human trait and we all have it. We learn from experiences and if we didn’t exercise our resiliency muscle the first time, no doubt another opportunity will roll around to practice again.

Today is my interview with Michael Benner from KPFK LA about Personal Development Strategies on the Ageless Wisdom Mystery School podcast. I’ve been thinking about what I want to focus on. The last thing I expected to talk about was my father and yet he comes to mind when I think about resiliency. Resiliency training also includes surviving the loss of my daughter, and the loss of my late wife. Tragedies create resiliency.

I carry stories in my soul about the pain my father inflicted on my life. Today I focus on gratitude because it helps take the sting out of the pain. I tend to look for negatives in every situation. It’s a stubborn aspect of my thinking process and I’m willing to change it with every opportunity I get. Finding the good takes effort and intention. It’s a habit, and habits are hard to break. I’m a work in process.

I received a great reminder from watching Dr. Lucy Hone’s Tedx talk yesterday. When making decisions, it’s helpful to ask myself the question. “Is what I’m doing helping me or harming me?" This powerful question provides boundaries and control over decision making. Will this decision move me forward or set me back?

Silence helps me observe my behavior. Silence helps me feel my truth. Silence gives me a perspective I never took the time to experience. I have resilience in silence.

I wish you the ability to breathe

after pain, to begin again, though

nothing else seems possible.

I wish you resilience: to part like

the ocean and accept like the sky,

to be held like a root.

I wish you survival: to take in life

like a trapped miner finding an

airhole and praising it as God.

I wish you courage: to ask of

everything you meet, “What

bridge are we?”

I wish you chances to listen:

to all that holds us up.

I wish you the-kindness-that-you-are

coming to brighten your face

like orange leaves scattered

at the end of fall.

I wish you endless journey that

seldom appears as we imagine.

I wish you curiosity: to make a

boat of wonder and an oar

of gratitude.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you. I wish you with my full heart and love a good experience today. During the meditation, I focused on the word resilience inside of me. It unleashed a flood of tears. I was most struck by all the ways I’m not kind or gentle with myself. Where I am resilient, the examples I could come up with, all the things I don’t appreciate myself for or see as human qualities we all have when we go through difficult times. They get selected out as things I’m ashamed about. But they are actually strengths in terms of being resilient. That was powerful.

  • When tears like that come up, it makes a space for healing and letting go, instead of holding on to it.

  • I want to second the wishes. It will be wonderful for you today. The word that stayed with me during the meditation was wonder. I’m excited to be starting my painting today. The first step is to paint my intentions. The first thing that came to my mind was clarity. Do I really know what I want? Look at that deeper. As I go along, the words I am writing down are resilience, strength, and wonder. Wonder. I am so grateful for whatever brought me to the Korean movies which have such a sense of wonder to me, a fairytale like quality. The gowns, the costumes, traveling back and forth in time. I want to paint my fairy tale. I am so excited. It’s wonderful.

  • You inspire me because I can say I’m nervous about my interview. I am choosing to say I’m excited about my interview. The difference between those two words. If someone asks how did it go, I don’t have to let them down if I say I’m nervous. But if I say I’m excited, is there going to be a letdown? I’m excited about it. I’m trusting it will be fine. The interviewer said we’d have fun.

  • Letting go of expectations and dwell in the wonder.

  • Thank you. During the meditation, I thought about how I learned to ride a bike. We didn’t have training wheels so I fell quite a few times. But having the goal in mind to ride the bike, I would keep falling and getting back up until I was able to do it. Resilience is somewhere between a water-repellant raincoat and a waterproof raincoat. I didn’t know there was a difference until I was walking in a rainstorm. I had on a water-repellant raincoat and got soaking wet. It repelled the water but it allowed the rain to soak into me. Life does that to us. Those experiences we have, especially the hard ones and the mountaintop ones, they soak in. The things that are teachers in life, our connection with people, our experiences, our kindness and love for each other, those are the vehicles of the waterproof raincoats that come to our assistance. They say ‘hey, put this waterproof coat on’ so we don’t have to experience the storm that soaked us before.

  • I was very aware of sounds during the meditation. There was a sound that got me into a motion of being held and cradled going from side to side. And then there was this whoosh, and being held went into ‘hey, you are free, you can go out on your own.’ It reminded me of swings, how I’d swing to the top of the arc and jump off. While you are being held, you feel safe. And if you do enough of that, then you can jump off. After self-care and nurturance.

  • I loved the reading. I could relate to the pain and hurt and bitterness, with my own relationship with my own father. For you to turn that into gratitude and resilience puts me in awe. You gave me a lot to think about.

  • I remember you were doing a Feel the Fear talk and I could see your honesty and integrity. It made me feel comfortable. Towards the end of the meditation, I saw an image of a beautiful old tree with roots. They are so resilient. I pictured a magical doorway and I wanted to go in. I was thinking I could just melt into the tree and then be inside it and feel the beautiful life. I could push my feet into the roots and my arms into its branches. I could soak up all the energy and love and resilience of the tree.

  • Thank you. Thank you for joining us today. Thank you for your resilience that has brought you here through all your experiences and tragedies and mountaintop experiences. May we each be a tree, find our roots, feel our strength, and just be present in our day as we go forward. Thank you all.

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