Greetings! I hope you are enjoying our colorful spring after therecent heavy rains. While riding with my friend Christine Baumgartner, on our horses today we identified 20 different types of wild flowers growing. The cactus flowers are especially colorful. As we quietly rode our horses through the winding paths along the waters of San Juan Creek, my thoughts floated back to last week in our loss support group. One of the new members shared poignant last words from her husband when he passed away in January. He had been suffering dementia, and no longer knew her, but at the last critical moment he somehow forced his mind through the tangles of that terrible disease, and said to her, "Be brave." Then he was gone. Listening to the power of that statement sent chills down my spine. What an immense act that was; not only that he knew her for that moment, but that he gifted her with such a strong admonition.
I am sure that during these hardest early months of grief she has held on to that thought. His advice works for all of us. My friendChristine is a dating and relationship coach, and she often talks about what courage it takes to dare to risk getting back into the dating pool. Putting oneself out there and owning the changes that life forces on us can yield a new kind of being, a different, perhaps new kind of fulfillment. Yesterday, I helped host a retirement party for a colleague: a big life change for her. My husband and I again have changes as two of our grandchildren graduate this spring from their universities. Our eleven grands are mostly grown up now so I am embracing the change, and even removed my Mimi (grandma) license plates. Changes are all around us, aging, loss, retirement, health issues, demographic relocations, and in our careers. The truth is that life presents serious challenges, and our job is to find the strength to face the parts that scare us and move forward, making the best life we can.
Last week I started reading Facebook chief Sheryl Sandberg's excellent book on surviving the loss of her husband two years ago. It is Option B and she talks about leaning into the "suck." Face it and move on. Cry when you have to, but know it could have been worse. Her book reinforces how truly resilient we humans are. You are resilient! I don't know what challenges are facing you right now, but I do know you have the wherewithal to handle them. I like when Mark Twain said, "Courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of it.
A good place to start is to ask yourself, "WHAT IS RIGHT WITH ME?" (contrary to our cultural question about "what is wrong?"). Make a list. Then make a list of all the blessings in your life. Then practice gratitude thinking, marinating your thoughts in all the positive things in your life. Resilience is an active process of coping. The positive thoughts help dump happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine into your blood stream. Hardiness is about our ability to have insights into life, about being independent, using our initiative, relying on our creativity and humor, our sense of justice, and savoring our relationships and human connections.
Why not make entries into your Goals Book? List what more you want to Do in life, Have in life, and Be in life. There is something about consciously making plans, looking forward, that gets the universe to align with us.
I had a little dream niggling in the back of my brain and last January I acted upon it. I enrolled in a docent training program. By
the end of February I became a certified Mission San Juan Capistrano docent. This new chapter of my life is bringing riveting rewards. My tours are mostly with fourth graders, and you can guess the fun I am having as I have the students imagine that we are all in a time machine. We pull down our imaginary control panels, adjust the dials, and we step back to the early days when the Acjachemen Indians resided in our sleepy Capistrano Valley. From there we come to 1776 as Father Serra strode into our part of the world and established a mission. The students revel in their time travels and of course I'm getting a huge kick out of teaching them! The world is a great big place with plenty of opportunity if we can just buckle up and embrace it. We don't need to be reminded to be brave, I think we are brave. I think we can go out there and create a new way of being.
Of course you know I would love to hear about your response to life changes, about your personal resilience. I'm thinking of you. My best, donna