The Willow Bent In The Storm– Be Like The Willow

The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived. Robert Jordan, American author

Trauma and extreme stress require us to tap into our resiliency—the capacity to adapt in the face of adversity. The loss of your mother (or other loved one), health challenges, job loss, divorce, a pandemic, or an unexpected move—all require resilience if we are going to move forward in a healthy way.

In my experience, I’ve found that those who demonstrate resilience generally have these six traits in common: 

1. The ability to sustain supportive relationships with family and friends.

2. A strong self-image and confidence in their strengths.

3. The ability to accept change as a part of living rather than seeing it as insurmountable. 

4. Good communication and problem solving skills.

5. Practice good self care.

6. Build on their past experiences and trust that what they survived made them stronger.

Affirmation: I am resilient.

Coaching questions: If you’re learning to flex your resiliency muscle, which of the six traits do you need to work on? What will you do today to build resiliency for the future?

Photo by Darion Queen on Unsplash

Kindness Begets Kindness – Thank the Kind Canadians 

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. Aesop

A few years ago, I spent 9/11 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. While I was visiting, I learned that forty aircraft carrying 8,000 passengers were diverted to Halifax Stanfield International Airport after the 9/11 attacks. By evening, all 8,000 people had a bed in which to sleep. Halifax accepted the greatest number of aircraft of any airport and was the first major airport to have all diverted flights back in the air. This city of kind Canadians opened their hearts and homes in a time of need. 

After our kilt-clad, Scottish guide told us the 9/11 story, he gave us a history lesson in kindness. He explained that on December 6, 1917, in the Halifax Narrows, two cargo ships collided causing a massive explosion (the largest prior to the atomic bomb) that killed 2,000 people, injured 9,000, and demolished the town. 

He went on to tell about the generous response by Americans who sent trains with supplies, building materials, and personnel to help. He said, “On 9/11, we were honored to have the opportunity to return the kindness we had been shown by Americans so many years earlier.” 

And so it goes…kindness begetting kindness.

Affirmation: I treasure kindness.

Coaching question: In what way are you part of the circle of kindness in your part of the world? 

Photo by Ged Lawson on Unsplash

Are You A Worry Wart? Take Advice From Mother Goose

Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble. George Washington, U.S. President

In 1695, the fictionalized Mother Goose (or perhaps the real person, Elizabeth Foster Goose) wrote the following: 

For every ailment under the sun, 

There is a remedy, or there is none, 

If there be one, try to find it; 

If there be none, never mind it.

Apparently, The Serenity Prayer started with Mother Goose. Who knew?

If you’re a chronic worrier, here are a few suggestions to help you move in the direction Mother Goose intended. 

—Make a list of your worries. As you review your list, mark each worry as productive or unproductive. To help you do this, look at each concern through the lens of the Mother Goose poem. 

—Learn to embrace uncertainty. Acceptance means noticing that uncertainty exists. This will help you focus on things you can control.

—Notice that events rarely turn out as bad as you think. Trust that, even if what you’re worrying about happens, you can handle it. 

—Talk about your worries. Getting help to understand what is causing your anxiety will help you move away from the pit of worry. Get to the root cause.

Affirmation: I am worry-free!

Coaching question: What will you do to push worrying aside and live in the present?

Photo by Agostino Bordignon

Are You Part of the No Vacation Nation?

Labor Day was enacted into federal law in 1894. It’s nice to think of the day as a national pause day. As a nation, we are choosing to take a timeout from our busy work life and making a collective effort to have some fun. Dr. Perry, from his blog MakeItUltra 

For those living in the U.S.A., Labor Day weekend is fast approaching and the traditional vacation season is drawing to a close. If you’re a working person, I hope you’ll enjoy a day (or a week or two) away from work.

Americans left 768,000,000 vacation days on the table last year. More than half of American workers leave vacation time unused. The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. We’re considered the “no vacation nation” by others. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.

Research shows that workers who take time off are more productive, mentally alert, healthier, and have greater work satisfaction. 

Affirmation: It’s ok to take time off.

Coaching questions: What’s keeping you from taking vacation days? Do you see value in having time off? If you receive no paid vacation days in your job, consider joining with others to advocate for change.

Savor Each Day As a Gift

Never regret a day in your life: good days give happiness, bad days give experience, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories. Unknown

One of the gifts of being an “older woman” is learning to savor each and every day no matter what it brings. I’ve had my share of experience (bad days) and lessons (worst days), but mostly I’ve had good and best days that created memories and happiness. I’m a fortunate woman.

How we frame the days of our lives makes a difference in our overall peace and joy. Each day is a gift, unwrap it and enjoy.

Affirmation: I never regret a day in my life.

Coaching questions: How do you frame your bad and worst, good and best days? What helps you stay in the present and embrace each day as a gift.

Photo by Katheryna Hliznitzova

Making An Outstanding Landing In Life

If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you can use the aircraft the next day, it’s an outstanding landing. Chuck Yeager, test pilot

Yesterday was National Aviation Day, the legacy of a presidential proclamation first made by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The date was chosen because it was Orville Wright’s birthday. 

Interesting, but, it’s Yeager’s quote that I love. For me, it’s a metaphor for life. When you can “walk away” or move forward after a personal tragedy it’s a good thing. If you can learn to, once again, find joy and live life to the fullest, it’s outstanding. 

Affirmation: I will have a “good landing” while safeguarding my “aircraft.”

Coaching questions: What steps have you taken to have a good landing and leave your aircraft intact? Where did the strength and resilience come from? How can you help others do the same? 

Admitting I’m Wrong

There’s no better test of a man’s integrity than his behavior when he is wrong. Marvin Williams, professional basketball player

In my seventy-seven years, I’ve frequently been wrong—about people, politics, driving directions, the weather, Nebraska’s chance of having a winning football season, etc. I like to think I’m pretty good about admitting I’m wrong but, at times, I say nothing as a way of protecting myself. 

In an opinion piece for the New York Times newsletter, Jane Coaston, wrote, “Refusing to admit you’re wrong may be intended as self-protection but is really self-deception, which hurts you and your community. Like any untruth, it destroys trust and harms relationships on every level.”

It seems that we are living in a culture that, rather than admitting fault, focuses on the faults of others. Jane thinks so too. She sums up, “It’s driving us all into a moral and social ditch.” I agree. 

Affirmation: I will admit I’m wrong when appropriate.

Coaching questions: Are you focused on admitting fault when it fits or focusing on the faults of others? Is there a falsehood or wrong you need to own up to? How will you go about doing this? 

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

The Power of WHY

Your belief in your WHY needs to be powerful enough to withstand the hard times when things don’t go your way. Jamie Kern Lima, author of Believe it: How to go From Underestimated to Unstoppable

When I was writing, and rewriting, and editing, and editing some more my first book, Mom’s Gone, Now What?, I came close to giving up many times. It was hard, there was so much about writing a book that I didn’t know, and I frequently couldn’t figure out where to go next with my manuscript. So many stumbling blocks!

What kept me going?—not sheer force of will, not encouragement from others, not pride. Although all these elements helped, it was the WHY that eventually put my book on the shelf of a bookstore. 

In this case, my why was the fifty plus motherless daughters I had interviewed. Through laughter and tears, they had trusted me with their stories. I had assured them that their sharing would make a difference to other daughters. I couldn’t let them down. The WHY got me through. It can also get you through the rigors of parenting, marriage, career failures, and pushing forward after tragedy. 

Affirmation: I will seek my WHY.

Coaching questions: In what area of your life to you need to ask, WHY? What difference will it make when you come up with the answer?

Live Life and Feel the Joy!

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience. Eleanor Roosevelt

Your brain is built to be more sensitive to unpleasant news than it is to pleasant. You’ll probably remember the rebuke longer than you’ll remember the praise. Sometimes, the sadness of death will impact a person more than the feelings of joy and warmth they received from their loved one. 

This bias for negativity generally causes us to worry more than necessary, fear the worst, and focus on bad narratives for too long. When we allow this to happen, we rob ourselves of experiencing the joys around us.

Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author, writes, “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” 

Affirmation: I feel the joy.

Coaching questions/requests: Are you experiencing an abundance of anxiety, stress, or worry? What about sadness, bitterness, regret? This week, take time to be aware of your negativity. As you do so, refocus your thoughts by meditating, having an attitude of gratitude, establishing a “worry time” or writing down your negative thoughts to get them out of your head. Some negativity will hang around for a while and that’s ok. What counts is your continued effort to redirect and reprogram.

Feeling the joy of my daughter and some granddaughters having fun at my birthday party.

Is Quitting the Answer?

Quitting is hard, it’s scary, and it’s not always the answer. But sometimes it can be a constructive act that leads to greater personal growth and opportunity. Quinton Skinner, writer, (taken from an article in Experience Life Magazine)

Is there something in your life you need to quit—a relationship, a job, a bad habit, a living arrangement that is no longer serving you? As Skinner writes, quitting is hard, it’s scary, and it’s not always the answer. But, sometimes it is!

Annie Duke, author of Quit: The power of Knowing When to Walk Away, addresses what makes quitting so hard. She writes, “We’ve sunk costs and resources into the situation we don’t want to lose.” She goes on to explain how we often feel an aversion to the possible regret of switching more keenly that the discomfort of the current circumstance. Usually, we wait too long to make the change.

Some questions to ask yourself as you assess whether or not to quit: Do my current values still align with my past decision? What’s my motivation for quitting? Consider what you’ll gain, not just what you’ll lose.

Affirmation: The Latin origin of quit is quietus which means “to set free.” I will set myself free. 

Photo by Miguel Ángel Hernández on Unsplash