The Road to Resilience

Death and grief are frequent visitors in my heart and soul this week. Resilience is the elixir for those in pain. blessings, Linda

litebeing chronicles

This is a guest post I wrote for amberskyeforbes.wordpress.com back in 2013. While reviewing my draft folder I discovered it and concluded the message is timely. Resilience is one of my favorite topics and is front and center in my consciousness today. I hope it resonates for you also.

Thank you Amber for having me as a guest blogger today. I want to share some thoughts I have about human resilience in the face of loss. Life is a series of continuous losses. After you take your first breath, you find your way on the path towards your final one. Our cells constantly regenerate. In fact, it is known that our bodies completely change every seven years. Typically people equate death with loss and sometimes use those terms interchangeably. Yet, loss is pervasive and incredibly universal. Here are some common losses to consider: loss of health, loss of youth, loss…

View original post 823 more words

Advertisements
By Selbymay (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Road to Resilience

This is a guest post I wrote for amberskyeforbes.wordpress.com back in 2013. While reviewing my draft folder I discovered it and concluded the message is timely. Resilience is one of my favorite topics and is front and center in my consciousness today. I hope it resonates for you also.

Thank you Amber for having me as a guest blogger today. I want to share some thoughts I have about human resilience in the face of loss. Life is a series of continuous losses. After you take your first breath, you find your way on the path towards your final one. Our cells constantly regenerate. In fact, it is known that our bodies completely change every seven years. Typically people equate death with loss and sometimes use those terms interchangeably. Yet, loss is pervasive and incredibly universal. Here are some common losses to consider: loss of health, loss of youth, loss of innocence, loss of a relationship, loss of teeth, loss of weight, loss of physical strength, loss of vitality, loss of purpose, loss of  money.  Even if we live in the same home and work at the same building, our atmosphere is constantly changing. Quantum physics has proven that your favorite chair is really made up of energy particles that are not solid matter. Change, loss, regeneration, motion……. change, loss, regeneration, motion…… This theme is one of the few constants in the human experience.

So how do we cope when the human ego craves the status quo and desperately tries to hold on to what is familiar and safe? The first step is always the same ; acceptance. When one grieves a loss, it may take a while to come to acceptance, but once there, the path to resilience is within reach. Eckhart Tolle espouses that acceptance of what is will lead to inner peace. In his book The Power of Now , Tolle  says

Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now.
Let it teach you Being.
Let it teach you integrity — which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real.
Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living and dying into a problem.

The idea of non-resistance has been embraced readily in the East, but not as much in the Western world. However, the popularity of Tolle’s work , along with yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices, has made this concept more palatable across the globe.

A receptive attitude towards life is also essential to the cultivation of resilience. To be receptive means to be open to new ideas and possibilities, even in the throes of pain and sadness.  It also includes the ability to look at situations in a new light and the awareness of a larger worldview. For example, deciding to move to a new city so that your partner can accept a new position may leave one feeling conflicted about giving up their current social connections and comfortable lifestyle. Yet, with a receptive attitude, one can see how this decision to support your partner may also bring them into alignment with a fulfilling new career path, nurturing like-minded friends, and awaken a dormant sense of adventure and vitality.

It is often much easier to make these behavioral changes in community. Community can mean biological family, family of creation, spiritual/ religious group, neighborhood circle, social media, or outside support system. For those who need additional support with the grieving process or making transitions, a support group or therapy group often can provide the community and treatment/support necessary to face the crisis in a healthy manner. I have worked many years as a therapist with people dealing with acute and chronic mental health challenges. The amount of loss and trauma many of these individuals carry is close to unimaginable. Often a history of abuse and/ or trauma is present in those with certain mental health issues, which can trigger substance abuse through self-medication. This choice can create more loss and trauma, along with the traumas inherent that many encounter in the mental health and criminal justice systems. The Mental Health Recovery Movement that is emerging in the US and Europe addresses these issues in a proactive , holistic, humane fashion. My work in a Recovery program gave me the opportunity to create and facilitate groups that embraces those values. I ran a Grief and Loss group that  gave the members the space to develop trust, improve communication, and begin the path to acceptance, forgiveness, and hope. We often examined ways to re-frame a situation in order to encourage attitudinal change and healing. We often discussed how we gained something positive in the wake of a loss. When a commercial began airing with the slogan ” What will you gain when you lose? “,  I began to wonder if the advertising firm was eavesdropping on our group!

I am not suggesting that resilience is inevitable, some people are genetically wired to be naturally more resilient than others. So perhaps there are those among us that experience less setbacks or regroup quicker from a significant loss. We all can make a huge impact upon our own destiny by increasing our awareness of when we need some form of treatment/ intervention in the face of depression, anxiety, extended grief, trauma, and difficult life transitions. Relief from suffering and recovery from loss is possible and there are many wonderful resources available. We all deserve the best possible life we can create for ourselves. Evidence of resilience is abundant both in nature and bustling cities, and everywhere in-between. Take a close look around you and you are bound to discover it in action.

Resources:

http://www.imhcn.org/

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

http://www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/

http://ncmhr.org/

https://netforum.avectra.com/eWeb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=USPRA&WebCode=about

http://raysofhope.blogs.com/my_weblog/2011/04/resources-list-for-grief-loss-trauma-and-transitions.html

http://www.amazon.com/Power-Now-Guide-Spiritual-Enlightenment/dp/1577311523

http://www.amazon.com/Counting-Our-Losses-Reflecting-Bereavement/dp/0415875293

http://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/080701429X

http://www.amazon.com/Resilience-Things-Bounce-Back-ebook/dp/B006NZ7HQQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1370381672&sr=1-1&keywords=resilience

http://www.amazon.com/Resilience-ebook/dp/B009GEY7WI/ref=pd_sim_b_5

header image by Selbymay (Own work) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

East Africa in West Philly ~ Traversing Time and Space

I had a very important meeting today in my old college neighborhood. It is called University City because Drexel University and The University of Pennsylvania are located there. I moved away many years ago, but still have so many fond memories. Sometimes work or a social event will bring me back, but I have not visited in a few years. The last time I was there it was a very sad occasion. I went with a coworker to visit a former client of ours who was receiving hospice care. She died a few days later.  She was not much older than I, but was dying of uterine cancer that was diagnosed way too late. She had schizophrenia and this contributed to her death. Her caretaker did not believe her when she told her she was bleeding. I did all I could to advocate for her, but it was not enough. Her paranoia interfered with her willingness to receive tests and accept care. She was my favorite client and she had an outrageous sense of humor. And what a smile, unforgettable. She also shared my grandmother’s name. She was both delusional and telepathic. Her family said she had the gift of prophecy and she did indeed. She passed about 3 years ago, but her essence is still very much alive.

The meeting I attended was to discuss a research opportunity to work with people who are newly diagnosed as psychotic. This early intervention initiative started in Australia and Europe.  Later on a study was created on the West coast. Now start-ups are developing in Philadelphia and a few other cities in the Eastern United States. This is just the first step. I told the interviewer that I wanted to work with people where there is promise and hope.  She seemed to get it. Now I go on with my life and wait to see what happens.

I could not help but think of my beloved client on the ride home. But I was not going home quite yet. There was a pinball arcade to check out ( only 2 machines). Then I cruised by all the buildings where I once lived. The area has changed, but not really. There are new layers of activity superimposed on the old. I was in need of a lift. Plus I was really hungry. So I went to the Red Sea.

Now it’s called Abyssinia, but to me it will always be the Red Sea. It was about 3 blocks from my very first apartment and I got hooked on their food right away. The website does not show a photo of the food so I will provide one:

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

This is a mandala of culinary bliss! The beige bread that lines the plate is called injera, a spongy pancake- like creation that is sour and tangy. It soaks up all the flavors and is just incredibly yummy. For more about injera, check out Ka’s post here.  I had a combo which included several meat and veggie dishes with some salad layered on top. It is served with extra injera on the side. You eat your meal with your hands by taking a piece of injera and using it to scoop up the food. I also ordered a Kenyan beer to go with my meal. Ethiopian food is very spicy and the beer helps keep the heat in check.

This is my absolute favorite cuisine. I had my go-to dish ~ doro wat – tender chicken in berbere sauce with a hard-boiled egg. It is truly the circle of life! I also had crunchy collard greens that tasted so fresh, a beef dish, a lamb( goat) curry, a split pea stew and a lentil dish. The veggies are smooth in texture and mild in flavor. The meal is reminiscent of a paint palette and you concoct unique tastes and colors and textures with every bite. The beer I selected seemed unpleasant at first, but after a little while it married with the food and all the flavors cooperated. Salty, bitter, peppery, tangy,dense, clean, complex,creamy, crunchy, fermented, earthy, smooth, acidic, chewy, etc. I was so at ease with this meal. We were one. No other way to explain it.

I gazed around the dining room and remembered my various dinner partners from the past. I could only find a few folks who would try this food with me. One of my most romantic evenings ever was spent here with my ‘soulmate’ on a whim. We drove from my new neighborhood back here just to eat at this restaurant. We fell in love in West Philly, so I guess it was only fitting. I am not sure why this night was so special, but it was. We liked trying new things and reading evocative books and discussing ideas that were nontraditional. We liked adventure and were forever curious.

I wonder why I feel more comfortable with foreign cultures than my own. As I scooped up the stews with my injera, I wondered if I was once Ethiopian. When I was watching Top Model, of all things ,Tyra Banks gave the contestants Ancestry.com DNA kits. They will be used to determine everyone’s ethnicity. It amazes me that for $100 you can send your saliva to a lab and in return you can unlock the mysteries of your origins.  I have been wanting to do this for years. It might answer some unresolved questions like why oh why do so many strangers ask me if I am Native American? I would be honored to discover that I have some indigenous blood running through my veins. The test would not determine past lives, but I hope it would help me understand more of my identity, including my foreign food preferences. Mars is in Sagittarius now and it is a fine time to explore what is exotic and unusual.

I hope this post is not too circuitous to understand. Today was an important day for so many reasons, some I have yet to discover. But I wanted to describe my meal while the spices still lingered in my mouth, before the flavors left me. I also wanted to honor the thousands of people who die before their time due to chronic mental illness. Perhaps most of all I wanted to stress that it is never the wrong time to treat your Self to a great meal, a relaxing drive, or a glimpse of an old love.

 

related post: https://litebeing.com/2013/06/11/scenes-from-an-indian-restaurant-collisions-of-parallel-time/

 

image “Plat de cuisine éthiopienne au énélik”  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/ via Wikimedia Commons