Sunday, September 23, 2018

How do I become resilient?

Definition of resilience - the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress 2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. (Merriam-Webster)

How do you face misfortune or change in life without having a meltdown or just throwing in the towel? Last night I had the privilege of listening to a few of my interns share about their lives that included lots of tough times, too much change and little motivation to keep moving. So, what is it that makes the difference between an individual who bounces back and the person that quits or throws a tantrum? 

I listed to a new friend share her story of being an immigrant who is Peruvian and Italian. She initially didn’t speak English very well and didn’t fit in her schools in Detroit. Yet, her passion for learning, discovering more about her heart’s dream of doing music and her family gave her the reason to never quit but to keep learning. She’s now become someone who inspires others to choose to not allow their perceived limitations to stop them from pursuing their dreams in life. 

Another friend, who I’ve watched grow up over 12 years, shared her story of how she became passionate about learning, loving the arts and having an ongoing interest in always being a helper. She didn’t grow up in the best circumstances with having all step siblings. Yet, she became a person who didn’t make excuses, like most, but chose to always keep trying and making goals that always went way above the status quo. 

I know that it’s too easy for those that struggle with being resilient to say that these types of people are just abnormally different and have that extra energy and ability to rock the world, regardless of their circumstances. The opportunity to become more resilient is for everyone who is willing to open their eyes, ask for help and find that special friend to walk with them. 

I have another friend who has taught be so much about facing life threatening circumstances and how to endure failure by not quitting or blaming past life tragedies. He’s struggled with drug addiction, ongoing mental challenges and not necessarily the best support from family. I admit that not everyone is willing to walk with someone that is different. What amazes me is that as my new friend has dealt with his past issues he has become a vibrant person who ‘bleeds’ for strangers who are being abused. 

The reality today is that too many assume someone else is always going to do everything for them. Hard work is clearly a fact of life and discovering that you don’t start at the top and having an attitude that understands nothing is ever beneath you is so key to becoming resiliient. 

I admit that my passion to learn new words means I must google often and then must write out a definition. Yet, the journey of resiliency is an exciting life adventure. Everyday does bring new opportunities to learn, step up and help others! 

Why remember? It will determine your future!

I was listening to a local talk show yesterday as they commemorated 9-11 and reflected on how this had changed their lives. What stood out, sadly, is that the generation growing up weren’t around when this tragedy happened. So, the hosts mentioned how there is a growing sentiment that the remembering of this tragedy might lessen and disappear over the years. Classrooms are slow to talk about what happened because of its’ graphic nature.

Is it possible to learn from yesterday’s mess-ups, so tomorrow can be a better day? Does it require that I’m humble enough to recognize my own short comings to be receptive to figuring out what’s next? I’ve always fell back on the quotes by Edmund Burke and these others to highlight the significance of how the past does matter. Yet, I’m so slow and reticent to admit that yesterday wasn’t the best. 

“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” 
Edmund Burke

“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” 
Sara Shepard, Wanted

“We're doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That's what it is to be alive. It's pretty dense kids who haven't figured that out by the time they're ten.... Most kids can't afford to go to Harvard and be misinformed.” 
Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard

I appreciate Kurt Vonnegut’s down to earth realism of how this must become one of the basic life lessons that everyone learns by the age of ten. Regardless of what academic institution you attend or ‘god forbid’ you don’t go to college, it’s still possible for everyone to learn how to open their eyes, ask for help and make tomorrow a better day. 

Unfortunately, it’s so easy for everyone to automatically do the blame game and pick a villain to point their fingers at for the reason their lives are a mess. Yet, one of the signs of maturity, that has little to do with age, is your ability to own up to the mess in front of you! I can’t fathom that anyone wouldn’t want to have a better life! Why is it the case that we have allowed circumstances to consume us to such an extent that stress sadly seems to be a daily life experience. Why purposely choose to live with stress and hypertension as if it’s suppose to be a normal part of life? 

I would hope that the past would teach us that we are fragile and do need a support group, friends and family to make life enriching! Time to remember and learn from the past so our tomorrows can rock the world. 

Shut up, zip it and LISTEN!

I will be the first to admit that too often I’m more interested in making sure my pearls of wisdom drown out the person who is speaking. Sadly, most are more concerned about their point being heard that actually hearing the story of a friend, office worker or a new acquaintance. We live during an era where most everyone is more consumed with themselves than the needs or life stories of those around them. 

I know that my better half will chastise me for using the word ‘shut up’ which is forbade in our house but the reality is that at times you must scream to get the attention of the person who is only interested in making their point heard. The sign of maturity is the individual who is willing to slow down, listen and then only respond when it adds to the conversation. Typically, my quick response is to usually justify my position over the point of view of the person I’m attempting to push to my side. 

The blame for our self-centered life style is a combination of the simple fact that few if any actually sit around a table when they eat dinner and instead allow the mega-screen T.V. to be the center stage. Otherwise it’s the almighty smart phone that is center stage when we go out to eat. Conversation is no longer something that grandparents or parents teach their kids. We are at the mercy of social media or now restaurants that ban cell phones at their tables. (Yes, there are business owners who promote real communication at the chance that they could lose business.)

I had the privilege and fun of meeting a few people yesterday who have become new friends. It was incredible to hear their stories and realize that I didn’t have to add anything to the conversation. The opportunity for everyone is to intentionally learn how to zip it and just listen to someone else’s history. I was humbled as I listened to a single mom share her story of a son who had experienced a series of poor choices and had his life put on hold when he was shot in the head which lead to the amazing testimony of this mom and how God has saved her son from dying or being a vegetable. I had the joy of meeting her son and seeing how he towered over me. 

Why is it the case that too many, including our president, truly believe that their lives must be center stage in everything? I tire, or maybe I’m jealous of the person who is seeking city council seat or the senate and has a video done about them where they seem to be super heroes that can leap tall buildings or take multiple shots without being fazed. Why do we have such a fascination with the celeb icons of our society? It’s the normal, average person who makes the world go round. Clearly, it is this group that pays taxes, volunteers at school or church and is the one willing to stop and help another person in trouble. 

Listening skills clearly are taught by normal people but sadly the mass populous aren’t interested in hearing. You must be a Nike superstar to be heard. There are too many real heroes who have put their lives on the line for others whose stories will never be heard. These are the people that we need to hear and learn the real meaning of how life isn’t about me but about laying my life down for others regardless of whether I get anything out of it. 
I know that the message of sacrifice for a family member or a friend can be heard but the Biblical message of laying your life down for a stranger or ‘God forbid’ your enemy has never been popular. 

So, please consider actually sitting down and allowing a new friend to share their story and don’t even start to share your story to ‘top’ their story. 


I can’t fathom that a group of older women would honestly make the excuse for men that it’s perfectly ok to make a goal of doing 100 kegs during my senior year in high school and that groping a girl is normal behavior! Looking back at my high school time I’m regretful that I didn’t stand with a friend. This friend, she wouldn’t have won popularity or beauty contests, was raped by a high school guy. I remember that the response from her family was tragic and it seemed that it was all her fault. I’m ashamed at the fact that I didn’t do more as a friend to reach out to her and walk with her. 

I know that forty-seven years later it would be almost impossible to find my friend. I don’t remember her last name and only that we attended High School outside of the Sacramento area. It’s remorseful to consider how her life turned out because of the one who committed this sexual abuse and unfortunately the way her family and friends treated her was horrible. 

It shouldn’t be any surprise that those who have been sexually abused seldom report it. The more serious the incident it would seem the less likely they would report it. It’s life destroying to be hurt in this fashion but then to have to replay, be questioned and too often be considered the villain is out of this world. The reality of what has been in the media the last week is that most that committed such heinous crimes are 99% sure of not being convicted of any crime. 

I know firsthand that the impact of this type of abuse leaves a life-long scar that too often will never go away. Is it any wonder that the #whyididn’treport is blowing up twitter? How is it possible that this has become a political game? How is it possible to put the life of anyone ‘out there’ who has suffered this type of abuse? The real conundrum is that those that are fighting against abuse victims too often are the ones who have been perpetrators?
I have witnessed first-hand the silence of family who have watched an uncle or grandpa molest a young girl or guy. How could this be possible? It’s very complicated and few are willing to take the time to listen, help, SCREAM and get help. The ultimate end result is that the one who has caused the irreparable damage has been enabled and protected. The question that continues to hit me is WHY? WHY? WHY? 

The present news cycle will pass as other supposedly more important threads come across our twitter feeds. Yet, the hurt, damage and crimes will continue until everyone stops pretending that it’s none of their business. 

Time to be a friend that listens, doesn’t make judgements and finds help for that friend regardless of whether they are 10 years old or close to being a senior.