They look into my eyes, And I wonder why, or why they even try.
They think their stare a dread, Yet it’s more often just a shred. A glimpse Into their being, having nothing whatsoever To do with my leaving.
I am not the names and forms You associate with me in your head.
Furthermore, it’s mine to lay claim To all that I am, when I’d like, so don’t be such a bore.
I Am Woman, here me roar.
In response to the WDYS #72 prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje.
This short poem had a four-fold inspiration; one, the image prompt from Keep it Alive; two, the movie I Am Woman, which I’m watching on Netflix; three, my courageously strong and beautiful sisters, mother, and ex-wife; and four, all of the myriad of women that have coached and mentored me throughout my life, of which, there have been many.
It’s hard to believe, I know, I know, cliche, yet, it is hard to believe that the holidays are upon us. Phew. A busy week, as always, and a stressful one for people that live in this country. Yep. True.
Right, so, first, in the event you’ve not yet seen what I’ve been up to, here it is.
It is interesting to consider. I do like writing poetry, and am having a lot of fun doing so. Funnily enough, as I’ve written before, I haven’t read much poetry, though when I find poetry I like, I go back to it again and again.
And, I’ve been reading a lot more poetry lately from the blogs of some of the most outstanding poets and writers. Lovely.
I also love the challenge of writing poetry. It is an interesting paradox. In some ways it is easier than the other topics I choose to write about, and yet, in many ways much more difficult. Hm.
I enjoy sitting with a peice, pondering it, reflecting upon it, until the right words show up. Fun. I also like being out on a walk or hike, and find that inspiration stirring me to stop on the path, and make notes in my phone.
Is it like that for you? It is often that way for me.
Anyway, at this time, I have planned another installment on sensitivity, a piece on sociology, and, hm, ah yes, a post on wonder. That’s what I have for now anyway. The poetry, you ask? Good question.
You know that works a little differently than the other things I choose to write about. Well, sort of.
With poetry, I usually see something that inspires me, and then from that derive a concept and then write. So, in a way the process is similar to my other writing, and yet feels a little different.
Lastly, I wanted to acknowledge just how hard this year has been for everyone. Really. It has been.
Yet, I also want to acknowledge the resiliency of the human spirit. Very resilient. Much more resilient than people imagine. And, it is beautiful to be a part of and to witness.
I have found and read so many inspirational stories this year. Please know that you are all inspirational to me. All of you.
Though life has been extraordinarily hard this year, and, well, looks like it will continue to be, at least from a pandemic perspective, for some time; know that you are bringing people hope and joy each and every day by writing as you do. Just as you are and as you do. Wonderful.
I’ve laughed and teared more at my computer screen these past few months than at any other time in my life. And, I’m not young. Ha!
Right. Well, it is about time to wrap up this installment. Yet, before I do, let me leave you with two quotes I adore from two very inspirational people. Here you go.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” ― Helen Keller
As I was finishing these posts, and reflecting upon all of these articles, I realized there was more to say. Specifically, more to say about vulnerability and resilience. Let’s take a look, shall we.
Vulnerability and Resilience
What do vulnerability and resilience have to do with each other? Maybe it is readily apparent to you; yet, for me, the insight on these two just came this past week. Really. Funny how insight works. Fun.
Alright, before we get into our discussion, let’s define our terms. Important.
Now, though I disagree with the above definition of vulnerability, it works in this particular conversation when we consider resilience as a counterpoint to vulnerability.
Counterpoint meaning that the more vulnerable you are, the more resilient you will become. We must add here, however, that being vulnerable must be done within a context where you are safe and there is trust. Imperative.
When you are in a context that has both safety and trust, being vulnerable suddenly becomes a possibility. Not easy, no. Yet possible.
And, within this possibility, there is space, yes, for development and growth, and yep, for transformation as well; and, there is also space to develop resilience.
You see, when we are open, meaning open to new things, new experiences, new unknowns, we are vulnerable. We have to be. Anytime someone says, you know, I don’t know the answer to that, or don’t know, they are immediately being vulnerable.
Think about how often you say, I don’t know. Humans do not like to not know. Period. We like to know, like to believe we have control, and that we look good and are often right.
However, within a context of looking good and being right, there is no room for growth, no room for vulnerability. You cannot be vulnerable if you know everything.
And, guess what? Even those that say they know, don’t know. Not everything. Not possible. The greatest minds of all time knew this truth.
Really, they did. Let’s take a look at one of them now. Here you go.
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” Confucius
A great quote. What confucius is pointing to in this quote is that when we know the limit of our own knowledge, we are immediately open to learning. Right away.
This then is the real knowledge Confucius is talking about. Knowing that we don’t know everything. Knowing also that to own we don’t know, to be open to learning is being vulnerable. Wise.
When we, however, act as if we know when we don’t, we are closed, and are also closed to learning. Simple. Unwise.
When we are open to being vulnerable, we can enter into contexts where we can learn more. More from people around us that are willing to share of themselves, as we are ready to share with them.
As we enter these vulnerable contexts, which can cause fear and anxiety, we begin to develop our resilience. Really. Right away.
Sometimes people think that being vulnerable means doing something way outside of our comfort zone. That’s possible, yet what is more probable is that we enter into vulnerable contexts, one step or action at time.
Taking small steps is important. And, guess what? Gradually those steps will become larger. Yep. Why?
Because as we develop and grow, what we know grows, just like our resilience, as does our comfort zone. Yep. And, when our comfort zone grows, we feel more comfortable being vulnerable more often.
Remember, however, that it takes time. Development is not a light switch. It is a process. One step and time.
What Can You Do?
When you are ready, take a step outside of your comfort zone into the land of vulnerability. You get to choose the size of that step.
Remember, it’s not about the size of the step, it’s about taking that step; and, taking that step when you are ready.
If you are not yet ready, that’s okay. It is. It’s not about the right or wrong time. It’s about sharing with each other that which we have to share; and moving ourselves and the people around us that we love forward. Doing so when we are ready.
And, you know what?
Know matter what other people have told you, you can do it. You are strong. You are powerful. You are beautiful. You are vulnerable and resilient.
Why is understanding the world as a system important? Hm. Well, if you consider all that you know, feel, and see as unrelated, it feels precarious. Like we are sort of floating around, devoid of any relation to each other, and all that we see, feel, and know.
If we, however, consider the world, and all that we know, feel, and see as a connected system, it provides a grounding of sorts.
Now let’s consider confusion and clarity as a system using the system we used to consider change. Ready? Let’s go.
First, let’s redefine our system of change, and the related parts. It looks like this.
Alright, now let’s take a look at confusion and clarity within this same system. It looks like this.
Alright, there we go. Now, as we did with change as a system of related parts, let’s go through each of these.
Order and Clarity
When things are ordered we feel a sense of clarity. When they are not, we don’t. What does it really mean to have clarity?
Let’s define clarity.
the quality of being expressed clearly
a lack of clarity in the law
The brilliant clarity of his argument could not be disputed.AWL Collocations
the ability to think about or understand something clearly
clarity of thought/purpose/vision.
There we go.
Now, if the external world is occurring in a way that makes sense to us internally, we can say that we have some sense of clarity. And yes, clarity, like most things, lives along a continuum. Meaning that some people have more clarity, and some less.
There are, of course, other internal factors that contribute to our sense of clarity. What are those? How we eat and drink, and how we exercise and sleep are very important in the clarity department.
As we can see then, there are two ways to think about clarity and order. That which we see as ordered externally, and that which we feel as ordered internally.
Either way, when a change occurs externally or internally, it can disrupt our clarity, and cause disorder. What kind of change? Any change really. However, the larger the change is, the more disorder we will know, feel, and see. And, the more subtle the change, the less disorder.
Know that there is always change. Sometimes the change is so small we don’t actually notice it. However, when the change is large, like COVID-19, we definitely notice.
Disorder and Confusion
When there is a large change, there will be lots of disorder, both external and internal. The level of disorder and the confusion that follows will depend on your particular context. Meaning, how much you are affected by the change.
Now, let’s define confusion.
noun /kənˈfjuːʒn/ /kənˈfjuːʒn/
[uncountable, countable] a state of not being certain about what is happening, what you should do, what something means, etc.
The announcement caused a lot of confusion.
With a change like COVID-19 the level of external change for everyone has been high. However, the level of change still lives along a continuum. For instance, if you work in the medical field, your level of change is very high.
Likewise, if you are a small business owner, very high as well. Depends on what you do, where you live, and how much the change is impacting you and your life.
The higher the external change, the more disorder and confusion you may know, feel, and see. However, the level of disorder and confusion is directly correlated to the amount of internal disorder and confusion you feel.
If, for instance, you have high levels of resilience, you may feel less disorder and confusion than someone with lower levels of resilience.
Therefore, someone with higher levels of resilience will begin reordering their life and perspective more quickly than someone with lower levels. Important.
Because clarity and confusion are a relatable system, we know that disorder and confusion will eventually stabilize for everyone. Because human beings are resilient, we are always reordering that which we know to be true about the world, even when we are unaware of doing so.
Reorder and Translate
As we begin to reorder our perspective and lives, we essentially take the new information (due to the change we’ve experienced), and translate it into chunks of information that fit into our worldview.
We then assimilate the new information into what we know, feel, and see. We, in essence, make the change we’ve experienced, or are experiencing, “normal.”
Meaning that we shift what we know, feel, and see to ensure they are conducive to our new reality.
There is always the possibility of resistance. Of course, this also happens. Yet, to survive any change, we must, at some point, begin to reorder and translate our new reality into something we can understand. Something we can understand and ultimately thrive through.
Yet, like all concepts we’ve discussed, thriving also lives along a continuum. Meaning that some people will thrive more during change, and others less so.
There is also a correlation between thriving and resilience. Therefore, the higher your levels of resilience, the more likely you are to thrive during change.
And, guess what? Just as we reorder our internal and external realities to thrive during the present change, another change happens, and the confusion to clarity system begins anew again. Yep.
Again, with smaller changes, we may not be aware of traveling through the system from clarity to confusion, and back again. Depends on our level of awareness, how observant we are, and how sensitive we are to change.
Order and Clarity
Back in an ordered world, both externally and internally, we have more clarity. We know, feel, and see more clarity. We’ve done the work necessary, whether we are aware or not, of moving ourselves through a relatable system from clarity through confusion and back to clarity. Phew.
Imagine that this system happens over and over and over again. Again and again, all the time. Anytime we face a change, no matter how small or how large.
Of course, as was aforementioned, the larger the change, the more we are aware of moving from clarity through confusion, and back to clarity.
Why is it important to understand confusion and clarity as a relatable system?
Well, confusion can be scary. When COVID-19 began to take hold here locally, I was very confused. I remember being at work, sometime around March 12, and saying or thinking, not sure which, something like, nah, they won’t close the college. Phew, little could I have imagined what was about to occur.
It is important to understand our own confusion, where it comes from, and why we have it when we do.
Likewise, understanding confusion and clarity as a system can reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown inside of larger changes, like the pandemic.
Knowing that we will eventually work ourselves back to order and clarity is important. We must know, however, that confusion will come again. It has to. The world is full of chaos and confusion.
We believe the world is ordered and stable. Well, philosophically that is not so. And, it is also not practically so. Both.
If anyone you know has ever argued against the last statement, ask them now. COVID-19 has shown everyone that the world they know, feel, and see as stable and constant is not constant and stable. Constancy and stability are an illusion.
The world is chaotic and unstable. Yet, remember, change, like clarity, comes and goes, just like everything else on this planet. Including us.
I’ve written several posts about the need for quiet time. Time just for us, to reflect upon our day or week, and to just be. Important. Do you take time for yourself? I didn’t for a very long time. Not the case today. Too important.
If you do, great, if not, it’s not a demerit. Rather, it is an opportunity. An opportunity to take time and learn more about yourself.
When we stay busy all day, and don’t create the space for quiet time, we are quite literally burning out. Burning our creativity, and potential. We must rest, and have time to think, reflect, and be. When we recharge, we get more.
More insight, and more resilience. Both.
It is when I am most quiet that more insights show up. Much more. When the mind slows, receives the time it needs, you open it up to more insight. You also recharge your resiliency levels. Also very helpful.
There are many ways to create quiet time. If you’ve never created this space for yourself, it can be hard. It’s okay. Take the time you need to create it. It can also be hard for people around you. Setting boundaries around your quiet time is needed and necessary.
As you practice, you will create a healthy habit, and people around you will respect it. Be persistent.
Today, up at 4 am, I worked on my website, then a little Extended Learning work, time with a friend, and a hike in the quiet. 7.2 miles. Was lovely.
Here are some pics from my hike.
This first one was early on in the hike, maybe mile 2 or so. As the trail winds around the hill, you get to experience trail portions that are shaded and cool, and trail portions that are exposed and in the sun.
I took the above picture not long after the first one, and, as you can see, it is a nicely shaded portion of the trail. Very tall trees on this trail, beautiful.
This picture is not quite at the top of the hill, yet it is very close. The banner picture on this post was close to this spot, and, as you can see from the banner picture, I caught a hawk in flight. Super cool
There are three things I do during my quiet time. If you have never created that time for yourself, give it a try. I know it can be hard, especially if you’ve never done it before.
And, when I write quiet time, I mean time away from distraction and stimulation, such as computers, televisions, books, and other people.
Here are those three things. Walks, hikes, and meditation. That’s it. Well, for today anyway.
If you like walking, walk. If you like hiking, hike. And, if there is something else you like to do, do that. It matters less what you do, than it is you get the time you need to rest and recharge.
I would also invite you to calendar it, especially if you are just starting out. Start with once-a-week. You can increase as you go. Start small. One step at a time. Then increase it as you go, until you get into a habit that works for you.
Alright, a reflection today on creating quiet time for ourselves. So important. Create time for yourself. When you do, you get more back, and you are able to give more to yourself and everyone else around you.
I’ve been reflecting a lot about developing and managing my own resilience this week; and, just how important both are right now. So important. What is resilience you ask? Good question. Here is the definition.
(also resiliency) Pronunciation /rəˈzilyəns/ /rəˈzɪljəns/ Translate resilience into Spanish
NOUN 1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.‘the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions’
2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.‘nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience’
Essentially resilience is our ability to face adversity, walk through it, learn, and repeat. Again, and again.
I’ve also been thinking about a video I’m going to do soon on resilience for my Developing Servant Leaders site. The idea looks something like this.
What we are facing right now is a huge gap between that which we once knew to be our reality, and the current COVID-19 reality. A large gap. Inside of this gap, we are all being asked to face ourselves and each other in new ways, with new tools, in entirely new contexts. Hard.
For those that are less resilient, even harder. Resiliency, like all developmental traits, lives upon a continuum. It is not that someone has resilience or does not. Everyone has some, some have more. Alright, next.
When you connect the four points of the above whiteboard, you can see the space that we are being asked to navigate and step into. A distinction. Stepping into reality is different from hiding, and running from reality.
It means taking the action you know is there to take, even, maybe especially, when it is hard.
Now, you can see the above box, yes? Alright, then within that, let’s call it the COVID-19 developmental box, there are lots of other little boxes, which represent each of us and our comfort zones.
Yep. Meaning that as we interact with, and bump into each other, we are continuously floating in the COVID-19 developmental box. Then how, you may ask, do we develop our resiliency?
We step outside of our box and into the reality that is in front of us. What is stepping outside of your box? It is doing. Again, and again.
Learning, practicing, falling down, failing – AND, getting back up again. Every time.
Know that we don’t have to continuously live outside of our box, or comfort zone. We can, what a friend of mine calls it, blip out, and blip back. Here you go.
And, guess what? Everytime we go outside of our box, represented above by arrows, and do something that we consider uncomfortable, we grow. Yep, our box or container gets bigger. Here is one more illustration.
As you can see from the above illustration, some people will grow, boxes labeled with a G are now larger, some will not. It’s not a demerit, or a problem if there is no growth. It is, however, a missed opportunity to learn more about yourself and being human. Alright, last section.
Also know, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed, that all there is to know and to be experienced in this world, is much larger than this present moment. The COVID-19 moment. Last illustration.
Let us say that the entire whiteboard is what is knowable. Got it. Okay. Then consider that the super small box you see is what we’ve been calling the COVID-19 developmental box or gap. Yep. Pretty small in the proper scale.
Remember this distinction when you are confronted with uncomfortableness; and, remember it when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Though today COVID-19 feels like everything there ever was to know, on a universal and historical scale, there is far more to know and experience. Seriously remember that.
There are countless opportunities to develop your resilience today. More opportunities than most people would care to have. Really. And, believe me when I tell you that there are days when I feel the same way. Really. It’s hard.
Yet, like all of life, it is a paradox. Because the opportunity to develop and to learn how to manage our resilience is also a wondrous process. Yep. Hard and wonderful. A paradox.
This past week, as you can tell from three of my most recent posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience, breakdowns and breakthroughs, and getting unstuck. I’m unsure if I actually connected the three concepts in the posts, so I am going to do so here real quick, promise. 🙂
In the post, A Journey from Breakdown to Breakthrough, I write about how breakdowns are normal. Though there is a stigma attached to breakdowns, especially in the U.S., they are perfectly normal. More, they are needed. When we welcome our breakdowns, we get to breakthroughs, which then opens us up to more insight.
How are they connected?
Being more aware of how we feel, when we feel frustrated, anxious, angry, or nervous means that we are not addressing something. As possible, we are not welcoming a breakdown. Maybe we are resisting it, because we think it’s a problem to have a breakdown. If that’s so, it’s okay. I lived that way for a long time.
However, what I’ve come to realize is that welcoming breakdowns when they are there, will move us to breakthrough, and guess what? When we move from breakdown to breakthrough, we are now unstuck. Consider that when we avoid breakdowns, we remain stuck.
And, when we move from stuck to unstuck by addressing something we’ve been avoiding, or are in denial about, we increase our resilience. Yep. It’s so. Resiliency increases as we face difficult situations. Sometimes those situations are external, sometimes internal. Consider also, at some level they are always internal.
Lastly, continuing to live through COVID-19 reminds me that being aware of the following is needed now more than ever.
The importance of
Being sensitive to how we feel.
Welcoming our breakdowns.
Using our breakthroughs; and,
Moving from stuck to unstuck again and again, which
Expands our containers, and increases our overall level of resilience.
We are all going to have to face, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, many, many, more unknowns in the months to come. And, living inside of the unknown is a very uncomfortable place for most people. However, there are actions we can all take to increase our resiliency, which will make the unknown less scary.
There are actions here, and in each of the aforementioned posts, which walk you through strategies you can utilize, if you choose, to increase your awareness and resilience, which you may find beneficial in the long run.