Finally, I was able to see my lawn. After an unusually long, and cold winter it emerged from the snow, dead and brown, yet ready to receive the warmth of the sun and the promise of spring.
I flew out my back door with my rake in hand. I couldn’t wait to begin scratching up the lifeless grass from last year and remove the soggy and decaying leaves. The smell of the warming earth filled me with joy.
I raked and raked obsessed with preparing the soil for the new tender shoots of green grass that would soon make their appearance. I felt the exhaustion in my shoulders begin to creep in as I realized I was raking through an old bulb bed. As I cleared away the leaves I spotted the first crocus of the season beginning to poke through the ground in its delicate purple and white splendor.
I immediately stopped what I was doing and became aware of how amazing and precious life is. I was filled with the sense of hope and renewal a single crocus can offer. There it was, my first tangible sign that spring was in fact here.
It got me thinking about the amazing resilience of the human spirit. With the intensity of recent global events bombarding the airwaves it’s no wonder I’ve been experiencing more underlying stress than usual and I notice those in my world deeply affected as well.
As humans we instinctively strive to sort out turmoil and transform our world into something stable and meaningful for ourselves. We need a sense of a safety and connection so we can function and stay engaged fully in our lives.
As Bernhard Kempler, PhD says, “ The issue of “resilience” comes up powerfully when we are faced with extreme situations, situations for which we have had little or no occasion to develop adaptive mechanisms. How does our psyche withstand such outrageous attacks as war, criminal violation, brutality, and even life threatening illness?”
That single crocus got me thinking about ways I could begin to increase my resilience and continue to build meaning and connection in my life. See if these suggestions could be helpful for you too:
1. Stop the roller coaster of the mind. I often wake up in the morning with my mind racing. It seems like the focus is always on the glass half empty. When I am aware of this happening, I get out of bed and walk, exercise, or anything that connects me with my physical body. I find this to be a quick and simple way to restore my perspective to the glass being half full.
2. Slow down. Light a candle and gently breathe until you feel the connection to yourself. Remind yourself of who you truly are.
3. Make a list of all the things and people you love. What are you grateful for in your life?
4. Reach out to supportive friends, family or colleagues. It’s amazing how much stress you can release by talking about what is on your mind and being a supportive friend in return.
5. Connect with your purpose. What are the activities that are meaningful, joyful and inspiring to you?
6. Turn off the news. Resist the temptation to inundate yourself with negative messages. Pick up a book with uplifting content instead. Become choosey about how much and when you decide to engage.
7. As suggested by speaker, and author Kevin Eikenberry, participate and play with the “Good Samaritan” effect. Pay the toll of the person behind you, put extra money in the parking meter, or buy a cup of coffee for the person standing with you in the Starbucks line. This simple act will not only lift the spirits of the surprised recipient, but also open and warm your heart as well.
This morning when I went outside to survey my yard, despite the dusting of snow we got last night, I noticed there were a dozen crocuses up. My heart leapt with excitement, not even late March snow can prevent the bursting forth of new life when it’s time for spring.
It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!