At our house, we are students of resilience. I like the word, how it feels in my mouth and to my ears. Resilience sounds strong and powerful, which are traits that I held dear in the past. I’ve noticed, though, that the practice of resilience doesn’t feel strong. It feels like soft and vulnerable and pain and tears and doing it anyway, at least when you can. We are its students. And it got me thinking:
Can resilience be learned only through challenge and pain?
It’s time to move our story forward. So much of what's happened to us--to anyone--is not what we would have chosen. Until recently, it's felt like all we could do was react. Life has given us limitations, more limitations than some. We have physical limitations. Both Pat and myself. Which have, in turn, become career and thus financial limitations. We have a child to raise. For quite a while still.
For a long time--3 years since Pat's stroke, 2 years for my Lyme--I felt small, vulnerable and trapped. Fear has been my dominant emotion.Today, I feel small and vulnerable and not trapped. Which is a significant shift.
It went like this: Pat will not be returning to his career. As of the end of this year I have retired. The trainings are just too hard on me, both physically and logistically. And my dad’s rather sudden death has hit me hard. Not the nurturing type earlier in life, I learned his love through my struggle with Lyme. He was my greatest cheerleader for two years. Just like that, with no time to prepare, he is gone. I have to dig back into memory for his support now. When I do, I principally remember what he said to me nearly every time we discussed my challenges:
“Don’t look at where you’ve been. Look ahead. Look to where you’re going.”
…but when I tried, where I was going looked the same as where I’ve been. I couldn’t imagine a different future.
Then one day a month ago, James, now 10, came downstairs and announced that he is finished with school. Decisively and emphatically, just like his mother. I opened my mouth to argue, and then closed it.
…Pat isn’t working.
…I can finish my book anywhere.
…our income is not geographically-centered.
…James is unhappy and needs change.
So we are going. I can follow my dad’s advice now. It is time for change. Our start will be both grand and cautious. After winter break, James will be homeschooled. In mid-January, he, Pat and I are headed to warmer climes. First a month or so in LA, San Diego and Phoenix. Then another five or six weeks in the Tampa area. That’s right, we are taking this ragtag crew on the road. Or, more accurately, to the air.
…because we still have to be cautious. The places we are headed are the homes of close friends and family. We still need support. Crazy as this all may sound, it will be pretty conservative in its execution. The important part is that we will be experiencing life circumstances of our own making. We haven’t done that for quite some time.
Am I scared? I’m terrified. Mostly that there will be some kind of mobility challenge that will put off our launch. Now that I’ve posted this, I’ve set an expectation. Will I plan this adventure anyway? Absolutely. Because I’m learning. It’s possible to be small and vulnerable and soft and resilient. Welcome to Resilience 2018.
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