I have come across so many people lately who are struggling to stay afloat emotionally. All of us have difficult times in our life when we don’t know if we can go on. Marriages become rocky, we are beat up by our employers, friends and family members become alienated or die. There were several times as I was trying to figure out how to have a life with fibromyalgia, struggling to put all the medical and lifestyle pieces together, when I wanted so badly to give up – but I didn’t know how. Or maybe I knew at some level that giving up meant suicide. I didn’t want suicide to be an option for me because it is so permanent, forever permanent, longer than the problem may last permanent. And suicide hurts all the people left behind, at a depth that may never heal.
I feel for those of you who are struggling and I know how painful it is. I still have some ups and downs, the normal life losses and challenges. On average though, life is good for me this morning. But good isn’t good enough – my life needs to have purpose. I need ways of doing God’s work of loving that are compatible with where I am in life. Blogging gives me the opportunity to hold out my hand to others who are grasping for something to hold onto..
During the past few months I have had some ideas for posts ricocheting around my brain. These ricocheting posts have been fueled by my long-time interest in human change and development and a fascination in the concept of resiliency. I have always been interested in helping people grow and develop but a lot of my studying was motivated by a desire to help myself grow into a better person.
Here is my plan. I will do a series of posts that pulls together what I believe are the most important and useful ideas for getting ourselves through rough times. These posts will include what research has found to be characteristics of healthy adult development and functioning. These are the behaviors that help people survive and rebound from traumatic events. Behaviors that make life good.
Now about the strange title, Taking Flight. I took this photograph at a botanical garden in Florida. When I downloaded it I immediately though “Taking Flight”. It isn’t exactly what I had wanted to capture, but the photo captured me. I wanted to use it in a previous butterfly post but didn’t because it isn’t, well, good enough to post. Then my idea for writing this series and my love for this photograph came together. In its imperfection it is perfect for this topic.
What is the link between this less-than-perfect photo of a butterfly taking flight and the topics of this series? Taking Flight can represent or symbolize a fleeing from problems, not dealing with them. This may be helpful for a short period of time but living a life of integrity, one that involves growth, means we have to face pain and find resolutions. Taking Flight can also be symbolic of the Phoenix taking flight out of the ashes or the butterfly taking flight from the cocoon or after receiving nourishment from life-giving nectar. It can hold a spiritual symbolism of the Holy Spirit moving within us so we can rise up to find new life. Maybe there is an image that you have found useful to help you rise up and take flight after a period of feeling pulled down, dragged out, beat up.
My plan is to have a new post on this topic every Friday for the next few weeks. I hope you will look for them. To get us started here is a list of the component of resiliency from the book Resiliency: How to bounce back faster, stronger, smarter, by Warshaw and Barlow:
- Resilient people have an unambivalent commitment to life
- They face challenges with self-confidence
- They are able to adapt their behaviors in a wide variety of ways.
- Resilient people are resourceful.
- They are willing to risk instead of always playing it safe.
- They accept personal responsibility
- They have a realistic perspective of what is possible.
- They are open to new ideas
- They are proactive
- They are attentive to the voices around them.
I’m sharing this list because, like these authors, I believe we can increase our capacity to be resilient through knowledge and practice. I may use these as an outline for writing the posts in this series – but I may also deviate as the Spirit moves me. I am really excited about sharing what I have learned from mentors and researchers, ideas that have shaped me and helped me to cope with life’s curve-balls. Maybe you can use the information to evaluate how well you think you are doing and to identify some self-growth goals. I do that a lot – now with characteristics of healthy aging.
I passionately hope that within my writing you will find some nuggets of information that are useful for where you are in your life journey. Maybe my experiences will resonate with you so you will be a little less lonely. Those who have been following my blog know I enjoy dialog and comments so be sure to chime in with your two cents (except for my Canadian friends who no longer have pennies in their pockets).
Warshaw, T. A., & Barlow, D. (1995). Resiliency: How to bounce back faster, stronger, smarter. New York: Master Media.