Resilience in Your Mailbox
January 26, 2022
February 9, 2022


Photo by Laura Gaines.

Have you ever been so busy taking photos that you didn’t really SEE?  

My wife and I visited Berchtesgaden National Park in 2019. When we first arrived, I was so focused on getting the perfect photo that I was missing the moment. I had to remind myself to worry less about the photo and allow myself to see and hear what was around me. That was in 2019.  

Have you ever gotten to the end of a vacation and could hardly remember what you did? 

Slowing Down

On a recent trip, it took less time for me to remember to slow down. In the past I have been so busy trying to see all the things, sign up for all the unique events, not miss a photo op, that I have moved through vacation days fast forward. This trip I took time to slow down. 

For a full week, I was away from home and my laptop stayed in my backpack. I did not work. It felt weird. No task list, no schedule. We ate meals when we were hungry. No tv, very little email. Time to sit and look, think, feel. I slept a ton!  

I also experienced a huge wave of anxiety. What the hell? At first, I fought it; I was pissed that I was feeling anxious on vacation. Then, I realized I had no choice but to let it rise up and spill out. I asked my wife to let me vent (she is inherently a problem solver, so I ask for listening when that is what I need). In a very rambling way, I said all the things the anxiety monster had stuffed into me. 

Beauty and Strength

Getting the worries out left me feeling empty in a way that left room for reflection. I felt free to simply sit and appreciate what was in front of me and how I felt about it. Nature left me feeling awed by its beauty and respectful of its power. We were seaside. The ocean was so beautiful in so many ways. The sound, how the light shone through the peak of a wave, so many shades of blue/green/white…. And so powerful: the undertow, rogue waves, the unknown depths, and rocks. Beauty and strength.  

I saw beauty and strength all around me. I tried to reflect on ways that I also have beauty and strength. 

What about you is both beautiful and strong? It is easier to see in others. My sister has a brain and body that are always on the move. This is her beauty and strength. She gets stuff done, creates, bakes, manages, advises, encourages and more always on the go. It is possible to get swept up in the current of her energy. My friend Joyce steps back and asks questions. Her insights go right to the heart even if you are not there yet. It is beautiful, powerful, and sometimes leaves me off balance for a moment.  

Reflecting allows me to glimpse my own beauty and strength as it is mirrored back to me. The fragility and energy of a hummingbird who is constantly on the move. The steady hum of traffic as people move on to the next place they need to be. The roar of a plane as it exerts enough energy to lift itself from the tarmac. Where do you see yourself reflected?  

This paying attention brought me back to my priorities and goals. As the vacation came to a close, I was better able to plan my next steps. I read, write, and teach about resilience because we all need it. We benefit when reflect on our own beauty and strength, and we are able to meet more difficult challenges when strengthen our innate resilience.  

May you find a way to empty yourself of the anxiety monster’s voice so that you can reflect on the beauty and strength that is nearby. May your time of reflection help you remember your resilience, gain perspective on your own beauty and strength and remember your priorities.  

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Laura A. Gaines