As I began to gather my thoughts for this post, I found myself musing on a situation that occurred when I was nine and change. You see, there was an older boy I liked named Melvin who was a grade ahead of me. I lived in Brooklyn at the time and went to school around the corner from the Brooklyn Museum. On this particular day, I had to go to the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library—that entire block looked very different than it does now—there was a hill with a ramp like street you walked up to get into the museum and once up that stretch, there was a park between the museum and the library you could walk through that was pretty high up off the street. I loved it, I felt as if I was looking down upon the world, lol hey, I was nine and change.
So, going back in time to little girl me of nine and change one day on a winter afternoon with lots of snow and ice on the ground, I walked blissfully next to the man of my choice, an older boy who looked at me like I had it goin’ on!! I mean come on, the man of my dreams offered to walk me to the library which was out of his way—I see the scene as plain as day—me in my long hot red plaid coat with my bookbag on my shoulder, (the very one I slung to protect myself against Venus, the bully) yes, I had that famous bully-slayer bookbag on my very shoulder also toting my (sort of) matching red plaid metal lunchbox. Oh my gosh, I was soooooo happy, I probably was bouncing as I walked, chitter-chattering along as we walked up that hilly path and we got up almost to the top of that hill and WHOMP! down I went doing the backward roller coaster on my butt down the entire hill of ice and snow followed by my lunchbox which as it hit, opened up and out popped my thermos, both sliding down behind me and coming to a slow stop at the hill’s bottom and upon my head, clunk!
As I assessed the damage I. Was. MORTIFIED and I heard the high pitched screeching shrieking of an 11 year old boy laughing and looking down on me as I pulled my wet coat closed and gathered my belongings. In those days thermoses were lined with glass on the inside and mine was totally in shambles. But I remember getting up calmly, walking back up that hill facing the screeching shrieking laughing boy and continuing on to the library.
I didn’t cry, run away or hide. How was I able to handle that at such a young age? Well, I had already experienced the worst that could happen less than a year before which was a brutal lesson on why it was necessary to be Resilient and Flexible. I will go into it in more detail in a future post so stay tuned.
Oh and yes, that screeching shrieking boy walked me the rest of the way to the library but I seem to remember the “hot romance” cooled down after that.
Come to think of it, Flexibility is something we once exhibited without thinking, otherwise we would have never gotten past crawling—I mean, what if, as a toddler you said to yourself: ‘ok, I rolled over, sat up, and now I got this crawlin’ thang happnin’ I can zip through the room the fastest evah! I can trip people up cause the you can’t see me all the time heh heh heh, I can look cute in my Four-wheel Knees and Hands Buggy, got my mommie and er’body ooh-in, coo-in, and ahh-in mannnn I’ma baaaaaadd muh OOP CAN’T SAY DAT WORD YET! But hey, this crawlin’ thang is da bomb…and it’s gonna STAY that way ‘cause if I try to stand up, I’m gonna fall and I can’t I can’t I can’t fall, it’s gonna HURT and I definitely ain’t even thinkin’ about walkin’ ‘cause that’s even MORE falling ‘cause the people, the people, the people gonna laugh at meh heh hehhhhhhh wahhhhhhhhhh!’ WHAT, if you thought that as a toddler???? You would’ve only gone as far as you could crawl, are you getting my drift? We SOOOOOO do that as adults! ‘I’m not gonna try that or I can’t get over that or I won’t let anyone in I don’t trust anybody enough to let them close ‘cause got so hurt the last time I let so and so get next to me, never again! I’m lonely.’
PHEW! Thank goodness we hadn’t learned how to get in our own way when we were new on the scene—we went from gurgling infants to rolling over, sitting up, crawling to standing to walking though we fell countless times we kept. On. Getting. UP.
And yes, our bodies were built to withstand all that falling at that age, but our minds…our minds are as Resilient and Flexible as we train it to be. We have to become more aware of what we are thinking.
Becoming more Flexible and Resilient are great assets and traits to cultivate—what it actually boils down to, is being able to go with The Flow—resisting What Is causes a great deal of pain and suffering. Yet nowhere in the definition of either word is it contingent upon whether we like something—it ain’t social media y’all. Flexibility and Resilience is not contingent upon whether we agree or think something is right. Flexibility asks us to be able to work within a given situation, often with ingredients and/or people we don’t like and can we do it with Grace, without it making us bend all out of shape in a stressful or anxious manner but actually being able to go with The Flow of it. Resilience says yes, you’ve been kicked in the teeth by a situation or situations, by a person or persons and you are hurting bad. How long are you going to stay in pain? How long are you going to nurse your wounds? Is staying in the dumps rectifying the situation? Do you want to continue feeling bad? Do you want precious moments of Your Gift of Life decaying into the abyss? Get up, RISE AND GET UP and make a beautiful melody out of these discordant sounds.
Resilience is the discovery of Your Ultimate Strength.
What helps to get your Flexibility and Resilience muscles in shape?
1) Inspecting Your Mindset—are you a ½ glass full or ½ glass empty kinda thinker? Do you tend to or always see the worst in situations and people? Are you a trusting person or are you always looking sideways at others, behind your back, under the bed or in the closets for something bad to happen? Like Thoughts draw like things—what you spend in Thought Energy Currency draws its equivalent. Example: you feel a cold coming and begin anticipating how bad it’s gonna get and you mentally go through your proven checklist on why it’s gonna be really bad…’I didn’t get my flu shot, I have a sore throat and that’s always an indication, I haven’t been getting enough sleep, abc xyz the list goes on. Day in and day out you spin this in your mind constantly but do nothing in self-care to ward it off, slogging every day to and from work, handling family and other matters and before you know it. BAM! You’re out slidin’ on your butt down that backward roller coaster down that icy hill like when I fell and slid down the hill that winter day. You’re sick. UGH.
Now, the opposite possible scenario flexin’ ya Flexibility Muscles: you feel a cold coming on and begin doing the things you know will either circumvent or at least soften the blow…for you, what does that look like? Maybe saying NO when you mean NO, or canceling if you said yes so you can go take care of yourself and bounce back, or drinking more tea and going to bed earlier or if you’re a meds or herbal supplement/home remedy kinda person get that happening immediately or any combination of things to bounce back from or push away the onset of a cold. Being Flexible with all the things going on in your Life to take the time to work with yourself to make sure you are as healthy as possible and as on point in your self-care.
2) Recall times when you were Resilient after a disappointment or tough challenge think of times when you found yourself in a situation that was challenging or difficult, yet you rose above it. Recall times you were working or dealing with extremely unpleasant, difficult people who were sapping your spirit, yet you triumphed and were able to quote Maya Angelo “and still, I rise!” This exercise is using your Life Experience as an example of your Resilience and if you’re struggling right now, with Intention and shifting your focus to your Success, you can bounce back!! And if you can’t find even one example of you exhibiting Resilience in your Lifetime, then there are many many people with incredible stories of Resilience and Flexibility that will Inspire You! For you see, Resilience and Flexibility go hand in hand.
3) Have a supporting group of folks in your Lives—people who will remind you through example to look at that glass like it’s ½ full and show or have shown themselves to be Resilient and Flexible—note how they roll through Life. And if you don’t have anyone in your circle or family as examples then make it your business to seek out people who are not complainers while simultaneously beginning to shift your outlook, mindset and attitude to become that which you wish to be.
And the Fringe Benefits are…as you become more Resilient and Flexible you may find your stress and anxiety levels reduce because your need to push back or resist What Is lessens and you begin to be able to go more with The Flow of Life. You will also be in a better position to see and hear solutions as your focus shifts from nay-sayer to yes-it-is-possible-sayer.
I once had a dude who used to say, “if this stuff was easy, everybody would be doing it!” Changing your Thoughts, mental habits and expectations ain’t easy but it is doable with Intention, Patience, Humor and Love.
May you learn to bend like a reed in the wind.