What’s in Your Resilience Toolkit: Insights and Outcomes

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Last week, we opened our conversation circle by making one thing very clear:  women are good at resilience. We assemble our resilience toolkits and make sure our tools are sharpened in preparation for life’s tough times. We endure, persevere and support each other along the way. And we right ourselves, adapt, and find our way back to equilibrium. So, we thought a conversation circle would provide the perfect forum to explore the various aspects of resilience, to take a clear-eyed and compassionate look at our strengths and vulnerabilities, and to share our best strategies and tools. We were right – we had a lively, honest and energizing conversation!

For inspiration, we looked to Desiree Linden, this year’s female champion of the Boston Marathon. On a day that was cold, wet and windy, she persevered and gave us a master class in the meaning of resilience. When it comes to intense physical challenges like running a marathon, compared to men, women often do a better job pacing themselves, quickly adjust their behavior and expectations to accommodate changes in the course, and are more likely to offer and seek support with one another to reach the finish line. Which is exactly what Desiree did. We talked about utilizing these same strengths when handling emotional, financial and other obstacles.

To set the stage we started by unabashedly revealing our superpowers –  what a powerful group we were! Patience, curiosity, endurance, X-ray vision, intuition, optimism, synthesizing information, bringing out the potential in others, and being a connector were just a few of the superpowers we heard about.

We spent most of the evening with a fun “Wheel of Resilience” exercise that asked us to reflect on aspects of resilience, and how they shape our lives. We considered financial, emotional, spiritual, vocational, community and social, and physical aspects of resilience. We talked about the tools and strategies we use for each – and those we want to develop and hone – to foster resilience. What are the tools to sharpen during calmer times, to prepare for adversity? What are our “go to” tools when we’re in the middle of the fire? And finally, what strategies are most useful when the dust has settled, when we’ve righted ourselves and are learning to adapt to a new situation? In true circle spirit, we shared our best ideas and listened to struggles and fears. We summoned our courage and spoke about our truth.

Before too long, we all acknowledged how much we have in common. In spite of our diversity – in age, phase of life, geography, resource level, personal circumstances – there was so much we recognized, and honored, in each other.

  • We all yearn for community and true connection – but we define what that means in many different ways. For many of us, fostering deep relationships must be balanced with the time we need solo, to recharge and restore. For all of us, it was clear that nurturing connection is an essential tool for our resilience toolkits.
  • We observed that our willingness to acknowledge vulnerability in one area (for example, noting that we’re not as physically resilient as we’d like to be) creates an opportunity to sharpen our tools in that area (like hiring a personal trainer). This also has dovetail impact on other aspects of resilience and makes us stronger overall.
  • Many of us identified a desire to reclaim a state of grace. We loved the idea of measuring resilience by measuring how easily we can go back to grace after a challenging time.

As we came to a close, we shared our “go to” strategies for getting through a rough patch.  A sampling:

  • Break things down. Ask yourself: what is the next step?
  • Be willing to commit. Be all in. Walk through the fire.
  • Create a checklist, a “user’s manual” to rely on when action seems impossible.
  • Get out of the house!
  • Use your phone to set alerts and reminders to call friends on important days and/or to make plans.
  • If you’re feeling untethered, sit quietly. Feel the support of the chair below you. Now feel the support of the floor, now the building foundation and the granite below. Feel the earth below, always supporting you.
  • Find a subject matter “expert” to help you scale whatever learning curve you face and to serve as a sounding board. She could be a personal trainer, a financial advisor, a career coach, a therapist or a spiritual advisor.

It was a rich conversation and we came away with a host of new tools to try and a true sense of community. We learned so much from each other – again demonstrating the power of the circle to allow our inner wisdom to bubble up, all the more perfect to be shared.

If you’d like to save the date, our next conversation circle is scheduled for Thursday, October 4, 2018.  We look forward to seeing you there!

We close our circles with a poem, and this time we offered one from one of our favorite poets, Tara Mohr.


There is always the possibility
of reinvention

sometimes born of longing
sometimes offered faintly,
like birdsong in your ear

born of pain.

Life is long for a reason.
So that every chapter swells
with a new chapter of us,

so there is time to change
the meaning of your name
to everyone around you,
and especially
to you.

When the name that once meant
tired girl comes to mean
she who rose again,

art begins.

I met a woman
whose house burned down
and in the ashes
she found the blaze of her self.

Now it roars
still angry, sometimes uncontrolled,
always a blinding light.

If you see her on the street,
bow to her courage.
Stare back into her flickering animal eyes,
and know, she is fighting a fight.