Just got back from a delicious couple of weeks with my kids and grandkids in Austria.  I’m feeling deep gratitude for our good connections, the fun we have together, the range of activities and values we share, our yummy meals, the close connection between my kids and the four cousins.

In addition to this ground of Gratitude, Resilience has been on my mind recently and so I want to put the vacation in that context.  What does it actually mean?  Resilience is the capacity to recover, bounce back, become strong and healthy again, in particular after something challenging happens.  Resilience is certainly needed to get back on track after an overnight flight, or 20+ hours of travel before bed!

There is talk of the need for resilience in our uncertain future — dealing with the effects of changing climate, depletion of resources, potentially major financial shifts or crashes… and much more.  I invite you to have a look at a series of videos called The Crash Course.  It’s sobering, and could be the topic of a future post.  Suffice it to say that building resilience is one of the main strategies for dealing with the changes that are clearly coming in the next years and decades.

Here and now I want to focus on Resilience in personal arena.  Recently I pondered what I could give my grandkids, something from my heart that I could share with them.  I came up with the idea of a Resilience Journal — a notebook to record helpful thoughts and skills to ride the roller coaster of life with grace and grit.  My intention was to help my grandkids (and their parents, and me!) deal with the challenges, difficulties the ups and downs of our lives.  But Resilience Journal seemed a bit heavy as a title!

I found a little booklet, made locally out of sustainably harvested wood, that I called a Tree Book.  Trees were good symbols of resilience, I thought.  Trees ride out storms, pest infestations, loss of their limbs, extremes of climates, and often still survive and thrive.   I wrote a story for each child that suggested we have rich inner resources (happiness is an inside job!), and guidance.  I started off each child’s journal with the skill of taking a deep breath (or several.  Taking a deep breath, we said, and experienced together, can really make a difference and change the situation.

Here’s the first page in my book.  I was pleased that each of the grandkids listened intently to the story I had written for them, and made a number of entries in his/her book.  I hope this will continue, but at least we’ve planted the seed together.

We had a number of opportunities during our vacation to add some additional tools.  Just recognizing that Life is a Roller Coaster, that Things Change, and that All Feelings Are OK was helpful.  For each tool we drew a picture to help in sink in to a deeper level, and to make it more fun!  Some of their pictures were truly creative and inspired!

After struggling with getting homework done so we could get on with playing, we listened to Roger Miller’s song, You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd.  This classic ditty about inner happiness includes the line, Knuckle Down, Buckle Down, Do it, Do it, Do it!   This got added in everyone’s Tree Book as a useful tool, and it bore fruit in the coming days.

Here’s a page I just added:  Take in the Good.  When I remember to savor the sunshine, the moon and stars, the rain, trees and leaves, hugs, fires, waves…it really helps with the ups and downs!

What are some of the tools, skills, jewels that you have found useful for riding out the highs and lows, the tough times in life?  I’d be pleased to hear some of your favorites!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

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