Earlier this spring, my dog Regina and I went for a stroll. It was a beautiful spring day, smelling like rain and sunshine. One of my favorite things about owning a dog is that it almost forces me to get outside more and just go on simple walks. I went a different route this day in our neighborhood, going down a street I have never ventured down before. I bet you’ll never guess what I discovered.
We walked past a house where a woman was gardening. That alone made me smile. Then, I noticed they had one of those little “library” boxes by their mailbox – one of those “take a book, leave a book” things. And I fell in love. I fell in love with the idea behind that library, and this woman gardening. I thought to myself, I want to be more like this woman. Maybe I should start a garden? But then I remembered that I don’t have much of a green thumb. In fact, I usually kill most of the plants I buy. I have two plants that I have managed to keep alive, although I had to bring them back to life. I can only own plants that I know are resilient and fighters, that come back on their own when need be. Then I started thinking about resiliency and my clients. My clients are the most resilient individuals I have ever had the privilege to work with. They have been let down at some point in their short lives, sometimes over and over and over and over. They almost give up hope. They feel alone. They feel unsupported. But something in them lights up and they start fighting. And things, slowly but surely, get a little bit better, even when they didn’t think it could. And then it keeps getting a little bit better, slowly but surely. But they can’t do it all alone. We all need someone. I am so pleased to be that someone for my clients. No, it doesn’t always happen – sometimes my clients just aren’t ready to work on the problems going on in their life and that’s ok, too. But witnessing that resiliency? Oh man. That makes my job so worth it. It makes all the stupid paperwork, all the politics, all the ethical dilemmas, all the sleepless nights worrying about clients, all the unfair salaries for a professional with a Master’s degree (I mean, really…), and all the other mindless things that make my job a pain in the rear end worth it. When I am with a client and they have that light bulb moment and they start pushing through and reporting feeling better? THAT is the reason I decided to be a counselor. It. is. the. best.
When Regina and I saw that woman with her garden and her library box, I thought about how communities lend to resiliency in individuals. A community can be family, friends, a school, a work place, a neighborhood, a church, or a Scout troop or… etc. etc. Without these communities, how can we be expected to extend our wings and fly? Counselors help build that sense of support and community with clients that are not feeling it any where else. How cool is that?! It’s the coolest! We are all learning and growing; if we learn and grow together, we will be stronger and much more happy. We all have to support each other. The phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” is so true, but it also applies to grown ups. It takes a village to let others know we love them and support them and accept them. Showing love and empathy to an individual will make all the difference in their strength, and I bet you will see that resiliency that I am so lucky to see.
So, how does yoga fit in to this? I have been working on crow pose for a year. Mostly with no success. But I noticed that, after some very consistent practice, my arms were starting to feel more lean and I felt stronger. So I try again. I went from holding crow for half a second to a second. Then, I went from holding crow for one second to two seconds. This is progress, no matter how small! Yes, there were days when I could not hold it for even .25 seconds – I fell flat on my face. And it was embarrassing (and it hurt). But I got back up and tried it again the next day and I held it for a second! We fall down, but we pick ourselves back up. Again and again and again. In yoga, and in life. It’s just our human nature. And that is resiliency.
It’s pretty cool.