The Road to Resilience

The Road to Resilience

Cover of "The Power of Now: A Guide to Sp...
Cover via Amazon

Today’s guest blogger is Linda! You can find her here.

Thank you Amber for having me as a guest blogger today. I want to  share some thoughts I have about human resilience in the face of loss.  Life is a series of continuous losses. After you take your first breath,  you find your way on the path towards your final one. Our cells constantly  regenerate. In fact, it is known that our bodies completely change every  seven years. Typically people equate death with loss and sometimes use  those terms interchangeably. Yet, loss is pervasive and incredibly universal.  Here are some common losses to consider: loss of health, loss of youth,  loss of innocence, loss of a relationship, loss of teeth, loss of weight,  loss of physical strength, loss of vitality, loss of purpose, loss of   money.  Even if we live in the same home and work at the same building,  our atmosphere is constantly changing. Quantum physics has proven that  your favorite chair is really made up of energy particles that are not  solid matter. Change, loss, regeneration, motion……. change, loss,  regeneration, motion…… This theme is one of the few constants in  the human experience.

So how do we cope when the human ego craves the status quo and desperately  tries to hold on to what is familiar and safe? The first step is always  the same: acceptance. When one grieves a loss, it may take a while  to come to acceptance, but once there, the path to resilience is within  reach. Eckhart Tolle espouses that acceptance of what is will lead to  inner peace. In his book The Power of Now , Tolle  says,

“Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what  is, surrender to the Now.

Let it teach you Being.

Let it teach you integrity — which means to be one, to be yourself,  to be real.

Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living  and dying into a problem.”

The idea of non-resistance has been embraced readily in the East,  but not as much in the Western world. However, the popularity of Tolle’s  work , along with yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices, has made  this concept more palatable across the globe.

A receptive attitude towards life is also essential to the cultivation  of resilience. To be receptive means to be open to new ideas and possibilities,  even in the throes of pain and sadness.  It also includes the ability  to look at situations in a new light and the awareness of a larger worldview.  For example, deciding to move to a new city so that your partner can  accept a new position may leave one feeling conflicted about giving  up their current social connections and comfortable lifestyle. Yet,  with a receptive attitude, one can see how this decision to support  your partner may also bring them into alignment with a fulfilling new  career path, nurturing like-minded friends, and awaken a dormant sense  of adventure and vitality.

It is often much easier to make these behavioral changes in community.  Community can mean biological family, family of creation, spiritual/  religious group, neighborhood circle, social media, or outside support  system. For those who need additional support with the grieving process  or making transitions, a support group or therapy group often can provide  the community and treatment/support necessary to face the crisis in  a healthy manner. I have worked many years as a therapist with people  dealing with acute and chronic mental health challenges. The amount  of loss and trauma many of these individuals carry is close to unimaginable.  Often a history of abuse and/ or trauma is present in those with certain  mental health issues, which can trigger substance abuse through self-medication.  This choice can create more loss and trauma, along with the traumas  inherent that many encounter in the mental health and criminal justice  systems. The Mental Health Recovery Movement that is emerging in the  US and Europe addresses these issues in a proactive, holistic, humane  fashion. My work in a Recovery program gave me the opportunity to create  and facilitate groups that embraces those values. I ran a Grief and  Loss group that  gave the members the space to develop trust, improve  communication, and begin the path to acceptance, forgiveness, and hope.  We often examined ways to re-frame a situation in order to encourage  attitudinal change and healing. We often discussed how we gained something  positive in the wake of a loss. When a commercial began airing with  the slogan ” What will you gain when you lose? ” I  began to wonder if the advertising firm was eavesdropping on our group!

I am not suggesting that resilience is inevitable, some people are  genetically wired to be naturally more resilient than others. So perhaps  there are those among us that experience less setbacks or regroup quicker  from a significant loss. We all can make a huge impact upon our own  destiny by increasing our awareness of when we need some form of treatment/intervention in the face of depression, anxiety, extended grief, trauma,  and difficult life transitions. Relief from suffering and recovery from  loss is possible and there are many wonderful resources available. We  all deserve the best possible life we can create for ourselves. Evidence  of resilience is abundant both in nature and bustling cities, and everywhere  in-between. Take a close look around you and you are bound to discover  it in action.


The Decision to Self-Publish

The Decision to Self-Publish

So this past year (well, really, two years) has been too hectic for me with a myriad of health issues I can’t even list for you on two hands. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia almost a year ago and bipolar disorder seven months ago, and both are two of the most unpredictable illnesses I’ve ever been struck with. I’m not treating my fibromyalgia because my parents and I suspected the Lyrica I was put on contributed to increased symptoms in my bipolar, and I’m still struggling to find meds to stabilize my mood since I’m rapid cycling Type I!

What do my health issues have to do with anything? Well, they’re the reasons I’ve mulled over the idea of self-publishing for a few months. I took a book production class last spring that made me realize just how hectic deadlines are, how everything needs to be edited and done on this set date or else everything is thrown off. With the unpredictability of my health, I don’t want to have to commit to something and then find I’m unable to do it. All my old commitments (my freelance tutoring and editing, even simple dates out with friends) had to constantly be obliterated because I was either in too much pain or too tired to do anything. Sometimes my medications even throw my concentration off, and my creativity thus becomes dulled. I’ll become less detail-oriented, so this can throw off what I’m able to do.

With self-publishing, I’ll be able to set my own deadlines, and even if I can’t meet those deadlines, the only inconvenience that will occur is that I will have to come up with a new deadline date.

Another reason I’ll be doing it is because, obviously, I’m going to have a career along with my writing one. Plus, ballet has been amazing therapy for my fibromyalgia, and I’d like to keep doing that. Before I was hospitalized the first time for bipolar, I was going to school full-time, working part time, and doing ballet. I couldn’t squeeze in writing at all because I’d be so exhausted, so fatigued, from doing even just three classes with no work or no ballet. Sometimes I just couldn’t sleep well. Sometimes I’d be depressed. Sometimes I’d be in a flare. Sometimes I’d wake up so fatigued I could barely stand at work. Thus, having a career and wanting to keep up with the physical therapy of ballet, I may not be able to write or even edit every day. At least with self-publishing there is no pressure to do this.

Last reason I’m going toward self-publishing is I will admit I am a control freak. I have not been happy with traditional publishing lately. I have friends going toward this route because they are tired of being told that their stories are great but agents or editors aren’t looking for those stories right now. These friends know their stories have promise but when they’re told their stories aren’t in the ‘in’ it boils down to marketing, what publishers think will sale, not what publishers think readers will delight in. Bottom line: It’s money. Obviously.

Government involvement is the reason I’m backing out of teaching and going into freelance tutoring/editing and/or tutoring with something like Sylvan or a university or whatever. It’s the same with my choice to self-publish. I’m not writing to appease publishers or agents. I’m writing for those who are going to read it. I don’t want some agent or publisher determining the worth of my book based on numbers. I want readers determining the worth of my book based on the story told within the pages. And even if I am traditionally published, my book has about as much of a chance selling well as if I were to self-publish it simply because I am not a known name. The only difference is I will make more money selling per book than I will with traditional publishing. I won’t have an advance, but there is no promise the advance will even be worth it in the first place.

Self-publishing will no doubt be more work, but as an unknown name, I likely wouldn’t have received marketing help traditionally published in the first place. At least with this route, I have control. I can pay an editor and will not have to worry about negotiations on changes the editor wants, as the money comes out of my pocket. I can design the book, I can design the cover, I can make the swag, and I can dictate when all of this gets done. I also have a feeling I will feel far more pride going in this direction knowing the majority of the work came from me. And if it all fails, it will all come down on me, but I won’t have to worry about being dropped from a contract. I can just write another book and keep trying. Heck, I hear independent publishers are pretty great too. They’re always a possibility if I find, before publishing, that marketing is too enormous of a boulder for me to carry.

Ultimately, my biggest reason for wanting to self-publish is that I want readers to be in control. I want readers to be the ones to tell me how to improve, where I went wrong, what they liked, what they disliked. They are the ones who buy books. They are the ones books are intended for. They are the reason many writers write.