Coming Back Around

“Life and Times” was the title I used for a weekly column in the Little Falls Transcript at age 19. That feels like several lifetimes ago, now. To me, the words relate to the days, events, and activities that make up life. And, the defining circumstances in which we find ourselves–our communities and world–the times. So, I am coming back around to talk again about “life and times.”

A spiral may represent the ongoing growth that we can experience, moving ever higher in self-awareness and spirituality. A spiral can also represent (like the one here), circular movement from inner to outer, and from one place to another, but circling around, not moving in a straight line. All through our lives we occasionally circle back around to situations or places–and are offered an opportunity for introspection, “aha moments” and growth. I think of the experiences, dramas, things I learned and incorporated in these many years, and realize I am the same person, only further along the spiral, that I was at 19. Hopefully wiser and calmer, too!

In June I had an opportunity to circle back around to a place I lived almost 40 years ago—Lafayette, Louisiana. As a new addiction counselor, I was recruited to work at the state-of-the-art Chemical Dependency Unit of Acadiana as a family counselor. Moving on my own from Minnesota was made easier by having family there to welcome me and provide a home away from home. They were Aunt Carole, cousins Patricia and Regan, and their families (which grew in the years I was there).

A spiral can also represent the action of hurricanes and tornados—both of which devastated the homes of my aunt and cousins last summer and fall. Their three homes in the Lake Charles area were damaged beyond repair and they are still picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild their lives.

Currently, Pat, her family, and Carole are living in Lafayette, adjusting to the losses and changes, and planning the next steps. I was able to visit them and see for myself the destruction, changed lives and problems they still face. I shed tears, but often I heard from them, “We have no more tears to cry. But we are OK, we are getting through it.”

Some of them asked if my book about The 4 Rs (resilience, relationship, respite and renewal) could help people get through this kind of challenge. I was also asked, “Are you going to write about this?” I answered, “Yes and yes.”

I saw “resilience” demonstrated right before my eyes. The bounce-back, the determination to keep going and the ability to face loss and grief, set it aside and move forward were all shining through my aunt and her family. It was moving and inspiring.

Resilience is a legacy human beings are blessed with from birth. Tapping into it in times of crisis is natural and effective. We can also improve our resilience and increase our flexibility and resourcefulness through self-awareness and being present in the moment (mindfulness). Working through issues and understanding our vulnerabilities and triggers supports resilience and bounce-back.

As my family members take back their lives and rebuild, their resilience is an example for anyone who is experiencing loss and change. I bless them for their courage, humor and determination. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me, y’all!

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