Today my beautiful, talented and resilient girl starts 11th grade. Wow. Can someone please tell me where the last 11 years went? Today also marks the third first day of school since we thought there might not be any more first days of school for Olivia, at least not in the way there always had been. Every day that has passed since we emerged from our darkest hours, my daughter has been an inspiration not only to me, but to others around her. She has helped and continues to help many young people suffering from depression and other problems who are trying to take better care of themselves and lead healthier and happier lives. Her resilience and openness astound and humble me. She is my greatest inspiration and my number one reason to wake up each morning and be grateful.
Because today is a great day to reflect on resilience, I pulled my well-worn copy of The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown off my middle shelf and turned to the section on Guidepost #3: Cultivating a Resilient Spirit. Invariably, resilience comes up for discussion in the NAMI Family To Family class I teach. Why are some people able to recover, able to have the ability to do the work necessary to progress while others aren’t? There are more factors, medical and emotional, than I can or am capable of naming here, but since I’m still consistently surprised by what I learned reading Ms. Brown, here’s one aspect of resilience that I wanted to share because it comes up often in my writing: Spirituality. Until I started my studies after Olivia got sick, I never considered spirituality’s role in resilience, but now it makes complete sense to me.
Here is BB’s definition of spirituality: “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.” (p.64)
If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll recognize that this definition is similar to others I’ve presented. This definition gives me a sense of agency over my spirituality that I never possessed as a practicing Catholic. It also gives me a greater sense of responsibility to people and the world around me. I love it. I’ve moved away from a system of religion that includes the traditional view of God, although I continue to have immense respect for said traditional view, it doesn’t work for me. When I got my wake up call, I realized that the years I’d spent floundering without any concept of connection to the world at large was a disservice to my growth and harmony, and my strength as a person. In The Gifts, Brown goes on to say that spirituality is the foundation of resilience. I knew that if I wanted to be a healthier and happier person, I needed to find and cultivate a view that made sense to me, and I’ve been working on it ever since. If you’ve been wondering how to find harmony in your life or uplift your feeling of resilience, if you haven’t already, you might consider upping your spiritual ante. It worked for me.
The first day of school, taken for granted by some as just another day first day, is a day that fills me and my family with gratitude for simple things and not so simple things alike. The first day of school also reminds me that cultivating my spiritual life is as vital to healthy living as any other healthy endeavor because it helps me take care of my soul and ushers more love and compassion into the world.