Resilience (Part 2) – Bending so You Don’t Break…

“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.” – Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven

There is a certain appeal to grit… sticking to it, hanging tough and persevering…


We don’t hear much about flexibility… the ability to bend… give way, step back…

Allowing time to fallow, retreat, rest, grieve…

In farming, a piece of land is sometimes left to fallow… allowing the land to return to its wild state, in order to rest, and maybe recover its nutrients…

Think about sharpening an axe, and how an abrasive is rubbed against the ax to sharpen it… but nothing much is said about oiling the blade afterwards…

But oiling is a critical part of conditioning the ax. The blade is oiled to protect from rust and the handle oiled to protect from rot.

Rot and rust result from exposure to moisture, oil creates a layer of protection for the raw surfaces of metal and wood.

When you are rubbed raw by life, you need a salve… You need ointment to protect your tender parts, your wounds, your injuries from the elements…

You need time to heal.

We get weary, frazzled and frayed by life’s rough edges…

Imagine soaking our dry, parched, shrunken souls in oil…

Soaking brings suppleness, strength… the fibers of your inner being are refreshed and renewed. No longer frail and fragile, they have increased longevity, vitality and flexibility.

Think about it.

It means taking the time to rest, not just your physical bodies, but your spirit, your soul…

It means taking the time to grieve hurts from the past instead of repressing them and acting like they didn’t happen… then, being surprised when you lash out at someone over trivia!

It means taking time to get the love you need. Taking time to connect. Or reconnect…

Or, letting go of toxic relationships, forgiving yourself for the mistakes you have made…


If you are in a dry spell, instead of jumping out there with activity, get still, quiet, mine the lessons of the season you are in…

For the past 6.5 years, I have been in a wilderness season… (Thankfully, this season is drawing to a close!) It has been one of the most difficult times of my life. I had moved to Baltimore, as a brand new doctor and a brand new mother… attempting to work the required 80 hours weeks with a 5 month old infant in a new city without social support.

I chose to resign because I was extremely close to my breaking point. I decided to bend before I broke. A very difficult decision yes, with costly consequences. It was however, the right one, in a culture where taking breaks is frowned upon.


It is also a culture in which a silent epidemic of physician suicides is raging.

You need to take that time to soak, fallow, nourish and nurture your soul so that when the harsh seasons of life come, you will bend, pull back and then come back standing tall…

The thing with bending is that you can go through many challenging seasons, recoil and come back standing…

But if you don’t bend, and you keep taking the pressure beyond your reserves, you will break. And when you break, there is no recoil… you are broken. You will have to start over…

Sometimes the tree can be saved, other times the damage is irreparable…

Take the flex time…

I have spent these past 6.5 years rebuilding my spiritual practice, building my family, developing my strengths, getting acquainted with who I really am, not what others have assigned to me, and discovering my true calling.

Grieve the loss of that job, the death of that dream, the betrayal of that friend…

Acknowledge the toll that trauma took on you.

When physical trauma happens, patients are sent through the emergency room, sometimes to the Intensive Care Unit… Lots of monitoring, rest, medication… Not much movement and activity.

Same goes for you.

Take some time for yourself… Ask for help. Do some self exploration, get in your scriptures and spiritual writings, soak your soul in God’s presence, meditate… Spend time soaking in the love of your family and friends…

Rest. Listen to music. Soak up the sun. Get a massage.

Soak in what ever you need to restore your soul…

Go on.

Soak it in, so you can bend, not break.

Cultivating Resilience:
1. What do you need right now?
2. In what ways do you need to bend today?
3. Have you ever been at breaking point? Are you there now?
4. Are you addicted to activity? In what ways can you oil the ax today?
5. Whom can you enlist to support you in becoming more bendable?
6. What is keeping you from self-care?
7. In what ways can you begin a regular practice of rejuvenation?

You deserve time for restoration and rejuvenation. You and loved ones will greatly benefit from it. Carve out that time today and let us know your plans for cultivating resilience in the comments below. See you next time!

Yvonne Whitelaw writes for where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her lessons along the way (every Monday and Thursday), she hopes to serve and inspire a tribe of wholehearted warriors like you, to “live your ideals, live your calling and change the world.”

Resilience (Part 1) – Getting Up When Life Knocks You Down

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

What is it that makes some resilient and others not?

Some go through the most heinous of tragedies, getting knocked down again and again… Some never seem to catch a break… Every time you look, some disaster has struck…

Sometimes it gets so bad, you think, “gosh, that’s it… I give up. I will never love again, I will never live again… this time I am broken for sure, irreparably… and I will never recover… ”


Something deep within stirs… you awaken again…

After that sucker punch you thought had knocked you out, you find yourself, gasping and grasping, reaching up, your knees buckling, then staggering, then walking…

You are up and at it again…


Resilience… That indomitable spirit, rises again and again…

It says, “You are not done… This is not the end for you.”

Stand up. Try again. Flex, Bend so you won’t break…

Get some rest. Try another day.

You come out to the Arena with courage and faith and empathy… Ready to take on the challenge, to fight for what you want… And you get beaten… badly…

Humiliation, shame, anguish, failure, guilt, Loss…

What now?

Do you stay down for the count?

Do not stand there staring at the closed door.

Your life has a purpose. Your life has meaning…

You have a whole path ahead of you…

Don’t stand there, staring at the closed door…

Look around, there is an open window somewhere…

As long as you have breath, you have options… Get in a positive space, then look…

Studies in positive psychology show that you are more likely to notice or come up with creative solutions when you are in a positive or optimistic state.

Deep breath, listen to some music, pray, exercise, read scripture, meditate, dance… get in a positive mindset and you will see that solution rising from the ashes of your dreams…

Nothing is wasted.


You got knocked down? It’s okay… Take time to cry, reach out for support and then, dust yourself off, gather your ideals and try again.

You are a warrior! You can do this!

Cultivating Resilience
1. In what ways has Life Knocked you down?
2. What are your options?
3. Whom can you count on for support?
4. Have you taken the time to grieve your loss?
5. In what ways can you get into a positive mindset?
6. What values do you need to take into the Arena with you?
7. What closed door at you still staring at? Can you walk away?

Nothing is wasted. Gather your values, and walk boldly back to the Arena and Dare to fight again! See you next week!

Yvonne Whitelaw writes for where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her lessons along the way (every Monday and Thursday), she hopes to serve and inspire a tribe of wholehearted warriors like you, to “live your ideals, live your calling and change the world.”

Trust (Part 4) – Vulnerability, Discernment and the Courage to Trust Others

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou


Be alert for the Intangible

The red flags, that nagging feeling, an uneasiness in gut,…

Something is not quite right. But you are unsure of what it is…

You hesitate.

Everything looks good, all the t’s crossed, i’s dotted.


You are paralyzed… Something is holding you back.


He is neatly dressed, well groomed, teeth sparkling, manner impeccable… Yet your skin crawls.

She comes highly recommended, credentials top notch, experience unparalleled… Yet, you sense she’s not the right fit.


Everyone has an opinion about trust. We are to trust no one. We are to trust everyone. We’ve all been burned at some point and the trauma keeps us conflicted. Whom do you trust?

Why do we trust?

So much at stake… The heart aches for connection and yet falters, remembering the pain of betrayal.

Do you know the whole story?

Some appear untrustworthy… Happy, positive people presumed flaky… Sober-minded people, presumed cynical or sour.

How do you know?

And that betrayal… Was it  intentional? Was it a mistake?


Risk Vulnerability but be Discerning

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” 
― Ernest Hemingway

Is trust the chicken or the egg? Do we trust first and then see what happens? Or do we remain skeptical until that person is proven trustworthy by earning your trust?

Risk Vulnerability. Risk emotional exposure. Bare your soul.

But pay attention to whom you expose yourself…

Be Discerning. Listen to your gut. Pay attention to your body. Be still. Set good boundaries.

Take your time.

Trust is the bedrock of relationships.

Brene Brown talks about Trust and the Marble jar. Trust is built slowly, incrementally over time.  We have to take the time to identify trusting relationships around us. And we have to identify specific behaviors and experiences that contribute to building trust. When friends behave in trustworthy ways, they earn marbles. And when they behave in untrustworthy ways, they lose marbles…

Usually trust building behaviors are “small, mindful gestures… It’s the small moments, those intimate gestures of connection.”

When I did my Daring Way facilitation training this summer, I was asked whether I had marble jar friends… I said that I didn’t.

I had an unhealthy cycle of picking friends that were not healthy for me… I have an inclusionary bent so I kept getting myself into relationships in which I would be devalued, betrayed or  constantly under-minded by so-called friends… I always gave people the benefit of the doubt even when all red flags and alarms were going off.

So I decided this year, (due to my commitment to the Wholehearted Revolution and my work in the Daring Way) that I was deserving of love and belonging. I am worthy of healthy, positive and reciprocal relationships, not one in which my beliefs were mocked or undermined.

I let go of my fear of rejection, fear of judgment and fear of being gossiped about and just let go of toxic relationships… I needed to make room for my tribe.  I wanted to be appreciated and accepted as my authentic self.

I am many things. I am a mother, musician, coach, physician, theologian, poet, writer, speaker, facilitator, global citizen, bohemian, academic, etc. These are only labels but I have spent a lot of time hiding various identities to fit in. But I done with apologizing for who I am. I don’t want to hide anymore. So, I am choosing to show up as my authentic self.

And I am choosing to belong, not fit in.

I have learned this year, that there is a place for even me, a progressive eclectic Jesus Devotee who just wants to rock out and inspire others to live their ideals.

And I don’t want to do this alone any more. I want to do this as part of a positive community who accepts me and supports me. And I am willing to bare my heart, to show up, be seen, live brave.

I am allowing love to find me, and I am embracing this love. It means being vulnerable. Allowing others to love me. Allowing others to help me. Allowing others to be there for me instead of being the lone ranger and doing it all myself. I have decided to let go of my need for control and  perfectionism and fear.

I choose to trust.

Trust God. Trust myself. Trust others.

There are people out there who genuinely love and accept you. Will you let them in?

I used to believe I didn’t have any trustworthy friends. I would only allow people so far… As soon as I saw those red flags, I would shut down.

But I had blind spots. There were people around me who genuinely cared about me, loved and accepted me but for some reason, I easily overlooked them.


I have spent some time thinking about this… It was because I didn’t think I was worthy of their love and acceptance.

When I started doing this work, really believing I was worthy of love and belonging, an interesting thing happened. I began noticing trustworthy people around me. And I began allowing them into my life instead of holding them at arms’s length.

It is true what they say… Change your thoughts, change your life!


All will be well.

God has my best interests at heart. So do I. And so do my marble jar friends.

How about you?

Do you have marble friends? Or is past betrayal holding you back?


Be Mindful,  prevent Betrayal

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

What happens when people betray you? It hurts… sometimes the trauma is too intense to bear… You swear you’ll never trust again.

But we are human. We are hardwired for connection.

The thing to do, I am learning, is to learn the lesson, take time to grieve, spend some time in self-care, exercise self compassion and then slowly allow others in again.

We trust people who have earned so many marbles over time.

When someone betrays you, don’t repay evil for evil. Move on. What goes around, comes around. Say a blessing for them and move forward. I am learning that I don’t know the whole story. You never know what is going on behind the scenes.

If that person is a marble jar friend, chances are, even though they lose some marbles for the betrayal, there will still be some marbles left in the jar – meaning the relationship is worth saving, if you are both willing to do the work.

I still choose to believe the best about people until proven otherwise. This works well for me.

Mindfulness is key. Pay attention to your relationships. Pay attention to the sliding door moments.  Those moments when you can choose to engage and connect or choose to walk past and  disconnect.

John Gottman’s research shows that when you walk past and don’t pay atttention, not only does this not build trust, it is also a form of betrayal.

Pay attention to your relationships.


Be the Change

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” – William Shakespeare

We all need to be surrounded by people we trust. To do this, we need to become the one people trust. Be the change you wish to see in your life. The results will shock you, pleasantly!


Cultivating Trust in Others

1. Do you have people in your life you consider marble jar friends?

2. What behaviors do people in your life have to exhibit to earn their marbles?

3. What keeps you from having marble jar friends?

4. Have you experienced betrayal in the past?

5. How did you address the past betrayal(s)?

6. In what ways can you cultivate discernment?

7. In what ways can you cultivate vulnerability?

8. Are you a trustworthy person? In what ways are you a marble jar friend?

You deserve to be surrounded by people you trust. You are worthy of love and belonging. Take time to cultivate trust this week and answer any of these questions in the comments section. See you next week! 🙂


Yvonne Whitelaw writes for where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her lessons along the way (every Monday and Thursday), she hopes to serve and inspire a tribe of wholehearted warriors like you, to “live your ideals, live your calling and change the world.”