Category Archives: Coping

Strength and Courage

In a box of dusty papers lay a treasure buried years ago:  a poem from Mother on the importance of both strength and courage.  Her hand-written note across the top of the page made this an even greater treasure, “For Barbara, who exemplifies this better than anyone I know.  Lovingly, Mom.”

From Mother’s hand and my dusty box, from my heart to your eyes, words on strength and courage:

Strength and Courage

It takes strength to be firm.
It takes courage to be gentle.

It takes strength to stand guard.
It takes courage to let down your guard.

It takes strength to be certain.
It takes courage to have doubt.

It takes strength to fit in.
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain.
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to hide your own pains.
It takes courage to show them.

It takes strength to endure abuse.
It takes courage to stop it.

It takes strength to stand alone.
It takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love.
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive.
It takes courage to live.
(Author Unknown)

*Personal Update:  Some people tour national parks during the summer.  I toured emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, instead.  I recovered quickly from a round of pneumonia, thanks to care I received in an Omaha hospital.   Outpatient cataract surgery gave me better vision than I’ve had since high school.   My recently broken foot has mended. An adrenal deficiency is still problematic and its cause undiagnosed.  Heart and lungs are behaving well.  Next summer I want to visit parks.

Passport to Happiness

A friend found a yellowed paper in his father’s desk after his dad died.  It described his father’s approach to life.  Dad didn’t wait for happiness at a future time, nor did he expect it to be given to him.  He knew that happiness and joy reside within us if we choose them.  He chose happiness and joy.  Here is part of the foundation on which he built his life and the grace with which he faced an incurable cancer.

Passports to Happiness
We permit too many opportunities for happiness to slip by because we labor under two major delusions.  One of these is that we shall be happy when–
When we arrive at a certain destination;
When we can be with a certain person;
When our schooling is finished;
When we get a better job:
When we arrive at a certain income;
When we are married;
When the baby is born;
When we recover from our illness;
When our bills are paid;
When we own a new car;
When we move into a new home;
When some disagreeable task is finished;
When we are free from some encumbrance.

The second delusion is that we can buy a ticket, or pay admission, to happiness.  We seem never to learn that, wherever we go, we take our happiness or unhappiness with us; and that whatever we do; it is how much of ourselves we put into the doing which influences our happiness–far more than what the outside world contributes.

The only way we can insure happiness is to train ourselves to be happy in spite of, not because of, what life does to us.  When we succeed in doing this, we become wise and useful adults.

David Dunn, date unknown
photo by Mark Smutny

Resilience in Many Forms

As the California drought deepens, I am exploring the world of succulents.  It seems these plants are wired to adapt and survive, no matter what.  Knocked to the ground? No problem.  Separated from the rest of the plant?  Keep on growing.  Hanging upside down?  Sprout roots anyway.  Succulents are resilient in the face of drought.  They propagate easily.  They adapt to adverse environments, not only surviving but growing.

My first steps in transforming my gardens to be less water dependent were to ask questions and read.  I learned that a branch broken off a succulent will root without extra attention.  Just put it in soil and watch it grow.  I learned that an agave leaf, if left alone on slightly damp soil out of direct sunlight sends roots into the soil, drawing its sustenance from the mother leaf.   “All that is required for a succulent to root is viable growth tissue,” writes Debra Lee Baldwin in Succulent Container Gardens (p. 234).

Succulent CuttingsNext comes experimentation.   On a friend’s advice, I am putting cuttings from succulents I already own into pots that I’ll sprinkle among my other plants.  I discovered our dogs had knocked some branches off our plants.  Some had fallen to the ground and were starting to grow roots.  Another was hanging upside down with its broken end pointing to the sky.  It had grown roots eight inches long that dangled from its end.

I added these to cuttings from my favorite succulents, set them on a tray for a week to become calloused at the cut, then stuck them in pots filled with cactus soil.  As they grow, I’ll transplant them to bigger pots and put them in the front gardens.

DSC00736My new plants are doing well after just one week in their new soil.  When I feel blocked, frustrated, or limited by circumstances or people, my succulents inspire me.  I consider the aeonium branch growing roots while dangling three feet from the ground an example of tenacious, creative adaptation.

If my plants can adapt like this to new or adverse situations, so can we humans.   All we need is our own version of “viable growth tissue” and a will to keep growing.