I love being a resilience coach. Showing clients how to” bounce forward” from the shocks and difficulties of daily life, encouraging them to turn darkness into light, and disappointment into energy for moving forward, goes way beyond the old Rumplestiltskin trick of spinning straw into gold.
Before I found this path, I wanted my life to be a certain way, the way I thought it was “supposed to be.” I expected things to go smoothly, I wanted pleasure, comfort, acceptance and an easy ride. I thought this was perfectly reasonable. But, I was wrong.
After my divorce I jumped right into a new relationship. The results were not what I had in mind. I hadn’t worked for 16 years but I wanted a new career to magically manifest. I yearned for a quiet, peaceful life, but I found it difficult to let go of my New York mentality. It wasn’t until I turned 49 that I realized, the painful mess I called my life was no accident; it was my own creation. And that instead of bemoaning my fate I could use my troubles as a springboard to break free and move on.
My Route 100 Revelation
On my way home from a ski trip in Vermont, as I drove down Route 100, past the frozen lakes reflecting the yellowing light of a mid-winter sky, I suddenly knew I could take the leap and begin again in this beautiful place where I sensed a new life was already unfolding for me. I didn’t question this “knowing.” It felt too good, too “right,” and happened too fast.
When I arrived home, I told my friends and family, sublet my apartment, arranged to rent a house in Killington for the summer to use as home base, and started packing. The choice was simple. Say yes or no: I said “Yes!” And the demon of doubt took a nose dive.
Although I sometimes rise to the occasion and do brave things, I am not by nature a courageous person. I’m afraid of snakes, of getting stuck in elevators, of dark tunnels, and I startle easily at loud noises. Oddly, when I moved to Vermont, a place where I knew no one, and had no idea where I would live or what I would do, I felt at peace, safe, like I’d come home. No fear. No doubt. Just watching my life unfold moment by moment.
As I settled in I met wonderful people who helped pave my way. Before long I found a piece of land in a spot sheltered by evergreens that looked out upon the Green Mountains in the distance. Grace intervened. Money to do this came from the sale of my home in New Rochelle, and I soon began to build a modest house on the side of a mountain where neighbors existed, barely seen or heard, yet I knew they were there. For me, this situation was ideal.
Flowing With My New Life
The less I pushed and the more I said yes to my life, the more easily it flowed. The house got built and became my true home. I returned to school for my master’s degree in counseling psychology. As part of my training, I volunteered at the local correctional center giving imagery and dream workshops for inmates interested in turning their lives around. I developed a 12 Step Imagery program at an addiction center. I interned at a cancer center running a support group for patients who yearned for the kind of healing that conventional treatment failed to offer, and worked at a family counseling center where I met with people whose living conditions were so basic that when I needed to go to the bathroom while making a home visit, I did it without a door and with a five year old boy looking on. At the end of three years I started a private practice in a sunlit three room office in downtown Rutland, rented to me for $200 a month by the building’s compassionate owner who decided to give me a break. Though all of this was new and strange for me, I did it as though it was a story already written; all I needed was to open the book of my life and read it.
Sensing I was being led by some benevolent force, I decided to trust that what looked good, felt good, resonated in my bones and propelled me forward despite my fearful nature, was actually very good, indeed.
Born in the Bronx to kind and generous parents, who possessed little, yet gave much, I come from humble beginnings. My grandmother, Fanny Greenfield, immigrated here in the 1890’s. Soon after she had her third child she became a widow, Yet she managed to take care of her family while living in a tenement on the lower east side of Manhattan, selling her wares from a push cart, possibly with some help from friends who were not much better off than she. I am honored to be her namesake. She is my source of inspiration, my model of resilience. She raised my father and his two siblings to be independent, courageous human beings, who by the age of 12 went off to work, eventually creating their own businesses and helping their mother to live a comfortable life for the rest of her days.
I, too, was raised in New York, but in an apartment with normal amenities in a safe neighborhood, and through the grace of New York City’s free system of higher education, graduated from Hunter College, where the costs back then consisted of a yearly bursar’s fee of $20, no charge for books.
Becoming a Mountain Momma
Country life was foreign to me, but I chose to embrace it fully along with its difficulties, which included: skidding on black ice down Route 4 past Pico Mountain stopping short just inches from the rear end of an oil tanker; getting safely through a microburst that took off a piece of my roof as it ripped its way up the road like a scene from The Wizard of Oz; losing the man I had fallen for to his desire to return to New York for bigger bucks and fancier living, which turned out to be far greater than his desire for being with me: making ends meet by renting out a bedroom to college girls on break whose parents called at 6am to interrogate me about their daughters’ nightly whereabouts; enduring mud season — a much bigger challenge than New York City traffic; and to top it off, suffering the plague of black flies that arrived in mid-May and remained through much of the summer despite the insistence of “real” Vermonters that they disappeared by mid-June. But the amazing natural beauty, the peace, the “moon on the breast of the new fallen snow” and the special friends I met along the way, made it more than worth it.
An Unexpected Education
My ten year stay in Vermont was a coming of age, a reverse finishing school that allowed me to go places and do things that were antithetical to much of whom I thought I was but led me to become who I really am. As I interacted with the prisoners, the cancer patients, the families at risk of losing their kids, the clients in my practice, and my own family and friends, I came to see Resilience as the Lynchpin Quality that makes the difference between surviving and thriving, between getting through and going beyond, between being a victim or becoming your own hero. It’s what allowed me to make my new life in Vermont and it sustains me now that I’ve returned to New York, where the way remains blessed while uncertain.
Whether it’s an illness or an insult, a move to an unfamiliar place, the loss of a job, the ending of a relationship, the death of a loved one, a mugging, a muddle or a broken leg, none of us is immune to the vicissitudes of daily living. By drawing on the spiritual resources within, we go beyond ourselves and bounce forward from pain and disappointment. For only by doing this can we move on with our lives and create the happiness, peace and freedom we yearn for, no matter our age or circumstances at the moment.
Just a Footnote
When I opened my email just now I saw a message from Mercy Corp about the power of human resilience. Since I believe in synchronicity, I see this as a meaningful event and have included it here, just as it was written:
Every day, we at Mercy Corps witness the power of human resilience.
What does resilience look like to you?
This work is about Freedom, Authenticity, and Choosing Life. It shows you how to become your own authority and connect with your Higher Self — the part of you that exists in a state of wholeness, where calmness, gratitude and joy are your baseline reality, and wisdom and strength are the rewards of your journey. My purpose is to serve as a conduit that facilitates this connection.
The practice of Spiritual Resilience is for you if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by disappointment, shock, illness, or loss of any kind. Finding value in the present moment, despite the pain that moment involves, is the key to resilience. This is a mindset few of us are taught. Techniques I use with clients to generate this mindset include:
I have practiced mind-body medicine and psycho-spiritual healing for the past twenty-five years, working with individuals, couples, families and groups. Some issues we address include cancer, asthma, aging, and life transitions . I also give workshops, seminars and retreats on personal and professional development, fertility issues, reversing addiction, and stress management. Through the years I have taught and practiced in places as diverse as corporations, recovery centers, schools, and medical centers, always with the intention to empower my clients to transform the challenges of daily life into meaningful solutions for personal growth and creative action.
I have a Master’s degree in counseling psychology from Vermont College, and completed my post-graduate work at the American Institute for Mental Imagery in New York City under the direction of Dr. Gerald Epstein.
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