Sunday, November 9, 2014


A few years ago, I gave a series of presentations on resiliency. I called it "The ROCK". The ASB/Leadership teacher at our high school asked me to provide some 5-10 minute opening remarks for a group of leadership students who would be spending the day at our school. I had come to realize that 5-10 minutes of air time with kids is a true gift, and I wanted to say something meaningful, something beyond "Welcome to our school! You are all amazing kids and your leadership is truly making a difference in your schools". So, I asked myself, what did I have to say, in 5-10 minutes, that could impact these kids?

That year had been a tough one. Our community experienced a series of losses that left us all emotionally fragile, and many quite traumatized. We saw deaths of students, parents, family members, serious car accidents, all in a 6-month period. We were on edge, afraid even to ask, "What next?", or "Is it over yet?"

A few years before this, we had the Rachel's Challenge staff visit our school a few times. Rachel Scott's message of kindness left a deep impact on my heart. I can make a long list of the times I have been unkind, intentionally and unintentionally, and I knew I wanted KINDNESS to be part of the message.

As I thought about my year, I knew that a lot of people, through their trauma, were seeing the world through the "worst case scenario" perspective. Despite all the tough times, there truly was a lot to celebrate. Sometimes, focusing on the positive during the worst of times is the only thing that helps us through. I knew I wanted OPTIMISM to be part of my message.

My own two children were perhaps the greatest source of inspiration. They were particularly hurt; you see, they had lost their father six months earlier in one of these tragedies. As I struggled to help them process their grief and find reasons to live and be happy again. Teaching them RESILIENCY would be critical.

Then, of course, I had to look at myself. My world had been shaken off its foundation. I, myself, was not feeling very happy or stable. I found myself angry, defensive, frustrated, and unhappy. It was easy to point fingers and play the blame game with others, but I realized, if I really wanted to be happy and healthy again, I needed to work on myself first, and I needed to work hard to understand others' perspective and feelings. In short, I needed to embrace CURIOSITY in order to foster that understanding.

As I looked at those words, I realized quickly that if I rearranged them, they would spell ROCK: Resiliency. Optimism. Curiosity. Kindness. This became the quick speech to the leadership students and it evolved into a 1-2 hour presentation.

Now, looking back over the past four years of our family's recovery, I can see that these keystones have served as my "North Star", my guiding light, my foundation, to help me settle when times have been tough. Having recently been asked to speak again on resiliency, I thought it would be helpful to return to the start of this journey and reflect back on the highs and lows of our healing process. Over the next weeks, I hope to write more about these experiences as I refine the message I want to share with the group.

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