Nancy’s Resiliency

As mentioned before, I am a proud Hospice Austin volunteer. As such, I receive periodic words of inspiration from one of the many wonderful Hospice Austin staff members. Below is a recent one that I wanted to share, with permission. Enjoy – Melody

Resilience: Adaptability

When we are no longer able to change the situation,
We are challenged to change ourselves.
~Victor Frankl~

It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
Nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
~Charles Darwin~

The biggest challenge was the frog. A few months after we married, my husband, Bill, and I embarked on an open-ended trip around the world beginning in Mexico and Central America. Prior to leaving we whittled our possessions down to whatever would fit in my mother’s attic or our two back packs. Once we left the United States we traveled by bus, train, bicycle, rickshaw, ox-cart, and even on the top of a few buses when there was no room inside. We stayed in the most basic hotels and we ate in the street markets. For a girl who grew up in the suburbs of Austin, I thought I was doing pretty well at adapting to our ever changing circumstances, locations, and accommodations. Until the frog, that is.

Several months into our travels, somewhere near the border of Mexico and Belize, we checked into a simple, two-story, cinder-block hotel in a dusty little town. Our room, although spare to the extreme, met our standard of clean floor, clean sheets, and clean bathroom. The ceiling fan worked and the windows opened, ensuring a cooling breeze. The sheets, whisper thin from use, were freshly washed. The bed, while small and hard, was nevertheless inviting after a long day of travel on a crowded, un-air-conditioned bus. And we had a private bathroom, often a luxury in international travel. With all my heart I was looking forward to a hot shower, a bite of supper, and a good night’s sleep. Grabbing my towel, I headed to the bathroom while my husband fell back onto the bed and closed his eyes.

The bright green line of mildew meandering from the shower head down the white tile to the floor should have been my first clue that things might not go according to plan. I turned on the faucet expecting a refreshing spray of water. Instead, the shower head sputtered, then gurgled, and finally released a slow, labored stream of cold water that followed the green line down the wall and across floor before lazily winding its way down the drain. No matter which way or how far I turned the spigot, the result was the same. No! I thought. This can’t be! I’m sweaty and grimy and tired. Is a hot shower too much to ask?!?
And that’s when I saw him; a large, warty frog sitting in the corner of the shower eyeing me defiantly. I stared back, equally defiant, feeling a tide of frustration wash over me. Suddenly the choice before me became crystal clear: I could either (a.) allow the frog to push me over the edge and throw the wall-eyed fit I was capable of, or (b.) take a deep breath and roll with it. Realizing that I simply did not have the energy needed for a respectable tantrum I went with “b.”

Hey Bill, I said, peaking around the corner at my snoozing spouse, guess what? He opened one eye. There’s no hot water OR water pressure, and there’s a frog in here.
Now he had both eyes opened.
I haven’t figured out how I’m going to take a shower in the first place, but I’m absolutely positive that it’s not going to involve this frog. For all our safety, would you mind re-locating him for me?
Bill yawned, pulled himself upright, and ambled to the bathroom. Leaning down he scooped up our visitor, Come here little buddy, he said, let’s find you another safe, cool place outside.

While he was gone I found an empty water bottle and, filling and emptying it over my tired self repeatedly, managed to get thoroughly washed and rinsed. And you know what? It was almost as refreshing as a long, hot shower…all right, it wasn’t even close. But it was oddly satisfying, nonetheless. Instead of falling apart because life didn’t go as planned, I found a way to adapt to a less-than-ideal situation, discovering an unexpected store of inner resources. And no one got hurt.

The ability to adapt to changing or unexpected circumstances is crucial, not only for our happiness and well-being, but sometimes even for our survival. The organizations and individuals who adapt to change quickly; who decide to deal with what is rather than hanging onto what should be, are the ones who thrive in the midst of chaos; who find their way through seemingly impossible situations; who discover new and sometimes better ways of doing things.

To Practice: Because of built-in survival mechanisms our brains are naturally wired to notice negative experiences more readily than positive ones. But in reality, we experience positive events with much greater frequency. One way to build greater resilience is to notice and appreciate the positive things that happen to you, even in the midst of the crummy ones. For the next week, write down three good things that happen to you each day.

Nancy Chester McCranie

Rev. Nancy Chester McCranie, M.Div.
Director of Volunteer and Bereavement Services
Hospice Austin
4107 Spicewood Springs Rd, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78759
P: (512) 342-4716

An inspiring note from Nancy …

The amazing Rev. Nancy McCraine from Hospice Austin sent the following, and it meant a lot to me. Perhaps it will to you as well. Here’s to more stillness in each of our lives … Melody

Doorways to the Soul:
Cultivating Stillness

If our outer world is a reflection of our inner world,
don’t you want to take time to weed and care for your inner garden?
~Renee Trudeau, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family~

I am deeply thankful for those moments in the early morning when I try to be quiet, to sit in the presence of the gentle and compassionate and unruffled One to try to share in or be given some of that divine serenity. If I do not spend a reasonable amount of time in meditation early in the morning, then I feel a physical discomfort — it is worse than having forgotten to brush my teeth! I would be completely rudderless and lost if I did not have these times with God.
~Desmond Tutu~

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and be calm in your heart.

Our family raises organic blueberries and in the early summer we have a “pick your own” berry business on our Bastrop County farm. From sun up to sun down for several weekends in June all kinds of wonderful people come to pick these delicious dark blue orbs. It is great fun to listen to families talking and laughing as they fill their buckets and to see children, their fingers and faces stained blue, experience the joy of the harvest. By the end of each day, however, we are usually spent: over-heated, sun scorched, dusty and tired. On one such evening, several years ago, I had just returned to the comfort of our air conditioned home when I heard my husband finish a phone conversation something like this… That sounds great! We’ll see y’all in a couple of hours. You’re more than welcome to stay the night!

Who was that? I said, in what I’m sure was a less-than-gracious tone.

Some people are riding their bikes from Austin and want to camp out on our place, he replied.

You’ve got to be kidding!?! I said, imagining myself entertaining four sweat stained strangers for dinner when all I wanted was a shower and sleep.

Reading my mind, he assured me that there was nothing I had to do. They just want to pop their tents, he said, and hang out on the farm, maybe pick a few berries in the morning.
Noticing that I was still scowling in his direction he asked me what was the matter. I said something about being hot and cranky and that I probably just needed to go wash my face. And with that, I excused myself to go and pout in our bedroom. As I was sitting there (arms crossed, mouth pinched) I asked myself what exactly WAS the matter. Peace and quiet! I thought, is that too much to ask?!? And then I heard a voice from within whisper, Nancy, all the peace and quiet you ever need is here in this moment. Peace and quiet doesn’t depend on what’s going on around you; it’s what’s happening inside you. If it’s stillness you seek, seek no longer. Simply go within and be still.

It was a realization that changed everything for me. I became more aware that I could intentionally cultivate stillness every day so that, no matter what I was doing or where I was doing it, I could quietly slip into a place of inner serenity and peace. Spending at least 10 minutes of meditation or prayer first thing in the morning and last thing at night is, for me, like placing a soft cushion around my day: the edges aren’t quite as sharp; my emotions aren’t quite as unruly; there is available to me greater equanimity, compassion, and humor to face whatever comes.

What are other ways to cultivate stillness? Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way. For many, exercise is one way to stillness. As our bodies move through space our thoughts can begin to settle. Gardening is another way; listening to or making music; cooking; writing; building something. Whatever it is, keep it simple, make it meaningful for you, and keep a sense of humor about it. And give it time.

If you’re ready to experience lasting change in your life and tap into inner peace on a daily basis, develop and stick with a daily spiritual practice. A spiritual mentor once said to me, ‘Want to experience a little bit of peace? Meditate once a week. Want to experience a lot of peace? Meditate every day.’
~Renee Trudeau~

Rev. Nancy Chester McCranie, M.Div.
Director of Volunteer and Bereavement Services
Hospice Austin
4107 Spicewood Springs Rd, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78759
P: (512) 342-4716