Squatting at my front door with a heavy bag of groceries on my shoulder, I couldn’t stand up after bending down to grab my fallen keys.
“Helpless, pathetic, needy, unglued.” You name it, I didn’t want anyone to see me that way. I always get back up…
More than once during 2018 I was too weak to get back up – physically and emotionally – and it scared the hell out of me.
I came to find out the real work of strength training for body and spirit resilience was about making different choices on how to rise.
I’ve lived in some of the biggest and baddest cities, working with very tough people, and have been through my fair share of crazy sh** – wearing my battle scars proudly, but this past year I felt utterly broken, emotionally scooped out and I couldn’t see a way out.
Like many of us, I’d been trained that asking for help shows weakness, and doing everything on my own, pushing ahead no matter what, is the ultimate glory.
Upgrading our inner strength requires bravery to see into our dark, vulnerable places. Once seen, we must be willing to bring the salve of love to them, rather than beating ourselves up, numbing or ignoring what’s asking to been healed.
We need tools and support to do that kind of strength training.
So I wanted to share with you the most important resources (most are free or very low cost), which I used to get me out of an abyss, and within months had me feeling stronger, more inspired, joyful and purposeful in a bigger way than ever before.
It is my deepest desire that in sharing the parts that aren’t as pretty to look at, you will feel braver and less alone when you inevitably must confront your own.
What worked for me might not work for you, but I hope something I share helps you find your path to greater resilience and healing.
A bit of background
You can skip this part and go straight to the tools I recommend. But this context may help you understand better why each thing became a powerful aid in my strength training for body and spirit resilience.
The Trampoline of Life
In September 2017 I struggled with the unexpected, untimely death of a good friend (which I wrote about in “The Art of Unclenching” which includes a number of healing tools you might love too).
Then January 2018 hit and my Omi (grandma) went into hospice. Every day after our daily visits I drove home sobbing. For weeks I couldn’t breathe normally, and my face wouldn’t stop leaking. I didn’t even have space to really reflect on the pain of losing three friendships that month too.
In exactly 30 days my Omi passed, and simultaneously a family member and friend of mine were diagnosed with advanced cancer.
As February had just begun, the emotional pain combined with an unaddressed injury to my shoulder tissue, led to a 95% loss of mobility in my neck.
Being mainly a freelancer, not being able to work during these months, my savings cushion dwindled quickly and my bank account went negative. One friend came over daily to help me dress, others brought groceries, and I had to borrow money for rent.
I felt ashamed that I couldn’t even pick myself back up. I knew people go through far worse in life…and yet every time I got up from the couch, pain seared and my head spun — and had no idea when any of it would end.
I wanted so badly to drag myself back together at least enough to start working again.
Like on a trampoline, sometimes you gotta go further down before you can spring back up higher.
That’s exactly what happened.
Once I stopped sobbing daily, the broken blood vessels in my eyes disappeared, sinuses cleared, and I regained mobility in my neck…boom…I had to navigate a very negative, public attack on my career — that lost me a big client — something I couldn’t afford.
At that point I was simply trying to get through one more day.
Completely broke and feeling broken, I simply didn’t have the energy to fight.
So I surrendered…
By this time, it was barely March.
Suffice it to say early 2018 sucked, and it sucked the life out of me.
So I had to deal with life in a new way because my old “get it together and push forward” tricks stopped working.
No matter how crappy things got, I reached for any positivity, inspiration, connection, education that could help me transform the experience, even in a small way. Through that process, I actually became stronger than ever.
I stayed fully committed to doing personal growth work, and the rest of the year went much better. In fact, it was outstanding.
Yes, there were still challenges scrambling to get back on my feet, while managing a sick cat for months, another death of a dear family member, and a variety of other personal and business issues, but I had actually shifted in a powerful way that was nothing short of a miracle, in my opinion.
The question that changed everything
When I felt like awful things kept happening that were way out of my control and I didn’t really know how to deal with, the one question I asked myself was: “What is mine to do now?”
…and poof! Something broke open. I broke free in that moment and remember feeling that I wasn’t as scared as I “should have been” facing the darkness.
Strength Training for the Body and Spirit Resilience Resources
From that feeling of surrendered freedom, the journey I embarked on for deep personal growth and healing this past year included the following tools – most of which are free or very low cost.
If you can support the work of these folks by paying for their material or donating to their organization, please do.
I should mention that in addition to these tools, I was also seeing my regular therapist and receiving, chiropractic and energy healing from highly trusted and experienced providers.
Those services weren’t free, but for me, they are an essential piece of personal growth and healing.
Sirius Joy TV
The free weekly astrology report on YouTube called Namaste Today, by Christopher Witecki helped me put what was happening into a larger context for understanding and processing the chaos I was experiencing.
Now many of my friends, family and myself are hooked to his positive guidance and joined his monthly, paid subscription service. Often we all start texting each other about the insane accuracy his in-depth, daily reports are providing. One could say he’s my new guru of the stars.
Get stuck in a YouTube loop
This is basically all I could do when I was relegated to the couch, and it was so much better than binge watching mindless shows.
How to get in a loop: YouTube will prompt you to view another video with a similar topic once you’ve started watching one.
I’d recommend starting with Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness, who does a terrific job interviewing some very poignant, inspirational, well-known people and drawing out the gold nuggets of their best work in a way that feels easily applicable. Lewis has his own great energy and insight to share too.
Then just keep clicking on whatever catches your eye in the recommended videos section that seems inspirational. If you hit a dead end, look up videos with Oprah, or the most popular TED talks, Brene Brown, and soon you’ll discover even more amazing people worth learning from.
Inspirational Reading with Guided Programs
I purposely didn’t even try to list out books I find inspirational. That would be way too hard to narrow down to anything less than an overwhelming number. So these are just a a few suggestions that contain exercises and prompts to help you progress.
Calling in the One This book is designed to help you reveal and heal various aspects of who you are, and how that plays out in your relationships. Though the title is focused on finding a soul mate, it’s powerful, transformative work for all relationships, especially the one with yourself. If you stay committed to it, as I did, for the 7-weeks of daily exercises (best to do with a friend or group for support), you may also experience huge personal realizations.
Intuitive Leverage by Vanessa Codorniu
An 8-week, fully guided, group program online (happens a couple times a year) that allows you to tap into your inner-knowingness with greater confidence and clarity. I’ll be honest I didn’t have a clue what to expect, but something in me knew I needed to do.
Vanessa is the real deal when it comes to intuitive work and guiding students to hear their own truth and inner voice more clearly. Her workshop was the most expensive thing I did during the year for my self-growth, but thankfully Vanessa offered a really affordable weekly payment plan for her already reasonably priced course.
I also did her class simultaneously to the Calling in the One 7-week program mentioned above. That was a TON of energy digging. So maybe separate them out a bit.
He’s like the kinder, gentler version of Tony Robbins. They both have incredibly great messages and ways to help people realize a greater potential in life. You can get a taste of his work during a 30-day trial to his membership program for $1. You’ll get one complete training that is the core of his teachings in that time window, and if you’re tight on funds, make a note in your calendar to cancel the auto-renewal.
I also loved Brendon’s book High Performance Habits, which turned out to be way less testosterone driven than I expected and filled with the kind of advice for living with purpose that spoke to me. You might also be able to access the entire audio book on his podcast. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes not. So that’s a free option for ya.
New Thought Center for Spiritual Living Lake Oswego
Spiritual (not religious) thought-provoking, inspiration by Rev. Dr. David Alexander. I can’t say enough glowing things about this man’s work. I’m consistently blown away by the simple, engaging way he delivers profound, spiritual concepts.
If the word “God” bothers you, simply replace it with a word that doesn’t (add an extra “o” and call it “Good”) and give it a shot. You can find descriptions with the audio topics here. Many of the talks are also viewable as videos on their Facebook page. And just as this article went live, David announced he’d started a new podcast that will cover everything from spirituality to social justice. I’m excited to say the least.
Now it’s your turn
From this list I hope you may find something that resonates with you too, or maybe it just opens a new path to something else you discover for yourself.
I’d love to hear what tools you’ve used to create massive change in your life. Please leave me a comment below!
Photos by Zoltan Tasi, Kevis Mulchan, Brooke Lark, and author’s own.