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?”
I’m pretty sure I heard this phrase when I was listening to the inspirational Tracy Brown. In fact, that’s the name of her book, What is Mine to Do.
…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.
Join the discussion 12 Comments
Thank you so much for sharing!
2018 was very hard for me as well. With 9 months of tests and treatments for my kitty and all the worry and financial strain, my body and mind were at a really weak point. So I then picked up shingles and other viruses along the way due to a weak immune system. Finally my health recovered enough that I was determined to start the year with 30-days of yoga. I have needed to start with an easier practice than what I was used to, but having a purpose and goal each day has helped tremendously! I am just starting on the mental journey and will look into your suggestions. In my YouTube ramblings, I stumbled across the topic of the Highly Sensitive Person. This really struck a cord and help me understand why I can “burn out” so quickly. Here is the playlist that helped get started on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpDAC25h6PC8v5bhadp2pKQrK_0e4sd55
Oh yes, the Highly Sensitive Person. Or the empath…this is very real for so many of us and I’m glad that you found that topic, that it resonated and you are on the journey towards greater health and wholeness. Thank you for sharing so deeply here.
I can resonate with you, 2018 was a horrible year for me too. A close work colleague was treated for breast cancer and went through chemo and reconstructive surgery. In May my dear next door neighbour lost his fight with asbestos related lung cancer, 7 weeks after being diagnosed. At the same time my husband found out he had early stages of prostate cancer. In June my mother-in-law died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving us all shocked. Also in June I learnt my father had a massive heart attack. I’m not close to my father so it has been a bit strange visiting him at the care home and sorting out his things.
Although healthy, we have changed our diet due to my husband’s cancer and it seems to be working as his cancer has reduced. Due to changes in our financial circumstances my husband is retiring in February as he will be 60 & I now work 3 days a week. Whilst I know we are very fortunate to be able to do this, it comes with its own challenges. It’s a new chapter and one that is a bit scary, you get used to the paths you take and now must figure out new ones and where you fit in.
I look forward to visiting the websites you mentioned above and continue to follow your inspirational messages.
With thanks Angie
Thanks for sharing your story. A resource that I found incredibly helpful this past year is a book called It’s OK that you’re not OK by Megan Devine. An incredible read/audio listen (she narrarates) that helped me through some grief and loss. This is not a popular topic in our society and I think it needs to be.
Thank you for sharing. It is good to know you are feeling much better in body and in spirit!
Thank you for allowing many of us to get to know you. You are beautiful.
How I encourage myself is with prayer. and with giving to others. Sometime the giving is my time, sometime it is finances.
I think how grateful I am. How blessed I am that I have another day to get it right!
Love to you Kristen.
You don’t hit 60 without experiencing your fair share of pain. I’ve finally arrived at the place where I ask, “In the context of eternity, will this matter?” So many of the things that I’ve allowed to cause stress in my life will not matter when I stand before God.
Oh, sweet friend, you’ve been through the mill. I’m so sorry.
You know, the only way we—your loved ones—know of your pain, is if you tell us, and therein is strength. We see those, like you, who glean knowledge and purpose from their trials, and we are inspired. We learn—with you—the ways to salvation, understanding, and love. Thank you for your love and honesty. It helps us all.
OMG Thank you sooooooo much for sharing your story! I can relate to your proces so much. Thank you for your honesty and courage. You are so beautiful!
I’ve been through 2 tough years as well, in which I had to let go of my work for 90%. I also had a loss of income, and I also struggled (and still do) with neckpain. It felt like an inner earthquake and required deep soul work to get through. And a shift from always doing my best, working hard and being strong to riding the waves of life without force. Like you, I also shared my story with my clients, and now that I’m feeling better, I realise that the sharing of my story made a huge difference in my business. Even though it was never superficial, it has now gone way deeper, more authentic and -that is a big eye-opener- I don’t need to be strong anymore. I can just say what I need and arrange my work in a way that suites me without getting into the victim-role. And my clients love me even more! So thank you again, I’m so happy to have found a woman that works with make-up the way I do with styling and understands that it has a deeper effect than just the superficial. All the best on your journey.
Oh my gosh, this just gave me all the feels! You are incredible, and thank you for sharing your story too, Judith.
I am loving Mel Robbins #MindsetReset that started at the end of December. You can start anytime just go to https://melrobbins.com/mindsetreset/ and sign up. It’s 30+ days of mindset tips, she teaches intentionally thinking, the 5-second rule, why not hitting snooze is so important, and then 7 days about anxiety. Kristin, I think you would love Mel Robbins. This program is free as she is being generous and also wants to build her notoriety before her tv show starts in the fall. I also love Brendon Bouchard’s work and think being part of Mastermind and Networking groups are important when you are an entrepreneur working solo, it gives you a sense of community. Thanks for sharing your struggle it makes the rest of us not feel so alone and I am so happy you are feeling better and working through life.
Kristen, I’m sorry you had such a rough start to 2018, but I love to hear that you’ve grown stronger because of it. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of you to help others. I wish you a beautiful 2019.
I have started looking for more purpose in my life as I’m in my late 40’s, and feeling I’m winging it through life. I’m still searching, but have found a new way to look inside myself by tapping into my psychic self and the power of positive thinking. I listened to an Audible ebook called “Your Psychic Pathway: Listening to the Guiding Wisdom of your Soul“ by Sonia Choquette. It forced me to realize I was not always inwardly positive, and was closing myself off to so many things because I didn’t see the clues. (Whether purposely or not is another perspective to be looked into, haha!!) The universe is on our side; we just have to listen to those gut feelings, inner voice, or whatever it is you want to call it, that will guide us and open our individual worlds to positivity and happiness.