Select Page

Moving into a house can bring all kinds of surprises!  A delightful discovery was waiting for us on the front steps of our new home.  Wedged tightly in between the bricks, was a most exquisite mini cyclamen (one of my favourite plants).  With perfectly formed leaves and delicate, fuchsia coloured petals, the tiny plant, measuring about 5cm high, was a welcoming presence.
It bloomed all winter and gradually disappeared in summer.  The steps face west, so all summer I watered the plant through the hot, dry months.  What a thrill it was to witness one tiny leaf after another form in autumn.  A few weeks later my partner, clad in googles, unintentionally ‘gutted’ the tiny plant as he eradicated weeds between the steps with a menacing piece of equipment!  I felt crushed too – the plant had become a little totem of plucky resilience for me. But, a month later, back it came, leaf after leaf, to grace our lives for another winter.
Moving into a house can bring all kinds of surprises!  A delightful discovery was waiting for us on the front steps of our new home.  Wedged tightly in between the bricks, was a most exquisite mini cyclamen (one of my favourite plants).  With perfectly formed leaves and delicate, fuchsia coloured petals, the tiny plant, measuring about 5cm high, was a welcoming presence.
It bloomed all winter and gradually disappeared in summer.  The steps face west, so all summer I watered the plant through the hot, dry months.  What a thrill it was to witness one tiny leaf after another form in autumn.  A few weeks later my partner, clad in googles, unintentionally ‘gutted’ the tiny plant as he eradicated weeds between the steps with a menacing piece of equipment!  I felt crushed too – the plant had become a little totem of plucky resilience for me. But, a month later, back it came, leaf after leaf, to grace our lives for another winter.

Winter calls on our reserves of resilience to survive cold, gloomy weather, short days, colds, flu and viruses. It can be a challenging season for many people.  Life has bought challenges for me this winter, so I have been reflecting on how, like the little cyclamen, we can draw on our own deep resources to keep blooming.
There are many ways to practice resilience.  One is the gritty kind, summoning up energy to bounce back and face adversity with tenaciousness.  Resilience options can also be gentle and creative.  It was a thrill to hear Dr Maria Sirois speak at the Geelong Grammar Positive Institute last month.  She has written a wonderful book called ‘A Short Course in Happiness after Loss (and other dark and difficult times).  She referred to the beautiful Japanese tradition of repairing broken pots with resin or lacquer and precious metal dust, called Kintsugi.   Such a beautiful metaphor of being broken, but still whole.

In the words of Ernest Hemingway ‘Life breaks all of us, but some of us get stronger in the broken places’.  Maria recounts tender stories in her book, which reveal ways to balance grief and sadness with joy.  She recommends practicing ‘grounded resilience’ in the face of grief and overwhelmingly difficult times.  Awareness of the body brings attention to the present and creates a reliable anchor for the mind.   Just like a boat coming in to a safe harbour, we can bring awareness to all kinds of everyday things in the present moment and find satisfying, humorous and uplifting experiences to nurture the spirit.
The way we craft our life, day by day, creates a foundation into which we can lay ‘strong roots’.  Developing a wholesome, compassionate sense of awareness contains stress and opens the mind to flexible possibilities.  Cultivating and maintaining strong relationships with deep connections to family and friends helps to create a stable base of support.   Personal practices to nurture the inner self, such as time out, time in nature, listening to music, craft, cooking and meditating help to fill the inner well.  And maintaining a clear sense of purpose and passion in life, helps us keep things in perspective and navigate turbulent times.  These elements, like the golden, binding lacquer in the Kintsugi pots, help to hold us together through dark times and enable us to bloom again.