It was 2nd Grade at Hearst Elementary School in San Diego, California, and it was just before the crowning of the King of Hearts and the Queen of Hearts. I was certain I would be crowned the King of Hearts on what was a Valentine’s Party for my 2nd grade class. I was also certain that Laura would step onto the throne as Queen of Hearts. Together we would rule the festivities of Valentine’s Day! Laura, unknown to her, was my intended queen, betrothed, and girlfriend… I might have been a little vague on the necessary order. I was a shy second-grader who rarely spoke, other than to answer questions posed by teachers, and on this day, I would come out of my shell… and reign!
Later that day, I arrived home. My feet were moving, slowly sinking into the tile floor as I arrived home. My mom, noticing this slowness of energy and downward tilted head, asked me what was wrong.
The agonizing whelp and tears which followed rivaled Winnie the Pooh being left behind by Christopher Robin.
I had not been crowned…. It was a complete surprise… I had canvassed and polled, and everytime I did that in my own mind, I won, but alas, the polling was faulty.
In that moment, my dream was no more. The perspective I chose in that moment was misery, but then again I was in 2nd grade, so I think I’ll give myself a pass. However, the interesting part is that all I could see, and all I chose to see, was the adversity. The feelings I felt became the house I lived in.
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
It was 5th grade, and the setting was the Del Cerro Little League Baseball Season. I was at the plate and it was the beginning of the season. I hadn’t got a hit all season, and the season before I only had one hit (on my first ever at bat, with my eyes closed, swinging for glory). There was tension and a lot of pressure that I placed on myself, to help my team, but I knew that I couldn’t help my team by trying to hit the ball. I knew those chances were slim.
In that moment I chose to think of a solution, and I did. I leaned in and was either willing to get hit by the pitch, get walked to 1st base with 4 balls before 3 strikes were thrown, or I’d strike out. I figured, 2 out of 3 was a 66% of getting on base.
It worked, over and over again. I led the league in on-base percentage.
ADVERSITY AS ALLY
Adversity can be a barrier and it can also be our ally. How can you improve your relationship with adversity is an important question, because it will continue to exist as part of life’s journey for all of us. Here are some tips that have worked for me.
- Remind yourself that your feelings, while real, don’t have to dictate your actions and energy. Emotions are activities in your brain, and don’t have to define us. In adverse times, think about what you are grateful for, even in the midst of adversity, and even for the adversity itself.
- Create a short physical routine that works for you. Choose some type of movement, exercise, etc., which breaks the circuitry of sadness, isolation, and/or anger. For me it’s a short yoga workout, a walk, and/or some kind of core related routine.
- Create a short mantra routine. I actually do this and #2 above. Choose words and/or phrases which are meaningful to you, and which place your perspective on what you want to happen next, not what just happened.
- Breathe…. Do so deeply and in a measured, rhythmic way.
WHAT MY NANA SAID
Victoria Salazar Cañez, my nana, my grandma, was a sage woman. She would say many things to me, disguised behind what looked like a somewhat angry facial gesture, but it was just her face… just her being serious with me, sharing a serious message:
“Everything in here, can be out there”
She would say this with her game face, and as soon as she spoke the words, her game face would break into an uneven, toothy grin. It was like having Yoda for a Nana. What did that statement mean? What could it mean?
We project our thoughts into reality all day, everyday. The only real question is, what do you want to project. When adversity hits, most people project the adversity, creating more adversity. Next time adversity strikes, take a moment… move, mantra, and ask yourself what you want to project into your own life.
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