Resilience: Spaces and Pauses

Pauses in life give us perspective.  When we fill our life pages to the point of no margins, we have no space to just be in the moment. A fire burns when there is just the right amount of logs, fuel, and space.

FIRE ~ Judy Brown

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.

A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

I believe that the space or the pause in life produces resilience and a growth mindset. Most of our fears and worries stem from reality on steroids. For example, we may procrastinate on something challenging because we view the task or change as insurmountable. However, when we view life challenges as an opportunity for growth and manageable we can gain a more healthy perspective of the situation. So many times in my life, I’ve prepared for a challenge or task only to be overwhelmed with “in the moment outcomes”. We prepare for the things we can control, but we accept the things we can’t control. Within this acceptance, growth occurs which embraces resilience.


The American Psychological Association

The Road to Resilience

Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.

Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”

Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, a greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.

Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.

The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.

The Power of Words and Mindfulness in Parenting

I wanted to share a session on the power of words and mindfulness in parenting.  This session created by Dr. Lemite, School Psychologist and Dr. Anna Hebb, School Social Worker can be adapted to your needs. You could change the SOL life activity to a different stress-causing event in the home or school. Be creative! You can also use some of the resources shared in this post for clinical practice, classroom, or personal use.

Today we will role play three scenarios.  We have created scenes that may seem over the top only to help us understand the importance of our words.  As you watch the role plays between mom and child, ask yourself what really matters most to the mom or the child?

Exuberant Mom Role Play

Passing score on SOL

Kim (child)– Mom I passed my SOL

Anna (mom): With Pom Poms and dancing  Oh Kim!  You are brilliant, smart, beautiful and amazing!!!  You passed!  Let’s call your aunt Dee and celebrate on facetime.  Ad lib…(GO OUT EAT, ETC…) I told you she was going to be a doctor!

Kim (child)- shy away- lowers head and walks away because mom is not connecting with her

What message is this mom sending? How did the child respond?

Critical Mom Role Play

Failing score on SOL

MOM (Kim) – SOL’s were today….  How did you do! (expecting positive)

Child (Anna)-  ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm were they today? Did I leave my skateboard outside?  I’m hungry.  Do you have any snacks?

Mom (Kim)  “Anna”…. I’m talking to you …. Did you take your test today?

Child (Anna)– Puts  head down –mumbles, “yes”. Starts to whimper a little–I failed.

Mom (Kim) you did ?!?…..what happened Anna….you know you needed to focus on that test

You told me you studied!…..Did you read your notes before the test?  (BIG SIGH- SMH- throw my hands up).

Child (Anna)– I’m so sorry. I really tried hard mom. I’ll do better next time.

Mom (Kim) — I know you did. (say in a negative way)

What message is this mom sending? How did the child respond?

What were your experiences in school around testing and doing well, or failure as a child? We can change patterns or cycles passed on.  We can be different as parents.

The point is to get us in a place we can have a more mindful conversation during these critical times.  

Mindful Scenario

A mindful conversation would exist in either scenario of pass or fail, and why is that? It’s helping the child to develop a growth mindset. Growth mindset takes into account struggle, failure, and the importance of time.  We are helping our children develop healthy coping skills because we know life is not all good and we struggle with weaknesses, and that’s okay.

Mom (Kim)— Hey Anna. how did it go today?

Child (Anna)- Mom, you are not going to believe this but I failed by 3 points.  I feel awful.  I’m so stupid.

Mom (Kim)– Oh Anna, I know that you feel disappointed.  What do you think happened?

Child:  I don’t know mom.  Maybe I should have studied more? Are you disappointed in me?

Mom- (Kim)  I want to see you pass, Anna, but sometimes we don,t get what we want.  I still love you and I know you are a hard worker.  What can we do next?

Child: The social studies SOL is next week, can you help me study?

Mom: (Kim)  of course!

Child:  I love you, mom!  HUG EACH OTHER

Mom: Hey you want to help me set the table?

Child:  YEAH!  What’s for dinner?

Mom: Pizza!

What really matters most? What we communicate through words and body language will shape the child’s self-image. How can we help our children enjoy the experience and have a growth mindset?

Video of the skits by Phillip Brooks, Music Teacher of Hopkins Elementary

Set-up and Agenda for Muffins for Mom 

Moms were invited with their children before school to hear information on how to prepare for the SOLs. The children served their mothers muffins and juice.  Angela Valentine coordinated the event and gave an introduction. We then had a teacher report information on the SOLs and how to prepare from the teacher’s perspective.  We then moved into the power of words and mindfulness parenting.  In the end, we had a teacher talk about Wilma Rudolph while showing the pictures in the book, and showing a quick YouTube video of Wilma running and winning the Gold Medal. The video is below; click the link.


Mindfulness Activity

Briefly, Mindfulness research has been shown to promote the ability to feel in control, make meaningful relationships, be calm, and accept the experience without denying the facts. Let’s try an exercise that will help us focus on our breathing.  First, let’s use the Stress O Meter to gauge your stress level this morning

You can guide the audience, or use one of the many breathing exercises on Youtube.

Repeat the Stress Level measure

Hopefully, we are feeling more relaxed.

Review other techniques on the handout included below.

handout of mindfulness strategies (1)

Review Relaxation apps, especially Pacifica website.

Relaxation apps

Leave them with this quote to take home.  We laminated the quote and added a space for them to write with a sharpie their affirmation.

Be very happy when you are tested in different ways. You know that such testing produces endurance. Then you will be mature and complete…

My affirmation:

The Passion

Passion defined:

  • intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction
  • the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death

On Thursday, God began to seek my heart to remember the cross.

Last night, on Good Friday, I took myself to a quiet place in the house to watch The Passion.  In the rush of the day, an intense, driving feeling or conviction washed over me to remember–truly remember what He did for us.  Over 2000 years later, somehow, as His daughter, I’m drawn to remember, and I would find myself worshipping with tears throughout the day.  I would pause, close my eyes, and the reality of why I’m really here on this Earth became overwhelming.

I look back to my younger years in the 60s and 70s and we were open about the sacrifice of Jesus. We did not shy away or dismiss because it was uncomfortable.  Discomfort is not popular unless you are seeking a goal, but to surrender to the author of salvation and His love seems a little old fashioned and outdated. As I watched what Jesus did for us on the Hill of Calvary, I wondered if I truly understood the magnitude of such a gift. He called us “friends”, and shared, “No greater love than for a friend to lay down His life for you”.

I am His friend.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

Any ounce of the following thwarts my thinking.






…But God, in His mercy and love, took every sin and negativity and nailed it to the cross, so that I would not have to face this life without a perfect friend and Father. Every moment of my life, regardless of my circumstances, I can say, “It is well with my soul” even if all seems lost or hopeless. The Saturday after the cross has always been a reminder of the time we spend in the awaiting of Jesus’ second coming, and the new heaven and earth that will exist.  My youngest asked if Jesus was afraid.  We talked about how God gave us emotions.  We agreed that Jesus experienced so much emotion that His sweat, according to scripture, was mixed with blood. Jesus trusted the Father and took one step at a time in intense agony while also providing for His mother, offering forgiveness, and telling the thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Beautiful friend, every step you take is filled with the Glory of God–He is with you. In the waiting…

  • Provide for others and serve
  • Forgive
  • Share the love of Jesus

I pray you wake up tomorrow early and imagine yourself at the tomb. The stone has been rolled away, and Jesus walks with you in the garden.

He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee… Luke 24:6

Remember how He told you and rejoice!

Today is a great day for a new beginning…

Video to inspire you:

Click on the words, “a brand-new day”.

A Brand New Day from worshiphousemedia on GodTube.

Your life is a garden

Pictures were taken at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Your life is a garden filled with beauty, wonder, and work.

The colors, smells, and diversity amazes you.

The rain may come, but you understand its purpose to replenish the earth, and you welcome the downpour of grace.

You play, work, and find solitude in your garden. God meets you there.

As your garden grows, inevitable change occurs.

You are blessed by new relationships, and you witness the true garden that is pure and filled with the glory of the Lord.

Daughters become mothers, mothers become grandmothers, and grandparents become great-grandparents. Growth, change, and God’s beauty to behold!

As seeds are planted and sowed, we realize the joy of the work and God’s provision.

We do not know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds our future.

Thank you, Jesus, for our family, little baby toes, the work, the rest, and most of all, for this beautiful life you’ve given to each of us.

Thank you, Jesus, for Psalm 32:8! We claim that you will instruct us, teach us in the way we should go and that you will counsel us with Your loving eye on us.

Good morning God! This IS the day that you have made!  We will rejoice and be glad in it!




In the Garden

One of my favorite hymns is In the Garden.

 I come to the garden alone….He walks with me; and He talks with me; and He tells me I am His own….

When we are feeling overwhelmed, we often go to our place of comfort and safety. Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before He faced the cross.  After the last supper, He needed time in solitude. Although the disciples went with Him, He eventually secluded Himself for a time to only hear the voice of His Father.

Adam and Eve were in a perfect garden.  When they found themselves “naked and ashamed”, God asked them, “Where are you?” God walked in the Garden desiring to meet them in their distress and shame. Imagine yourself either physically or metaphorically in the Garden of your loss, worry, pain, joy, change, or….. Whatever brings you to the garden of your seeking and solitude, imagine God walking with you asking, “Where are you _____?” Put your name in the blank and say it out-loud, or imagine in your mind, God speaking to your heart.

Perfect Jesus asked God to remove the cup of suffering. It’s okay to have honest conversations. Closing our honesty with the words of Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours be done!”, allows us to release and acknowledge God’s sovereignty and purpose in our lives.

This week, leading up to resurrection Sunday, walk in the garden with Jesus.  Talk to Him.  Read Psalm 32:8. God has his loving eye on you.  He will instruct you.  On Good Friday nail your thoughts, conversations, and concerns to the cross. As you wait in anticipation of resurrection Sunday, fast and pray–listen and trust.  When Sunday comes put on your finest and rejoice!  He is risen!  I believe that God has redeemed! It is finished!

A great worship song for your garden experience!


Serves 4 to 6

For the brine/cure:

4 quarts cold water
1-1/2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
10 allspice berries
10 whole cloves
2 bay leaves, coarsely crumbled
1 cinnamon stick, coarsely broken
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon pink curing salt (see Note below)
1 4- to 5-pound beef brisket, fat closely trimmed, preferably grass-fed

For the smoking:

1 large aluminum foil-roasting pan
6 large whole carrots, peeled and trimmed
6 cups hardwood chips, preferably oak, soaked in cold water to cover for 1 hour, then drained (We used peach wood chunks and maple chips)

Put 2 quarts of water in a large nonreactive stockpot. Add the kosher salt and brown sugar. Lightly crush the allspice, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, coriander, peppercorns, and mustard seed in a mortar with a pestle or in a spice grinder. Add to the brine, along with the ginger and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the salt and sugar crystals. Stir in the pink salt and the remaining 2 quarts of cold water. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for several hours. Submerge the brisket in the chilled brine, weighting it with a glass pie plate or heavy dinner plate. Cover and refrigerate for 5 to 7 days.

When ready to cook, drain the brisket—scrape off any clinging spices—and discard the brine.

Lay the carrots crosswise in the roasting pan and put the brisket, fat side up, on top. (The carrots make a natural roasting rack.)

If using a smoker, light it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 250°F. Toss 1-1/2 cups of wood chips on the coals. If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect grilling using only half as much charcoal as you usually would—about 6 to 8 nice lumps of charcoal per side. Toss 1-1/2 cups wood chips on the coals.

Smoke the corned beef until very tender, 6 to 8 hours or more, replenishing the coals as needed to maintain 250°F. Replenish the wood chips for the first 4 hours of smoking time, then tightly cover the roasting pan with heavy duty foil for the remainder of the cook. When done, the internal temperature of the brisket on an instant-read meat thermometer should be 195°F. Let the meat rest, still covered, for at least 20 minutes. Uncover carefully and slice the brisket against the grain into 1/4-inch slices.

Alternatively, let the meat cool to room temperature, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate it overnight or for up to three days before slicing. (We ate the brisket after 20 minutes of rest on the counter. We kept the meat wrapped in foil with a towel over the foil.)

Corned beef only, please

Note: Pink salt—also called Prague powder or InstaCure—is a curing agent that inhibits bacterial growth and gives cured meats their characteristic reddish-pink color. It contains 93.75 percent salt and 6.25 percent sodium nitrite as well as a coloring agent to distinguish it from table salt. It is available through some butchers and businesses that sell sausage-making supplies.  You can eliminate pink salt from the recipe without affecting the flavor, but your corned beef will not retain its color.  We purchased our pink salt (Prague powder number #1) from Hoosier Hill Farm:


Recipe adapted from our favorite grill master, Steven Raichlen

Roasted Cabbage Wedges Recipe


  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • (see additional ingredient options below)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cut the head of cabbage into 8 equally-sized wedges, cutting through the core and stem end. If desired, use a knife to carefully trim off the stem on each wedge. Arrange the wedges in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Use a pastry brush or oil mister to brush/mist the top sides of each cabbage wedge with the olive oil, then season generously with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Turn cabbage wedges carefully, then repeat on second side.

Roast cabbage for about 10 minutes, or until edges of the cabbage and the bottom of the wedges are nicely browned. Then turn each wedge carefully and roast 10-15 minutes more, until the cabbage is nicely browned and cooked through with a bit of chewiness remaining. Serve immediately, and garnish with lemon if desired.

What a lovely day of cooking, working, worshipping, and being creative!

A Church Hill Experience

Parish and I love to try new things. Give us a small town, a unique store, or a restaurant that serves food we’ve never tasted, and we are in our zone. As a couple, the experiences have brought years of fond memories, and individually, we’ve satisfied our love for adventure. How do you define adventure? If it’s skydiving and swimming with the sharks, then maybe our definition of fun will not appeal to you, but if you are looking for a lovely evening out in Church Hill, we’ve got you covered. Come walk with us.

Church Hill, due east of downtown, above Shockoe Valley, where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech at St. John’s Church, which is apparently the highest spot in the city. (

We parked our car on a side street next to The Alamo BBQ on 2202 Jefferson Avenue in Richmond.

We started our walking journey here because of the smell.  Close your eyes and think of the wonderful, sweet and smoky smell of barbecue roasting on a smoker.

Combine that with a friendly walk-up window and outdoor picnic area on a breezy, sunny afternoon and, well, you are in paradise. The charm is the simplicity and the crowd.


You have Church Hill wannabes (us), all cultures and ages, and small children with their families, along with date night folks all dressed up. We shared a barbecue sandwich that had the perfect combination of smoke and sweet.  The cold slaw had just enough mayo and vinegar–not too runny, or tangy.  We resisted that temptation to try to the cornbread because we had reservations at Metzger’s Bar and Butchery further down the street.

Picnic area for larger groups

We left the Alamo and headed directly up Jefferson street to Union Market on 2306 Jefferson Ave. Along the way, we experienced the revitalization of the old charm.  Homes were experiencing a makeover for new families to move in. You could tell that the new was only created to keep the charm of the building. I love when you witness builders trying to keep the historical aspect of a building while also making sure the building is livable.

We noticed that most of the homes displayed their address similar to this style

Look at this beautiful day!

We did not realize that Union Market was an actual market along with a wonderful deli and eatery. They catered to the cyclist and dog owner. You had a place for your bike, a hitching post for your dog on a leash, or water bowls and treats for your pet as you sat on the patio.

As we ordered another small appetizer, we walked out onto the patio to music playing and lazy, Saturday afternoon folks gathering to socialize or read books.

As we sat admiring the beautiful color of the crepe myrtle in the sun, watching people, and talking about our future, we saw the large family from The Alamo restaurant walking back to their home. I could not resist the two-year-old little boy with red hair on daddy’s shoulders. What a cutie.

We had a 5:00 reservation for Metzger’s Bar and Butchery, so we loaded walking directions on our phone and started the short, but wonderful walk to our dinner date.

Along the way, we met retired couples relaxing on their decks, a man playing with his dog in the front yard, and beautiful, spring flowers. Many of the homes were historical with the information plaque on the building. What we noticed most was the people–the smiles, the waves, and the sense of community. In fact, across from Metzger’s is a church that seemed to be a part of serving the community, along with a family resource center.

We got to the restaurant 5 minutes early and sat outside waiting for it to open.

Clovers in Church Hill are HUGE!

The menu in Metzger’s is authentic and true to its name– German food only. If you want pizza and hamburgers, this is not your restaurant.  Try something new! We ordered the basket of homemade bread which included pretzel bread, sea salt crackers, Old Bay biscuit, and a nutty-type bread.  They were all homemade and warm with delicious butter.

Parish ordered the roasted chicken, and I ordered the pork chops. We were too busy chowing down, we forgot to take pictures! The serving size was plentiful and seasoned to perfection!

We were glad we had to walk back to the car after our wonderful dining experience. If you make a reservation at 5:00, right when they open, you’ll be in a quiet atmosphere.  As we were eating, the restaurant started to fill up. I enjoyed the lively mother-daughter conversations, the date-night couples, and the neighborhood locals.  You could see the staff waving to folks from the windows as they walked by the restaurant.

On our walk back to the car we figured out a short cut through an alley.

I loved this tree!

We started our journey around 3:30 in the afternoon.  We recommend making a reservation for Metzger’s because the restaurant is small.  We were able to stop at the points of interest and walk to the restaurant during the 3:30-5:00-time frame.  You can adjust your time to accommodate your desire to stay longer at a certain spot.  Of course, if you desire to stay out late, you could venture into Shockoe Bottom, Cary Town, Byrd Theater, or other areas of interest in Richmond.

Let us know if you venture out! We’d love to hear from you.

Parish and Anna