Gratitude & Grit

I believe in the phrase, ‘better together’.  My friends and family like to joke that it’s just Vicki’s sunny version of ‘misery loves company’.  No…it’s not. Misery is coming…if you haven’t experienced it yet, you won’t be immune forever.  Living, loving…misery.  It all swims together and the ocean of life can become bumpy with high waves and undercurrents…in a literal blink. 

My belief comes from experience.  When life deals heartache, the nearness of a dear one to listen and acknowledge…without a flailing, misbegotten desire to ‘fix’ is a Godsend.  The magic is in proximity, the ability to be unedited and unafraid.  Do the burdens and disappointments disappear…evaporate once acknowledged and in view?  Hardly…but the wayfinding becomes ever-so-much easier. A kindred one helps us find renewed energy to navigate what awaits.

“Better together” is my two-word way of lauding the importance of interdependency, building a sense of community and camaraderie…and you don’t need to crowd source the effort.  One or two dear ones will do and yes, I’m talking to you, dear blogging buddy… reading this right now. You may not recognize it but it’s true. You provide insight and inspiration in your posts and comments. 😊

We touch people’s hearts in ways unexpected in our daily living. An example arrived last week from a former student. Let me share.

I worked with her three years ago – at the beginning of the pandemic – and she struggled greatly with isolation.  She was an international student here in the U.S. and her expectations were dashed when Covid rendered her two semesters of studying abroad into a year of near-solitary confinement.  The museums and cultural destinations she yearned to discover were closed.  Her host family, while loving and kind, found themselves embroiled in family health issues and quarantine challenges. English was her second language and while she was fluent, the heavy dependency on e-learning and discussion boards (vs. her hoped-for opportunities to languish in lecture halls and discussion groups over coffee) summoned a sense of panic and feelings of unworthiness.  She felt desolate…and trapped.

Her recent email was a delight.  Somewhere along the way, as I supported her as best I could – encouraging her to be bold and brave as she navigated an upside-down world without her family and friends – she remembered a conversation we had about being honest with her host family.  She was afraid…to say she was afraid.  About everything.  I don’t remember the exact conversation, but she did.  A meaningful chat about vulnerability, or as she put it ‘letting THE guard down’. 

Her reason for reaching out to me was to share that her younger brother will be coming to the U.S. to study next year, and as she’s talked with him about the darker aspects of her experience, she began reliving the triumphs, too.  Learning to lean on others, she said, was the biggest lesson learned.

From a cultural perspective, she was raised to cloak all weaknesses…never, ever to confide in anyone – strangers, especially – about anxieties or failures.  Being in the U.S. as Covid unfurled was jarring and terrifying…but as she’s put the experience into context, she’s grateful for the lessons she learned about forging friendships, despite her fears. Most of all?  She wanted to thank me for encouraging her and worried that she’d not expressed herself sufficiently. 

I loved hearing from her because of the gratitude but more than anything, I loved that she could inspire her brother to be brave, without glossing over the challenges.  I think she embodies the power in this anonymous quote, which I adore:

We don’t always get to pick our “mountain” but our resilience and resolve to climb, reaching out to those who can assist, is what life is about – and not just so we can arrive at the summit.  No, no.  Remembering that others are watching, learning from our examples of bravery and resolve?  We unwittingly inspire; demonstrating that mountains CAN be moved. Cheers to gratitude and grit.

-Vicki 😊

A little more? Check out my post “It Was Always You” on my personal blog, Victoria Ponders where I channel a little Glenda the Good Witch. 

40 thoughts on “Gratitude & Grit

    1. You honor me with your comment, Julia…oh my. Thank you. I can’t imagine you – ever – off track…and if you were, even briefly, I imagine you’d be the one helping others with wayfinding…doing soul work. xo to you, my friend! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was born off track. It took years of hard work and a lot of help from my friends to help me get my head on straight. God bless them, each and every one—and you too, dear Vicki, for helping others get themselves together. The success of one benefits all!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, then! We have something else in common…I found myself on plenty of ‘off track’ detours, but there was always a kindred soul waiting to give me a boost…or a swift kick 😉 in some instances. Where would we be without our helpers!? xo, dear one! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I muse on this every morning before I start my day: “We touch people’s hearts in ways unexpected in our daily living.” Well said, Victoria. Would that more people understood this idea.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. This post just makes my heart swell. I’ve lost so many real life friends since I became ill and lacked the energy to meet for dinner, attend yoga, etc. This little pocket of the internet is my community.

    Also, the quote you shared is fantastic! When I feel like my journey is getting to be a bit too much, I try to take that perspective… once I conquer this mountain, I can help others do the same. For whatever reason, helping others is a great motivator that a selfish one for me. This was just the message I needed this morning. Thank you, Vicki! 🥰🥰

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are most welcome, dear Erin. I hear you — these friendships ‘through a screen’ are pretty powerful, aren’t they? Thank you for being part of my community. We lean on one another and provide encouragement and often a good dose of humor. What else is there? xo! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As Esoterica observed, the quote is powerful. It can be read for its double meaning — the possibility of moving its obstinate heart. Thanks, Vicki

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you…it was unbelievable…and despite a couple of windows of opportunity where it seemed she might’ve been able to fly home, all hopes were dashed, and she resigned herself to staying put…but you’re right. It was harder than hard. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my — yes, another example…so many hardships that none of us saw coming. I’m still trying to process all of it — and I think you’ve written about it – you, too! 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the quote and your telling of this story. You have such a kind heart, Vicki, that I love students can come to you – they feel comfortable talking to you and confident that you will help them without judgement. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel like I need to start taking notes when I read your blog. So many important things to remember: “we’re better together” being the biggest one. In addition, I can relate to your student’s fear of showing weaknesses. Been there, done that. I’ve gotten better, but I still have a tendency to hide my fears and anxieties. It’s fine for the next person to have them, but not me. Yes, yes, crazy thinking. In any event, what a great message Vicki. Love it. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Brian! I’m with you — reluctant to show weakness and vulnerability unless I know it’s safe to do so. You’re very kind with your comment — thank you so much. 😊😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a lovely post. The isolation of the pandemic was difficult for many people, but I can’t imagine being an international student in a foreign country. You clearly made a difference to this individual.

    I often ponder how we’ll look back on the last few years in the future, and consider how it shaped our lives. Especially the lives of our young people who had plans disrupted and dreams dashed at a critical time in their lives. My older daughter was in college during the pandemic. It was odd that she was an hour away, yet we rarely saw her because of the restrictions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, Michelle. I think I’m still feeling and processing all that happened (in so many ways) over the past three years. Remarkable, isn’t it — that your sweet daughter was just an hour away, but it felt like so much more – given the circumstances of Covid. Thank you so much for your thoughts about my student. I’m not sure I could’ve been as brave as she was. 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

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