It’s Monday, so it it time for more thoughts from my wise friends on the question “what does being brave look like for you?” This is the fourth installment in our series. Please welcome my dear friend Myra to the blog today.
As I told you in a post last December, I have known today’s guest for over 25 years. When I was in my mid-twenties, I met a vibrant, funny, smart, beautiful-inside-and-out woman named Myra Binns Bridgforth. Myra and I both worked in the addictions and mental health field and often referred clients to one another, but our connection quickly developed into a personal friendship as well. Ten years older than me, Myra became my advocate, cheerleader and mentor and I often sought her advice. She decided she believed in me as a clinician, helped me find my first clinical supervisor, and taught me how to thoughtfully, effectively and unashamedly network and build my business once I joined the private practice where she also worked. Beyond her professional credentials as a therapist, she is also a speaker, teacher, retreat leader, poet, singer, artist and raised two creative kids (also ten years older than mine,) so I often tell her that I am watching her closely as she forges many aspects of this path slightly ahead of me. Because she is a brilliant, compassionate healer, I have referred literally hundreds of people to her over the past twenty five years. If you need a therapist, I will send you to Myra.
Without further ado, I am so thrilled for you to hear Myra’s thoughts today on what being brave means to her.
On Interrupting, Resilience and Being Brave
Life is a formidable circle of stuff that happens and keeps on circling, round and round. Every day is a chance to be awake to both the hard stuff, the suffering and the easy stuff, the joy and to remind myself that nothing too good or too bad lasts for too long. This morning I had an eight o’clock client and then a big gap of open time before my full afternoon and evening of clients so I came home to grab a cup of coffee and accomplish a little bit on taxes and called my insurance provider to find a doctor who is covered to do my colonoscopy and I forgot to bring the little orange ball that I use for my daily therapeutic yoga routine so I put that in my bag to take back to the office and like that, on and on. And then, light caught my eye and I looked up and out the front window of our family room and the evergreen tree in my across the street neighbor’s yard was calling to me to just Breathe and Let Be. Come back to the center, this moment, check in with your body through your breath, be grateful.
When it comes to the big events that require that I do the right thing and be prepared to act and see it through, I’m pretty good; years of practice do eventually pay off! If I don’t know what to do about the big thing I ask for help and I am rich in wise friends. The little notebook and pen that are always with me is the place I write down what I am going to do about the big event (the conversation with my elderly mother, the tough conversation I need to have with someone: a colleague, my husband, my daughter––you know, add in your own list!). The process for me is breaking down what I am thinking and feeling and what will I say, and if they react this way what will I do and stay the course of acting like myself instead of reacting to their reaction.
My challenge and I believe the challenge for so many of us is the everyday overwhelm and how to be present and not go into automatic pilot, mindless, reactive, “at the end of the day hardly can remember what we did mode”. Being resilient for me is finding ways to remind myself to interrupt myself. Being resilient for me is finding ways to remind myself to interrupt myself.- Myra Bridgforth Click To TweetMostly I use my breath to interrupt. Depending on the day I can do this very poorly and then I have to let it go and try again now. All the other stuff I do that makes my life meaningful and good is entirely not the point if I don’t practice interrupting myself to come back to right now.
It helps my practice of interrupting that I lead retreats four times a year where I go the mountains and don’t talk and practice listening for God in the silence. This practice has saved me time and time again. I’m a poet who belongs to a monthly poetry group so I have to sit down and put words on the paper and see if it will be become a poem. I walk for two hours every Wednesday with my friend, Phyllis, this has saved my life. I sing in a church choir and a small ensemble choir, Philomela and singing is the most powerful way to experience God’s presence that I know. I make Mail Art cards that combine paint and paper, and words and then I put stamps on them and mail them to someone. When I can allow myself go to the basement to my very messy studio room, I stop worrying about other things and just play. Our ability to be resilient is in large measure based on our willingness to do these “in the present moment” things. They are the buffers that protect our body and mind system. I know what to do, I ask for help each day, as I remember to breathe, to do them.Every day is a chance to be awake to both the hard stuff, the suffering and the easy stuff, the joy and to remind myself that nothing too good or too bad lasts for too long. - Myra Bridgforth Click To Tweet
Myra Binns Bridgforth is a Psychotherapist, Poet, and Artist. She has a private practice in Vienna, Virginia. After completing the Shalem Institute training in group spiritual direction in 2003 she started, along with her friend and Hospice Chaplain, Hank Dunn, twice yearly Silent Retreats. Two years later, with co-leader, Anne Mugler they started twice yearly Poets&Writers&Artists retreats ––all held at Lost River Retreat Center in West Virginia. She is a very active member of Falls Church Presbyterian Church. Mindfulness practice, singing, making good art as many days as she can possibly pull it off, writing poems, daily therapeutic yoga practice, walking and spending time with her husband, her grown children and wonderful girlfriends makes always challenging life possible. She tries to practice what she preaches. Her poetry collection No Sins of Omission can be found HERE.