How Well Do You Bounce Back?

keep calm resilience

Sometimes we have days that don’t go as planned. Sometimes we’re a little worse for the wear by the time evening arrives. I’m learning that the secret to getting to the next day with my spirit in tact involves a little resilience and a lot of grace.

This quote hangs on my fridge:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.   – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Amen. That Emerson was one smart guy.

I had one of those days recently – one with a series of several difficult interactions that left my nerves rattled and my soul bruised. As I dealt with the issues, involving my team where necessary, people kept praising me for sounding so calm and collected. At first I brushed that off…but then I gave myself a little time to reflect upon the praise that was coming my way.

It was true, actually. I did sound calm. In fact, I was calm. It was a little surprising. Here’s why.

The toughest criticism I ever received in a performance review was that I lacked resilience. The person said that when something didn’t go well, I took it personally and struggled to recover. Let me tell you, I HATED getting that feedback. I wrestled with it for MONTHS, trying to decide if it was true.

Guess what. It was.

My angst wasn’t driven by an untrue accusation. Instead, it was a result of the dissonance between how I was showing up and how I wanted to show up. I committed myself to paying extra attention to how I handled bad days –  the ones that came with tangled messes, or big setbacks, or angry people, or harsh feedback. I wanted to lessen the impact these events had on my reaction, on my disposition, on my heart. I adopted the mantra grace under pressure* and posted the Emerson quote on my fridge. I softened my edges.

I’ve been paying attention to this practice of resilience for a number of years now, and based on the comments I heard this week, it feels like it’s starting to pay off. I’m delighted.

I’ve learned a few things along the way.

What I’ve learned from the amazing Tara Mohr is that feedback doesn’t really tell me much about me. It tells me more about the person giving it. The kind of day they are having, what they value, what they think. It doesn’t say much about who I am and it certainly doesn’t dictate what kind of day I need to have as a result. Feedback gives me a chance to demonstrate grace.

Beyond that, I’ve learned that setbacks and challenges are rarely personal. They’re blessings in disguise, more often than not. They activate my problem solving capability and allow me to rise to the challenge. They give me a chance to tap my network and my team and for us to have a shared experience that builds our culture. They also remind me that I am separate from the situation at hand. Setbacks cultivate faith.

So the next time a big problem gets thrust in your hands or you’re on the receiving end of harsh feedback, how will you respond? Consider this a reminder that the choice is entirely yours. Grace under pressure, my friends. Always grace.

*unbelievably, I just learned that the phrase “grace under pressure” was also first attributed to Emerson!  Coincidence?

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

October is my month for all things pumpkin, and these little beauties are one of the top choices in our house. In fact I just took them into my son’s class for his “fake birthday. ” You know, the one you celebrate when you have a summer birthday but the teacher takes pity on you and lets you bring a treat in anyhow? That kind of fake birthday.

The great thing about these is that they can be made dairy free, nut free, egg free and gluten free covering MOST of the food allergies we’re managing in schools! Love that.  It’s so great when ALL the kids can eat the SAME treat for a special day!

Whip up a batch of these. You’ll love ‘em.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Makes 12

Ingredients

1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy milk (or almond, or rice, or regular!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup chocolate chips

(*or cake flour if you don’t need these to be gluten free)


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with cupcake papers.

2. Whisk together oil, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Gently whisk flour mixture until well combined. Fold in pumpkin, but do not overstir or the batter will become gummy. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Fill liners two-thirds full. Bake for 24-26 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely.

Black Bean Salsa

black bean salsa no corn

With football season in full swing, I’m always on the lookout for dishes that make game day snacking fun, but don’t leave you with a “snack hangover”. This black bean salsa is a great choice to bring to a tailgate or party…or just to whip up before the Saturday afternoon game.

Full of fiber-rich black beans and colorful fresh veggies, this is one party dish you can feel great about serving. After all, it’s basically a salad! Just keep the chips to a reasonable portion and you’re all set.

Ingredients:

1/2 large cucumber, peeled and diced
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 large yellow pepper, diced
1 Tbsp. minced jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 clove garlic, minced
4 roma or hot house tomatoes, diced
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder

Directions:

1.  Mix all ingredients together, chill. Serve with tortilla chips.

2.  This is also great served over grilled chicken, pork, or salmon.