PCMX Resiliency

A new group of 33 Peace Corps Volunteers in Mexico began training in Querétaro last week.  Deanna Seil and I agreed to prepare a 2-hour training session on “Resiliency: Mind, Body and Spirit of Service” for Tuesday (June 19).  Since that date coincided with my 71st birthday, it helped me focus some thoughts on how to stay strong in the midst of challenging situations.

One of my favorite singing groups, Rising Appalachia, recently released a new song entitled “Resilient” which I wanted to share during this training.  Here’s a link to their video which I recommend and the lyrics are printed below:


“I am resilient
I trust the movement
I negate the chaos
Uplift the negative
I’ll show up at the table, again and again and again
I’ll close my mouth and learn to listen

These times are poignant
The winds have shifted
It’s all we can do
to stay uplifted
Pipelines through backyards
Wolves howlin’ out front
Yeah I got my crew, but truth is what I want
Realigned and on point
Power to the peaceful
Prayers to the waters
Women at the center
All vessels open, to give and receive
Let’s see this system brought down to its knees

I’m made of thunder, I’m made of lightning
I’m made of dirt, yeah
Made of the fine things
My father taught me that I’m a speck of dust
And this world was made for me
so let’s go and try our luck
I’ve got my roots down down down down down deep

So what are we doing here?
What has been done?
What are you going to do about it?
When the world comes undone?
My voice feels tiny, and I’m sure so does yours
Put us all together we’ll make a mighty roar.”

                  — Chloe Smith of Rising Appalachia

I especially enjoyed facilitating the “BODY” portion of our training.  After a brief mindful walking meditation, we asked the group to sort themselves into a line from shortest to tallest (see the “you-fie” picture below).

PCM-20, all 33 volunteers in a continuum from shortest to tallest.

Then we tried some partner contact improvisation to practice giving and receiving weight without creating stress.

Creative partners learning how to find a shared balance in a challenging stretch.

We also consolidated into groups of 4 to practice going up & down with counterbalance and back-to-back support.  I even tried some group singing as a call and response to introduce the Wendell Berry poem (2009), “And When I Rise,” which has since been put to music with other verses added in the Plum Village Song (2014):

“And when I rise, let me rise

Like a bird, joyfully.

And when I fall, let me fall,

Like a leaf, gracefully, without regret.”

The 6-person pyramid was a big hit.
As was the tradition of pushing my face into the birthday cake!

My mom, Janice Crockett, also agreed to participate in this resiliency training and birthday celebration by sharing a FaceTime call with help from her caregiver, Morgan Longtin.  It was fun for me to introduce my 95+ year-old mother as an excellent role model for how to grow old gracefully.  She readily admits that one of her secrets is ice cream!

My take-away:  It’s never too late to learn, to contribute and to celebrate.


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