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  • Writer's picturewendybrd

Waterfalls of Wisdom by Wendy Peterman, PhD

What is the magic we feel with waterfalls? Is it the tremendous sound of water falling hundreds of feet, pummeling the pool below? Is it the misty spray that kisses our skin from a respectful distance? Maybe it's the air, supercharged with the scent of fresh clean water that feels refreshing and cooling to the fiery emotions.

What comes to mind for me as I sit alone with waterfalls, feeling myself with compassion and curiosity, is a message about flowing through change. Change is ever-present both externally and internally. Over time, the micro changes in our internal processes and perceptions lead to shifts and transformations in our way of being.

This year and a half of COVID has been one of daily micro-adjustments in my thoughts and habits, leading to transformations both big and small. The main one is the internal knowledge that I am enough. I am significant. I matter. I don't have to work for my self-worth or anyone else's esteem. I work to express my passions, values, and purpose. I act to share my knowledge, ideas, and love.

The second major transformation won by small daily adjustments is my health. I think people would have said I was healthy before, even with regular multi-day migraines and carrying some extra weight. That's what we expect for middle-aged women in our culture. I was slowing down. Then I learned, I didn't have to. A friend of mine was working out and adjusting her diet to "reclaim her body," which frustrated me at first because I didn't think I had a body to "reclaim." It had really never felt like I owned it in the past. My body was always just surviving something the best it could. Protecting itself. Over the past year, I have made friends with my body. I have learned how to nourish my mind, body, and soul. With my mantra "powerful and lean," I have gotten smaller, lighter and stronger. No more migraines. No more extra weight. No more middle-aged woman slowing down.

The third thing I have gained is resilience. This was a theme for me this year. My partner would say I have become "anti-fragile." It starts with letting go of victim mentality - the idea that my experience is somehow dictated by someone else. I am the author of my own story. I am the keeper of my own emotions. My reality arises from my perceptions of the world and what I allow in. This isn't about becoming hardened, closed off, or dissociated. I would say I had a long history with those things before, which did contribute to victimization and fragility. My strength lies in my flexibility and my ability to be appropriately vulnerable. I do not need to face the world alone. People who love me have my back. I do not need to be hurt by people whose insecurities turn them aggressive. My energy doesn't need to flow to them.

Like a waterfall, I can be powerful and solid in my character yet always changing as my molecules follow the course of destiny. I will continue to seek out waterfalls and receive their cool, refreshing wisdom.

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