Helen Z.


“When have I felt strong? It’s when I’m not trying to be strong, not intentionally.  When I feel weakest, smallest, most instinctive. When I am at the bottom of my vulnerabilities – like a painful heartbreak, a total failure, a deep loss. Or when I’m doing things that come easily enough to me that I don’t realize they take strength – like moving 5,000 miles from home on a one-way ticket, to a place where I know no one, for the third time in four years. When I’m paying attention to anything and everything except myself – that’s when I’m strong, and then of course I don’t realize that it was happening until it’s happened, until I’m through on the other side. Then when I can turn around and look at it, at what I just went through, then I can see that when I felt weakest and saddest and smallest, that’s when I was doing the hardest work, learning the most, testing my strength and finding out that I had enough. Enough for the task, because I had to. Then that’s a bottomless strength – you trust yourself enough to believe that, when it comes, whatever the next thing is, you’ll be strong enough. 

 There’s a tarot card, the Seven of Wands, that’s all about Strength. In the deck I use, the deck my mother uses and taught me to read, it’s called Valor.  It’s a card about the courage and strength to fight on, to keep going, even when armies close in around you, when anarchy is everywhere, and the only chance of victory hangs on the courage of one choice.  The card is also called the soldier’s battle, and it’s about picking up not the weapons best suited to success, but about picking the first weapon to hand, with nothing but courage and strength to fight on.  Not necessarily seeing any big picture, but simply picking up the tools to hand and fighting the battle in front of you.  To me, that’s strength.  Fighting even and especially when you do not think you can win, when you’re not even thinking about winning, but when you must because of who you are.”

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