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What is the difference between coping and healing?

Memorial Day came and went in the States with a stark contrast between joyful graduation ceremonies and photos of kids and teachers lost to gun violence in Texas and beyond.


As some of you may know, at my house, we lost a close member of our extended family in recent weeks. We have been feeling the fragility of life acutely around here, but, in a strange way, it made this past weekend more peaceful and full of gratitude than past years.


My son wrapped up elementary school in a sequined gold jacket, volunteering his time for Nashville Humane, and we saw our friend, Lucinda Williams, bring the Ryman Auditorium to its feet, as she delivered an astonishing performance in the wake of her stroke last year. "Thank you for being here," she said. "This is so healing for me." Little did she know how healing it was for the rest of us. She is coping, and—in coping—she is thriving.


Lucinda's triumph echoes wisdom I read recently in Frank Bruni's new book, The Beauty of Dusk. Bruni is an Opinion writer and former Chief Restaurant Critic for The New York Times. He had a stroke in his sleep a couple of years ago that damaged the vision in his right eye—no small challenge for someone who writes for a living.



In the book, he wrote, "I was stripped of delusions about my physical indestructibility... Strangely, I began to feel more alive, more attuned, more appreciative... My world blurred, but it also sharpened." He sheds light on impermanence and the power of adaptability.


Adaptability is a skill, and in my sessions with health coaching clients lately, I have found myself reminded of a simple truth that can make adaptation a lot easier.


There is a difference between coping and healing.


Coping is something that happens while our bodies are still under threat. It's how we get through. Healing can happen after the threat has passed or in the lulls in between.


In an Instagram reel, I explained. "Think of it like an injury. Coping is the thing that gets you from the ravine where you twisted your ankle to the trailhead where you can get help. Healing is the rest, ice, compression, elevation and physical therapy that make you stronger in the long run."


What do you need more today—coping or healing? And what do each of those look like for you?



My local bookshop, Parnassus, is one place where I go to cope and to heal—browsing for peace, insight or distraction. If you like memoir or non-fiction, Bruni's book is a master class on taking care, even when everything feels out of control.


Also, Parnassus put together a list of 50 Reads for Summer, including contemporary and historical fiction, romance, mystery, sci-fi, non-fiction, poetry and young adult titles. If you prefer audio, you can support your local bookshop by listening via Libro.fm.


Relief comes in all stripes: ice cream, hiking, writing, Netflix, napping with your dog.


Whatever you need, I hope you can get at least a little taste of it every day.


Sarah

 

Speaking of coping, I was fascinated by the research for this week's question at Forbes about ecotherapy. Spoiler: It is definitely a real thing with measurable physical and psychological benefits.


Click here to read the many ways time in nature can improve your health, and don't forget to send your anonymous questions to me at Hey, Health Coach! I want to know what you're wondering about.

 

This week, Nashville's own Odessa Kelly was interviewed in Vogue. She and reporter, Erik Morse, discuss her ferocious campaign to take one of Nashville's congressional seats (after the city's reliably blue district was chopped up by gerrymandering); her background as a parks and recreation employee, community organizer, and executive director of Stand Up Nashville, an advocacy group for economic equality; and what it's like to run for office in one of the reddest states in the nation as a Black, queer, progressive, Christian woman.


Asked if Tennessee represents the "New South" or more traditional, conservative values, Odessa says both.


"I’m just as Southern as anyone else. I’m as Southern as Andrew Jackson. And I want to redefine what it means to be from the South... Tennessee is full of fighters, full of people who want change, who want to be a bright beacon of what we could be in the South."


If you're curious about progressive efforts in the South, read her interview here.

 

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