My Resilience Story Spine

A few months ago, in the Merlin-Works blog, Shana Merlin mentioned writing your own resilence story based on the story spine:

Once upon a time…
And every day…
Until one day…
And because of that…
And because of that…
And because of that…
Until finally…
And ever since that day…
The moral of the story is…

I encourage you to read her whole post. This is my first attempt, and there are many possible leaping off points in every life, but I decided to go to the beginning:

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Todd.
And every day he played and laughed happily.
Until one day his grandparents did something horrible to him and his sister.
And because of that, he wasn’t able to trust anyone deeply.
And because of that he wasn’t able to build friendships easily.
And because of that he came to rely too much on on only himself.
Until finally, he met Carol, who grew the embers of trust and laughter.
And ever since that day he laughs and let’s go of a little bit of the past.
The moral of the story is, don’t give up because it’s never to late to start living.

I had forgotten I wrote this until rediscovering it on a plane while Carol and I were on our way to The Dolphin Discovery Retreat to try and find what the next stories of our lives will be – personally and professionally. It briefly brought a tear to my eye because of how much truth and emotion is built into such a small format. And it reaffirmed how I was able to find ways to be resilient – even though I didn’t even have memories of that initial trauma until in my 40’s.

Laughter was a big part of healing that trauma – especially improv, with it’s subconscious scraping and poking). I did go to therapy (on and off, but more on in recent years) and did several rounds of EMDR. I think laughter yoga (aka therapeutic laughter) really amplified the effects of my EMDR.

So try writing your own stories and if you feel like sharing here or privately in the contact us, I welcome that.










The Guacamole Creed

A year ago over Labor day weekend, I had the opportunity to float three days in a row. Note, this isn’t floating down the Comal river in an inner tube. This is what’s known as REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) – aka Sensory deprivation tank floating.

I had been floating ~4-5 times a month for about 7 months for PTSD anxiety from a childhood trauma. That anxiety had been greatly reduced (thanks unlimited float membership). On that Labor day weekend though, I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen.

Day 1:

First time in the new fancy technology tank I had been waiting a few months to try (Yay). Once in the tank, that technology happened to fail (Boo), but I resisted getting angry (but there was a bubble of annoyance in my head trying to erupt). Since I was only in for an hour, I made the best of it by closing my eyes and floating.

Day 2:

I was back in an older model tank where the staff had to turn off the cleaning cycle manually. As I laid my head back and felt the cleaning jets still on, I laughed at the two float failures I had in 2 consecutive days (BooYay?). I again decided to just float. However, the water jet stimulation on my head seemed to really help me solve several long term problems (I later specially requested to have the cleaning mode left on many months later and, while good, it didn’t have the punch that the surprise failure had).

Day 3:

Old tank again, but more normal float experience – no failures (Yay). I had been trying to develop a floatation mantra that included compassion and gratitude. And since college, I always loved Steven Covey’s “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” so understanding would likely be a part of it as well.

I was amazed (and again laughed) when a mantra presented itself to me in the tank in the form of Guacamole:

Gratitude, Understanding, Awareness, Compassion, Acceptance, Openness, Love, Evolving.

I cheerished my mantra in and out of the float tank and shared with close friends and family.

I attended the conference for the Association of Applied & Therapeutic Humor ( in April 2018 where I experienced my first therapeutic laugh session. Shortly after that, the mantra expanded to include “Laughter” as a shared “L”. And during the summer “Light” was added as well.

A year later, and the week after Labor day, I realized I had to make this more regular than just a float mantra. On top of that, I wanted to make it more active and so the Guacamole Creed was born (also in a float tank).

The core of it is:

I am grateful….

I am understanding….

I am aware….

I am compassionate…

I am accepting….

I am mindful….

I am open….

I am loving & lovable….

I am laughter….

I am light….

I am ever evolving.

I say it as needed – definitely during floats, but also as I face adversity of some sort or when start to become overwhelmed with negative feelings (with floating and laughter this doesn’t happen too often). I fill in the sentences with whatever I am feeling at the time.