This past month my husband and I traveled to eastern Oregon to see the little town in which my great-grandparents settled back in 1882. Louise Jacob immigrated from Alsace, France and Frederick Rosenzweig from northern Germany. They met and married in Illinois, had two children – the eldest, my grandmother – and when the children were 1 and 2 years old, they all boarded one of the brand new trans-continental trains bound from Chicago to San Francisco. Then they hopped a steamer up the coast to Portland and took an inland train about 230 miles to Weston, Oregon.
The story that I was told was that my great-grandfather had a butcher shop, my grandmother went to college nearby and taught in a one-room schoolhouse, married, moved to Spokane, had 4 children, the youngest being my father. This story was a romantic tale of world travel and hard work paying off.
The reality I saw and learned in eastern Oregon completely be-spoiled my romantic version of my relatives’ lives. The facts got in the way. Whereas I’d marveled at their pluck to take their two little children to this wild, unknown-to-them country, peopled by Native Americans and settlers alike, I had clearly underestimated the conditions under which immigrant-pioneers lived 130 years ago — not to mention the probable reasons that anyone would embark on such an adventure in the first place.
The little town is surrounded by arid, treeless, high desert -in extreme contrast to the lush, green, waterfall country through which they passed on the train ride from Portland. My great-grandfather walked a dusty (or frozen) 18-miles home every weekend from his work in a mill in Pendleton. He labored as a mill worker and brick maker rather than as a butcher and shopkeeper. A cruel fate after coming so far. Perhaps they escaped much worse conditions in their homelands, likely the Franco-Prussian War of 1879, pillages and famine.
My new, unromantic story makes me really sad. It’s hard to imagine my relatives suffering so much. It also helps me appreciate even more the resilience and tenacity that they developed through their adversities that allowed them to live far into their 80’s and some a full century.
Whereas we naturally build these resiliency muscles from the adversities we confront in life, my particular style of coaching allows you to build them expeditiously and skillfully. I have many navigational tools that I will teach you to use.
I invite you to watch this TEDx Talk on Adversity and Resilience by Sam Goldstein, Ph.D. Look for me in the audience shots!