Column: Wisdom Workout


Response Able


By Susan McNeal Velasquez

Four weeks ago, I was on my way to immerse myself in my youngest daughter Sara’s life in Otaki, New Zealand. Delicious opportunities for snuggling, listening to and playing with my almost seven-year-old granddaughter, Aroha, and her little brother, Tiaki, who is almost four. This special time with my daughter was so satisfying and I am forever grateful for the love and inclusion she provided while introducing me to  many facets of her life there.

Their new community is rich in Maori intrinsic values of respect for the earth, the importance of community and remembrance of traditions that celebrate their ancestry and family ties.

A special treat was the break from television for two weeks because we were busy interacting and tending to the moment-to-moment needs of the family and the community they are active participants in.

The time together sped by and I was again on the long international flight that left on Friday evening, February 28th and landed in LAX at 10:30Am on Friday, February 28th. I’ve always wanted to time-travel but the reality is the flight was an exercise in deep breathing and keeping the mind panic at bay that this will never be over.

I am back just in time to step into this whirlwind of 24/7 breaking news and the unknowns of this medical crisis that is speeding out of control. Everyone is affected due to the shutdowns that are happening daily. Routines, rituals and activities that are a part of our daily lives are currently restricted. We are being thwarted from normal activities at every turn of the clock and there is no end in sight. I haven’t felt this exhausted in quite some time.

These sudden changes in daily living made me recall a meaningful conversation I had with one of my younger brothers some years ago. Joe is number seven in my sibling crowd of eleven. He is a soft-spoken guy whose favorite ideal getaway is to sit in the Jacuzzi in his backyard in Houston with a good book. His corporate life requires travel all over the world and much of the time he is in high-powered negotiations with a lot at stake. I asked him how he managed the constant stress of the variables of his corporate life.

“I remind myself often that I am response-able. I am able to say yes. I am able to say no. I am able to say I don’t know. I am able to fully participate. I am able to hold back my participation. I am able to allow others the room to respond. When I keep that reality in the forefront of my mind, my life is do-able, reason-able and enjoy-able.”

The gift of that conversation is that it gave wings to the definition that responsibility is the ability to respond to what is. The shift in my perception was a door opener to a way to cultivate light-heartedness while dealing with the experience of loss of control of even mundane aspects of life.

Being ‘response able’ also gives us permission to dim the lights, climb under the covers and to give permission to conserve our energy as well as spend it.

When we have spent considerable effort to learn how to turn on our personal productiveness, we can find ourselves keeping all the lights on all of the time due to a fear that if we turn off, we will have to start over again. Our personal growth effort becomes counter-productive and fosters hyper-vigilance rather than peace of mind.

It is definitely an improvement in consciousness when we move out of the clutches of the concept that responsibility means finding out who is to blame for whatever went wrong. Being response able is another step up the ladder of understanding.

When we can give ourselves permission to say full rich yeses to life and direct and clear noes, we take hold of the reins of conscious choice. From this position, we can create a tailor-made life with each choice we make. I am going to practice being response able this week by dimming my participation lights until I catch up with myself and fill the energy coffers once again.

Susan is a local leadership consultant and is the author of Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind. Reach her at:





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