Patience is a Hard Discipline

Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not waiting passively until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where change will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand

—Elisabeth Lesser

My patience muscle is being flexed and getting stronger every day…

We arrived in Portugal 9 weeks ago with a sense of excitement and anticipation of living in another country and learning a new way of being in the world. Our eyes were open knowing there would be stretching moments in the transition. Our hearts were prepared to take in every new scenario that would be in our path. We were ready!

Two weeks after we arrived, the country called a total lockdown due to the increased cases of Covid.

In 24 hours, everything was closed except for grocery stores and essential businesses. Somehow, Portugal went from one of the best countries in the world in controlling the Covid outbreak to now one of the worst.

We have been through this drill before and understand how it works. We do not underestimate the deadly effects of this virus and honor every precaution that needs to be taken. Except…this time we are living in another country, without a car, sleeping in someone else’s bed, while our furniture and clothing are sitting on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere. Who moves across the country during a pandemic? We do!

Our lessons and blessings have shown up daily. It has been a thought-provoking process to settle in and lean into uncertain discomforts. It has turned up the dial for me on the quality of days and material things.

There is so much we want to do, see and experience in this beautiful country. But for now, we are limited to our municipality, and there is nothing open and nothing to do. My trained brain is resisting and it’s hard. It is hard to reprogram and reset until I finally begin to shift the word ‘hard’ to ‘easy’. The shift allows me to take every perceived frustrating moment and transform the experience.

Daily routines: We walk by the ocean, walk to the market 2 x a week and discover new meals to create. We sleep in a little later, meditate, read, watch documentaries and then walk by the ocean again to watch the sunset. Upside: Easy and relaxing. Downside: None.

As for material things: I have been wearing the same 2 pairs of jeans, 2 T-shirts and 5 sweaters for 9 weeks now. Upside: Easy to dress for the day with minimal choices. Downside: None.

When I think back, how many times have we been faced with scenarios that begged of us to do something uncomfortable?

How long did we sit with our own despair or victimhood?

Is it even possible to be comfortable being uncomfortable?

Did the chatter in our thinking keep us in resistance vs surrender?

I am learning that patience is a hard discipline and that it is a process. I found a journal entry from a few years ago that solidified the learning and the journey to finding myself inside my own patience.

The hours, days, weeks, and months have passed by and I am just now coming to the surface. A time where life throws the unexpected curves, and you are either pushed by pain or pulled by a vision. It has taken time to untangle the web. And it has taken every precious moment of introspection, self-pity, self-awareness, meditation, prayer work, masterminding, refocus, and pure/raw gratitude to get me here today.

In this process of transition, I was taken back by the freedom of choice. My days have always been driven by responsibility and accountability to my work and my family. Given the space and time to choose with free will has been empowering and downright scary. Some days I was left numb choosing not to choose. So, I sat with my pain, my discomfort, embraced my vulnerability, and accomplished no given task but to survive another day. A life without a compass is daunting. And yet I craved the time to experience something I have never experienced – the art of doing nothing and feeling everything.

Living in Cascais Portugal during a pandemic is not what we thought, but it is what we have and where we are today, and we have never been happier. We are living every moment to the fullest, present to every day, and tasting the here and now.


Carolyn Lebanowski
Carolyn Lebanowski
Carolyn began her professional career in retail and grew to become an experienced and respected senior-level executive with expertise in strategic development, organizational communication, and executive coaching. After nearly three decades of career growth in corporate organizational development, Carolyn was ready for a career change—and a life change. This led to a new role and the most challenging, enriching, and rewarding work of her life, as a Strategic Business Leader for nonprofit spiritual institutions. As Executive Director and Chief Opportunity Officer for 2 large organizations, it gave her the opportunity to fuse the professional and the personal, aligning her business acumen with her spiritual identity and passion for the development of human potential—in her colleagues, in her community, and in herself. Carolyn is a writer who seeks above all to share from the heart. Her impulse to write began 20 years ago with letters to her children and grew into journaling that was unedited and life-affirming. Today she writes with a focus on raw, authentic, and lived experience, to explore, express, and make sense of the pain and joy, and struggles and triumphs, of life. In all her endeavors, she champions connection, integrity, and radical positivity. Today, Carolyn is a published author and a Columnist/Featured Contributor at BIZCATALYST 360° and is living in Cascais, Portugal.

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  1. Thank you Carolyn…I was never a patient person….that was until we moved to the Middle East (first Doha then Dubai)…it was there that i learnt that i HAD to become patient (or else lose my mind!)…nowadays I know my impatience occasionally pops back but I hope that mostly I try to curb it – except when I lost it with our builders this week!! Haha 😉
    Yes, patience is definitely a hard discipline…

    • Just takes years of practice – right? Can’t wait to visit you in your new space once it is completed!!

    • Thank you Cynthia! New routines, surrounded by our own things, and taking one beautiful day at a time. Life is GOOD!

  2. Such a beautiful journey ~ “Did the chatter in our thinking keep us in resistance vs surrender?” ~ this reminds me of one of the Life Lessons learned during my journeys with breast cancer, “When I’m caught in doing, I’m resisting being” 💗 And your awareness, “It is hard to reprogram and reset until I finally begin to shift the word ‘hard’ to ‘easy’. The shift allows me to take every perceived frustrating moment and transform the experience.” is so in alignment with another Life Lesson, “A shift in belief, expands perceptions and alters the experience.” 💗 It’s fun to see how we’re all so intimately connected as humans while having unique Universal experiences. Thank you for sharing your journey and reminding us of the freedom that comes with self-discovery.

    • Ami, thank you for your kind words. I love this life lesson that you mentioned: “A shift in belief, expands perceptions and alters the experience.” Yes yes and yes! #growingtogether.

  3. Portugal is a wonderful country. Too bad to be forced to stay at home.
    Life generally does not follow our plans, even if we are on vacation. Learning how to handle the unexpected teaches us to be a more patient person in everyday life.
    We hope that soon you will be able to enjoy the beauties of this country.

    • Thank you Aldo!
      My new mantra has been “patience and presence”. It keeps my chatter brain calm and centered!
      We were talking yesterday about how this time in has been a blessing to saturate ourselves in a new space.
      We are healthy, happy and humbled.