Have you ever tried smiling when facing something difficult? My mom smiles when she’s angry.

If you know her, it’s a terrifying moment until she speaks and lets you know why and what she expects you to do about it. If you don’t know her, it’s more of a ninja move that hits you afterwards.

That’s what I’ve always said, but I found myself thinking about anger more today. I think I first started formally learning and thinking about anger as a cover up emotion in graduate school. There’s usually something at the heart of anger. When we drill through our anger, we often find something more specific that is actually getting to us. I think my mom’s unique smile comes out in more specific situations when she sees a lack of integrity or honor. I’m not even sure she calls it anger. I think she labels it disappointment.

One of the things impressed upon me when I did sports medicine in college was that the piriformis muscle is a keyhole muscle. This tiny little muscle deep in the buttock region has the power to disrupt and discomfort everything else when it is out of whack (sidenote: this is a memory from 22 years ago, so medical knowledge may have changed, but the metaphor will hopefully stick J). If there’s a problem with this tiny little muscle that basically sits underneath many other big muscles, no matter what you do, you won’t solve your problem, you won’t be comfortable, and you won’t be at your best.

I thought about this while running today (maybe because I realized at mile 2 that I am in desperate need of stretching and tending to my piriformis).

I have a rather wise friend who has been talking with me lately over many a cup of coffee about simplicity and complexity. One of his deep thoughts that has been sticking with me is the notion that things start out simple, move through complex, and in the complex we either freak out and retreat back to the original simple, or we find some way to stick it out and move through the complexity to a land of new simplicity.

I love this.


Moving through anger and discovering what’s under it must be like finding and stretching the piriformis. It must be done in order to get to a place of comfort where we can be our best and grow our best. When we journey through the complexity of anger and get to the other side, what often awaits is a different kind of simple experience. Oftentimes, I find that the new simple provides us with action steps and invites us into a place of possibilities and out of a land of fight/flight/freeze.

The next time you find yourself clicking the “anger” emoticon as a response to a facebook post, I encourage you to dig a little and have a little conversation with what I like to call the Observing Self. Start looking for what’s on the other side. You may discover what you’re supposed to be doing about it. You may find yourself smiling as you let others know what you see on the other side and call them to action, too.

If a feeling of isolation is on the other side of anger, we might begin looking for ways to connect. If the feeling on the other side of anger is something that is beyond our control, we might have to lean in and grieve. While connecting and grieving may not be simple tasks, I have found that we are often transformed once we become open to them and they take on a life of their own.

I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Heather Headshot

Heather Bland CEO, My Refuge House

Inspired by How Full Is Your Bucket?, A Drop For Your Bucket offers a somewhat stream of conscious peek into my brain and heart during my training “adventures”. Between my 40th birthday in October of 2017 and the 10th anniversary of My Refuge House in September of 2018, I will run 10 different races. My hope is to gather friends along the way who will either run with me or cheer us on as we raise awareness about the journey of My Refuge House! I hope you will receive at least drop of inspiration in each of these raw reflections. Thank you for reading and pondering.

Countdown until we hope to see you in Dallas at Fashioned For Freedom: