As defined by Google…

Resilience means knowing how to cope in spite of setbacks, or barriers, or limited resources. Resilience is a measure of how much you want something and how much you are willing, and able, to overcome obstacles to get it. It has to do with your emotional strength.

As defined by me…

I have heard many times in the last year that I am resilient as defined by friends, family and co-workers that have walked this journey with me. They say this because in short I have proven that I can “take a licking and keep on ticking” but I am not sure that resilience is the right word. The two other words that come to mind are:

  • Stubbornness as I am a Taurus and those that know me best know that I can be very bull-headed! (I am a Miami Gangster, let us not forget!) As defined this suggests that I am headstrong and willful but so many of the situations I have been faced with were not in my control therefore regardless of how headstrong, I could not have avoided these outcomes and in many cases could not have willed these comebacks.
  • Relentlessness because as defined I can be unstoppable or unceasing but then again I was stopped; my life as I knew it ceased in a moment twice in the last year.

Therefore I resolve that resilience is likely the “right” word. The experiences in my life have given me great emotional and mental strength. I get knocked down and I always get back up; I don’t know any other way. Quitting is simply not an option…EVER. My father taught me that lesson in sixth grade. I came home earlier than expected one day and he asked “don’t you have Patrols today?” and my response was “not anymore, I quit”. His disappointment was palpable, he told me “we don’t quit“. No truer words would ever be said again, from that day on I would never quit.

Life as I learned is all about stops and starts and learning, always learning. Every situation offers a lesson and when you live your life with that point of view you simply can’t “stay down”. If I fall, I learn what created the fall and with that new found knowledge I get back up. I have no choice, none of us do. Life is going to happen, it’s how you react and how you bounce back that will make all the difference.

Setbacks…I have had many…so what…

  • Five procedures and thirteen incisions in the last six months…yep…that is real and every single one of these procedures was unexpected, the ultimate definition of a setback. Resilience they say…but what was the choice? I had to get back up, I had to fight on.
  • Losing my mom…yep…that sucked! Resilient, well not easily. This was a heck of a setback but I carry-on because that is what she would expect and I would like to believe I have never let her down.
  • 30 years of failing at weight-loss…yep…but I never quit! I failed at hundreds of diets but learned something with every one. Ultimately it was the experience of failing and learning (falling down and getting back up) that finally led me to the solution.

I could go on with many more examples as everyone’s life, including mine, has been a series of setbacks but as Tim Storey says, “I believe that while you are feeling the sting of your setback God is preparing your comeback”. Resilience is the ultimate comeback story, it’s the before and the after, it’s the up to the down, it’s the hero’s journey. It is truly about triumph over adversity.

The opposite of resilience is fragility, vulnerability and weakness. These are equally powerful words and have their place and time in our lives. I have experienced each of these in the rawest forms both emotionally and physically. It is when you are in these states that resilience will pull you out. It is the WANT to be better, feel better and do better that makes sure that fragility, vulnerability and weakness are not our end-story.

In conclusion, I am on a journey and most of mine has not been on well worn paths; my journey is truly as my favorite poet writes, “

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This is life as I am living it RESILIENTLY – L. (Dedicated to my Aunt Judith)

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