Tuesday, November 29, 2011


As Winter descends on our little corner of the world, my thoughts turn to all the wild creatures and what it takes to survive. Yesterday, I saw a humming bird hovering over my hanging strawberry plant. Clearly lost by a recent storm, he was searching for sustenance, attracted by one last frozen strawberry.  I was so surprised to see him this late in the season. Naturally I got out my humming bird feeder that I had packed away for the winter and filled it up. Just in case he comes back. The one word I would give to that sweet little bird is 'Resilience'.
This morning as I went outside to fetch my newspaper, I saw another example of Resilience. This Pileated Woodpecker had found an apple that had been left behind. I don't know if he was eating the apple, or if there were worms inside. Either way, it was another example of adaptation and resiliency.
 What makes one individual more resilient than another?  There are several definitions of resilience; Resourcefulness and the ability to recover quickly from setbacks, misfortune, illness, depression, and change. Strength of character. Buoyancy, flexibility. Speedy recovery from problems.
Resilience is the ability to cope with stress and adversity by 'bouncing back' to a previous state of normal functioning. Using the experience of exposure to adversity to produce a 'steeling effect' and function better than expected, much like an inoculation gives one the capacity to cope well with future exposure to disease.
Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual.

"That which does not destroy, strengthens" - Friedrich Nietzche

Resilience is the ability to work with adversity in such a way that one comes through it unharmed or even better for the experience. Resilience means facing life's difficulties with courage and patience - refusing to give up. It is the quality of character that allows an individual or group to rebound from misfortune, hardships, trauma.
Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit - a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient, because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.
Highly resilient people are more likely to notice positive meanings within the problems they faced; they learn from the experience.

"You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: Make use of suffering." Henri Frederic Amiel, philosopher and writer (1821-1881)

"The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the wind and rains and the scorching sun."- Napoleon Hill

Each and every one of us has experienced setbacks and heartaches. We have all experienced grief and loss, disappointments and tragedy. Knowing that we all share in these experiences can ease the pain. Resilience is gained only from these experiences and how we deal with them. Resilience goes hand in hand with courage, hope, and faith.

Courage to face adversity. Hope that all will work out for the best. Faith in our own spirit and spirituality.
And when we do come out on the other side, Humor.

"Humor prevents one from becoming a tragic figure even though involved in tragic events."
E.T. Eberhart

" A sense of humor can help you overlook the unattractive, tolerate the unpleasant, cope with the unexpected and smile through the unbearable."
Moshe Waldoks

"The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn" - Unknown

Part of learning resilience is in identifying oneself as a survivor, not a victim. Finding positive meaning in trauma can be achieved by helping others in similar circumstances.

"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces - my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined."
Elizabeth Edwards

Resilience is going with the flow even after going off course for a time.

"Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them."
H. Jackson Brown

"If you voluntarily quit in the face of adversity, you'll wonder about it for the rest of your life."
Former President Bill Clinton

We can all turn adversity into a positive attribute by learning resilience.

We can pick ourselves up and keep climbing those steps to reach our highest goals no matter what adversity we may encounter.

And like the tree in a storm, we bend with the wind, growing strong roots and supporting each other.
With courage, hope, and faith.

And when all is said and done,
 a good sense of humor.
And a sense of pride and accomplishment that we weathered the storms of life by learning resilience.

"For adversity makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives."
Greta W. Crosby


  1. Aside from listening to your Love Story, this has to be my favorite so far. Thanks for the inspiration and encouraging words Karen.

  2. Yet another beautifully written and deeply truthful post. You're so inspiring, Karen! I think it's often so hard to feel that you're resilient when you're just surviving a certain situation. I suppose sometimes just putting one foot in front of another amounts to resilience. You're certainly right that it's in the challenges of life that we become stronger.

  3. thank you, Christine. It does mean putting one foot in front of the other and in that way gaining a foot hold on future adversity. It is all in how you come out the other side, going through it is the hardest part. But if you can use it to learn something, even just learning that you are strong, you have put it to positive use. One step at a time. Even if it is baby steps. xx


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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