Birthing Resiliency

Those of you that follow Conscious Chimera closely may have noticed that zero blogging took place in the month of April. Why? Self-care, that’s why. I often write about self-care and talk with my clients about self-care – it’s a topic I love to teach and preach. I thought it was time I cared for my own mind-body-spirit by taking a little break, so I did. 

This week though, I’ve been feeling really inspired by something, and that is, resiliency. Some people are so amazingly resilient, while others…not so much. Knowing how parents water seeds of resiliency in their children, I thought posting this blog today, on Mother’s Day, was just right…a way to acknowledge moms everywhere.

There are many books on this topic, encouraging resiliency. I’m even reading one now. It’s titled Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, And Happiness by Rick Hanson, PhD. Maybe you’ve read it too. This book unexpectedly arrived in my mailbox – a surprise birthday gift from my friend, Rachelle. Dr. Hanson describes resiliency in his book as one’s ability to “cope with adversity and push through challenges in the pursuit of opportunities.” He says mental resources such as “determination, self-worth, and kindness” contribute to resiliency. The American Psychological Association (APA) provides information on resiliency, as one would expect. They write “Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.” The APA suggests focusing on connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning as core components of resilience-building.

It’s not all rainbows and butterflies! There will likely be significant emotional distress along the road toward resiliency, and those that make positive progress along this road took actions steps – that is, they made that necessary changes in their behaviors and in their thinking. Resilience and well-being go hand-in-hand. So that the blog doesn’t read like an academic essay entirely, I asked acquaintances, and even some strangers, all living with or managing cancer, about their thoughts on resiliency. I asked specifically whether they believed they were resilient and what that meant to them. Here is what five female ‘thrivers’ had to share:

One woman explained that for her, resilience is when one keeps going throughout the most challenging moments. She said, “When the demons of despair threaten to destroy your world, you keep going. Through the darkest night you continue on, finding light in the bleakest shadows. Eventually you find your way reborn through the transcendental flames that threaten to extinguish your soul. Reborn like the Phoenix from the flames.”

Another woman experiencing painful side effects of chemotherapy didn’t even want to walk. Creative inspiration came to her and she pushed through on her worst day. What did she do? She teamed up with a neighbor, dressed herself in lights, “grabbed karaoke equipment and sang Rock with You” in public. Families came out to see what was going on, and those passing by began to dance and sing with her “giving standing ovations.” She said, “Resilience is in yourself and those who celebrate you even when they don’t even know you. Resiliency is busting moves and music that fill the heart with joy so much that you forget being sick and are now a leader.”

Having managed breast cancer for 14 years using both alternative and conventional medicine, one woman told me how resilience requires a willingness “to move in unexpected ways and to be willing to change our mindset on a regular basis and accommodate to new realities.” She feels positive and enjoys “every moment of life no matter what!”

Gratitude for each and every day seems to become the norm for many cancer ‘thrivers.’ Another  woman, seven and a half years in, said, I get to “open my eyes.” For her, that alone is evidence of her resiliency.

Faith and connecting with Spirit also helps people thrive. “My resiliency as a three-time breast cancer survivor comes from my belief in a Higher Power,” said one woman. She continued, “Although the medical community and the tests on which they relied missed my cancer all three times, my dreams told me I had it and my Spirit Guides, dressed as Franciscan Monks, urged me to get additional testing. Both my ‘monks’ and my doctors saved my life.” This woman reminds us, “there is life-after-life, guardian angels, and spirit guides. I have seen them all in my dreams that saved my life. Follow your dreams.”  

Whether you have been diagnosed with cancer or love someone who has, please remember that there is hope. Our resiliency is birthed from within and from the support we receive from those all around us. You are not alone.

Happy Mother’s Day,