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Resilience isn’t something we seek. Resilience is a muscle we choose to develop when hit with a life-altering experience. That muscle is part of the God-given light within each of us. Like every other muscle in our body (physiological, emotional, or mental) Resilience only grows and strengthens when flexed.

The interesting thing about Resilience is that it needs a counterpart in order to be stimulated to grow. Unlike strengthening a physical muscle like your bicep, or mental or emotional muscle such as kindness or gratitude, Resilience is our yin to Life’s yang. Unlike kindness, Resilience doesn’t get flexed by walking around giving random acts of resiliency. Resilience is invited into the fighting ring from the daily unknowns called Life. From the moment we’re born we are challenged to develop our Resilience. Those challenges take center stage when we become old enough to manage our choices. When we acknowledge that growing older doesn’t necessarily equate to growing up, is when we start making the choice as whether to flex and strengthen our Resilience muscle and grow its light or wither from fear and despair.

All of us face daily challenges that give us opportunities to build our resiliency. One of the hardest life-altering experiences we will all experience is losing a loved one. Not only is it painful in the moment, but the pain re-ignites every time we realize that death is forever. My mom died when I was 25, she was only 53. My most vivid memory from the first year after her death was the wave of pain that kept crashing over me daily that she was never coming back… ever. I would never hear her voice again, I could never call her again, I could never hug her again. Regardless of how important the milestones I would go through: becoming the UCLA Gymnastic head coach, winning our first championship, marrying this amazing man who’s soul reminds me so much of hers, being inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame, going through breast cancer and coming out a better version of me because of it – Life doesn’t care about our biography.

One of the most haunting verses in Hamilton, “Death doesn’t discriminate, it takes and it takes and it takes and it takes.”

Death of a loved one puts the survivor on one of two tracks, either the fast tract to resiliency or the track in the opposite direction toward disintegration. Like every single thing we do it is a choice.

The choice to fuel our resiliency muscle builds a personal inner armor that shows us that we really are stronger than we think. Finding ways to be grateful and happy after tragedy or severe challenges fuels the Light in us that we never knew we had until we needed to call upon it. That Light is one of the many reasons I believe in my Creator. Building resilience doesn’t necessarily lead to further enlightenment, but when resiliency is accompanied with gratitude, the inner Light shines brighter than before. It truly is remarkable when dissected in this manner; and once again it leads to my life motto: Life is about Choice. The choices we make dictate the life we lead.

My mom’s been gone 33 years and every single day there is another ripple of that initial wave that she really isn’t ever coming back. At that moment I feel the warmth of my light, while I acknowledge she’s never coming back I sure am blessed I had her for 25 years.

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I spent some time with my 94 year-old grandfather this afternoon and I think he is the epitome of resilience. He just lost his wife of 60+ years this past January and moved last week into a retirement community because it has become too difficult for him to do some things on his own (he doesn’t cook) and he has taken a few falls. He seems to really be enjoying life. He has his golf on TV, he has been enjoying walking to and from his meals in the “mess hall” (he’s retired Air Force some things don’t change), and… Read more »


This is so well expressed and very thought provoking. It hit me at a point when I really needed a change of perspective after a rather turbulent week culminating in having to move out due to a house fire. Thank you so much Miss Val and I really hope your East Coast trip went well!!