One of the most important muscles you have isn’t exactly a muscle.
I posted on Facebook today about Sheryl Sandberg’s recent speech to Berkeley University students a couple of days about where she spoke for the first time publicly about her husband’s sudden death a little over 12 months ago. She spoke of her grief, how those dark early days are now a blur to her and how it sucks sometimes being a single mum. ‘Leaning-In’, she now admits, is a whole lot harder when you don’t have a significant other in your corner, helping and supporting you at home.
I get all that.
But the bit I loved about Sandberg’s speech relates to resilience.
“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It’s a muscle, you can build it up and then draw on it when you need it.”
Resilience is about far more than being strong or brave. I’ve written and spoken about how I feel about those labels – I’d much prefer to be called resilient.
I have achieved far more in the last 15 months than I have in the previous 15…and I haven’t really swum properly once in that time! In my work, my business, at home and in my heart, it’s been quite an amazing time.
That has a lot to do with how I chose to see the circumstances and events that occurred in my world. It also has a lot to do with the people around me – my children and how they have responded, and the funny way that the universe works sometimes. In all the crazy I met a man that has encouraged me, supported and guided me…oh and goodness me, he’s made me laugh! But most of all Andrew has walked alongside me. I’m sorry Andy darling, this one is not all about you 😉
This blog is about the bounce-back.
A good life. A good life is a rich tapestry – full of colour and vibrancy. Highs, lows and a whole lot of in-between. I had a moment of clarity the other week – life isn’t fair. (No shit.) It just isn’t though is it? Bad things happen to really good people and then there are some proper arseholes out there living a perfect life. But when you think about it, no one ever said it would be fair. There isn’t some universal system of checks and balances that ensures it all gets sorted out in the end.
You see we’ve been given one life – for a finite amount of time and it’s pretty much down to us to make it good or bad.
Now, hear me when I say I know. I really properly and truly know that it’s not always fair, or right or even that black and white, never mind fun. Sometimes it is quite frankly shit. It’s lonely and dark and scary and sad. Oh, and did I mention really quite horribly hard work?
But I decided it wasn’t going to stay like that. I hung around down there for a while. I cried and screamed and then caught my breath and tested out just how much bounce-back I had in my resilience muscle. And that is where I focused my energy. On growth, on the good and the bright, on joy and a wonderful future.
I asked Martha and Sebastian tonight what they understood by the word ‘resilient’…
” Being able to understand and cope with everything that happens around you” (Martha)
“Probably if you fall down, you bounce back up” (Sebastian)
What wise little people I have!
When my children fall down I want them to literally and metaphorically be able to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, learn, grow, square their shoulders and move forward. Onward and upward to bigger adventures and brighter times.
When Sebastian comes home from school, like he did today with new grazes on his knees I know he did exactly that. When we move house later this year we will do just this. Whatever our future holds I know that we will roll with it. We will feel it all, be affected, laugh, maybe even cry, but we will bounce back…always.
Because just like with the regular muscles in your body, when worked, stretched and put under pressure your resilience muscle grows. Just like with those other muscles the more you do, the more you CAN do.
And it’s so good to be strong.