The View From Here (17-11)

Justine Chichester with a red orchid in her hair

By Justine Chichester

I’ve been reading Sheryl Sandberg’s new book,

Option B. In it, she writes about facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy. Sandberg writes, “You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up; draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are, and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”


So much of my focus during this past year has been on rebuilding myself physically. Working on m strength, rebuilding muscles and, of course, the all-important gait training to walk again. After a long stay in the hospital and several surgeries, my unused muscles began to atrophy, wasting away while I was not active. Since I’ve been home and recovering, I’ve learned that if I want to get stronger, I have to work to regain my strength and build these muscles back up every day. Yes, every day. Even the days that I don’t feel well (which there are many!), or I don’t really feel like it, or I just have a hard time moving around, I attempt to do some form of exercise to stay focused on my goals and regain the strength I once had. This focus has taught me an unexpected lesson in resilience.

I came across an article the other day titled “What Resilience Means and Why it Matters.” They defined

They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs. It’s possible to strengthen your inner self and your belief in yourself, to define yourself as capable and competent. It’s possible to develop a sense of mastery.”

resilience as “the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to

change, and keep going in the face of adversity.” “Resilient people do not let adversity

define them.


While bouncing back after a trauma can be very difficult, it is actually the day-to-day resilience that I’ve found the most difficult “muscle” to develop. Handling the changes in my daily routine has been the most challenging. It is so frustrating to wake up and not be able to move the way I used to, or get out of bed the way I used to, or get dressed the way I used to. The challenge lies in the struggle to keep going despite these setbacks. When you keep going, and don’t focus or dwell on the past, you slowly build that muscle of resilience every single day. Those tasks then become less daunting and more a part of my

new normal.


Of all of the hard work and strengthening I’ve done, cultivating the ability to be resilient every day, and building that muscle to rely on during the more difficult times, is perhaps the most important work I’ve done for myself since I started living my life with a disability.