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Have you ever wondered how some people face terrible adversity in their lives and just seem to be able to pick themselves up and start all over?

Do you think these folks are less affected by their adversity than others? Are they less “emotional”?

Well, I have been thinking a lot about resilience lately, and thought I would share some of my thoughts. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I often take inspiration for my posts by reflecting upon observations I make of birds in my back yard.

Last week was a biggy

I came home from work one day and leaned over the fence to look at the activity in the back yard. What I saw sent a chill through my body.

The bluebird house, in which there was a nest with three chicks, was sitting there with its door open. This is very odd.

When I approached the nest box I knew the news was bad. No adults flitting on the fence or in a nearby tree to watch my movements and protect their progeny from any predatory intents I might have. No, the nest box was completely bare. The contents of the nest were strewn on the ground under the box (which sits about four feet off the ground). There were two downy feathers on the ground nearby but nothing else. No clues to the disappearance of the chicks who were 15 days old that day. No “calling card” feather that could be identified, sometimes dropped by a predatory bird if a fight ensues for dinner. Nothing. But the door of the box was open, even though the latch was in the closed position. Weird. I was distraught, that MY bluebird chicks would likely never make it to be parents. I was sad. I didn’t see the adults anywhere. Likely they had abandoned the nest that now held such horrible memories for them. Then, yesterday, I noticed some unusual activity around the very same box. When I checked, I saw a new nest has been started. Today it was in a more advanced stage of completion. This means there will be a new clutch of eggs laid soon, with a new brood of chicks to follow a few weeks later. Another try. Another chance to recreate life.

This is resilience.

The bluebird parents did not have to be taught to be resilient. It is in their blood. It is part of their DNA. This is how the species will continue. Resilience is natural. So why do so many of us need to be coached to be resilient?

Why do we have such a hard time overcoming adversity?

In reflecting upon this, I feel that we have allowed ourselves to so insulate ourselves and our children from any sense of sadness, bad news, obstacles or impediments that we are losing the ability to be naturally resilient. Children learn by emulating their parents. I am certain the juveniles from the prior bluebird brood, who I often see flying with their parents and helping now with construction of the new nest, have learned an important lesson. I learned to be resilient after my dad died, when I was nine years old. Of course I didn’t realize that was what was happening at the time. I only knew there was terrible sadness and confusion. I learned my mom had not developed the skills she needed to keep us going after that loss, and I watched as she started a new life for herself and me. Those lessons became a part of my DNA, and a part of my determination to overcome obstacles in order to make the kind of life I wanted for my family and myself. While I would never wish devastating loss or adversity upon anyone, I do wonder how resilience occurs if there has NOT been any exposure to such situations early in life.

What do you think? What examples do you have? What have you done to help your children develop resilience? Do you agree that it is a natural phenomenon, or do you think we have to be trained or coached?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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