By Donna Sales, R. Psych.

The Remarkable, Resilient Human Spirit (Yes, you have it, too!)

“Through suffering, comes wisdom. Through surrender, comes strength. Through resilience, comes hope. Keep going.”
Rita Said

Life is messy. Sometimes it hurts. No matter what we do, how hard we try, or how positive we think, painful, disappointing things will happen to us and those we love. As will precious, joyful things. The bad things make us appreciate the good things even more and not take them for granted.

The past year has been one of the toughest I have ever known. My dear mother, suffering from dementia, congestive heart failure, and a serious hip fracture (which she never recovered from) passed away. Another loved one was diagnosed with cancer and went through invasive treatments including surgery and chemotherapy (she is doing just fine). We all know how helpless it feels when someone we care about is going through a hard time and we would do anything, anything at all, to take their pain away. But we can’t. Perhaps it’s the harshest reminder of all of what little control we actually have in life.

This is also what I know to be true: We need to be open to life, to be real, and to roll with the punches as best we can. Get back up, dust ourselves off, and do it all over again.

Sometimes it takes a while to get back up again. But that’s okay. We’re only human after all and there’s no right way or wrong way to do this. And if we need a hand up, by all means, we should take it.

I’m just starting to get back up again after losing my mom six months ago. Supporting her in the months and years prior to her death (as any caregiver knows) can take a toll mentally, emotionally and physically. And losing a mom, as anyone who as ever lost a mom knows, can hit very hard. Even when it’s expected and they are ready and asking to go, as mine was.

We may not always handle challenges as gracefully as we would like but if we do the best we can then it’s good enough. Bad things happen to good people. The rug gets pulled out from underneath us. We question why. Get angry. Feel overwhelmed. And helpless. That’s because we’re human. Imperfect beings trying to make our way in an imperfect world.

People are often amazed how strong they can be when life requires it. ‘Wow, where did that come from? Didn’t know I had it in me!’ Yes, you have it in you. And there’s so much more, too, where that came from. We are wired for survival. Have every right to be here and make the most of this precious life. We must trudge on through the sludge of life and make our way to the other side. And when we get there we are changed, a few smudges on our face, holes in our jeans, and scratches and scars, but stronger and wiser, too.

No matter who we are, where we come from or what our story is, there is one vital thing we all need to have with us at all times on this unpredictable journey called Life. It can be held in the palm of our hand, cradled close to our heart, or tucked into our back pocket. It’s that beautiful thing called Hope. Hope helps us take life on, roll with those punches, and get back up again. May it be your constant companion. And never, ever let it go.

We can embrace each day for what it is – a precious gift. Each moment is fresh and new and waiting for us to show up. No remnants of the past beating us down, or worry about the future sucking the life out of us. As my mom repeated many times in the last few years of her long, remarkable life: Love yourself. Do what makes you happy. Enjoy life while you are young and healthy enough to do so. Stay close to loved ones.

Simple wisdom wrapped in loads of love from a woman who had to dust herself off far too many times to count.

With hope and love to each of you,

May, 2013

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Donna Sales is a psychologist and writer living in Calgary, Canada. She is the founder of Hope Café.


Read previous posts by Donna on: Why We All Need Nature, Kindness, The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection, Assertiveness, For the Love of Food, Hope in the Face of Illness, Spring Cleaning Your Life, Gratitude, Intuition,Simplicity, and Hope at The Inspiration Station