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Ten years ago, my dear friend and Experience Life’s production director, Jane Meronuck, described me as resilient. It wasn’t a word I had associated with myself to that point, and her use of the term surprised me. In fact, it’s something I’ve spent many hours reflecting on over the past decade.

At that time, I was in the midst of the most bittersweet year of my life. My daughters, then 4 and 1, were healthy, happy kiddos, and watching them grow and learn every day brought me so much joy. That joy was tempered, however, by the sadness, worry, and grief I carried about my nephew’s terminal health condition. About six months earlier, Bryce had been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, when he was six months old himself. His life expectancy, we learned, was maybe two years.

While my baby (just a month younger than Bryce) was thriving, my sister’s baby was regressing and declining. Other than keeping Bryce comfortable with medication, there was nothing doctors or we could do to reverse or heal his condition. The dream my sister and I shared of our children growing up together was shattered.

The only thing I could do was be there for my little sister in whatever ways she needed me. So, I was.

For the 12 months between Bryce’s diagnosis and his passing in November 2014, I did whatever I could to carry some of the load of her unimaginable reality, whether it was writing CaringBridge updates from afar, or working remotely so I could be physically present to support her family. Some days it was being someone my sister could vent and cry to; often, it was simply encouraging her to get outside for a walk and some fresh air.

“I know now that these practices are at least part of the reason I was resilient . . .They’re the reason I am resilient today.”

In those moments, I didn’t think about how or why I was able to do any of those things while maintaining my day-to-day life — which is probably why the observation from Jane (who is no stranger to resilience herself, see her story here) struck me. I was just doing what needed to be done.

Looking back, though, I realize that I was able to manage it all because I had many fundamental health and wellness practices in place that I could rely on, often subconsciously. My workout and nutrition habits, my connections with my support system, my sleep and stress-management routines — these were all well-established elements of my life before Bryce’s diagnosis.

I know now that these practices are at least part of the reason I was resilient — they were essential for helping me process and cope with Bryce’s dire circumstances. They’re the reason I am resilient today: They allow me to face and adapt to whatever challenges come my way. And things will come my way — and yours too. That’s just life.

In this issue, you’ll find inspiring examples of resilience in action: Nearly 30 years into her professional tennis career, Venus Williams is overcoming injury and illness to make yet another comeback (read her story here); mom-of-two Lindsay Karp shares how she’s learning to live with multiple sclerosis and enjoy life again; and ­Harvard Medical School associate professor David H. Rosmarin, PhD, offers a case study on a patient with anxiety — and how they’re embracing it as a reality of being human (read that article here).

Resilience is within all of us, even if we don’t recognize it. Trust that it’s there to nurture, tap into, and grow when you need it most.

Jamie Martin, Experience Life
Jamie Martin

Jamie Martin is Experience Life’s editor in chief, Life Time’s vice president of content strategy, and cohost of the Life Time Talks podcast. Follow her on Instagram @jamiemartinel.

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