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Resilience-the ability to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.

Working in the mental health profession for over fifteen years, words like "resilience" come up often. How do we ignite it in another, keep it going, gain it, teach it, grow it? I for one have never learned resilience until there was reason to tap into it…..usually when there was something that broke me so completely that I had no choice but to tap into this mysterious energy from the depths of my inner workings and pull it out like a rabbit from a hat exclaiming “haha I do have it, I do have it”...only to be once again reminded of yet another situation where I will need my rabbit...

Michael Stokes is an American photographer, best known for his controversial photographs of veterans who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. These photographs gained a lot of attention in the media for the amount of well, skin they show, themes, and poses. Sadly, I think with the controversy they created, the real message was lost. The men and women in these photographs, in a word, are stunning. Their physical "flaws" are vivid and rawly displayed but their bodies and faces depict such determination, will and bravery. They are veterans who have lost limbs while serving in the military and Michael Stokes, who clearly honors the human form, was able to capture their humanness, beauty and most of all their resilience...

I looked at these photos and thought about what humans live through, what keeps them "going" after they just don’t know if they can. My own struggle with alopecia changing me physically reminded me of my own story of resilience. We lose things in this life, material things of course, but when we lose "parts" of ourselves, mental or physical, or people we love more than life itself, we are asked to dig into our murkiness, deep inside and push on. We know we will be different than we were before. We are “shaped” differently, we look different, we may act and speak with more caution but live with more clarity…..we don’t sacrifice time because we know it to be brief and why waste it…..

What in life has made you resilient? What made you think you just could not keep going but, you did….You did……

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