…by Prill Boyle
I love all four seasons. No matter how bleak the winter has been, by April the hydrangeas next to my porch are budding, the copper beach and pin oaks are leafing out, and the lilies of the valley are once again poking their stems through the earth. Not every plant makes it through the winter, of course. My loamy Connecticut soil is less than ideal, for instance, for growing lavender; every few seasons I have to replace mine. But each year, most of my garden survives.
We human bloomers, late or otherwise, are a resilient bunch as well. We have to be for the seeds of our dreams to germinate and multiply. The winter of our adversity ultimately strengthens our resolve. Think of Christopher Reeve, the actor who became a quadriplegic after a riding accident. In the movies, he played Superman, but in real life he became someone much larger: a down-to-earth role model who epitomized the power of persistence and hope. Yes, like my lavender, he eventually succumbed to the elements, but while alive, his blooming was abundant.
Or consider surfer Bethany Hamilton, who was attacked by a shark in 2003 and lost her left arm below the shoulder. No sooner had she recuperated than she was back on her board again, making the best of what she still has. She, too, is a role model for anyone who feels defeated by misfortune.
No athlete wants to lose. No entrepreneur wants her business to fail. No writer enjoys receiving a rejection letter. But many of the people we most admire have experienced repeated setbacks along the way to achieving their long-term goals.
University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth calls this combination of perseverance and passion “grit.” Grit, she says, is the one characteristic shared by prominent leaders in every field. And guess what? According to Duckworth\’s research, older individuals often measure higher in grit than younger ones. Our advancing age, in other words, might actually be an asset when it comes to late blooming.
Six months ago, the dried-up stalks in my flower beds looked as if no life would ever come from them. If I didn\’t know better, I would have yanked them from the ground. Then in April, green shoots began sprouting from these same stalks. Now after a summer of glorious blooming, the plants again are starting to fade. Next spring, the cycle will start anew.
Like the flowers in my garden, we, too, can weather adversity and continue to bloom throughout our lives—if we cultivate Resilience.
Prill Boyle is the author of Defying Gravity: A Celebration of Late-Blooming Women (Emmis Books, 2004). To read more inspiring stories, tips, and anecdotes, go to Prill\’s blog.