I remember sitting in the car, we’d pulled over on the side of the road about two blocks from the hospital after a particularly difficult appointment with a specialist. We both needed to breathe, to process the information we’d been offered. I recall looking into his eyes and simply saying, “I don’t want to die.” As the words crept from my mouth they felt foreign, like they didn’t belong there, but they did. The words were exactly where they needed to be. This was my life and this had become my story, my reality. We sat quietly beside each other as we merged back onto the road and pulled away. It was as if we’d left the moment but the words lingered, they held the space they needed to hold, to sink in, to resonate.

On that day when I decided my story wasn’t over, whether I knew it or not at the time, I’d also made a pact with resiliency. I decided to stand up and take my power back during a time when I had been left with little, to absolutely no control at all. Ultimately, that need to control had been the very thing that had led me to the life altering circumstances I’d found myself in.

We walked into a little cafe that afternoon, few words having been spoken since our earlier teary-eyed conversation a couple of blocks from the hospital. I sat down as my husband ordered tea and coffee from the Barista. A young woman about my age took a seat at the table next to me. She was pale, it was clear she was fighting some sort of battle of her own. I noticed a neatly scripted tattoo stretching across her forearm. I remember thinking it looked oddly out of place. It was as though it had been put there, not as part of a collection but as a personal statement. It simply read: “I am not what ails me.”

It was in that moment I came to profoundly understand resiliency. I experienced a deep connection with the strength the word embodied. In the oddest place, I’d received the only message I needed to put the broken pieces of my own life back together. I wasn’t alone in this battle. If she could find empowerment in what ailed her, I could too.

I’ll never forget that cafe or that scripted tattoo. I don’t even have one of my own but on that day, the message hers relayed was more powerful and more meaningful than anything I could ever imagine putting on my own body for life. The strength a perfect stranger had committed to honor her own value outside of whatever life had presented her with, was all I needed to step outside of myself and find a solution or something like it.

My life will never be the same as it was before my world fell and today, I wouldn’t ever want it to be. Building a relationship with resiliency has made me believe in the human spirit. It’s allowed me to understand that we possess a power far beyond what we could ever imagine ourselves capable of. It’s given me the ability to look at every aspect of my life as an opportunity to grow and to evolve.

My story is just that, a story. The details aren’t important because it’s not enough to get caught up in the why, the how or the woe is me, that’s the drama. It’s not where we find the power to rise above and experience what’s intended to change us. What is enough, is taking all those little pieces and putting them into a word, a message or inspiration that defines us, that moves us forward and that give us that deep sense of resiliency to draw upon, time and time again.

Today, I have the opportunity to take parts of my life, the lessons, the challenges and the learning and use them to support purpose-driven and passionate women entrepreneurs in their own journeys to creating lives and businesses that fulfill them completely. My story led me to my own purpose and without it, I wouldn’t be here doing the work I do. For that, I’m entirely grateful and my life is forever enriched.

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Originally published at medium.com