Try new things and challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” The more you challenge yourself, the more you flex that resiliency muscle. When you train yourself to handle small challenges, you are better prepared to face major difficulties. That’s why the letters in my Open When book discuss a wide range of challenges, from minor inconveniences like, “Open When You Miss a Phone Call During Deployment” to larger crises, like “Open If Your Service Member is Injured.”

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lizann Lightfoot.

She is a professional writer, a military spouse, and mom to five children. After two decades with her Marine, she has been through seven of his deployments, and lived at military bases all over the country, including one overseas in Spain. She now writes for the military community through her Seasoned Spouse blog, and her latest book, Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses, which was published by Military Family Books in September 2021.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

The word “resilience” is often applied to military spouse life, and my story is no exception. It’s a life of unpredictability, frequent changes, and high stress. I met my husband when we were both teenagers, before he joined the Marine Corps. That was two decades ago. We dated long-distance while I was in college and he was doing his first combat tours to Iraq. After we married in 2007, we moved every 2–3 years, and he deployed several more times. Our 3rd duty station was overseas in Spain, and since I couldn’t find full-time work there, I wrote and published my first book for the military community, called Welcome to Rota. By the time we reached the 4th duty station, we had four young children, and I needed a job where I could work from home. I started freelance writing and established my Seasoned Spouse blog so I could share support and resources with fellow military families. Now, I have had hundreds of articles published in magazines and on military websites, and I recently published my 3rd book! Obviously, I love writing. But for me, the real excitement is connecting with others and encouraging them through the various challenges of military life.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

My writing career began in Spain, when we were stationed on an overseas military base for three years. I fell into it by accident, as I was writing a travel blog about our local adventures. Other families on base started coming to me for advice — even some who had lived there longer than us! I eventually turned the blog topics into my first book, which was a guidebook for military families moving to that base, with travel tips for Southern Spain. The military base was, unfortunately, not able to endorse my book because of government restrictions. But the local Spanish government was thrilled I was writing about local stores and restaurants, so they invited me to the Town Hall — which was a 13th century castle — to present my book to the Mayor! 
This experience taught me several things. First, it’s important to use your skills, even when you don’t know what the final product will be. Next, I learned that everyone who has even a little experience has something valuable to share with others. And finally, I learned never to give up on your dreams! The writing and self-publishing process was tedious, and I was frustrated by the U.S. government’s red tape, but the warm welcome I received at the castle validated me as an author and made it worthwhile.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I call my blog “Seasoned Spouse” because that is a term in the military community for an experienced military spouse, who has been “seasoned” by various life experiences. I have learned that experience doesn’t happen at a certain age or on a specific timeline. When I started my blog, we were on his 6th deployment, had four children, and had lived overseas. Younger spouses came to me asking how to handle their first deployment. That’s when I realized that I was “seasoned” and I felt it was my responsibility to share my experiences with others, to hopefully make their journey a little easier than mine.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My husband has always been the biggest fan of my writing, and it’s true that without his encouragement I wouldn’t have achieved much success as a writer. When I was working on my first book, the military representatives on base tried to tell me I couldn’t write it because it wasn’t an official military resource. But my husband reminded me that I was self-publishing and could write whatever I want! The book has sold hundreds of copies, and continues to help families moving to that base, so I am grateful for his encouragement during that frustrating time.

He is also the one who encouraged me to start my blog. He was deployed, and I was considering the idea of working from home as a freelance writer. I wanted to start a public, professional bog, but I wasn’t sure if it was worth all the upfront investment of hosting a website and getting a new computer. He encouraged me to do it anyway, and the investment eventually turned into a part-time job, then an editing position, and a book deal! So it’s a good thing he motivated me to take that first step.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Military spouses and children are often described as ‘resilient,’ and it’s a term that has a lot of baggage in our community. Yes, resilience means strength in adversity, and flexibility in the face of change. But a resilient person is also someone who has been tested. They have been bent, but not broken, by a deluge of stressful situations. It sounds like a positive virtue, but I also believe it is a sign of trials and trauma. People don’t choose to become resilient. Life imposes that situation on them. Resilient people are the ones who bear difficulties and find the strength to keep going. Resilience means thriving in the face of adversity. Sometimes, it requires you to be strong because that’s the only option you have.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

I think courage is seen as a more positive virtue, and it is a choice. Courage is something that you do, while resilient is something that you are. My husband is a Marine, and I know that there are many occasions where he has been courageous in combat. I could not do what he does on the battlefield. However, the children and I are resilient because we have learned to adapt to numerous challenges and always find the positives in difficult situations. No matter how many times the military changes our orders, makes us move, or sends us to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, I know that I am resilient enough to accept the changes, handle the stress, and make the most of a difficult situation.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

Military kids are resilient. It is often their defining characteristic. As a military spouse, I chose this lifestyle and agreed to it at various points in the journey. But the children did not sign up for this. My kids were born in different states, and one was born out of the country. They have attended numerous schools, lived in several different houses, and needed to make new friends every 2–3 years. When military kids are forced out of their comfort zone, they learn to accept change at a young age. They come to see it as an adventure and an opportunity. They are resilient because even though they bend in every new environment, their core identity remains strong, and they do not break. While this is difficult in childhood, it often gives them an advantage as adults. Military kids are better adapted than their peers, more likely to accept change, and able to thrive in challenging environments.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

There are many things I didn’t think were possible that military life has shown me I can, in fact, do. I didn’t know if it would be possible to maintain a relationship when my boyfriend/fiancé was deployed all the time, but I wrote letters to him every day, and we made it work. I wasn’t sure it would be possible for me to earn my Master’s while I was pregnant with baby #2 and my husband was often away. But I completed assignments during the toddler’s naptime or late at night, and I earned my degree!

Once, when the military changed my husband’s orders at the last minute, we scrambled to find housing at the next base. The Housing Office told us there was a house available, but only if we could move in the next week. Since we hadn’t even packed up our current house, they told us it would probably be impossible for us to make that timeline. But we went straight to U-Haul, made a reservation, and purchased a bunch of moving boxes. I spent the next week surrounded by cardboard and packing paper. I packed up our 5-bedroom house, we loaded it onto the U-Haul truck, and we got it unloaded at the next base…all within one week! Military spouses handle so many ridiculous challenges. I have seen my friends tackle many challenges that someone would have labeled impossible.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

In my book Open When: Letter of Encouragement for Military Spouses, I share my story of giving birth to my 3rd baby. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan and was not allowed to come home for the birth. I had made plans to by supported by family and friends, but all that changed when a hurricane approached our town the week of my due date. I ended up giving birth in the hospital alone on the same night the hurricane struck. The hospital lost power, so after the birth I was sheltering in a dark hallway with other patients and doctors. I was the only new mom without a partner there. I will never forget the overwhelming emotions of that night. Even though I was holding my baby and surrounded by other strangers, I felt completely alone.

Because that experience was traumatic, it was a while before I was comfortable talking about it or sharing it with others. However, once I processed it, I realized that it gave me a tremendous sense of strength and courage. If I could get through that difficult physical and emotional stress alone, I felt like I could do anything. I also emerged from it with a passion to support other military spouses. So many people feel isolated and alone at different parts of military life. I wrote my book so that people could open up a letter and read some friendly, warm words of encouragement that would strengthen them for whatever situation they were facing.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I have always been eager to tackle new situations. In high school, I joined almost every club and activity our school offered, just so I could try them all. I wasn’t good at all of them, and some skills definitely challenged me, but I enjoyed learning new talents with fellow students. In college, I chose to be a double major and a double minor, simply because it was possible. It was a challenging course load, but I liked pushing myself and knowing that I was doing my best.

All of that prepared me for my biggest adult challenge, which was moving overseas to Spain with three young children. Neither my husband or I knew Spanish, so I spent months teaching myself through an app and trying out Spanish recipes. We explored local towns, getting lost numerous times before we finally got a GPS. Everything was a challenge, from making a phone call to getting groceries to paying a bill. But one small task at a time, I faced it and figured it out. On the days when I was tired or felt like crying, I would reflect back on my tiny victories, and that gave me the courage to take the next brave step forward. In my book, when I talk about the challenge of living overseas, I describe it as a charm bracelet, where every act of courage is like adding a new charm to the bracelet. A charm bracelet is a great symbol for resiliency. Over time, I have built up quite a few charms. So when I am faced with a new, difficult situation, I focus on all those charms, remember how it felt to earn each one, and I find my inner strength.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Try new things and challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” The more you challenge yourself, the more you flex that resiliency muscle. When you train yourself to handle small challenges, you are better prepared to face major difficulties. That’s why the letters in my Open When book discuss a wide range of challenges, from minor inconveniences like, “Open When You Miss a Phone Call During Deployment” to larger crises, like “Open If Your Service Member is Injured.”
  2. Build your support network before a crisis. Military spouses don’t always know when a deployment or a big move is coming. So we are always looking for emergency contact numbers, local resources, or someone to rely on in a pinch. Think about who you would call if you got a flat tire, got sick, or suddenly lost your job. If you don’t have those friends saved in your phone, then you need to work on that now. This will build up your resilience so you are ready for difficulties.
  3. Prepare for worst-cases, but then let them go. When my husband was deployed, I found myself constantly worrying about what would happen to the kids if I got sick or were in a car accident. We lived far from family, so it would take relatives a full day to fly in and visit us. Who would take care of the kids during that time? Once I learned that the military has paperwork for this situation, called a Family Care Plan, I filled it out and filed copies with our local unit leaders. Then, I was able to relax. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I had faced the dreaded situation, and I had prepared for it, so now I didn’t need to worry about it anymore.
  4. When faced with difficult situations, find one small thing you can control. In my book, in a letter called “Open When You Feel Out of Control,” I wrote, “The best thing you can do for yourself is to let go of what you can’t control and focus on what you can control.” This has been especially true during the pandemic. You can’t control vaccination rates or who wears a mask, so instead focus on things in your own home that are within your control. You can choose what you eat and how you schedule your time. You can choose to turn off the TV during a bad news cycle. This exercise helps calm anxiety and teaches you that you do have power over your own life, even when things around you feel chaotic.
  5. Remember that you aren’t the first one to face a challenge. It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go your way and feel like you are alone in your problem. But the reality is that there is probably someone else who has faced almost that same situation… and they got through it. Talk to experienced people in your field, listen to podcasts, or read stories of motivational heroes. If they found a way to navigate a particular trial, then you can find a way to handle it too. The more you read about people overcoming challenges, the more resilient you will become. That’s why the message throughout my book is that “you are not alone” and “you can do this!”

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to see my book spread a wave of encouragement throughout our country, because it is truly needed right now. My book is a collection of letters written to be opened when the reader is facing a specific challenge. I asked my Launch Team to write their own “Open When” letters of encouragement to family members, neighbors, and friends. It would be powerful if we always had a friendly message of advice available when we needed it most!

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I think my book has tremendous power to inspire people and change lives, if it is shared with the right people. I would love to have a conversation with Kathy Roth-Douquet, the CEO of Blue Star Families. This organization has numerous initiatives and programs that support military families, and I would like to discuss ways I could contribute my writing and speaking talents to their efforts.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My blog is, and my book is available on Amazon or through Military Family Books. I welcome any opportunity to encourage others and help them become more resilient!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.