I’m a big believer in setting goals. I think it helps to know where you’re going and it helps to have a reason to exercise your resilience muscle.

However, goals are no good without plans. You need a roadmap to get you there.

When we set goals they need to be achievable but they also need to be something we are passionate about. Something that drives us to want to achieve them.


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 Samantha Moss.

In 2014, Samantha was enjoying a successful Executive Manager career in Financial Services. However, her body suddenly began to work against her forcing her to medically retire when she was diagnosed with a severe bowel prolapse, autoimmune diseases, and a Rare Bone Disease. Despite broken bones and a permanent colostomy, she was determined to find a new fulfilling purpose for her life. She soon became the founder and author of the blog and book,” My Medical Musings”, which slowly evolved into an additional global support group, to provide an online community to reach others living with complex diseases.


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?

I medically retired in Jan 2014 due to a complex medical history, which can be best summed up as an overarching idiopathic disease.

Living with a disability of any kind can be incredibly challenging. Learning to live life differently and well with a sudden change in life’s direction, particularly due to a disability, can be extremely difficult.

The Simple Things in Life

It can also be strangely rewarding as appreciation for the simple things in life can begin to grow. Simple things like time spent with loved ones talking and renewing relationships. Time to enjoy coffee by the ocean or in the countryside on a good day with your partner or friends. Re-discovering the joy of leisurely reading a book, or listening to music while sitting in the garden.

One of the cheeky things I enjoy now, is listening to my neighbors leaving for work at some ridiculously early hour while I’m lying in bed…granted I’m lying in bed in pain most mornings but it’s still nice not to have to jump out at the sound of an alarm!

Looking Back

I’ve lived life in the fast lane for 30 years with a successful management career in financial services. I’ve also enjoyed various change management consultancy roles for not for profit organizations.

I loved every minute of those able-bodied years and am very grateful for the experiences I have had. My career highlights include;

  • Contributing to creating an award-winning customer experience culture in the various Banking and Insurance departments I’ve managed.
  • Leading an inspired and motivated team of people, many of whom are now lifelong friends.
  • Receiving the inaugural Leader of the Year Award just before I medically retired (such a special parting gift)
  • Restoring a historic church building to its former glory,
  • Appointed as a management consultant in the Anglican Church, and assisted Senior Church Leaders (Clergy and Lay) to bring about exciting reformative change.

Looking Forward

My journey is not over. It has only just begun.

Each day I venture a little further along an unknown path, with my loving husband by my side as my best friend and career.

I’m keeping my eyes on God’s purpose for my life. He has led me this far and I know He will continue to guide me and give me the strength I need for the next chapters.

I am looking forward to taking time out on my good days to write about where this path is leading me and share a little of what I learned from my experiences along the way.

Another benefit of a change of life…time to write a book….a lifelong dream coming true.

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?

Not long before I realized I had little choice but to listen to my body and medically retire, I was asked to speak at a Women of Influence networking breakfast on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

A few months prior I had been awarded “Leader of the Year” by the Bank where I was working and my speaking invitation was on the back of this award.

My career was at an all-time high. I have often reflected, in some regards, it was terrible timing having to say goodbye to it all but I was leaving with so many wonderful memories. Maybe there was no better time to walk away.

I felt honored and blessed to lead so many people throughout my career and as I said goodbye, it was humbling to learn from my team that I had positively influenced their lives.

I have learned so many lessons in regard to Leadership and there will always be so much more to learn.

It’s Not About You — It’s About Your People

The biggest takeaway from my Leadership career is pretty simple. It’s not about you, it’s about your people!

As a Leader, if you spend most of your time focusing on your achievements, worrying about how others perceive you, how much money you can earn, how “on trend” your clothing is, you might fluke being successful but how long will it last?

So How Did I Connect with My People?

Formal regular meetings play a big part. They are important to discuss business issues and plan together ways to grow the business and care for your people. I did that with my direct team 3 times a week during scheduled but informal catch-ups in my office. I had a formal one on one monthly when we drilled down into the performance of their part of the business. That’s all pretty normal in the modern business world.

What is equally, if not more important, are casual catch-ups, daily catch-ups, coffee catch-ups, team lunches, and phone calls to check how the kids’ doctors appointment went and how the family pet got on at the vet appointment. How was the visit to the solicitor for the divorce papers and were they happy with the plumber’s quote to replace the leaking bathroom?

They were the moments that counted for my people. The times I took to know what was important to them and the times I showed that I cared for them by “knowing” what was important to them…. made a difference in their engagement in the workplace. This made them feel genuinely cared for as a person, not just an employee.

Serving My Team

My Leadership team also knew I was available 24/7 to take a call from them if they needed support or to debrief about work or a personal situation arose.

We were running a 24/7, 365-days-a-year Contact Centre business, so my Leadership team and I often ended up talking at very odd hours if issues arose. This alone helped in getting to know my people and their families!! My husband will vouch for that.

We often joked that he was as much a part of the Contact Centre as I was. He certainly was an integral part of the team and I would have been struggling without his support, particularly the cups of tea he would bring me at midnight when my phone often rang. He would be on autopilot…phone rings, I grab it and run to the home office and he would follow into the kitchen to put the kettle on…Go to love that!!

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

As I left my Executive Management career behind, I needed to still find a way to use my skills, in particular my Leadership skills. Coaching and developing people to be the best they can be was always my passion.

So not long after medically retiring I needed to find a new purpose, despite chronic illness.

As I mused about my future I decided to start blogging and “My Medical Musings” seemed like the perfect name and it became the start of my brand….”Medical Musings With Friends” evolved which is my online support forum for people living with chronic disease of any kind and then my Podcast followed, “Medical Musings With Sam”.

My focus is not just about telling my story, it’s about including tips to help others find ways to live the best life possible, despite their illness or disability. I create safe places for the chronic illness community to share their stories and to know they are not alone.

I recently received some beautiful recommendations from support forum members which sum up what makes my “Medical Musings” brand a special online community. Here are two stories that I think show this:

“A couple of years ago I stumbled across Medical Musings With Friends by chance. At the time I had little idea that I had just joined an online global community of amazing people. What Sam

has created so much more than a chronic illness support group. I like to think of it as a hub of friendship where we share our highs and lows, celebrate each other’s achievements, and be there for each other when times are tough. While chronic illness can be isolating and lonely, Medical Musings reminds me that whatever life may throw my way some people get it. You may join the group as a stranger but you’ll be welcomed as a valued member with open arms that gather you up in friendship and community and let you know you are seen, you matter and you are never alone”

Fern Adams

“Medical Musings With Friends feels like my second home — a feeling I’ve never experienced in other support groups.

The moment you enter MMWF, you are part of the closest online family, there to support you through thick and thin, through laughter and tears, through everything you want to share.

I am eternally grateful for Sam’s decision to follow her heart and create her amazing blog with an integrated group and podcast.

Sam, thank you for being my home from home — my tower of strength — my go-to place at any given time of the day.”

Shauni De Loose

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?

I dedicated my book to my Dad, who passed away a year ago. He was a huge influence in my life. He equipped me for all the challenges life could and would throw at me. He believed in me and always encouraged me to follow my dreams.

He was full of love and laughter. If I wanted to pursue a goal that might have been considered risky, his response was always “yes” with full support.

When I was 22 I was progressing in my financial services career but I wanted to resign to work for our church, as an administrator of a project, to restore a historic church building. Walking away from a career, where I was on a fast-track promotion journey, seemed ludicrous. I was still living at home and would need the support of my parents to make my goal a reality.

The support was there and the time spent on the project only enhanced and developed skills I would need in my future Leadership career and “chronic illness” writing career.

During the time working on the church restoration project, I studied Freelance journalism, wrote a short book on the history of the building, and spent hours negotiating with the local council, the Mayor, the Press, small businesses, banks, etc.

The whole time Dad was by my side, encouraging me and being a listening ear on both the good and bad days.

I returned to my Financial Services career 2 years later, with so much more life and business experience to offer. Without taking the risk of stepping away to do something new and scary, I don’t think I would be where I am today. I definitely have my Dad to thank for that!

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?

I think resilience is best defined by being able to keep going and even thrive, despite challenges thrown at you that could very well be your undoing.

I think the characteristics or traits of resilient people are multifaceted.

I work a lot with people who suffer from debilitating mental illnesses. Trying to be resilient when it’s difficult to even think straight is a massive challenge. Yet, I see them showing resilience every day by sharing their stories or posting an encouraging comment to another member. This takes courage and determination, two really important characteristics of resilience.

I’ve always had a “Pollyanna” approach to life, even as a child, but living with a debilitating disease and being resilient requires much more than a happy disposition. So characteristics required are:

  • Determination
  • Courage
  • Acceptance…I write a lot about the importance of achieving a state of acceptance to find a new purpose.
  • Patience
  • Adaptable…being open to change
  • Self-belief
  • Integrity…it’s just as important to know when to say no to something or stop pushing when it isn’t the right thing to do. Integrity is all about honesty and having strong moral principles. To be genuinely resilient I believe you need the characteristic of integrity.

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

I think courage is about being brave, conquering fears, and taking a risk to arrive at a perceived better place.

Resilience gives us the ability to deal with the fallout of our courageous adventures. It allows us to get up when we fall, shake ourselves off and try again.

The two need to go hand in hand in my opinion.

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

I see resilient people every day on my forum. For members who are so chronically ill, celebrating achievements like having a shower is common within my community.

Many are unable to get out of their homes without military precision planning and preparation. This takes amazing resilience to even bother. I know and understand their struggles because it is my story too.

I can’t choose one person but I can choose anyone who is disabled and living a life of purpose despite their diseases.

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?

Yes, just recently I was bed-bound in hospital for 6 weeks unable to move due to my bone disease causing multiple fractures and nerve compression. The team of Specialists felt I wasn’t even in a position to go to a Rehab facility and were considering placing me in a nursing home.

The thought of being placed in a nursing home filled me with terror. I wasn’t ready for this path. I’m still not ready. I need to keep fighting while I have fight left in me.

I remember lying flat on the hospital bed, staring at the ceiling, praying for an answer. I needed hope. I needed encouragement. No one could give it to me. I had to find it. My body needed to give me a sign it wasn’t giving up on me entirely. It certainly felt like I was moving towards the end of the road. Did I have a choice? Could I turn this situation around somehow?

I could give up, give in or I could find a way to break free from the bars surrounding my hospital bed.

I decided to play some music. A cross-section of my favorite popular songs and inspirational gospel music. The familiar melodies began to calm my mind, my soul.

I began to visualize myself walking, moving, sitting upright, and going home. I began to think back to how I could move before this devastating acute disease episode.

With widespread pathological fractures throughout my body, I couldn’t move well before this incident but I could at least get off the bed and grab my walker or crutches. I could at least move one leg in front of the other and sit upright.

I began to visualize doing this again. Moving in a way my body was accustomed to, not in a perfect way but in a way where I had some independence.

I decided I couldn’t give up. I wasn’t ready to give up. I had to find a way to prove my medical team wrong. I had to find a way to convince my physiotherapist to allow me to try to move my body my way, even if it broke all the rules.

The next morning my Physiotherapist came into my room with none of the fancy equipment he had been trying to use, all designed to assist me to stand and walk.

I was relieved to see him free of “party tricks” and before he had a chance to speak I launched into my prepared speech.

“I want to try quickly getting off the bed, not stopping to sit but lifting myself upright onto my walker. I just feel I can do it with no assistance. I need to try. Please let me try“

I couldn’t believe my ears. He immediately responded with the words I has hoped to hear. “Yes go for it! “

No arguments no other ideas, just yes. He said he’d been thinking overnight too and felt we should try something like this.

Yes! My prayers were being answered. Now all I needed to do was execute my plan. I’d say I had nothing to lose but I had everything to lose!

I closed my eyes and took some deep breaths. I needed a moment to calm myself and give this everything. I counted to three and launched into action.

Oh my goodness! It worked! I was upright holding onto my walker. I was standing. My Physio was clapping and jumping for joy. I had tears streaming down my face from pure relief.

I had reignited hope. I knew I had a long road ahead but some improvement was possible. I didn’t feel everything was useless.

As a result, I was able to convince my medical team, that rehab at home was a real possibility.

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?

My experience in the question above has been my greatest setback. Another major setback that has affected me more than I expected is hair loss.

A while ago I took the plunge and made a hairdresser appointment to get a shorter cut. Sounds pretty normal doesn’t it but for me it was huge!

Over the past 5 years, since my bone disease diagnosis and following each major surgery, my hair has been breaking off in chunks. Not sure if it’s gone out in sympathy with my broken bones but whatever the case, I have quite significant gaps in my hair where it should be longer.

Instead, it is short and stubby and honestly…bald on top.

A Surprising Handful

We all lose hair. It’s not uncommon to see your hairbrush full of wispy strands after a while. It’s cyclical for everyone. It’s the amount of loss that’s the issue.

Spasmodically I started noticing some long strands between my fingers when washing my hair in the shower. I just thought it must be strays or too much hairspray. Probably the latter as I do love to style my hair and, let’s face it, the odd layer of cement to hold it in place is very necessary!

I was not expecting what happened a few months ago though. After applying shampoo and gently lathering, I rinsed and applied the conditioner. I began to run my fingers through my hair to allow the conditioner to infiltrate the ends.

All felt smooth and healthy. I felt the few normal wispy strands in my fingers, or so I thought. To my complete surprise and shock, I looked down to find a handful of wet brown hair in my hand.

I felt sick. This wasn’t normal. I ran my fingers through again thinking I must have had a large knot that I’d unknowingly pulled out.

Sure enough, more hair came out. Not quite as much but definitely more than should. There was no denying I was now experiencing real hair loss.

I’ve been able to quite cleverly disguise it with styling but recently my husband said he can definitely see the bald patches on top.

He wasn’t being cruel. He is my best friend and always tells me I look beautiful even when I don’t, so if he says it’s not looking right anymore, it’s definitely not.

I’ve never been a fan of short hair on me but I’m getting used to a shortish bob. I think it’s definitely time to go shorter still.

It Does Matter, Even If It Doesn’t!

Hair loss is a real issue for many of us suffering from autoimmune diseases and even more extreme for many cancer patients.

Some may think it’s the least of our problems. My Immunologist certainly did when I mentioned it. He is a lovely man but wasn’t incredibly compassionate when I first raised the topic.

My Grandmother lost most of her hair and needed to wear a wig. Two of my Aunties are experiencing significant hair loss too. There’s definitely a hereditary link going on.

I think hair loss does matter, even if it doesn’t. It is really important to feel we are looking the best we possibly can, especially when health is compromised.

My beautiful hairdresser explained to my last visit, that we lose significant amounts of hair post major surgery. She also said the hair loss doesn’t generally start until 3 months after the surgery, or a stressful situation like moving house, death of a loved one, etc.

It all began to make sense. I’ve had 15 surgeries in 12 years, 10 of those in the last 5 years. I’ve also had 2 house moves in 5 years. It’s a little wonder every 3 months I start to go bald!!

Oh well, it is just hair after all. If worse comes to worst I can eventually consider a wig. It might even be easier..right? Wrong!! It’s not that easy.

Loss of any kind brings a sense of grief. Hair loss is a form of loss so you are going to feel sad, no matter your normal sunny disposition.

It’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to feel like it’s the last straw. We endure so much with our chronic diseases.

Once you’ve acknowledged your grief, it’s time to take action. Think about ways to live with your hair loss. This is where resilience comes in.

I looked at my hair, or lack of it, in the mirror and decided to take action. I researched everything from headscarves, wigs, toppers, hair fibres, etc and I mapped out a plan of approach to make myself feel pretty again. I eventually, through trial and error, achieved a sense of well-being again, at least concerning my hair loss.

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?

As a child growing up in Western Australia, after migrating from the UK at the age of 3, I was so shy I couldn’t go to school unless my best friend went with me. Even as a teenager if I had been asked to speak in public I would have been physically ill.

I sometimes wonder looking back if perhaps the 6 weeks voyage on a ship from England to Australia and being uprooted in that way, may have contributed to the shyness I struggled with for many years. However, I remember in both primary and high school I was always singled out to take some kind of leading role in the classroom or small groups.

My teachers saw something in me I had no idea existed. They could see that from an early age if I was given a task I somehow managed to bring my classmates happily together and lead them in a way that ensured the task was done.

My teachers also discovered early on I could sing and as a result, I was in choirs for most of my childhood. As a young child, I was very comfortable being in a choir as my family was very musical. My Dad was a church organist and gave organ and piano lessons. Being surrounded by the music I didn’t consider it anything special to sing, I thought it was just what everyone did!

It wasn’t until my late teens and early 20s, when I began to be asked to sing solos at church at Christmas, that the nerves and anxiety set in. Oh my goodness! That would mean standing up on my own in front of people and not being part of the comfortable choir team. What if I coughed or worse needed to sneeze in the middle of a song? How on earth was I going to survive with everyone looking at me? The very thought of it sent me into a spin and I just wanted to hide.

Despite my lack of confidence, there was a sense of responsibility that lay deep within me from a very early age. I didn’t want to let people down and I also wanted to desperately overcome my fears. I didn’t like feeling scared and I was annoyed at myself I felt that way.

Well, when it came to those first solo singing performances I got through it but talk about performance anxiety. My legs would shake and my knees would knock so intensely, I had to make sure I could stand behind a piano or hang onto something while performing so I didn’t fall over and land flat on my face! I also gave myself constant pep talks…”You can do this, it will be over soon, what is the worst thing that can happen, and if it happens so what, you’ll find a way to recover.”

Without realizing it I was beginning to learn how to risk mitigate and problem solve on the run. I was building resilience, the very thing I was going to need in spades as a future Leader, and now fighting daily with a chronic disease.

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.

I’m a big believer in setting goals. I think it helps to know where you’re going and it helps to have a reason to exercise your resilience muscle.

However, goals are no good without plans. You need a roadmap to get you there.

When we set goals they need to be achievable but they also need to be something we are passionate about. Something that drives us to want to achieve them.

Those who know me well and follow my blog, know I’m passionate about writing. It’s been my main focus since medically retiring 8 years ago. It’s how I connect with others. It’s one of the major activities I use to keep the one part of me still actively working…..my brain.

Finding something you are passionate about and setting a realistic goal to achieve it, can be such a great way to take your focus away from your pain and disability.

Or maybe it’s a daily task you can do, but fear of increasing your pain is holding you back. The same principles apply.

Using the word “Simple”, I’ve created an easy-to-remember planning outline. It’s 6 steps rather than 5 but it works for me:

S.I.M.P.L.E

S — Set a timeframe

I — Improvise where necessary

M- Modify your plan if you meet a roadblock

P — Picture the final outcome as you work L — Listen to your body if you need a rest E — Enjoy the process.

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. 🙂

An Attitude of Kindness Campaign

I feel today’s society is so quick to criticize, pull people down, forget people in need, say no rather than yes.

I know “Random Acts of Kindness” has been a focus off and on in campaigns across the globe, but I think the word “random” isn’t helpful.

An “Attitude of Kindness” campaign would focus on deliberately, every day, every person who signs up, committing to showing kindness to others. It would require resilience in a big way as we can all start with good intentions and as time goes on excuses begin to mount up as to why we can’t continue.

It would require support groups to encourage members not to give up.

Even if it made a difference to 100 000 people across the globe, those people are precious, and what a difference it would make.

Just imagine if one of those recipients was a future world leader and the “Attitude of Kindness” campaign became the foundation of their Leadership platform.

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 🙂

As a Leader, I have always dreamed of meeting Barack Obama. His Leadership style has always inspired me. He knows what he believes in, he is determined but he is approachable. He listens and I feel this is a key attribute of a good leader.

He is definitely resilient. His path to the presidency was not an easy one but his commitment to making life better for so many was evident to me in all he has done in his life.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I have a blog, podcast, online support forum, and FB page and you can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin.

Here are my links:

Blog: My Medical Musings

www.mymedmusings.com

Podcast: Medical Musings with Sam

https://anchor.fm/my-medical-musings

FB Page: My Medical Musings https://www.facebook.com/mymedmusings FB Group: Medical Musings with Friends

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1074726565969551

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mymedicalmusings/

Twitter: Medical Musings with Friends

https://twitter.com/Med_Musings?t=nhdu_BKwnA5rCrknPYn8NQ&s=09

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

Author(s)

  • Savio Clemente

    Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 Best-selling Author, Syndicated Columnist, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor

    The Human Resolve LLC

    Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and cultivate resilience in their mindset.

    Savio is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 best-selling author, syndicated columnist, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC. He has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been featured on Fox News, The Wrap, and has worked with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, BuzzFeed, Food Network, WW and Bloomberg. Savio has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad.

    His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. Savio pens a weekly newsletter in which he delves into secrets to living smarter by feeding your “three brains” — head ?, heart ?, and gut ? — in the hope of connecting the dots to those sticky parts of our nature that matter to living our best life.