noun re·sil·ience \ ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s
1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change 
As I consider what resilience means to me, I’m struck by the dictionary definition, namely the phrase, “recover its size and shape after deformation” and the word, “easily.” Resilience after my husband’s suicide has been neither easy nor one in which life has snapped back to its original form. In a matter of seconds, my world and I were forever changed. Although truth be told, it was gradual, and it was sudden. Unexpected and predictable.
As a result, resilience is so much more than a word to me. It is a journey, profound and purposeful. The more I traverse this path, the more akin it seems to the path of bankruptcy Ernest Hemingway’s drunken, brawling war veteran, Mike Campbell describes in the author’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises. To the question of how he went bankrupt, Mike answers, “Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.”
My own journey of resilience has followed a similar course. Three steps forward, two steps back. Slow, tiny movements in the direction of progress. Measured inch by inch, one step at a time, one breath at a time. Then intermittent, sudden pushing and driving forward, then jolting back again.
Feelings, at once, connected and disconnected, triumphant and defeated. Hopeful and hopeless, in equal measure. Courageous, fragile, fearless and weak. Like a wending, winding, upside down, whipping rollercoaster ride, I’m learning to hold on tightly with both hands. I’m hanging on during the roughest patches and treasuring the celebrations of life more joyfully than I ever dreamed possible.
Although I’ve never really believed in “living happily ever after,” I have come to believe with unwavering faith and trust in “living happily even after.” My life has not stopped; rather, it is gaining momentum two ways. Gradually, and then suddenly.
In the spirit of elevating resilience from a word to a life most gratefully lived, we invite you to share your own story of resilience with us. Send us a message. With your permission, we may post it here.
Following are stories of how resilience finds its way into my fashion design and stories about resilient women we admire who are making a difference by speaking their truth and following their passions.
SILVER LININGS Michigan Avenue Magazine’s signature summer event is Ashore Thing. The annual event is held at Chicago’s Navy Pier to send off the sailors in style as they leave Chicago on their way to Mackinac Island. The Race to Mackinac is...read more
KIM JONES Kim has been both a fashion AND personal inspiration to me. Born just weeks after the Tet Offensive in 1968, Kim barely escaped death in Vietnam. In the aftermath of the war, Saigon was transformed into a hell on earth. Fleeing the...read more
ASYMMETRY I’m interested in things that are just a bit askew… a bit off… out of the ordinary. It’s the things that are not exactly the same that make life interesting to me. We are all unique — with special characteristics and attributes...read more
CARLA FINE Carla has been on my mind — especially these past 10 days with the heartbreaking suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I first met Carla after reading her book, No Time to Say Goodbye. I sent an email to Carla expressing my...read more
POCKETS Why do I favor pockets? They are fun, practical, mysterious, handy and interesting. I can go out and carry an ATM card, phone, lipstick and go. Don’t have to worry about a purse to keep track of while I’m socializing, doing deals and...read more
THE FASHION FOUNDATION I’m constantly amazed by the resilient women that appear in my life! One of them is Amanda Munz, who founded a nonprofit organization that provides school supplies for underprivileged students in the New York City area....read more
While my studio is in New York City, Chicago is where I was born and have lived my entire adult life. Chicago has been called the "Windy City," "Second City," "My Kind of Town, the "City of Big Shoulders," and "The City that Works" among others. But I like "The...read more
“TELL ME YOUR STORY” Although you may have seen or purchased Thistle Farms bath and body care products, you may not know the story behind the company. Becca Stevens created the company to support her residential program for homeless,...read more