Tuesday, November 9, 2010


By Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO
AANP Past-President (2008-2009)

Photo by OakleyOriginals via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
I have a dear friend who is 71 years old and as spunky as they come. She is intensely inquisitive of everyone who has the good fortune of meeting her. With focused determination, in a matter of minutes, she can extract the most intimate details even from the most reticent person. At the same time, she has a constant twinkle in her eye and a belly laugh ready to erupt at any moment. She is entirely unreliable at making plans as something better is quite likely to come along and catch her attention.

Around a table filled with her friends, she loves to debate the deeper meaning of every movie that is showing within a 20 mile radius. At one of these dinner gatherings a few days ago, I asked her a question, “What do you most attribute your good health to?” Her response: “My good health is the most certainly the result of surviving all of my bad habits.” Perhaps she was referring to her daily evening bourbon cocktail. Perhaps she was referring to her disdain for structured exercise. She does have a few bad habits to be sure, but as the evening progressed, I wasn’t thinking of those.

I watched her listen to her friends with complete compassion, while gently and persistently pointing out the silver lining in every cloud that someone resolutely created and simply delighting in the joy of being with people she loves. I thought about her past, too, and the deep adversity and loss she has experienced. It dawned on me that the real secret to her health and vitality was resilience – her unceasing ability to rebound from all manner of disappointments and to emerge into a confident embrace of life within and around her.

Her resilience seeps into those around her as she constantly buoys them up, praises them, and revels in their unique brilliance. You just cannot help but to feel better about yourself when you are with her. She lives life with the expectation that we will swing at anything that life throws at us, that we will make contact with the ball, and that the point is to revel in wherever the ball flies. I smile as think of her now, likely snuggled into her bed, watching one of her favorite shows on TV, eager to fall asleep so that she can start her day tomorrow.

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