Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

If Esther Tuttle Said It…It Must Be True

One of the things I love about technology is the ability to read newspapers from other parts of the country.  I enjoy the writing at the New York Times, www.nytimes.com, and find lots of interesting tidbits that peak my curiosity.  When I was looking at the health section I came across this story about a woman, Esther Tuttle, who will be celebrating her 100th birthday next summer.  If you look at longevity rates over the past 100 years you’ll see how we’re living long, and unfortunately for many that means seeing an increase in the number of chronic or other life-altering illnesses.

The article was written by Jane E. Brody, and it looked at the factors that Ms. Tuttle believed to boost her years of healthy living.  It really came down to the 3R’s…Resolution, Resourcefulness, and Resilience.  Let me tell you why I find these three qualities great if you’re not sick, but even more important if you’re facing a health challenge.

Resolution is a state of mind.  It’s a decision and as I’ve said in the past, “Your decisions dictate your actions”.  In this case, Ms. Tuttle resolved to live a long, healthy, and active life.  In order to do that she eats a modest diet, still gets plenty of exercise, and is connected socially to friends and a large family including a great-great grandchild.  It’s a decision, a conscious decision, to take actions that will fortify your life.  If you’re facing a chronic or other illness, making a resolution that you’ll get better (remember we don’t all get well) is paramount and will guide your actions to make that happen. 

Resourcefulness is vitally important.  Knowing what’s available to you means you have options.  The hope is that prior to getting ill you were banking your extra good thoughts, engaging in self-questioning to see what you’re really made of, and got enough rest and good nutrition in case you even needed to withdraw from your personal accounts.  Resourcefulness can also mean knowing who in your community can link you with people, programs, or events that will promote wellness.  Perhaps you have a Rabbi, Priest, Imam, or other spiritual director who can provide you with resources to nourish your spiritual life.  Your doctor’s office or local hospital may have resources about community nonprofits that serve those with your particular diagnosis (i.e. I was the program director at The Wellness Community, providing support and programs for cancer patients and their families).  Many illnesses have a nonprofit that can offer assistance and knows the resources that meet your necessary criteria.

Last but not least is resilience.  I’ve done work with trauma victims for years.  At one point we were all hellbent on talking about healing.  Then there was a shift.  The talk went from healing the trauma to becoming resilient.  Being resilient means developing the capacity to bounce back when faced with a challenge.  Think of Weebles…”Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”, that’s resilience.  Going through treatment may feel like taking one step back in order to take two steps forward…that’s resilience.  Resilience includes an essence of flexibility, perseverance, and faith.

Esther Tuttle didn’t fight a health challenge, but the 3-R’s she lives by are applicable to your life and your health challenge.  They are good qualities to develop as you move forward on your journey to wellness.

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