Bend Or Break? Building Resilience Through Flexibility


Trees - one fallen and resting on the other. Text overlay Bend Or Break? Building Resilience Through Flexibility

We had some pretty nasty wind last week that left thousands without electricity. Our household was one of them – for three days. The source of most of the outages? Trees falling onto the power lines. We are privileged to have outstanding linemen who work tirelessly to restore power once it’s lost, and for that, I’m extremely thankful!

We have a lot of extremely tall trees all around us, and as I sat watching them Saturday, I was amazed at just how much they wave and bend when those 50-mile-per-hour winds hit them. As they were dancing, I started thinking about their flexibility and how, because they were flexible, they weren’t breaking. Because they were able to “go with the flow” of the wind, they were able to weather the storm unscathed. They were resilient.


 “1. they power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; 2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy.”

Those of us who live with fibromyalgia or another chronic illness know that we are not likely to recover, but we can become more resilient, more able to return to our normal after a flare or after we temporarily depart from our self-care plan by building more flexibility into our lives.

Here a just a few suggestions for becoming more flexible:

  • Determine your priorities. I know you may be thinking that this is a no-brainer, but unless we intentionally determine what our priorities will be for each day we can easily get caught up in what Stephen Covey calls the “tyranny of the urgent” in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Having our priorities clearly in mind helps us to say “no” to those things that may pop up that, although they clamor for our attention, are not that important in the grand scheme of things. In their outstanding book Organize Tomorrow Today, Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow say, “In our experience, those who enjoy the most success are the ones who do the best job prioritizing the day’s activities and accomplishing the most important tasks–not the greatest number of tasks.”
  • Don’t schedule yourself too tightly. In order to have flexibility, we have to build it into our schedules. Most of us know about the financial principle of paying ourselves first. We have to do the same thing with our schedules–we need to build in some “me” time throughout the day. That way, if things take longer to accomplish, or appointments run long, we don’t get stressed and pressed for time.
  • Realize you don’t have to adhere perfectly to your self-care plan. Sometimes the things we’re trying to do for our self-care can turn into one of our biggest stressors. If we start to think we have to eat perfectly every meal, or we can’t miss a stretching or exercise session, or whatever other things we do for our wellbeing, we start to put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves, and can become so rigid that we see any deviation from the plan as “messing up.” This can knock us off-course, and in some cases, cause us to give up on our wellness initiatives completely.
  • Embrace new ways of looking at things. Learn to look at circumstances, especially those challenging ones, through a different lens. Have you ever used a macro lens on your camera? It’s a lens that takes extreme closeups and blurs out everything else around whatever you’re taking a photograph of. Sometimes we can start to see our circumstances through a lens like that and not be able to see any other way of dealing with whatever is going on. If we can just step back and take a more long-range view, if we can look at it in a different way, we can see things that we couldn’t when we were so close to the problem.

Becoming more flexible can help us become more resilient, more likely to bend than to break, and more capable of living our best life.

Has being flexible helped you become more resilient? How do you build flexibility into your schedule? Please share!



** A side note….In the photo above, the bent tree is the Grandpa Tree that I talked about previously, bent and gnarled, but still standing strong. The one resting on it came up by the roots and fell right over into Grandpa’s arms.



  1. Great post Terri! Building flexibility is definitely important, but can be so difficult to do. Throughout the day I try to stretch because it helps me not get too tight. When I was younger I was a lot more flexible than I am today, but will still try to build it back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Alyssa! I agree that it can be difficult to build flexibility into our schedules because we’re such a society of “doers” but it’s made all the difference for me. It allows me to make time for the things that are important to me but still have some open space in my day. I love that you stretch throughout the day. That’s a lot easier than trying to do all your stretching at one time, isn’t it? Have a fabulous weekend! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this Terri. I used to teach something called Therapeutic Touch, and we used the image of the tree as a way to centre ourselves (setting aside the noise of the moment in order to be fully present). The tree is such a strong presence, yet a reminder that in calmness we can bend without being broken.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Kim, and thank you for sharing! It’s hurting my heart to see that fallen tree lying on the Grandpa tree, but they’re on such a steep slope we might have to leave them as they are. I don’t know if the tree guys could get in there to get the fallen one cut up safely. Hope you have a great, warm weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I looked at that picture wrong… I didn’t realize the grandpa tree may go… Sorry, Terri, I am one week into Costochondritis and my mental faculties are being tested! I know within one more week, I’ll have made it through. I do love this post tho- I KNOW that for sure, resilience is key.


  3. Resiliency is one of those things we have to cultivate. If we are not intentional about it, we will break easily. When I lived in Montana, all the wind came from the west. During one storm it moved around to the east. The trees that were used to the wind coming from the west snapped in two. Even when the world comes sideways at us, we must remember that we have the skills to be resilient.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so true, we need to be more flexible in our daily planning, I think sometimes I get caught up in feeling guilty that I cannot work so I try to do too much. Thank you for this and I am glad you have your electricity back

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Beverley. Isn’t it amazing (and awful) that we put so much guilt on ourselves for something we have no control over? I really had to learn to build in that flexibility — like you, I would try to do too much, then end up being able to do nothing the next day. Blessings to you!


  5. Hi the image of the tree to illustrate the point about flexibility is wonderful. Great writing technique . I agee the guilt factor makes us push ourselves too far. It is very hard for us, especially moms to stop the idea of doing more than we should. We need to be flexible – do what you can with the spoons you have available on a given day. Have to share this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Learning to figure out how to make sure we have enough spoons to get us through the day is difficult, but as you know, something we have to do if we want to live well. For me, building that flexibility into my schedule has been a game changer. Thank you for reading, and for sharing!


  6. Flexibility is one of the most important things that helps me reach my goals and live my life well with chronic illness. I have found my life goes best when I adhere to two seemingly opposing forces: planning and flexibility. Planning allows me to set goals big and small; flexibility allows me to bounce back if they don’t happen or shuffle the timetable. Both are essential.

    Really great post, and I loved the tree analogy. you always have the best nature analogies!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Kat! I love what you said about adhering to two seemingly opposing forces. I’m exactly the same way. I’m a planner, and if I don’t have some kind of “roadmap” I feel a little anxious. Building the flexibility into my plan helps me feel comfortable and give myself grace if I can’t accomplish everything exactly when I wanted to do it. Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend!


  7. Great advice. Thanks for sharing. Someone suggested long ago to only include 5 items on my daily to-do list. I still struggle with that so I use an Excel spreadsheet for my “to do” list which makes it easy to move forward those tasks that did not get done today.


    1. Thank you so much! Limiting the number of things on my to-do list has been really helpful for me. I read a book called Organize Tomorrow Today recently, and the authors recommended limiting it to three items, with one ‘must-do.’ I really like the idea of using the spreadsheet…I may have to steal that one!😄


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