Resilience Personified

Bouncing back from a challenging year 

By Hilary Berg

I feel fortunate to be here, writing this letter in the final days of 2020, a year filled with so many challenges. From the tragedy of COVID-19 to the relentless wildfires to an overdue civil rights reckoning and more, the year has truly tested us, and yet, we keep going.

One of my favorite words in the English language is resilience. Not only does it have a lyrical vibration to it, but it also proves a powerful tool.

According to, resilience can be defined as "the ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc."

If you’ve made it to 2021, consider yourself resilient, an attribute that, once achieved, can be referenced in the future to remind yourself of your indelible strength.

For those who ended 2020 seriously wounded, let those battle scars serve as testimony of your fortitude. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? But darn if 2020 didn’t hurt, a whole lot.

For you who lost someone to COVID-19, my sincerest condolences. My twin sister, a neuro ICU registered nurse assigned to the at-capacity COVID ICU in her Kansas hospital, has been caring for these critically ill patients for months now. Never mentioning names, exhausted and tearful, she sometimes shares tragic stories from her 12-hour shifts, covered in protective gear from head to toe and pulled tight — the bridge of her nose rubbed raw. The physical pain she feels doesn’t come close to the psychological and emotional strain of watching the pandemic from the literal frontlines. She’s never witnessed so much death.

And yet, on her days off, she rests and bounces back as well as she can. Her restoration becomes harder to achieve as the pandemic continues, but my sister is resilience personified; I remind her of that regularly.

You are resilient, too. I know, because I’ve heard and read the stories, in person, posted on social media and in the news.

In 2021, we must continue our tenacity while being there for each other. Although we feel separated — six feet away, no hugs, definitely no kisses — humanity has never been closer. I see it in the masks, the social distancing, the charity to strangers, the many sacrifices.

This year, may positivity rain down on you like an Oregon winter; but, when times get tough, remember: You are resilient. Full stop.

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