Post-Traumatic Growth

Post-traumatic stress is a familiar idea. We have come to accept, if not expect, that trauma results in psychological and physical damage. But what about post-traumatic growth, “the positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event”? Researchers have found that humans not only “bounce back” after traumatic events but actually push forward — taking professional risks, strengthening their relationships, and feeling a deeper sense of gratitude.

So often we think of loss as only destructive, but it is also generative — because every ending is also a beginning. When one thing vanishes, a space is created in its place. Of course, when we grieve, we are mourning a loss, but why not also ask what might grow in that barren place? Why not ask: What could I plant there?

— Maggie Smith, Keep Moving, p. 94

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 1, 2021

Spread the Care

Fight the urge to withdraw, to fold in on yourself, as if your pain is contagious and might infect someone else. We are here to take care of one another; the care is what’s catching, spreading person to person to person. So take — and give — care.

KEEP MOVING.

— Maggie Smith, Keep Moving, p. 71

Photo: Bluebell Trail, Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2021

Fire and Growth

I wish I could go back and tell the fearful young person I was what I know now about fire and growth. What would I say to her? Even if you do not feel brave, practice bravery. There will be times in your life when you feel as if life is burning down around you, but know that renewal is in its wake. Trust in what will open, what will grow, after something else has burned away, even when the landscape is charred black. And trust that one of the things guaranteed to grow — time after time, fire after fire — is you. Possibilities, like seeds, are being released into the air.

— Maggie Smith, Keep Moving, p. 94-95

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 6, 2015

Work in Progress

Accept that you are a work in progress, both a revision and a draft: you are better and more complete than earlier versions of yourself, but you also have work to do. Be open to change. Allow yourself to be revised.

KEEP MOVING.

— Maggie Smith, Keep Moving, p. 22

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 6, 2020

Triumphing

Consider all you’ve outlived — including the life you thought you would have. You are durable, adaptable, resilient; just being here is a triumph. Hour by hour, prove the voice inside wrong — the one that says you can’t do it. Do it.

KEEP MOVING.

— Maggie Smith, Keep Moving, p. 16

Photo: Centreville, Virginia, February 7, 2010

New and Improved

Revise the story you tell yourself about starting over. Consider not only how terrifying change can be but also how exhilarating. Consider this time an opportunity to make a new and improved life.

KEEP MOVING.

— Maggie Smith, Keep Moving, p. 12

Photo: American Library Association Annual Conference, Washington DC, June 22, 2019