If there's one quality I hope to instill in my children above all, it would probably have to be resilience. That ability to pick yourself up no matter what life throws at you and not only survive, but use those experiences to thrive is more valuable than most I can think of, though it's also challenging to define and teach. Haven Shepherd, a 9-year-old from Missouri, provides a perfect example of it, however.
According to KOAM-TV, she was born in Vietnam to a couple who was having an affair while both were married to other people. Out of shame, they tried to blow themselves and Haven up -- they were killed; she survived, but lost both of her legs.
She was adopted by an American family when she was 19 months old, and while she still has a burn mark, she hasn't let the tragedy of her early life affect her, except perhaps to fuel her spirit to carry on and thrive. And now, a new set of high-tech running legs is allowing her to soar to even great heights.
A few years back she tried to run a race in her traditional prosthetic legs, but a tough tumble made her realize she needed something more. Her mom told the station it was the first time Haven ever felt "disabled." Instead of wallowing in her limitations, however, she looked for a way around them and told her mom that it was time for "a pair of those ugly running legs."
Now, thanks to an organization called Challenged Athletes, she has her own pair of those ugly legs. They run about $30,000 but their value to Haven is priceless. Just last week she ran her first track meet with them, and she ran it well, coming in fourth. She says she wants to try triathlons next, and I have no doubt that she'll do it.
She shared with the station a saying her mom taught her that inspires her. "It really doesn't matter if you have fake legs or real, everybody will fall down but getting up is the big deal." And that's it exactly. It doesn't matter if you're always ahead in life, but that resilience will get you to the finish line.
So the next time you're feeling too tried to work out or moping around about some minor ailment, think of Haven, and I'm quite certain your excuses will seem trite. I know mine do.
Go Haven, go.
How do you teach your children resilience?
Image via KOAM-TV