Radiant Joy Blog

How Resilience and Boldness Can Shape Your Life

I was recently asked to share a story that would illustrate my resilience. It brought up a fun memory and an excellent life lesson

My third-grade teacher introduced me to Spanish, and in high school, I studied French. So, imagine my shock when American Field Service (AFS) sent me, at sixteen, on a summer exchange to live with a Portuguese-speaking host family in Brazil. With only a crash course in Portuguese before my departure, Rio de Janeiro greeted me with a whirlwind of incomprehensible local slang and rapid-fire conversation. 

Initially, I felt eager and lost, although my Brazilian host mother’s fluency in French provided a thin lifeline. Yet, miscommunication followed me, with my perplexed eight-year-old “brother” repeatedly questioning my hearing (and intelligence) as my puzzled expressions met his enthusiastic chatter.

A turning point came four weeks into my adventure when Ana Lúcia, the “sister” closest to my age, returned home, fresh from her AFS year in the States, and narrated to the whole family her experience attending a “prom.” The familiar English term sparked recognition, signaling a tale of formal attire, pre-dance dinners, lively afterparties, and North Carolina beachside breakfast gatherings. The familiar subject and her Portuguese, slowed down by her time in the U.S., finally triggered my understanding.

Uplifted by this breakthrough, I boldly decided to speak, brushing off my many mistakes with newfound resolve. Six weeks later, as I bid the family farewell, I was confident and fluent enough to converse with anyone in well-pronounced though grammatically flawed Portuguese. My linguistic journey and my growth knit me into the unconditionally loving warmth of my host family, fostering bonds that still endure, spanning more than half a century of shared celebrations, next-generational connections, and cherished visits. 

An example is this photo taken the day before Ana Lúcia’s son’s wedding in Spain 46 years after my exchange student days.

Learning resilience, “going for it,” and expressing boldness without self-consciousness about mistakes helped me to execute market research in six countries and pivot into a successful career as a Realtor in my 20s, followed by tackling moot court in law school and California court proceedings in my 30s and 40s, then venturing into the world of quilt competitions in my 50s, and in my 60s, finding my voice through blogging and book publication. Now in my 70s, I’ve launched Radiant Joy, started podcasting, and am working on several non-fiction books, all supported by that early life resilience of boldly embracing growth over perfection.


2 thoughts on “How Resilience and Boldness Can Shape Your Life”

  1. Mary Anne Anderson

    What an adventure. These life long relationships that keep intertwining in our lives are unbeatable. Such a joy. I have them too. So glad to read this one of your’s.
    Mary Anne

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