Persistence and Resilience

In education, we often talk about these two terms as skills that we need to help develop in our students. Teachers work tirelessly to make sure they are offering opportunities for students to make progress in them. Sometimes we use these terms interchangeably, but are they?

Well, according to Merriam-Webster, persistence is “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” The definition for resilience per Merriam-Webster is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to adversity or change.” I think the difference between the two is the continued effort required to be persistent and the ability to adjust easily in being resilient. On the Camino, both of these are required.

Every day we walk, we have to call on our persistence muscle. It’s a physical and mental continued effort to walk anywhere from 11 to 21 miles per day. You know what it feels like to walk a long distance, sometimes climbing steep hills or descending down a rocky path. And yet, you persist throughout the day because it is your challenge, your goal to meet. It will eventually come to an end and you know that. Therefore, you go on even though you may have little energy, your knees/feet may be hurting, or you are sweating every drop of liquid you are taking in. Persistence is your driving force.

Our first day over the Pyrenees. Thick fog and an uphill climb.
Another long stretch with a steep downhill and uphill on our way to Burgos.
Rocky trails are not our favorites. You really need to watch where you’re stepping and use your poles strategically.
Our elevation gain on our walk from Villafranca del Bierzo (on the left) to O’Cebreiro (on the right.)

Today was a particularly challenging day. There have been others but somehow today was extra special. Most likely it has something to do with that fact that my body is having to do something difficult so many days into the Camino. It was an 18.5 mile trek, with the last 5.2 miles requiring me to climb over 3,000 feet. I had already called in my persistence muscle with the 13.3 miles I had already completed prior to this challenging climb. This is where I needed to call in my resilience muscle. I needed to recover quickly to this adverse change in terrain.

To meet this challenge, the first thing that came out were my best friends, my walking poles. They support my form and help me breathe better which I definitely needed to do on this stretch. Next, I used the zig zag method of climbing in certain parts as they were long uphill sections with no leveling off. Finally, I took a break after about 50 minutes of straight climbing. It was a short respite that was very welcomed by my tired legs. All of these adjustments helped me stay resilient and not give up.

The Camino continues to show me how much this journey relates to life in general. We all have had moments in our life when we’ve had to be persistent and resilient. We have no other choice. Dealing with the trauma of a pandemic these past two years has required us to use these skills. What I know now is that I am much stronger than I think, and the only one placing limits on me is myself.

There is a quote that I came across in a running event that speaks to this very frame of mind. “ Don’t let the things you can’t do, stop you from doing the things you can do.” With persistence and resilience we are all capable of more.

12 responses to “Persistence and Resilience”

  1. That sure sums it up. My resilience muscle felt taxed to close to its limit…. I considered camping in the woods rather than completing the climb to Alto de Poio, but I’m glad I persevered.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carmen FIGUEROA Avatar
    Carmen FIGUEROA

    Los felicito por ser persistentes, son admirables. 🥰🥰🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am in AWE! You all are AMAZING! And you are capturing your journey beautifully. Thank you for including us. 💕💕💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Amiga! 💕💕


  4. Cande Pérez Barreto Avatar
    Cande Pérez Barreto

    People that did El Camino, like me feel every word you wrote! Muchas gracias por compartir tu experiencia!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Estamos en un grupo muy especial. Me siento afortunada de estar en el. 🥰🥰🥰


  5. Maria McCullough Avatar
    Maria McCullough

    Another great post Kathy! Yes persistence and resilience are definitely necessary life skills. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a testament to living, to the hard, daily details that make amazing things happen. May your resilience and strength continue. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my dear friend! You are my inspiration. ❤️


  7. Evolving you are and evolving you will. Can’t wait to talk to the newly evolved you!

    Liked by 1 person

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