Dr. Marry and Me,  Personal Writing

Reflections on Resilience: finding strength and joy on Maui’s shores

We’ve been in Hawaii for over a week, first on Oahu and now on Maui.

We came back to Maui because Dr Marry wanted to experience it sober.

Friday night, we found the exact stretch of beach where we walked every morning to watch the sun rise the first time we came here, in March 2009, for our family honeymoon.

We stood on that beach and both marveled at where we’ve been and what we’ve survived since we last stood on that sand.

They say you can’t go back again, but sometimes you can get pretty darn close, and the memories evoke the emotions you felt at the time, recall the highs and lows of the journey and remind you to be grateful every single day for everything you have. 💖

I loved standing on that beach again, and I love the man who stood there with me because we both realize what we’ve been through. My mother wrote about the picture: You can proudly call yourselves survivors and thrivers. Those are not automatic pairings. Yay you.

I really love that, too.

This week, I invite you to pick a time from your past before a true challenge revealed itself to you. Revisit it to whatever extent you can—maybe physically but certainly in your memories. How did you feel then? Where were you in your life? What path did you think you were on? Were there already signs that things weren’t going to go exactly “to plan?”

Then walk yourself through the low period and the darkest moments of the challenge. Let your body and mind remember how you felt. You don’t have to spend a lot of time there, but it’s important to recall the bottom.

Now bring yourself back to today.

How do you feel looking back on that time? On who you were then? Can you see what you’ve survived? Do you see how you’ve thrived since then?

And if you don’t feel like you’re thriving, that’s ok. There’s no better time than right now to take the first little step in that direction.

Dr Marry and I didn’t skip past the pain, the anger, the fear, the grief to get to where we are today. We took it one step at a time.

Sometimes we move backwards instead of forward. We’ve had moments, years after he got sober, that felt as dark as the blackest period of our lives—none involving alcohol or anything addictive, thankfully, but low moments none the less.

But standing on that beach, remembering our younger selves and knowing the road they were already on, was a truly humbling moment, and one we very rarely get in life.

Go back and revisit your younger self. Marvel at your naïveté and optimism, tremble at what you know is coming and, most importantly, celebrate what you’ve overcome, what you are overcoming.

Life can be hard, and much of it is entirely out of our hands. The only thing we can control is how we manage whatever comes our way. Thankfully, that is an ever-evolving process, and we get to wake up each and every day and start again.

You might not be exactly where you want to be…yet. But you, and we all, get to keep striving to move beyond surviving and all the way to thriving.

That’s the true gift.

Photo Caption: The top 3 photos are from 2009. The bottom are from Friday, June 28, 2024—nearly the exact same spot as the photo of Dr Mary and Quinn from 15+ years ago.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.


  • Yvonne Smith

    I love how you’ve reflected on your past including the dark moments as well as the good ones today. I’m sure we’ve all had times we don’t want to relive but those times have made us who we are today. After moving to Fargo in 2000, I went through a horrible depression. But with the help of a therapist and Gary’s love, I made it through and became a better person. I remember in 1999 when we renewed our vows on Shipwreck Beach on Kauai, after we ended the renewal Gary told the Minister it was harder than our original vows. Why? Because as Gary said when you’re young (we were 19 & 20 yrs old) and say your vows as much as they mean to you then…25 yrs later they really touch your heart and mean SO much more! Safe travels home to you both! Hawaii has always been a special place to me.

    • Dayna Del Val

      Yvonne, I’m so moved by this response. First of all, thanks for sharing it with such vulnerability—not easy to do. I’m also thinking about Gary’s comments about vows. I wasn’t particularly young when we got married (35), but I didn’t give those words much thought then either. It wasn’t until Mazz was in his medically-induced coma that they rang over and over again in my ears. They were simultaneously an albatross and a beacon of hope. Here’s to love and light going forward…and more trips to Hawaii for us all! 🙂

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