The kids have finished their last half-days of school; the tree is up, and the calendar shows a week-and-a-half left before 2018 is history.

While many of us will gladly boot the old year kerbside, there are gems we can mine from the past 12 months.

Much the same as students receive year-end school reports, we can look back and give ourselves a pakipaki for an adult version of the three Rs: not reading, writing and arithmetic, but resilience, resourcefulness and reinvention.


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Our reporters have spoken with countless locals this year who model the three adult Rs: one of them is Greerton resident Darren Skelsey, who, at age 51 is reinventing himself from hurting and homeless to healing and helpful.

He suffered robbery, blood poisoning and pneumonia while sleeping rough. A head-bashing three months ago convinced him it was time to leave the streets.

Today, he volunteers at the Tauranga Community Foodbank and plans to seek paid employment following a hand operation set for next year.

There's Natalie Adams, a Tauranga mum of two recently back from Russia where she underwent stem cell therapy in hopes of halting progression of multiple sclerosis.

Adams spent nine days in isolation, enduring painful treatments where chemotherapy wiped out her immune cells. She says already, her fatigue is gone.

Not only has Adams proven herself resilient, she's also resourceful: she was able to lean on her network, who raised $100,000 for her treatments.

The wonderful part of the adult three Rs is they often require others' help to succeed.


A Mamaku mum has shown tremendous resilience after a jury last month found four men guilty in the death of her adult son, James Fleet. Bronwyn Fleet told the Bay of Plenty Times she was coping.

"It's my other children who keep me going. I not only have to be here, I have to be functioning. If James was my one and only child, I wouldn't want to be here.

"But it's not okay for me to be a complete mess. My other children need me to support them."

Yes, James was a methamphetamine addict. It doesn't make his killing any less wrenching for his loved ones. Yet Bronwyn handles her burden with grace.

During James' eulogy, she said, "When things like this happen, it is easy to think that the world is a terrible place, but it's not."

How a mum lives each day with the loss of a child is something I don't want to imagine.

Waking up each day, trying to be productive while making sense of a senseless death is the epitome of resilience.

Those three examples are only from the last month or so.

Think of people in your own life who have, or are in the process of reinventing - they feel a need to change their lives and have plucked up the courage to do so — adults who return to school to learn a language or start a new career; families who move to a new country for adventure, a better life, or both; men and women who leave unhealthy relationships to reinvent themselves as single; people who change their diets and exercise habits to makeover their bodies - not for vanity, but in hopes of living longer, healthier lives.

Resilience is what characterises survivors. Survivors like Bronwyn Fleet, who cope. They're friends and neighbours (and maybe us) who refuse to let adversity define them. They survive illness, the death of loved ones, the death of dreams.

Resilience allows some people to be knocked down and come back stronger. It's a trait we can learn.

Inspiration is everywhere - in our community, next door, in our own homes.

Psychology Today says survivors find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs.

"Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. ... (among the) factors that make someone resilient: a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback."

If you're like me, your imaginary end-of-year report says something like, "Making progress on the 3 Rs, but there's room for improvement ..."

If we're lucky, we still have today - and tomorrow to tap our resourcefulness, our resilience, and reinvent ourselves as the person we want to be.

Meri Kirihimete, everyone.