The Gift of Setbacks (SeedMoment #1)

Today’s frustrations can help us grow.

by Dulce Zamora

The maddening times show no signs of slowing down. It is in these tough moments that I find comfort in gratitude.


When I was a new parent and new in Singapore, I felt overwhelmed and lonely, particularly with my daughters’ multiple health challenges. That’s when I started a set of posts called “Life is good,” where I mined nuggets of wisdom and joy from the depths of despair. I’ve decided to renew that practice again.


I’ll be rolling out a series of posts called “Seed Moments.” The idea is that today’s rot breeds tomorrow’s bloom. I fully believe that hardships can helps strengthen us. Here are a couple of examples:


This week, Jazzy competed in the National Math Olympiad of Singapore. We don’t know the results of the preliminary round yet. If she is one of the top scorers, she will move on to the final round. Jazzy said the exam was really hard. She was a little deflated. I got it. If her practice sheets were any indication, it’s mind-boggling stuff that even our resident math expert (my husband Noel) found difficult. He had done some exercises with her and observed that she had a good approach to problems.

Regardless of what happens next, I already told her she was a winner — not just because she participated (although there’s merit to that). Awards are transient. Knowing how to pursue goals and tackle obstacles — those are enduring traits. We have spent years giving Jasmine the tools to overcome challenges. She’s naturally headstrong as well. It’s awesome to see her apply them and to score some victories (however unofficial) along the way. It’s also no small feat that the contest kept getting postponed, so the time she spent preparing for it extended, too. Try working on hard math problems during your vacation and you’ll know what I mean!

… today’s rot breeds tomorrow’s bloom.

Sienna has had her ups and downs too. The pandemic has thrown one wrench after another on her journey toward an internationally recognized music diploma. To acquire the ABRSM certificate, she needs two master 8 levels of music theory and 8 levels of piano playing. She took the level 5 theory test in May, and passed with marks of distinction. (Yeah!) She was supposed to take her level 6 piano exam in June, but she sprained her right thumb and had to stop and start her training twice to recover from injury.

The doctor just took off her splint, and now she is undergoing ultrasound hand therapy. She also has to exercise her hand 3-4 times a day and apply heat just as many times. Before piano practice, she wraps her hand the same way athletes do before they perform with injuries. I am not sure when she’ll be ready to take her Grade 6 piano exam, something she’s been training to do for months. I do know it’s nice to have her beautiful music fill our space again.

Seed Moment #1: Sienna and Jazzy got tired of practicing the same thing over and over again, especially during summer vacation. Yet, each time they picked up where they left off, they flexed emotional, mental, and physical forces that helped them move forward in their journeys. They hadn’t reached their ultimate goals yet, and the targets were constantly changing, but they grew stronger each time they persevered. They also enhanced their ability to be resilient. Goals, as it turns out, require persistence. (Surprise, surprise.) Setbacks help us practice getting back up after we fall or get frustrated.

My father said to me recently, “Hard work pays dividends.” After my girls’ accomplishments, I made sure to thank my parents for their role in our lives. Their choices and actions gave me a boost in pursing dreams and in offering my daughters the same support. Yesterday’s seeds are today’s blooms.

Please share your thoughts on this seed moment idea, and relate experiences you’ve had that are similar. We can all help each other in our journeys. Plus, this is a trial series. I’m testing it out to see how it works, and you get to give me constructive feedback. Thank you in advance for your graciousness.

© 2021 Windswept Wildflower

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