My daughter, Ilene, just gave me a token that reads: “Adversity introduces a woman to herself and her power.” 

Many years ago, while shopping in the now defunct A&P, I found a giant, really ugly stuffed frog, almost as tall as I was. It was brand new, sitting on a shelf, but had no price tag. The clerks didn’t recognize it nor did anyone else in the store, so they told me to keep it.

I named him “Adversity,” thinking of the quote from William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” stating, “Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head...”

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Adversity was big and homely and clumsy, but I’d put my arms around him and tell my kids, “If you can hold adversity in your arms nothing can ever break you.” I believed it then and I believe it now. The human spirit can always conquer negative vibes. All you need to do is believe.

I read an article this morning in the Smithsonian magazine about placebos, “sugar pills” that are used as controls when testing new drugs, and guess what?! They’ve discovered, that even if you know you are taking a placebo, your body may still produce neurochemicals such as endorphins and dopamine and encourage areas in the brain to act in an analgesic manner. In essence, you can fool yourself into feeling good no matter what ails you. It’s all in how you approach the situation.

We still don’t really understand how the brain works. Oh, we’ve made some inroads: touch this and your finger moves, touch that and you wiggle your toes. But the miraculous computer that makes us work is still mostly a mystery.

Wouldn’t it be fascinating to delve into the deepest parts of our psyches and discover we can control so much more than we now think possible, just by believing?

I sometimes wear a bracelet that says “Women fly when men aren’t watching.” Well, I’m going to fly no matter who is watching, and reach down into the depths of my anima and send adversity, and every other negative vibe, packing.

Adrienne can be reached at