Pri Lewis – RESILIENT A.F.: Stories of Resilience


When it’s your own story, reflecting on resiliency can be tricky as it is easier to see it in others than yourself. Overcoming and embracing challenges or doing things that may be a little crazy is innately who I have always been.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been driven to extend myself out of my comfort zone and push through in times of adversity, although I didn’t recognize this as resilience. 

When I was 16, my parents decided to move to the US. I chose to stay in the UK alone and attend college. It should have been daunting, but it was one of those things I just did. My mothers’ words to me as I made this life-changing decision echoed in my mind, “You screw it up, and it’s on you.”  These words, although stern, became a driving force, compelling me to strive for success.

I lived in shared housing, worked full-time in the evenings, went to college every day, and partied most nights. I was burning the candle at both ends but living my best life. I took challenges in my stride and never questioned whether things would work out; I just made them happen, but some may see it as being resilient. I passed my driving test, completed college, and went on to get a BSc in Psychology, and I didn’t screw it up.

The few years, summed up in a paragraph, goes something like this…

2002: I met my husband at university. 

2005: Left a perfectly amazing career working with at-risk youth and moved to Greece with Lewi when he bought a bar with his best friend.

2005: On a whim and pushing those comfort zones, I started a photography company in Greece, knowing very little about the subject other than taking holiday pics, never questioning if it would work. This company became successful and supported me for the next four years.

2005-2008: Lewi and I spent our time between Greece and Whistler. We were skiing the coastal mountains in the winter and running our business in Greece in the summer. 

In 2008, browsing the local newspaper in Whistler, I came across a 1-line advertisement, “restaurant space for lease.” It caught my eye, and I immediately called the number. Within a few hours, we had viewed the restaurant space, secured a 3rd partner, our good friend Alex, and prepared an offer to lease. We threw in our savings, and with 20k, we opened our first restaurant, Three Below. 

With a lot of heart, hard work, and hustle, Three Below became a well-loved local establishment in Whistler. In 2014, we opened our second restaurant, The Brickworks, and in 2017, Main Street Noodles. During this time, I married the love of my life and had two kiddos! 

Being an entrepreneur has always come with its fair share of obstacles, but my ultimate test of resiliency came to a head in 2020. COVID-19 challenged the world but became a pivotal turning point in my life. As a business owner, I faced an unimaginable reality— our businesses were mandated to close their doors. The uncertainty loomed large: When would we reopen? How would we pay the bills? Were we on the brink of losing everything?

Sometimes, our resilience can push us to our limits, leading to a breakdown before a breakthrough, and this is exactly what happened to me. I had never experienced anxiety until 2020. I felt so hopeless and out of control. Our lives and everything we had built were at risk and in the hands of others; this was an unfamiliar feeling that I did not like. My mindset remained determined, but the obstacles were relentless. I was consumed with ensuring we followed the rules, came up with ideas to do more, sell more, and pivot where we could. I was on high alert and in survival mode 24-7, barrelling through without much regard for my own well-being. In May of 2020, we held a companywide meeting at Brickworks. I was overwhelmed, and the weight of the world felt like it was on my shoulders. As I walked in and saw the faces of the people who were looking to me for answers, I felt a rush of an unknown feeling. I turned and walked out and experienced my first-ever panic attack. It was an out-of-body experience, like electricity was travelling through me, and I had no control. At that moment, my body and mind were telling me that the way I was living was not sustainable and that something needed to change. 

The anxiety that surfaced in 2020 has become a constant companion, rewiring my body and needing daily love and attention. While devastating to my objectives at the time, the shutting down of the restaurants served as the catalyst for my path of self-discovery and a redefined perception of life. I’ve gone from an inherently successful but unbalanced life to one driven by intentional action, all while consciously working to shape my future. 

Life sometimes requires you to dig deep and tap into your resiliency toolkit. My life had prepared me to approach this time with a determined mindset and an unwavering commitment to finding solutions. 

My advice to those navigating similar challenges is to understand that resilience is deeper than overcoming obstacles. The notion of facing and overcoming adversity teaches you lessons that lead to impactful growth that can transform you and your perspective on life.

Are you ready to share your story of RESILIENCE? You can do that HERE.