To Thrive

I really like words. Reading, writing, learning, and considering the use of various words — I dig it.

In the song called Thrive by Casting Crowns, the lyrics say:

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive.

These impactful words paint a dichotomous picture. We were made for more than ordinary lives, for more than just surviving. To survive is to remain alive, to subsist, to make it through. But we were made to thrive, to flourish, to grow, and prosper. Thriving is full of excitement, life, and growth.

I notice a difference in my life, in how I feel about my life and activities, in times of survival versus times of thriving. Heck, sometimes survival is excellent, the very best option. There are definitely times where I have been incredibly grateful for survival.

But during regular days, not the life versus death kind of days, sometimes it feels like all we can do is to survive from one day to another, rushing from place to place, never enough time in the day to get everything done. Never enough time to meet everyone’s needs. We look forward to the weekend, or days off, to get off the treadmill of weekday life and to have more time to ourselves.

But to thrive is an entirely different experience. I think of times when I feel like I’m growing, I’m excited, doing something that makes an impact. I feel like I thrive when I am creating a healthy meal, when I am having dinner with an old friend, unaware of the time as it passes. I thrive in new environments, in being part of a group that is moving forward on something. I thrive on the idea that the way I relate to others makes a positive difference to them.

What makes you thrive? Do you make efforts to use your time in ways that make you thrive?

Make it a good week!

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Re-framing the Question

Recently I asked two of my good friends to read the first draft of my memoir. I knew they each would read with a critical eye and be able to provide honest feedback. I was looking for general impressions, areas where they thought I could improve or change the story. But they each treated the project with a level of care and seriousness that I could never have imagined. They provided thoughts and suggestions that were immensely helpful!

Now I am to the task of editing, adding and changing the book. It means re-living moments and days that were painful, scary and difficult. I realized in this re-living and re-writing there was a pivotal time in which I made a decision that completely altered my experience of living with a chronic condition.

There was a period about three years ago in which I re-framed my focus from why to how.

For a long time after having a heart attack and then being diagnosed with a rare and relatively non-researched vascular disease (FMD), I wondered why very often. And other people asked me why. Why did it happen? What could be the reason?

I think other people wanted to know why because they cared, number one, but also because if there was a why for me that wasn’t the same for them, they likely would not end up in the same boat. If there’s a why, there is a way out, a solution or a way to avoid the situation.

Realizing that no one could tell me why was like hitting a brick wall. With the reason unknown, there was nothing for me to do. I could have no impact to change it. But rather than fall stuck on this question, stuck searching for reasons, I chose to start asking how.

How do I accommodate a new lifestyle? How will I remember to take medications twice per day? How will it work to work full-time? How do I best cope with the anxiety and fear?

In order to feel like I had some control and some say over my life I needed to change the question.

I believe we each have a choice in these questions. We don’t all have the same circumstances, certainly. Medical, financial, relational, spiritual — there are many issues to go around. But I venture to guess that in each case we have much more power and influence over an issue if we decide to ask how to deal with it rather than why it happened.

I hope you are not in a season where things are going wrong and you are asking why. But if you are, I encourage you to consider the other question. How can you move forward?

Make it a good week!

The You-est You

The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.

Michelangelo

When I was in high school I had an idealized image of being an adult. I couldn’t wait to be older, have a job, a dog, and a condo in the city. My image was a life of success, contentment, independence and maturity. I would have a job I loved and was good at, enough money for needs and a few wants, and would not settle for anything less.

I looked around at adults I knew, at how they participated in their lives. Some people worked every day and disliked what they did. Some talked about being excited for retirement, looking forward to the days when they could do what they wanted. I remember wondering how people could live like that, spending days waiting to get on to the next one. I felt this was the type of person I didn’t want to be.

When I actually matured into an adult I began to see how people could stay in a job, or in a life situation, they didn’t particularly like:

  • Money may be a factor; once we earn a certain amount of money or family members to support and bills to pay, it can be very difficult to let it go and make a financial change.
  • In general, people don’t like change and it seems that many prefer to stay in what they know rather than trying something new.
  • Inertia may set in; it feeds on itself, that feeling of sluggishness with the familiarity and monotony of every day life.
  • Lack of self-confidence; I believe many people, women especially, feel incapable of making a change, learning a new role and doing it well.

There are probably many more factors (please feel free to comment below!) and they share a similarity. The ugliness of each of these factors, real as they are, is that they hold us back from being our best selves. They change our perspective toward negativity. We may not give 100% to the job or the relationship and, therefore, we don’t receive back 100% satisfaction. It is a self-perpetuating cycle. We fall into a hole and wait for some set of circumstances to come along to get us out of the hole. Over time new goals may not be set, much less reached.

What I want to encourage you to consider, if you are in this kind of place, is you can get yourself out of the holes you are in. You are the You-est You there is and the world needs You to be your best self. Reassess your goals, remember your dreams and ideals from the past, and reconsider aiming for them.

Make it a good week!

Waiting

Really, this post is about procrastination. I meant to write it weeks ago…

Ha! Just jokes. But the word “procrastination” puts people off doesn’t it? I am really good at procrastinating what I don’t want to do, but it is not generally thought to be a positive trait.

I think procrastination really means that we are waiting: waiting for the right time, waiting to have all the information, or waiting because of fear.

The right time. It is easy to think, while putting off a project at work or putting off the big thing I have been avoiding, that I will feel better about doing it a little later. “It’s not the right time,” if I don’t think I will have enough time to finish or if I am not in the right mood.

To have all the information. Sometimes it seems best to wait to start a project because I don’t really know how to do it. If it is new or requires research of some sort, and I don’t know how it will turn out, I want to wait until I have all the information.

Fear. Waiting for all the information can be an illustration of fear. Feeling afraid to start because I may be wrong, or seeing how unprepared I was to start can be strong motivators to wait. Fear of working hard and not succeeding makes us wait to start. And fear of actually succeeding, although it sounds counter-intuitive, is just as likely.

I put off work on my memoir for a long time, afraid of what would happen if I actually finished it. And I wasn’t sure I would finish it; I didn’t know if I could fill a whole book, whatever that means. I was fearful of it being boring, without any interest from publishers. And I was afraid of it being highly successful, getting published and being a best seller.

This fear made no logical sense but for some reason it seems a part of the process for many of us. I am conscious now of the ways I wait, the many projects I have procrastinated over. I try to figure out why I am putting something off; does it feel like not the right time, is it fear or is it simple laziness?

With my memoir I have passed over the hump of waiting and now believe it will be finished, and I will work to get it published. Boring or not, best seller or not, I’ll finish. If you too can be tempted to wait, I encourage you to think about what may be behind it and give yourself a little push if need be.

Make it a good week!

Time

Okay, this is a bit of a confession.

Lately time has been kicking my butt. Not enough time.

I have a lot going on personally, at home and at work, and feel pressed. Phrases like “I need to do this, have to do that, must go here, should do this” reverberate in my mind, creating a mental treadmill of stress and pressure.

But I’m doing it to myself.

I drink a lot of hot tea and Good Earth brand writes little quotes on their tea bags. I keep those quotes that I find inspiring and stick them on a small wall space by my desk. One has a Celtic saying, “When God made time, He made enough of it.”

The last few days I have been thinking a lot about this. There is enough time. But I need to stop and breathe, and decide how to use my time. Some things have to go, others need to wait. I need to focus on the big rocks, rather than on the pebbles, as Stephen Covey teaches.

I get it intellectually but, must admit, this is difficult to do.

So, there are no wise words here. But I do believe when God made time, He made enough of it. And I am making it my business this week to remind myself of this as often as needed, to avoid the mental treadmill of stress and pressure.

Do you suffer with your own mental treadmill?