What does it mean to thrive?? This is the question I began asking myself this morning as I stood in my kitchen looking out the window into my woodsy yard. The sunshine was streaming through our thick canopy of cedars in streams, onto the dirt, ivy and ferns below and the question just popped into my head, very randomly.
This morning I woke up feeling energetic and cheerful, a bit wild and frenzied with the morning chaos of kids and school but functioning, and functioning well and to a quality I haven't felt in a while. So, this question...it came to me as if I was asking myself, but perhaps it wasn’t really me doing the asking…
“Are you thriving??”
Well...if I’m honest, thriving isn’t exactly the word I’d choose to describe myself these days, my inward thoughts, my self talk or my emotions. They’re all feeling wonky and deflated. I don't have the lovely, curvaceous insides that I associate with a thriving life. I have NOT been thriving, I’ve been surviving! Worse, I’ve been bumping along on this mediocre level for so long that I don’t know the I last time I was truly thriving and not just living like a beaten down remnant of each day.
I’m a sunshine girl, who’s understood nothing but the glisten of sunshine my whole life. Northwest living is new(ish) for me and it’s gloom has been a HUGE adjustment. The loss of sun plays tricks on my mind and my heart. It’s possible that I lost my vitality around the time the sun went away for large, icy chunks of time, hiding itself behind the heavy, wet, grey curtain of fall and winter. For this sun lover, its absence has felt to me like God’s turned his face away. No more love or joy, no more warmth, no more light, no more glow. Just cold, dark isolation.
So how do I thrive? Is it possible for me to thrive in the middle of a nasty NW winter? Can I choose to thrive? Can thriving be a state of mind or is it only a state of being? Maybe it’s both?? I don’t know, but I’m exploring the possibility that I can choose thriving and fight the strong, cold, wet currents of the Northwest that churn and foam around me, coaxing me to shrivel up and withering away in their depths.
The possibility of thriving beyond circumstance; beyond what seems like my internal reality, is one that I’m willing and actually desperate to explore because I would LOVE a greater quality of life and by all outward appearances I have a tremendous life, it’s just that my insides and outsides aren’t in agreement right now.
So if it’s within me and within my control, to grab at “thriving”, I’m going to reach out as far as my arms will stretch and embrace a lovelier life; a lovelier ME. Could this fullness be accessible with the simple shift of my mindset?? I'm skeptical...the prospect of achieving higher living through mere positivity sounds preposterously irritating. Call me a dinosaur but I haven’t exactly boarded the “mindfulness” train. I’ve never been a 'mind over matter', positive-thinking sort of girl. I like to think of myself as a lover of truth, authenticity and an embracer of the good, the bad and the ugly.
I want to appreciate positivity and I try to appreciate it, but truthfully I’d be teetering on the edge of fibbing if I didn’t confess that I REALLY struggle in this area. I find myself resisting the positivity movement because on the surface it appears sterile and illegitimate to me; a personal deception and an effort at public trickery over honesty.
OK, so clearly I have some strong feelings. And maybe the reason I struggle is because I know how to use cheery words to my social advantage. I've done that. I did that for years, but that knowledge that that posture only left me feeling empty inside, void of truth, void of real connection and lacking anyone in my circle of friends who honestly knew me and the substance of me.
So maybe positivity can be my ally as long as I understand who and what my motivators are. Do I choose positivity because I have an eternal hope despite my current circumstances, mood, attitude or eternal Northwest gloom? Am I driven to be positive because I’m determined not to live conquered by what I encounter (internally or externally) but as a conqueror? Or...am I acting, speaking or thinking positively because deep down maybe I’m looking to be someone I imagine others would like or prefer me to be?? I’d venture to say that ridding oneself/myself of that last reason is crucial for achieving true joy and fulfillment in life.
OK, clearly I’m not writing about thriving because I’ve stumbled upon the golden goblet, no, quite the contrary. I wish that the cedar branches of my dark, ever so dark, yard had parted and the mossy, fern laden ground had rumbled up an offering of revelatory insight. Sadly it didn’t, but today, on this day FULL of glorious sun (albeit ever so frigid sun), I felt the dark clouds inside me clear and I’m believing that there's a way to hold on to the glow I feel inside.
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.