The Things that Make You Go “Thrive”

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”  -Lao Tzu

Why do I love the word “thrive”?  I define myself by this term often and every step I take in life is encapsulated by the value I place on its meaning.  The word “thrive” means to grow vigorously, to flourish and prosper and to press towards a goal despite the circumstances.  I believe the last part of this definition is what resonates with me the most, especially when addressing well-being.

Caregiving is traumatic, challenging, filled with long-suffering and sacrifices.  There are other situations in life that can have a similar impact and may be relatable to the caregiving scenario.  But no matter what the adversity is, the characteristics of a person who decides to thrive is truly honorable.  What makes you stand-up and fight for your life and thrive, in spite of?  It can truly be baffling to some, amazing to others, and inspiring to many.  So taking the time to identify the things that make you “thrive” is imperative.

Here are the top three things that make me go “thrive”:

  1. My Faith: I don’t know where I would be without my faith in God;  in something higher than myself.  The belief in something I cannot see but just know is there, has kept me through many hardships in life.  I have watched situations resolve itself, doors open, and blessings rain down on me, all because I choose to rely on faith. I believe that there is a purpose for every single human life walking this earth.  But in order for purpose to be birthed out of us, we have to go through an experience.  Those experiences shape our own personal cause in life.  Faith is what is hoped for and yet not seen.
  2. Mental Strength: I like to describe this as mental integrity.  Managing our thoughts is the key to the outcome of our emotions and our actions.  What we think, elicits an emotional response and can cause a physical reaction.  When life throws trials, problems and challenges my way,  I have to pay attention to what I thought about those scenarios, in order to confront any absolutes that have been hibernating within my mind (such as  “shoulds”, “oughts” or “cant’s”).  It’s completely valid to get angry, frustrated, sad or whatever emotion floods from your heart.  But then what?  If we were to sit in any negative thoughts or emotions for a period of time, what would be the consequence?  We must decide that we are a priority and worth every opportunity, blessing and gift life has to offer. We have to shift our thinking in order to thrive.  This is a deliberate commitment to ourselves and will guide our steps that are conducive for growth and prosperity.
  3. Desire for Joy: I love to be happy. I love to smile, to laugh and to enjoy all life has to offer.  Who doesn’t? (don’t answer that).  This deep desire has never left me, no matter what has entered into my life.  The caregiver experience has truly tested the authenticity of this desire.  The amount of time I have spent fighting major systems of care, advocating for my mother, advocating for myself, could have stripped me of my joy and hope in humanity.  When doors closed on me, opportunities were lost, friends deserted me, finances strained, I tapped deeply into that desire and made a “mental” decision to fight for it.  I fought and still fight to keep that jubilation in my life, no matter what I see in front of me.

In summary, these are the things that make me go “thrive.”  My faith has protected my mental integrity and leveraged the joy that resides within me, which in turn, has caused me to “grow vigorously.”   I encourage you to evaluate what has given you the superpower to flourish in spite of.  Once you have identified it, build your life’s foundation on it so that when a storm blows your way, you do not plummet, but instead rise on the cloud of your potential and land firmly on your purpose.

 

Thrive

 

 

 

 

Road-Map Slam-Dunk

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else.” – Y. Berra

Many times in life I have been derailed from my goals or dreams due to unexpected events, family emergencies, failed relationships, and so on.  However,  what has never left me is the drive, the motivation and the perseverance to obtain a vision that resides within me.

I currently work three jobs in addition to caring for my mother with Alzheimers.  As I get older, I am becoming more intentional in my decision making and planning.  I know what I want and have become more diligent with the level of effort I am putting forth to enhance my lifestyle, manage life’s stressors and press towards my goals and dreams.  It does not matter how much you have going on in life, there are choices and you do have control over what comes in and out of your life.

Below are a couple strategies I have introduced into my life in order to chart out my Road Map to Success:

A.  Develop an Interactive Online Vision Board.  I use Dream it Alive.  This site will assist you in navigating short term goals in every area of your life, from career, leisure, relationships, spirituality, physical health, etc.  You can order a tangible copy of your vision board once completed.  I place mine on my bedroom mirror to keep me focused on my future.  Revisit your vision board every couple months and when your goals are complete, develop new ones. Keep it going, keep it alive!

B. Plan It! I have three separate calendars I complete each month that charts out my work schedule, my workout/health coaching schedule and my mom’s ongoing medical and caregiver schedule.  I manage those three separate calendars, making sure I keep balance and ensure I am prioritizing my personal health and wellness.  I revisit the calendars at the beginning of each week and make small adjustments as needed, without sacrificing my own needs.  (note: do not feel guilty in saying no or enacting boundaries)

C. Look for Opportunities of Growth! We will never know it all in life.  We always should seek to develop, enhance or strengthen a skill in order to achieve all our goals.  I am continuously looking for trainings, certifications, or skill-building events that align with my vision.  We are evolving creatures who need to expand our abilities in order to strengthen humanity.  Existing in your current state will not only make you unhappy and unfulfilled, but also will not benefit society as a whole.

D. Give Back! Did you know that when you decide to give back to someone, to a community or organization, you actually grow?  Try it, if you don’t believe me.  When you share your gifts with another, you actually are strengthening  your own abilities and enhance your existing skills.  Those whom you serve will have “asks”  of you that cause you to rise-up and show-up.  When you show-up, you validate who you are and what you stand for.

E. Enlarge your Community! Where would we be if we only knew one group of people?  One of the most rewarding and beneficial things I have done in my life is to travel the world.  I have taken the 4-hour climb up Mt. Sanai, Egypt at 3am in the morning.  I have back-backed the desolate roads in Sighisoara, Romania and volunteered in the largest slums and refugee camps in Kenya, Africa.  I’ve visited over 20 countries and have been to almost all 50 US States and 13 US territories. Through the experience and emersion of different cultures, I have learned more about myself, the world and humanity.  My vision has become larger and my purpose is more directional.  Travel in or out of your country, or even just your current community.  Learn from others and expand your knowledge of other cultures.

When all else seems not to be available to you, have faith, dream it, write it, plan, and watch what you thought was impossible become possible. You have only one chance at this life. Live it on purpose!

 

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The Blooming Caregiver

Many times when we think of caregiving and the brutal battle fought everyday, we don’t think of beautiful words to describe it, like delightful, serene, full of potential, thrilling, and fulfilling.  Most adjectives used to describe the duties and role could spin you into a therapist office contemplating different diagnoses.  However, as I develop in this process, I am noticing more and more how there is a huge impact on myself as a human being, similar to a blossoming flower.

Have you ever watched a flower bloom and its reactions to environmental influences?  I have these beautiful Startgazer Lillies on my deck that I watch respond to the extreme sunlight, the rain, the humidity and the chilly nights.  I watch what makes them bloom and what makes them shrivel up.  The strain of too much sun, or the collision with a heavy downpour of rain can wither a blossom unto death.  As too, the caregiver, with an overabundance of environmental extrinsic stress can diminish the very essence, the intrinsic nature of being human.  If we are not careful, our blossoms will whither, our soil will dry up and our bright colors darken.   So how do we blossom as caregivers?

  1. Stay balanced with enough rain and sun to thrive, not just survive.  How do you ever think about doing this?  Well, I can tell you, being a financially restricted, young, married, working caregiver, this took a determination, a mindset and a love for myself.  It is true, no one is going to do this for you, not a system, not the government and definitely not friends and family.  Many will desert you and disappoint you.  You can look around and see the abyss of services and support.  Therefore, mentally, what is your option? Are you going to whither up and die, or seek the rain and sunshine?  What do you need to bloom during this time of great trial? What is your rain and sunshine? Define it for yourself and find a way to access it!
  2. Turn your trials and tribulations into hope and support for others.  Whether you   believe in God or not, your spiritual being provides a sense of purpose in humanity in that we are here to support and help someone along the way. We are all tied to one another, living on this earth together, sharing some set of meaning and purpose.  You are not traveling this road solo and are interconnected to your fellow man/woman.  As you learn more about caregiving and what has assisted you, share it with others.  If there is not a support group, start it.  If legislatures and the federal government aren’t supportive, tell them what you need, over and over and over again.  If there isn’t enough exposure to the needs and issues that surround caregivers, expose it.  Exposure can come through many different avenues including mulit-media outlets, work policies, non-caregiving and caregiving institutions.  If there is no sunshine, bring the rays and if there is no water, bring the fresh rain!  Blossom caregiver!  Write about it, talk about it, open your mouth and share! One of my favorite leader of all times, Martin Luther King Jr. had such powerful truth-filled quotes that has changed history and man-kind:
    • “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
    • “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
    • “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  1. Make your strengths your personal weapons of war! Did you know a lily (Lilium) could grow just about anywhere? They are the earliest to bloom and the easiest to grow.  They have a multitude of colors, can be fragrant or non-fragrant, and require little care.  Sound familiar?  A caregiver receives little to no care from anyone.  They come in many different races, ages, sexes and socio-economic statuses and exist all over the world.  Disease does not discriminate and wherever there is a human suffering with a debilitating disease, there is a caregiver that embodies some heavy-duty strength.  You have strengths caregiver and are the foundation of the survival of another human being.  Examine your strengths and put them to use for yourself.  We fight and advocate everyday for our loved ones and yet, we ignore ourselves like we have no value.  Take a minutes an inventory the strengths and values you apply to caregiving everyday and begin to apply them to yourself. They are the petals in your bloom, the root in the soil and the nourishment needed to continue to flourish. 

“Strength and growth come only through effort and struggle.”