2014: Thrive!

May 28, 2014

I've mentioned it before: my dear friends Molly and Betsy have the New Years tradition of picking 3 words for the year past, and 3 for the year to come. It's become a favorite ritual of mine. In January of 2013 I picked 'release.curate.choose' for the upcoming year, but it was 'release' that stayed with me, over and over and over (be careful what you wish for, you might get it).

This year I chose just one word: thrive. The idea of the word is that it's an invitation-- something you need more of, or want to dare to invite into your life. As my list of activities (moving, show producing, potential work changes) grew, I started feeling overwhelmed. I was feeling the pull of a familiar tide, the one where I spend lots of energy coping and fitting one more thing into the bucket, because I can. I can work 24/7, and fit in a few tasks before I officially start work, and a few more at the end of the day. We all can, and I think we're often encouraged to (and rewarded for that kind of behavior). But I didn't want to. I've spent many years in survival mode, thinking about how to get by, get a little sleep, and cram one more thing in. I don't find this kind of life fulfilling, and this kind of behavior is not one I care to model to the people around me. So I've been thinking about the word thrive. It's a good word.

1) To prosper; be fortunate or successful.
2) To grow or develop vigorously; flourish.

I like 'thrive' because it's the kind of growth only possible if a person is REALLY honing in on their own needs. You cannot try to fit everything into your life and still thrive (I've yet to see an example). Thriving takes selection and intention and clarity: things that are hard for me. 

So, this list lover started making a list (similar to the one Clever Kate references in a post called Why My Life Doesn't Suck). I wrote down values; I wrote what I thought I needed. Things like...
  • Connection & community 
  • Creative projects & work 
  • Time to enjoy & build my home (and marriage)
  • Self-care (beyond vitamin routines-- making my needs a priority before work and client needs)
  • Shame-resilience (embracing vulnerability!)
  • Space in my schedule, quiet in my life 
I've been paying attention to which values are easy to prioritize in my life. For instance, the top three come much easily to me than the bottom three. And the last one? That's really hard. It's time to meditate, empty time, mind-wandering time, yoga time, do-nothing time. It's the time that, though it feels empty, usually results in the best creative projects. It's the time that replenishes, and there's no thrive without it.

Last night I started reading the Arianna Huffington book Thrive (apparently the word is everywhere), and was quickly reminded that when we take the time to figure out what we need in order to flourish, we absolutely set ourselves up for success in every other aspect of our life. Here's the thing: it's faster to focus on goals and achievements, and it takes more time to figure out how to work towards these things and be a functional, healthy human being at the same time. To get all metaphorical, it's like growing a tree that doesn't have proper roots: it looks really nice from the outside, and probably gets many complements on its leaves and flowers! But when the storm hits, bam, it's gone. (end metaphor)

As usual, I write these things mostly as a note to myself. It's late May, and 2014 is flying by. Last night I lay awake thinking about grant writing and fundraising for a piece. If I started now, I might be able to have something on its feet by next summer. Meanwhile, I almost always eat breakfast in the car on my way to work, and I've had very little space in my schedule of any kind. I would be pretty stoked to get to December, and find myself grant-less but rooted. It might result in fewer accolades, but I bet it would feel really good


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