Since I’ve started staying home with Henry during the day, I’ve found a bit more time to do some reading (or, shall I say, listening) and have taken full advantage of that. We’ve already finished two books together and are well onto our third! Most recently, I listened to The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gains which I really enjoyed and highly recommend. Something that Joanna said in the book has really stuck with me, so much, in fact, that it has become my new little motto.
So the story goes, (and I am paraphrasing) Joanna was at a point in her life that was totally overwhelming…the kids, the renovation houses, the shop, just everything all at once. She said that she felt like she was just surviving the days..just keeping her head above water (and don’t we all recall times that have felt like that?) As she was contemplating this while sitting on the couch, looking at a huge mess that her kids had made, she had a little epiphany of sorts and decided right then and there that she needed to quit “surviving” and instead figure out how to thrive. Because, she reasoned, if she couldn’t figure out how to thrive in the hard or crazy times in life, she would never learn to thrive in the good times, either.
This seemed to tie right into a line from another book that I had recently read, The Happiness Project, by Gretchin Rubin, in which Gretchen, in another aha moment, realized “she was in danger of wasting her life”. That her life was good, and she wasn’t enjoying it as much as she could or should.
Finally, my mind made the final leap to one of my favorite books of all time, “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” by the very famous Dr. Seuss and one of my favorite pages…the waiting place. And I thought how “just surviving” our days is very much like living your entire life in The Waiting Place….always waiting for something in the future to make things better, or bigger, or prettier, or easier.
So like Joanna, I determined to stop surviving my life. Stop surviving the midnight hours and sleepy eye feedings with baby, the period in our lives right now when we feel like everything is in limbo, and the moments when we aren’t quite sure sometimes where we fit in the world.
Thriving, of course, sounds like a tall order when life can really, really be a whole handful sometimes. Sometimes to survive and get through seems like all we can do! But really, isn’t life just a whole string of things to be “survived”? From being a baby and learning to walk, to school and homework, to the awkwardness of growing up, to college applications, to college, to working, to dating, to marriage, to having kids of our own…and the cycle just keeps going! While there are sure easier times and harder times, the fact that there is always SOMETHING that we could moan and groan about is inevitable. Instead, we must pull ourselves up from our bootstraps and figure out what we need to do to start thriving instead. And, no, thriving doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, that the ground under our feet suddenly changes…it just means we start growing where we are planted and stop waiting for better soil, or more rain.
What are you “surviving” right now?
Call it silly, but I have just one little example that, I think, makes a good one. Henry is still waking up every three or four hours at night to eat (and every one or two hours first thing in the morning!), which, obviously, can be very tiring. A couple weeks ago I found myself saddled with a feeling I really didn’t like. I would hear his little cries from the room next door and I would think…”ugh, I’ve got to get up.” Sure, I was tired, but did I really want my reaction to my hungry, darling child to be “ugh”?!?! I didn’t like spending my evenings with my precious baby bogged down this super lame attitude. First of all, it made me feel like I was a bad mother, and second of all, I knew I was wasting precious time with my boy being silently grumpy. To quit surviving the evenings, and instead, start thriving, I made two changes. First, I started going to bed at 8 or 8:30 after I put Henry down for the first time at night. (Early, and crazy, I know, but if you have to get up four times in the middle of the night, and then be up for the day at 6 am, you do what you have to!) This helped me get as much sleep as possible. Second, every time I woke up in the middle of the night to little wimpers, knowing that it was time to feed my baby boy, instead of mentally groaning, I literally forced myself to say “I LOVE MY BABY!!!” and immediately smile and jump out of bed. And guess what? It made an immediate difference. Because I do love my baby! It only took two nights or so of this until it became a habit. And now I get to spend those still sleepy, middle of the night hours in quiet thoughts, smiling just a little bit as I rock my baby, fill up his belly, and tuck him back in bed. Being able to enjoy my nighttime has really made it possible to start thriving during the day.
Anyway, I guess I just really loved that thought. That it’s time to quit surviving our lives, and time to start living them. 🙂