2020: Did You Survive or Thrive? (*spoiler – either answer is totally valid)

I’m laughing as I look back at my post from January 4, 2020. I wrote, “I’m really optimistic about 2020 – I think big things are going to happen for me. I have no proof of this, just a feeling.”

Well big things certainly did happen for all of us!

Despite 2020 being a year that none of us could have predicted, I don’t look back on it with disdain. 2020 was different for sure, and not what I expected, but it still brought me a lot of good. (P.S. It’s okay if this is not how you feel! It’s okay if you never want to hear the word 2020 again!)

My focus word for 2020 was “thrive.” I just wanted to feel good about myself, and to make more time for things like exercising, eating healthy and spiritual growth. Amazingly, by the end of the year I find myself doing exactly those things – I’ve been jogging again and even lifting some weights at home (I joke with Dean that he better watch out since I’m getting so muscle-y). Around mid-August I started being more purposeful about the food I was eating (less sugar, more veggies). And with some encouragement from friends (or perhaps more accurately, accountability) I have made more time to pray and meditate and do feel like I’ve grown spiritually this year.

I know not everyone is able to express positive feelings about 2020, and that’s okay. I’ve seen many iterations of the following, but as the image states, it’s okay if all you did this year was survive.

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A Season of Mental Wellness

It’s not often I write to share when things are going well – I normally write about difficult experiences and how I have navigated them successfully (or perhaps unsuccessfully…)

I also never wanted to be that person who came off as bragging that everything in her life was going great – I think posts like that are hard to read if you’re in a bad place. It heightens that illusion that everyone else is living their best life except for you (which is not true!) 

However, I do think there is value in admitting to myself (and all of you) that things are actually going pretty well for me lately. 

Last year, I wrote a blog post titled How Do You Thrive? and talked a bit about how I wanted to feel like I was thriving, not just surviving. I can honestly say that I now feel like I’m thriving – for the first time in probably over 4 years, I am thriving!!!

What do I mean by thriving? I mean that I’m noticing signs that I am mentally, emotionally and physically well. For example:

  • I’ve started eating better recently (more veggies and less sugar!) I’ve had very little motivation to eat healthy since before my son was born. 
  • I’ve started working out again (thankfully my foot has recovered enough to allow this), including going on long walks in the morning and doing some strength workouts at home. 
  • I had the motivation and energy to undertake a big home improvement project last weekend (which has now of course turned into a project spanning multiple weekends).
  • I’ve been able to appreciate the relationships in my life more instead of wishing for something different – I feel blessed with authentic friendships and feel like my husband and I are in a solid place of supporting one another right now.

I think one of the most important indicators that I’m thriving is that I’ve come to a place of self-love and acceptance that I haven’t had in years. 

It’s interesting to find myself thriving in the midst of this global pandemic – while I do have to monitor my anxiety levels when it comes to COVID, I actually think the pandemic has helped me to get to this better place. I’ve been forced to slow down, to spend more time at home with my husband and son… it’s been a time to re-prioritize and think about what really matters. I realized I actually really enjoy not having plans every night and weekend – if we ever get back to “normal,” I hope I will continue to leave space in my life to rejuvenate and flourish.

Despite all this talk about thriving, I don’t want to leave the impression that everything is absolutely perfect right now – rest assured, perfection is not what I have achieved! Actually, in the past month I’ve had two different days where I actually felt really down – where some insecurities and feelings of depression kind of came and hit me out of nowhere. 

It isn’t the absence of bad days that equals thriving – it’s how well I navigated the bad days when they came. 

I’m grateful to be able to say that when the bad moments came, I was able to tune into my feelings, process them, and figure out what I needed to do to get to the other side of them. Both times by the end of the day, that dark cloud above me had lifted and moved on.

And if that’s not thriving, then I don’t know what is! I’m hopeful this season of wellness will last for a long time, but realistically I know there will most likely be hard seasons at some point in my future again.

I’m proud of myself for getting to this point in my life, but am also mindful that many of the things that led me here included situations and opportunities that I can’t take full credit for. I am fortunate to have been able to go to counseling regularly over the past 5 years, and to have found an amazing counselor. I am fortunate to have a supportive husband who was there for me at my lowest points and encouraged me to get to where I am today. I am fortunate to have people in my life who spoke truths to me about my skills and talents and how much I mattered as a person.

Not everyone is fortunate to have all of those things – I know that. Maybe you’re a single parent and barely have enough energy to get through the day. That’s okay – just survive for now. Maybe you’re working two jobs and still are barely making ends meet. That’s okay – just survive for now. Maybe you have some toxic people or situations in your life right now that are sabotaging your attempts at getting mentally healthy, but you can’t get away from them at this moment. That’s okay – keep surviving for now. 

Mental health shouldn’t be a privilege reserved only for certain people – but I think sometimes it is. (This could be a topic for another blog post, there’s so much more to unpack here.) 

I guess what I’m left with now, is wondering how I can help others who are on their way to mental wellness – how can I level the playing field and give others the same opportunities to succeed that I had? 

This post took an unexpected turn – but I love that! That’s what’s so cool about writing: sometimes you just don’t know what will come out on the page once you start.

Thanks for reading.

My Unoriginal New Year’s Resolutions

I love making New Year’s resolutions – I love goal setting and list-making in general. I love that feeling of a fresh start and the potential for the year to be anything you want it to be. 

Some people pick a word for the year – and I’ve never really been able to do that before, nothing ever felt right to me. But this year, the word that keeps coming to my mind is “thrive.” I’m really optimistic about 2020 – I think big things are going to happen for me. I have no proof of this, just a feeling.  

My year is starting off with a bang – three weekends in a row I will be out of town, which is almost unheard of for me. I turn 33 in two weeks, and I’m heading to Dallas to celebrate by getting my first tattoo (I’m super stoked for this by the way!) The following weekend, I’ll be heading to Orlando, Florida to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday in DisneyWorld. Then the next weekend Dean and I will be going to a My Hero Academia convention (back in Dallas). Two days later I will be having surgery on my foot, and then I’ll start the long recovery process…

So, why have I said that my resolutions are unoriginal for this year? Well, thriving for me looks like doing the things I want to do for my health, but have struggled to do for the past few months/years:

  • Exercising consistently
  • Eating better/cooking at home more
  • Praying/meditating daily

These goals are things I always take for granted that I will do every day, but I found it to be a real struggle to achieve these while I was in grad school. They’re your basic “good habits” that we all know we should be doing, but somehow find ourselves not doing them. Now that grad school is done, I feel like I’ve got more breathing room. I mostly just want to get back on track with being healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually. So yes, they are totally cliché and unoriginal, but those are my resolutions for 2020, summed up in a word: Thrive.  

Another part of thriving for me is just feeling good being me in the places where I am. I feel like I got to a point last year where I just felt tired of feeling bad – of feeling insecure and anxious all the time. Is that something you can just decide to not feel anymore? I’m going to pretend like it is and see how it works out for me… I’m tired of feeling imposter syndrome at my job – I’m tired of feeling ugly in pictures – I’m tired of worrying about being made fun of for the music or t.v. shows I like – I’m tired of pressuring myself to be a “better” mom – I’m tired of caring that not enough people “liked” my photos or read my blog – I’m tired of just barely surviving and making it to the end of each day – I just want to be me and feel good about it, to be good enough and not perfect. 

Perhaps my unoriginal resolutions have a bit more nuance than they initially do at first glance – but I’ll admit they are still pretty run-of-the-mill. However, I am pretty excited about my unoriginal resolutions and what they will mean for me in the upcoming year. Whether you’re the type of person who makes resolutions or not, whether your goals for 2020 are exciting, boring, or average, I hope this year brings you one step closer to thriving. 

Thanks for reading!