On New Year's Eve of 2014, I chose a word to describe my vision for my life in 2015. The word was 'Thrive.' I chose it because I had been working hard during the few years prior, to shift my perspective in life from 'surviving' to 'thriving,' and I wanted to constantly remind myself this year:
We are no longer in survival mode -- we are ready to thrive!
At the time I chose this word, I had been a nanny for the adorable little boy of a couple of family friends for just a couple of months, following about a year of working for Youth City, where I was facilitating after-school programming for kids in Salt Lake City between the ages of 7 - 18. I was also teaching French classes to 5th-8th graders at the Salt Lake Arts Academy a couple of afternoons a week, and I felt more at peace on a day-to-day basis than I had in years. I was indeed feeling ready to thrive! During the first few months of 2015, I began considering career options that I hadn't before, such as becoming a full-time nanny/au pair, or co-operating a pre-school/day-care center based around ideals of humanistic, diversity-minded, child-centered, and (loosely) attachment-parenting-styled care.
By the time the summer rolled around, however, I had realized that the things I was loving most about being a nanny were connected to the very things I loved about teaching. I determined that if I didn't do everything I could to apply for teaching positions, and give a fair shot to becoming a full-time teacher, I would look back years down the road, and regret that decision not to try ... I've wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, and I've loved every minute I've spent in front of a classroom of youth. So when I realized what exactly had been holding me back/making me hesitate (the fear that I would somehow fail at being an effective teacher once I was in a full-time position), I was able to kick that fear to the curb (I had no proof to back up that fear -- every teaching opportunity I'd had in my life so far had been successful and rewarding) and begin applying my heart out!
I am now teaching two days a week at a public charter school in Provo, Utah, which is a bit of an unpleasant commute, but I absolutely love the classes I'm teaching, the kids, parents, and staff I'm working with, as well as the overall vision and mission of the school. It's not full time, but it is turning out to be the perfect stepping stone toward the career goals I've set.
Through the ups and downs of this year, as I've wished I could do more to help those closest to me through their struggles and difficulties, I've continually come back to this word, thrive. When faced with giant, seemingly insurmountable challenges, I've been able to breathe, meditate, and slow down enough to ask - when I make this decision, will it be a decision that will help me continue to thrive? So it's been a great year, overall! When I have a word like that to guide me, it really doesn't matter what challenges life throws my way, because I know I will face all of them with an eye toward what thriving looks like to me. What will help me thrive today? What will help me thrive tomorrow, and next week, and next month, and next year? It's been wonderful to have that perspective.
Also, I've lost (and kept off) 12 lbs. during the past few months, so I'm feeling very literally lighter with every step I take. Thriving, to me, has a lot to do with making healthy and happy choices on a day to day basis, so when I've seen those numbers on my scale steadily rise over the years, I've known that I have to make conscious, deliberate, mindful choices to change my habits and challenge my status-quo, if that status-quo is not a healthy one that will contribute to my life-long wellness!
As 2015 wraps up, I've begun considering what word I'll be choosing for 2016. Some top contenders: health; wellness; joy ... whichever word I choose, though, I know this is going to be an excellent year! I'm not delusionally oblivious to the very real stressors and challenges that life will be throwing my way, but I am demandingly optimistic that my attitude will be helping me to find the positivity in every possible moment. Even when we are in pain -- we are alive! And as long as we are living, we can be choosing in every possible moment to be well, even by making the smallest of changes and actions that promote well-being.