Thriving: Where to Begin

I am a firm believer that every single day, we are presented with beautiful opportunities to learn and grow.

I had an incredibly moving conversation yesterday with an old friend. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30, and after undergoing treatment, she is, praise God, in remission. She’s a warrior and remarkably inspiring.

But we were talking, and she said to me, “Care, I know I’m supposed to be feeling on some sort of mountain top right now, but honestly, after this hellish journey, I don’t know what thriving looks like anymore.

And hearing this, I wanted to just give her a huge hug through the phone.

But I think this is not an uncommon feeling. At least, I know personally, I’ve been there before.

It’s a funny thing — when you overcome something seemingly insurmountable, that has dragged you through the depths — coming out the other side, it can be strangely difficult to know where to go from there.

There’s this abstract notion of “thriving.” It’s what we’re told to strive for, especially after something so life altering. We’re instructed to go fourth and thrive. Which – at least for me, personally – that can be a daunting goal.

After I adopted recovery from my anorexia, I was faced with this very predicament. Here I was, having spent the last two years literally destroying my life, nearly to the point of demise. It was all consuming — and all I knew.

To go from that existence: where my body was literally taking action to demolish itself — to now say — go forth and thrive! It was like … what the heck does that even mean?

What did it look like? I had literally no idea. I didn’t know what it was like to show my body kindness, or even acknowledge my own worth as a person.

Thriving was simply not in my vocabulary — or even something I could conceptualize.

BUT – over the 12 years of my recovery now — I have definitely learned exactly what it means to thrive. And how I’ve come to adopt this mindset into my life.

It has been a journey, but for me — to thrive is to be free.

In my recovery, God gave me the most precious gift of all: a second chance. Because at 78 pounds, I was literally at death’s door. And He rescued me, and restored me: mind, body and spirit. So for me, thriving is taking that second chance, and not letting a second of it go to waste.

It means gratitude for every single day, and for the people God has put in my life.

It means taking every opportunity that comes my way, because time is something that we’re not guaranteed. And take it from someone who squandered years of it — we cannot get it back. So having a spirit that invites adventure and spontaneity is a key component to thriving.

Thriving means having a heart that lets love in. I spent years believing that I was unworthy of love, so the biggest challenge — and the most rewarding — manifestation of a thriving life for me, is to accept love from friends and family — and in turn, share it with others.

Which leads me to this biggie: believing in my worth, and sharing my love with others. To thrive is to be free from all those negative self-messages that we believe to our core, and instead living with reckless abandon — loving God, loving others, loving the planet, loving ourselves — with all our heart. Because we’re worth it.

Thriving is chasing after dreams we once thought were impossible, but believing in ourselves enough to try.

It’s taking time to honor our bodies and take care of the instrument we’ve been entrusted with.

It’s HAVING FUN, and embracing the joy of life! Because we were made out of love, and in love, and for love. And God gave us this incredible playground to explore and experience. So go do it!

Thriving is going to look different to everyone. But to sum it up, as I told my brave friend that day — thriving means becoming who you were created to be.

Free from expectations. Free from fear or self-judgement. Delighting in the beautiful creation/work-in-progress that is you.

What does thriving mean to you?

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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137 thoughts on “Thriving: Where to Begin

  1. Yes, learning to live again. It means figuring out my new normal so that my life can once again have meaning and purpose. It means being patient with myself. It means loving myself and treating myself with the same kindness that I show others. Great post. Keep being you.❤️

    1. Hi Mary! Yes – that is so profound and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart. And you do show that to others, my goodness. You are a gold star friend, truly. It is a beautiful thing to witness 🙂 thank you for stopping by. Hope you have a lovely weekend. Sending so much love 🥰

  2. This is amazing! One of the best posts I have ever read. I’m serious.

    People who have or did have cancer always surprise me with their courage. My wife is in remission too, for the second time. And as I was reading your post I thought of caregivers. We face the trauma with the ones we love, and we can often wonder, where do we go from here? How do we rebuild? Peace.

    1. Thank you so much! And praise God for your wife’s remission! That’s so good to hear!! You’re so right about that – something to think and pray about. Glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox

  3. A thought-provoking question, and the following from Marianne Williamson came to mind:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. And as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    Apologies for the length, but it seemed to fit. To do this, I believe, is to thrive. Hugs & love– Mike

    1. Thank you so for sharing. Oh wow what a powerful quote. Had to read it twice. So glad you stopped by, Mike. Hugs and love xox

  4. Cancer, illnesses, death–they’re all devistating. Someone like your friend has to go from just surviving to thriving. It probably looks differently than it did before the diagnosis, which is why it is difficult to find your way. Patience, baby steps, and lots of prayer needed.

    1. You’re so right about that Lori. You’re right – prayer patience and baby steps – that is certainly the recipe! Hugs and love xox

  5. There’s a fiction book I read a long time ago about a POW camp in Vietnam, called “King Rat”. It left a profound impression on me, because of the archetype of the King Rat. The main character was a gentleman who was known for finding ways to get anything. I remember a Ronson Lighter being a prized posession–what good are cigarettes if you can’t light them? And if you needed it, our hero could get it. He had this sort of make-shift business amid the misery. People tried to gain favor, people appealed to him for help. At the end, the camp was liberated. He returned home, where he was second fiddle at the family shop. He went from top of the world (after a manner) to just–ordinary life. That contrast stuck out to me in a big way.

    I think this used to be a common occurrence. There are stories of WW2 veterans returning home and going back to their jobs. They would work as diligently as before–but they would absolutely not talk about what had happened. They might have some of the superficial accidents of thriving, but they were not coping in a healthy way.

    What I got from all this, and why your post made me think of it, is that our worth is not utilitarian, based on what we can do. Neither is it experiential, based on where we’ve been. Our worth is inherent to us, it is intrinsic. Our experiences can help us learn to be happy with what God in his wisdom and justice has given us. Our abilities can help us take the most advantage of the tools God has set before us. Thriving is using those tools–be they shiny and new or worn and broken–to build something we are proud of, to build something that glorifies God. You have leveraged your hardship to build this platform into something amazing. You said it best: Thriving is becoming who God created us to be. God put us on this earth to face our specific problems at our specific times. Whatever tools we have around us, we can use them to build something amazing too.

    Thank you for this excellent post.
    AMDG
    -Scoot

    1. Thanks Scoot for this thoughtful response. You’re so right – to face our specific problems at our specific times. That really puts a lot of things into perspective. Hugs and love xox

  6. Thrive to me also means to shake off the past and be free with Jesus in the present. Being fully in the now with forgiveness of the past is to thrive, in my book. Hard to achieve, hard to shake off the broken. Takes God to heal and re-energize. Just my thoughts. Great post as usual. And love you as always. Hugs! 😄❤

    1. Thank you so much for the beautiful response Tonya! Be free with Jesus in the present!! Oh my gosh I absolutely LOVE THAT!!! Isn’t it the truth!!! Thanks for stopping by my dear friend! Love you!!! Have a great weekend! Hugs and love xox

      1. Hey Caralyn, I love the message. I haven’t had a drink in just about 3 years now. At times I’ve definitely felt like where do I go from here or what now? Working through your habits or hang-ups is great, but learning to thrive really takes it to a whole new level. I’m still working in that direction and messages like this help guide the way 🙂

      2. Oh my gosh say to go friend! Cheering for you in your sobriety!!!! Thank you for sharing that. Hugs and love xox

  7. Being someone who struggles with anxiety, i know the mental challenge ahead. It’s not easy. Some days are better than others. The more we do, the better we are.

    1. Thank you so much Derek for sharing that. You’re right – one day at a time 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  8. This was truly wonderful to read. So many, including myself, need that confidence building reminder that it’s truly okay and quite amazing to walk in the newness of every stepping stone God places before us. Accepting your individual uniqueness can be a little intimidating but in what I’ve experienced thus far, I wouldn’t change it & so hate it took so long. But that’s okay too because God’s masterpieces always take time.

    1. Oh gosh thank you Ms. Wanda!! The newness of every stepping stone God places before us – WOW!! How poetic and powerful!!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you for sharing that. You’re right – gratitude is the root of joy!! Hugs and love xox

  9. To thrive for me :Bloom like a flower to see the seed that God put in you grow, all your gifts, talent… Because we were born with a purpose. It’s loving ourselves no matter what we’ve gone trough and allow God to reveal us our real beauty in him.

    I really love this post, thank you.

    1. Yes!! Oh I love that so much 🙂 you’re right – our real beauty in Him ! How powerful! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  10. Beautiful post Caralyn. For me thriving would be to not be held back or be identified by whatever shackled me before but to find find freedom in the peace and acceptance that comes with Gods love and recognising who I am in His eyes and find joy in the purpose He lays out for me. And it will be one day at a time or even one step at a time with prayer and continuing dependence on God to guide you and point you in the right direction.

    1. Thank you so much!! Oh yes! Freedom in His peace!! Oh I love that so much. So so much. What a comforting thought!! Hugs and love xox

  11. What an opportune article for me tonight. It’s been a depressing day. You know the trials I went through that brought me to Memphis. Trying to find freedom – maybe just recognize it – gets to be a challenge. Yeah…recognizing freedom. The trap is in the mind.

    I want to try and find an agent but fear not knowing how to juggle that with needing to keep working. Fear of doing nothing and what can happen at work. Perhaps releasing anxiety over unanswered questions is the key to thriving. Maybe freedom is that simple, eh? Free from negative self-messages; I’m not as good as I thought, not as good as some have told me. What agent wants someone like me in their stable (appearance)? What if I can’t find a way to juggle my job with whatever opportunities happen?

    Reckless abandon. Yeah, maybe I need to think more like that. Maybe I need to just hit the gas and jump off those bridges when they come.

    I read this a couple hours ago and walked away, not sure what I thought. A little too close to my truth? Coming back to it now, rereading and finding the key phrases and typing “out loud” helps. So thanks for the article. Thanks for the patience I know you’ll have for me as I work through my thoughts tonight. As always…

    1. Thank you so much Jeff, oh gosh I’m sorry it’s not been a good day. I’m sending prayers and an encouraging hug your way! You hit the nail on the head – free from the negative self messages – they can truly weigh us down. You have exactly what it takes because God’s already given you what you need and will give you exactly what you need when exactly you need it. So bring on the reckless abandon. You literally cannot lose with God because you’re going to end up where He has planned 🙂 I’m cheering for you 🙂 thanks for sharing your heart. Sending hugs to you and Julie and Hilary!!

      1. Yes! He will lead you where He has planned for you to be! 🙌🏼🤗

  12. LOVE this post. Thriving, for me, is living life to the fullest given the circumstances. That means turning to God during difficult times for comfort so that He can guide me and I can learn from situations and change my lens. IF I do that, its not always easy and I don’t always do it, He gives me what I need to be productive and of service. Life is short, I want to thrive in His glory. Thank you Caralyn!!!

    1. Oh thank you so much Lisa! Oh yes! I love your definition!! Thrive in His glory! Amen!!! Hugs and love xox

  13. Fifty years of growing together. I changed to be more her; she changed to be more me. We grew into one with God. Love is everything.Love in marriage means to trust your partner, care for your partner, respect your partner and be a friend with whom your partner can share anything and everything. It is being ONE with each other and God. Having said this, Sex is NOT evil nor a sin. Sex is a part of our physical well being.

    1. Oh wow this is so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I agree! It’s a beautiful thing that God created!! Hugs and love xox

  14. I can relate with you friend. I went through a health struggle and almost died 25 years ago. I still remember the day the doctor told me, “Matt you are now a healthy man. It is a miracle you didn’t die.” I walked out of his office wondering, “What do I do now?” because that was a 3 year ordeal. I left the school where I was studying for ministry because I was sick. It took another 3 years for me to discover what God was calling me to do.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Matt. Gosh I’m so glad you came through it. It’s a daunting question. Glad you’re following that calling! Hugs and love xox

  15. Living again definitely takes time and it may take on a different shape than we could’ve ever expected. But, when we are doing it through the Lord, we can trust every bit of it. ☺️ God bless!

    1. You’re so right about. Thanks for sharing your heart. Amen! We can trust every bit! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much! Oh what a cool account! I’ll have to check it out!! Instagram has everything! Haha Hugs and love xox

  16. Caralyn, thriving means embracing yourself-positives and faults all. It is accepting and liking yourself, in spite of your struggles. Love and hugs XOXO

    1. Oh i love that definition so much. Yes! Faults and all!! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  17. I am so moved and could not agree with you more with what you wrote: “God gave me the most precious gift of all: a second chance.”

    So many times in my life I have felt blessed having been given a second chance. It brings me closer to God and the Blessed Mother.

  18. Thriving to me is the assurance I’m a child of God and He has a plan to unite me with my heavenly cousins at a time of His choosing. No cancer up there, no war, discrimination, hatred or exploration of any kind. That thought makes it possible to put up with anything this life throws at us in the interval. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing that Ian. I absolutely love your def. yes! He has a plan! Hugs and love xox

  19. Yes, my dear Caralyn

    Life is out teacher and when we consciously look at even the smaller things of life
    that gently touches our mind every day, thankfulness beside the development of receptivity, all those little presents given by God, will increase and make us grow – but how many times during the day we ignore those little things, like we are blind and deaf to them, opportunities that we miss, fail, to receive them with our heart. May our eyes and ears get open to allow this beauty of the little things that life offers to enter our consciousness.

    Thanks for sharing, dear friend and have a great weekend
    Hugs and love
    Didi

    1. You’re so right about that Didi! Little presents from God! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your heart! Hugs and love xox

  20. Good morning to all, Love what you wrote about thriving, and felt for your friend who admitted she didn’t know what it was anymore. For a long. long time I was that way about ‘happy’. What is this abstract notion? How does it feel? Would I recognise it if it leapt up and hit me in the face? I could get no further than being ‘content’. A bit like ‘strive’ is part way to ‘thrive’. But yesterday I said I was happy and my heart knew I meant it. And reading your lovely post I knew that I am thriving. So thank you, wonderful young lady, for letting me see it.
    BTW we have lots of great aphorisms in our downstairs washroom and a very pertinent one here is: “Don’t look back – you’re not going that way.” How cool is that to read each day? X

    1. Thank you so much Marilyn! You’re so right – happiness is the same way! Oh wow – what a powerful thing to read every day! Love it! Hugs and love xox

  21. Amen! You preached it! This was a beautifully written post describing with great detail and passion what a life spent truly thriving can look like. Again I say, Amen! Love, love, love this post!!!😃😃

    1. Aw thank you so much!!! I’m so glad this resonated with you!!! Hope you have a great weekend! Hugs and love xox

  22. Oh my Goddess, You are one amazing Lady! From the one who struggles with pain in Life to being the person You are today is never easy. But You did it! Sincerely, I love the way You make it all the way to Yourself. You are an inspiration! 😇

  23. Beloved, what an Amazing, heartfelt story. Thanks for opening up and always sharing your heart – and inspiring us to greatness! We really can do all things through Christ!

    Blessings, Georganna

    1. Oh gosh thank you so much Georganna! I so appreciate your kind words 🙂 yes! ALL things through Him! Hugs and love xox

  24. Awesome job… Hope is the one thing that everyone in this world needs, whether they are lost or saved. I think it is important for us to raise up every morning and look in the mirror and preach the gospel to ourselves. This reminds us of who we were before Christ, his sacrifice, and his ongoing involvement in our lives. Scripture says that he intercedes for us before the Father, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with uttering and groaning that we cannot understand. The Father himself desires to be with us. What a blessed hope we have in Jesus Christ. When I feel depressed, I preach the gospel to myself and I am reminded that I am so important to God that he sacrificed his own son so that he and I could be closer in love. Bless you and your testimonies, you are such a great encouragement. Grace and Peace in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

    1. Thank you so much! You’re so right about that – hope is something every single one of us needs. So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  25. When I am told to “thrive”…it presses my old “perfectionism” button…that I have to “strive” to somehow be “successful”. Perhaps in the world’s eyes…in this capitalistic culture…yes. That only feeds my old “not good enough” myth…where I have to constantly “do more” to be “worthy.” But I am already worthy in God’s eyes. In my opinion, to “thrive” is to simply “be.” When I am being me…my true self…being present to all that is in love and compassion…I am “thriving”. Nothing more is required. Peace and blessings ~ Bill

    1. I an absolutely relate, Bill. So true. Being our true self is where it’s at! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  26. Awesome post. Thriving is an interesting topic to wrestle with. The more I go down this rabbit hole of blogging, branding, and marketing my wares I see that thriving has very little to do with me.

    Largely my creative pursuits have taught me that thriving is resting in God’s unconditional love for me and the work that Christ did on the cross. It really is finished. My striving takes away from the thriving peace and abundant life that Christ freely gives.

    There are things I can do to express love for God and others, but I want to thrive in what God freely gives. To be still and know God, that’s a thriving life I crave.

  27. As a young man, had a most beautiful lady friend. Golden hair, suntan, blue-grey eyes, husky voice, mystical almost. And a bag of bones.

    I really wanted to fix her, I wanted to see her thrive. I tried what I could not realising it was only within her own power in unison with Jesus. I didn’t want her for myself but I desired her to be whole again. Forty years later, I don’t know where she is or if she’s even okay. So, Caralyn dearie, now you know how I respect and treasure your coming out on this. 🌹💕

    1. Thanks for sharing that Pete, it breaks my heart. You hit the nail on the head: you can’t fix her – she has to make the decision herself. I pray she’s found freedom! Thank you for your support. Hugs and love xox

  28. it took me longer to realize I think than you, but I am trying to live by the motto “find beauty wherever you may go”, for me, scientifically, the odds of all the atoms in the universe conspiring in such a way to create me, is astounding, a miracle by any means when you consider the vast amount of things that had to happen for me to happen but like many things I think it starts small, yes, the old tired “one day at a time” etc.. but sometimes cliches are true, I try to start each day before getting in my car to slog through the awful jersey turnpike commute, take a deep breath, look up at the trees, and consider all that made all this, even if for a moment, it connects me back to that miracle, of life.

    1. Find beauty wherever you may go. Wow I love that so much. Thanks David. Hugs and love xox

  29. Thriving is everything you say more… Ill add that thriving means to let go and move on even though you don’t how to. It means to love yourself as much as you love others and even more. May we be stronger and bolder as we thrive. Love ❤

    1. Oh my gosh I love this So much. You’re right – letting go, moving on, loving ourselves and others – all true! Hugs and love xox

  30. This post is one of your best. Thank you.

    And, it seems like every time I need a pick-me-up, a post from you shows up in my inbox. And that also makes turn toward God and Jesus, thanking them. You are an angel on this Earth.

    My definition of thriving is “not sweating the small stuff” and “being patient with myself.” I’m still adjusting to my new job after six weeks. Casey, who is a wonderful confidant, told me this week that I may not feel fully comfortable until a year has gone by. The old me would have been absolutely terrified at that thought. Not the Laura Beth here in 2019! I’ve always been impatient, but I’m learning to embrace patience. I think it’s one sign I’m finally growing up, LOL.

    1. Aw thank you so much Laura Beth! Oh gosh, that’s so kind of you to say 🙂 amen! Being patient with ourself! That’s so important. Embrace that patience! I’m cheering for ya!! Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  31. Caralyn, I NEEDED to hear this today! Jesus has me focusing on letting go of the past (and living in it) so that I can embrace the now, and the future. I know He wants me to enjoy life and thrive, and I am ready to! So this post was a blessing. You’re a blessing too– please pray I would move forward in this and not backward!

    1. Oh good! I’m so glad this resonated with you! Yes! Embrace the now! Such an inspiring thought! Will be praying for ya! Hugs and love xox

  32. Thriving is seeing the beauty in nature and then just sitting back and enjoying it. Thriving is sitting with your best friend and laughing over the stupidest stuff just because you both are tickled. Thriving is loving someone so much you hate not to be with them. Thriving is being the you that you want to be, to know (whether due to god in your view or yourself in mine) that you can see the future, and though times might get tough, you are tougher, and dammit you will be happy!

    Thriving is good, and lady you got this! Luv ya!

    1. Thank you so much Tony! I love your definition so much! Yes! Being the you that you want to be! hugs xo

    1. Hi Tony! Oh my gosh i absolutely love that. Showing others the way – amen to that! Glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox

  33. Powerful!! For by grave we are saved!
    I love the fact that God’s plan is bigger than our plan. No matter where we are in life or how bad it gets, once there is a calling on our lives there is nothing that can stop God from fulfilling His plan in us!

    God Bless you! Thank you for sharing

    1. Thank you so much Michael! Oh yes – His plan is much bigger than ours!!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Hi AManada! Oh that is such a powerful definition! You’re right – even when things are hard – that’s when the rubber meets the road and you’re endurance is tested! hugs xo

    1. Oh thank you so much Anthony! I’m so glad you thought so!! i appreciate you stopping by! big hugs xo

    1. Thank you so much!! I’m so glad this resonated with you! Yes! Who we were created to be! hugs xox

      1. I just wrote yesterday a heavy hearted post on fear and overcoming and so I need this idea of thriving..moving forward…figuring out who I was created to be! I know it in my head but my heart doesn’t always get it!!

    1. That’s amazing!! Congratulations Jeanna!! And thanks for the nomination. What an honor! Hugs and love xox

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