Survive and Thrive – Written in 2012

As a small child, my imagination was limitless and my faith was unconditional. It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, I wasn’t Superman. I was Wonder Woman! I stood behind the lounge chair in my parent’s room and spun around singing “Wonder Woman!  Wonder Woman! Speed of light, fat and thin, then you fall down.” I still don’t know the actual words but I was Wonder Woman. I THRIVED as a child.

As I grew older, my beliefs changed because people would tell me that what I believed wasn’t real or what I want to be wasn’t going to happen. What a way to bring me down! We lose our inner child to the world outside. We start to doubt our beliefs and ourselves.  We make choices in our lives and incur responsibilities and what we feel are obligations. We limit ourselves to do what is expected of us and we stop taking risks because we are afraid of failure. In short, we become cynics. How many times have you said, “I just need to SURVIVE?”

That child is still THRIVING and SURVIVING inside of all of us. My child shows her face in many different ways and usually at the wrong times and this sometimes gets me in trouble. I try to channel her so she is more appropriate but as with any belligerent child, she only likes to show herself at the worst times. Plus there are so many channels, who knows which one I am supposed to reach her with.

“I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.” – Edgar Allen Poe

I have been very lucky because I have always had a very good support system with my family and friends. However, sometimes your family is just too close and knows too many buttons to press to help you. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to get through.

Around 10 years ago, I had a lot of negative behaviors. I was impulsive and was making bad personal and professional decisions. I was unhappy in my marriage. I was unhappy at my job. I felt frustrated and as if I was falling into the same hole in the sidewalk over and over again. Do you know how it feels to do the same thing over and over again and nothing ever changes? I think I bumped my head one to many times in that hole. I couldn’t keep myself out and I was just SURVIVING and I was miserable.

It was at that time that I met a white knight in shining armor. Well, maybe not flawless, but as his wife says, “Saving the world one woman at a time.” I met my best friend in 2001 and he showed me a different way to look at my self and my decisions. He gave me an ego boost or maybe it was a reality check. Since I was just SURVIVING, it was easier to live in la-la land than to face reality. When I would describe myself to him, I would describe a person who was not smart or capable of anything. I believed that there was always something bad that came with something good. He would always tell me that the person I was describing was not the person he was seeing.

Who was this person he was seeing? I remembered that in high school I was self confident and sure of myself. I realized that he saw that person buried deep inside of me and she was someone I wanted to be again. I began my scary, wonderful journey of learning how to crawl out of the hole and I began to learn to THRIVE instead of just SURVIVING.

The first step was to realize that life is about choices. I have learned to own my choices. What does this mean to me? To me it means that I am responsible for my decisions and I don’t blame others or the environment for the consequences. Therefore, I own the consequences of my decisions. I take ownership of my life. I analyze myself and try to conquer my fears and step out of my comfort zones. By doing this, I learn what choices work for me and what choices do not. I try not to make the same mistakes over again. I still do sometimes but I try to learn from each experience. My head can’t take any more bumps. I began to THRIVE!

My second step was to build up my confidence by proving that I was smart. I stopped believing I had any intelligence. All of my friends did better in college than me and graduated with a job at a top accounting firm. I was lucky to get a job at all. I had only earned a 2.5 GPA with my Bachelor’s degree. My connections with a professional accounting organization are what helped me to get my first 4 jobs (it was smart but I didn’t see it that way). So, at 32, I went back to school and got my Masters degree in Accounting and Financial Management and graduated with a 3.7 GPA, with distinction. This accomplishment built up my confidence and so my journey to THRIVE continued.

About 6 months before I graduated with my Master’s degree, I had a parasite that was sucking the life out of me.  Once I divorced him, I became a stronger person than I ever knew myself to be and it was another step in my journey to thrive.

In 2008, at my job as an accountant, I was doing a presentation in our accounting meeting. I was disorganized and was going on tangents. Everyone was bored. I was almost in tears. It was right after this that I joined Toastmasters.  Toastmasters clubs have become my theater and my writing class. Writing speeches have inspired me to write more speeches. One specific goal-setting speech, by a member and friend, inspired me to finish writing and illustrating my children’s book, Vocabhallow. I set a deadline and I self-published it on October 18, 2010. I THRIVE as a leader, speaker, writer and illustrator.

I want the people, especially the children, in my life to learn to believe in themselves and their abilities. I want them to find out what makes them extraordinary and special. I want to be their mentor by showing them what it is to THRIVE than just to SURVIVE.

We only have one life and I want to do more than just SURVIVE.  I want to live and THRIVE.

Make your choices, own them and don’t just SURVIVE.  THRIVE!

From the words of Snoopy, “Be yourself. No one can say you’re doing it wrong.”

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