I’m starting to dig out of my Black Hole of Lost Work. Meaning I have a little bit of me left over at the end of the day to think about my personal writing, and have begun making notes. And writing. A little. While I work on more articles, I’ve got some lovely loaners. Here’s one that’s just tailor-made for my situation from my friend, author Cynthia Herron.
How to Thrive Despite the Odds
I love beautiful plants, flowers, trees, and shrubs. I’m in awe of the people who grow them. My mama is one of those people. She could transplant a brick and bring it back to life. (Well—she can raise a stick from the dead.) Despite the odds, green things thrive under her watchful eye.
As I surveyed our still motley-colored lawn this week, I gazed at the nine pine trees we planted fourteen years ago. (The tenth one was uprooted by the last tornado that came through.) Those trees have been through everything (two tornadoes, buckets of hail, multiple ice storms, frigid winters, and dry-as-a-bone summers) since we transplanted them from small twigs only a foot or so high in 1999. The tallest pine in our back field is now about twenty feet tall! Go figure.
I’ve wished countless times we’d purchased more of those scraggly white pines (like maybe a hundred—because we could have used them as a wind break around our property), but at the time, my husband and I had our reservations whether the little buggers would really grow. We paid $1.50 per tree. But other than some preliminary care and nurturing the first year, and some occasional mulching and pruning, those trees have continued to thrive despite everything Mother Nature’s thrown at them.
I’ve learned that to thrive, plants, flowers, and trees, need that initial care and nurturing. It will enhance growth and likely determine survival. And like our pines they’ll survive and adapt despite the odds.
But how do people thrive and flourish in spite of hardship, turmoil, or unforeseen life events? You may know someone who’s going through a rough patch. Illness. Divorce. Job loss. Relationship issues. It could be you.
If you’re a writer or a creative, perhaps, you’re disillusioned with the process. Possibly, you’ve had some hard knocks. Maybe you feel that the odds are against you. That life’s out of control.
While I don’t have the perfect answer, here are some practical tips. Things you can do to maintain some semblance of balance and not only survive but thrive—despite the odds.
1. Pick a new pot.
If your current location inhibits you, move! Okay, maybe you can’t relocate to a new home, but if your creativity is stymied by where you’re at in life–physically or emotionally (a specific room, a naysayer’s company, an uninspiring place)–go somewhere else. The library, a coffee shop, that shade tree out back. Someplace that’s bright, cheery, and loaded with positivity.
2. Choose sunlight.
There’s nothing worse than dreary, down-in-the-mouth folks. I once worked in a profession that was anything but positive. Because of the nature of my job, I dealt with sad situations and unhappy people. Worked in an office with some pretty miserable individuals too. The odds of burn-out were great. I endured my time in the desert for a season, but I soon developed a plan, and when the time was right, I chose a different path. A sunnier one. I found you can do anything for a season—and even thrive—when you know an end is in sight. But you can’t be lazy about it. You must be proactive.
3. Use the right fertilizer.
To thrive despite the odds, proper nutrition’s important. What works for someone else won’t be the right thing for you. A dozen “experts” will attempt to sell you the moon. Generally, there’s a reason for that, and it may not be what’s best for you. Try different methods. Sources of (healthy) energy that make a difference. If you notice marked improvement, odds are you’re onto something. Some things that work for me: protein bars (not the super-charged ones loaded with bad stuff), peanut butter, granola, and cheese sticks (in moderation unless they’re low-fat). Also—a word about skipping meals. Don’t! You’ll just end up eating more later. Oh, and my personal philosophy: If bad ingredients (in addition, negativity) are the only things on the menu that day, I opt for the least unhealthy choice OR a different alternative. I rarely eat hot dogs, processed lunchmeats, or fried, greasy foods that shout “heart attack!” And if given the choice, I prefer eating with upbeat people because atmosphere is huge for me.
If you know a drought’s coming, don’t rely on Neighbor Nelly to share her well. Stockpile water, Powerade, juice—smart choices to quench your thirst. I’m a firm believer in drinking (no pun intended). My energy lags when my system’s depleted. My pines have survived hot-as-blue-blazes weather and water-deprived days. There’s no way we could physically water them all. Not enough buckets with drainage holes, no in-ground sprinkler system, and our hoses don’t stretch that far. Somehow, those trees have beaten the odds. I’d like to think it was because we gave them a good start. Sometimes we must work with what we’ve got. And if that’s not much, we pray. And adapt. And soak up the downpour of blessing as it comes. And give thanks.Remaining in a thankful mode during seasons of drought is crucial. It combats fear and unleashes hope.
5. Pay attention to detail.
Sometimes, to encourage new growth and ensure survival, it’s necessary to do a little pruning. I think my little pine trees survived (and thrived) over the years because of the preliminary measures we took when we transplanted them. We estimated a good location, dug the correct size holes, fertilized, watered often (when they were little trees they required less), and sprayed for pests. Now that those trees are ginormous, about the only thing we’ve done in recent years is prune back some of the lower branches and trim undergrowth.
Over the years, I’ve learned in order to thrive details are important. I can’t adjust the big picture until I fix a couple of the small details first. When I re-center my thinking, I’m more likely to succeed.
In the grand scheme of things, thriving despite the odds isn’t so much about the circumstance as it is about mind-set.
It requires effort.
Thriving despite the odds makes the conscious decision to refuse defeat.
Cynthia Herron writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the foothills of the beautiful Missouri Ozarks. She has a degree in psychology with a background in social work. She’s a member and vice president of ACFW MozArks, a member of ACFW and RWA, and is represented by Mary G. Keeley/Books and Such Literary Management. She has a fondness for gingerbread men, miniature teapots, and all things apple! Cynthia would be delighted to visit with you at her cyber home where she blogs MWF.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”