Back in January I wrote an article about being an “accidental activist.” Like many in our country, my heart was broken, I needed my voice to be heard, and I was trying to make sense of it all. I was searching for a roadmap on how to get involved, how to resist, in a way that I could manage within my already full life, and the Women’s March on Washington felt like a concrete step toward inspiring change.
In the weeks following the march I went to local meetings, called my congressional representatives, bought a Sunday subscription to the New York Times, and searched for a manageable way to stay involved. And I’ll admit that I’m still searching, uncertain of where to direct my energy. There’s so much happening in our country right now that makes my heart heavy and lights a fire in my soul, but there are just so many things to do, so many actions to take, that it often overwhelms me before I even start.
“Resistance has a shelf life. Your body and spirit can’t maintain that state. We’ve resisted and now we’re ready to thrive.”
I heard Naomi Randolph, executive director for Women AdvaNCe, say those words full of passion and optimism recently, and it struck a chord of relief within me. I realized my body and spirit are exhausted, and I needed to hear resistance reframed from someone who believes in the possibility of thriving through this change.
Thriving through change doesn’t mean we don’t resist or work to create positive change, rather it means that we work together, diligently practice self-care, and give ourselves a break when life is too full some days. As women, we tend to be hardest on ourselves, focusing on never doing or being “enough,” and it’s important that we find ways to make involvement manageable and fulfilling for ourselves rather than another item on our lengthy “to do” list.
From immense change comes immense growth
Life is full of tough change right now, and it can feel overwhelming at times. But nestled within that struggle is a huge opportunity to create the future we want. With Naomi’s words in mind, I invite you to join me in moving to a place of thriving. To thrive means to prosper, flourish, grow and develop vigorously. “Thrive” brings images of lush growth and beauty, of movement forward and up. For me, “thrive” conjures an image of myself being happy, healthy, relaxed and inspired.
A toolkit for thriving through change
Thriving through change is indeed a powerful phrase. But how do we get there? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’ve come up with five things we can all do to re-focus our energy toward that goal.
Dream and visualize
I’m a big believer in creating what you want by envisioning your dreams. Plus, dreaming is fun!! This is always my favorite thing to do when I’m planning a big life change. For example, when I graduated from college I moved from a small farming community in Kansas to Seattle, Wash. I won’t lie, it was a scary leap. I didn’t know the area or a single person living there, I was starting a new job in a new career, and I’d never lived in a large city. Of course, in my dreams it was also a thrilling change! I pictured myself working at an exciting job, eating amazing seafood, laughing with friends, going to cultural events and concerts downtown, and running through the rain with a cup of coffee. And guess what? Soon I was doing all of those things and more. Dreams are what fill our heart with desire and inspire us to embrace the change we encounter with resiliency.
Information is power. When I’m in a period of change, researching my options helps me define my path, calm my spirit and puts me in an empowered state. Whenever I’ve made a big move, taken on a new job, or even purchased a big-ticket item, I’ve researched to fill in the holes of uncertainty so I’m more confident in moving forward.
Step through the fear and act
Change undoubtedly brings some level of fear and apprehension with it. That fear can be paralyzing, or it can spur you into life-changing action. As scary as that move to Seattle seemed some days it gave me lifelong friendships, expanded my interests and experiences, and broadened my perspective on the world. By taking the leap and moving I opened myself up to incredible opportunities. I eventually got a job that gave me the chance to travel the world and run global campaigns, and I traveled to Ethiopia to bring home my adopted my son while I lived there. Those are huge gifts that I cherish every single day. When you go out into the world with a willingness to step off the cliff into the unknown, you’re setting yourself up to reap big rewards.
Take time away from the source of the change. You can’t focus your energy on the thing you’re trying to change all the time. It’s exhausting! We thrive when we have balance. Go to your favorite yoga class every week, even if it means saying no to something else. Get a massage, hang out with your friends, grab a cup of tea and read a scintillating book that has nothing to do with personal development, or just spend some time watching adorable puppy videos with a glass of wine. Create space to go to your happy place, to relax and replenish your energy and inspiration away from the change, so you’re ready to act when it’s time.
Connect with others
To thrive, we need to focus our energy and feel good about what we’re directing it toward. Being in community with like-minded people reminds us that we’re not alone and that we have a support system. It may be as simple as calling your best friend to share your ideas or vent about your frustrations, getting a hug from your partner because you’ve had a challenging day, or attending an event where you can hear inspiring speakers and meet others looking to thrive too.
The NC Women’s Summit, coordinated by Women AdvaNCe, is coming up in November, and this year the event centers around the theme of Thriving Through Change. Getting together with strong, smart, motivated women is something fulfilling and inspiring I can put on my “to do” list. So, I’ll be there! And I hope you’ll join me.
The NC Women’s Summit will be held on Saturday, November 4th at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Summit features a full day of discussion around health, education and the economy, all centered around the theme of Thriving Through Change. Plus, we’ll all walk away with concrete actions we can take to impact our communities and thrive through change here and now.
You can find more information and registration details here, and you keep track of who in your tribe will be there on the summit’s Facebook page. I’ll be there and I can’t wait to light a fire under our inspiration together!