My 2017 Word of the Year
I once received a cute print of a cactus that says "introducing the only plant I will never kill".
It's a cute print, it really is, but the reality of that sentiment, at least for me, is way off. Cacti are incredibly easy to kill! I know because I've done it an embarrassing amount of times.
I know they don't need much water, but cactus can die if:
- the soil is too rich
- the pot is too big
- the pot doesn't have proper drainage
- they get too cold
- they don't get enough sunshine
It's not enough to plant a cactus and just leave it be. It still needs care.
When thinking about my New Year's resolution, I ended up coming up with like a billion, but when it came down to it, they could be summed up with one word: THRIVE.
I want to thrive this year. I want my relationships to flourish. I want my writing to improve. I want to use my love of public speaking more often. I want to finish things I start.
I think in 2016 I was focused on survival. My thoughts would be like this:
If I can just make it until Chris gets home so I can get a break...
If I can just get through this school year...
If I can just finish this week...
I can't wait until this fall...
Just 30 more minutes until nap time...
Don't get me wrong: I get survival mode. There are seasons when it's all you can do to keep your head above water, but when that season starts to become your modus operandi, when that season becomes another season, something has got to change.
The difference between surviving and thriving is a big one; survival mode is when you live for your little breaks. The problem comes when those breaks occur less frequently than you'd like. When that happens you feel like chunks of your sanity and happiness are being chipped away. Survival is just waking up with a pulse each morning.
Thriving is living with hope for the longterm future. It's living life proactively instead of reactively. You're not counting on the little breaks to get you through. What gets you through is the extra care you've been given. Maybe you need more care in the friendship and relationship department (you feel lonely in your big pot all alone). Maybe you need to feed your creative side a little more (you need a bit more warmth). Or maybe you've taken on too much and you're drowning (your soil needs better drainage).
I've always been impressed by how cacti survive in what seems to me to be suboptimal conditions. After all, they grow in rocky places and need very little water. But have you ever tried to make a cactus flourish? Have you ever taken one from survival mode to full on thriving mode?
I wrote a post in July of 2015 about my loneliness here in Atlanta:
Every time I see little potted succulence I get a twinge of longing in my heart for Texas and all the friends and places we left behind. I take a deep breath and remind myself of the resilience of cacti-- how they grow in rocky places, how they thrive with very little water, and I remind myself that despite how hard this feels that I WILL bloom where I'm planted. I fight back tears, swallow hard and remember: Austin holds sweet memories but Atlanta has new adventures.
But since then, I have propagated a cactus and my cactus is having cactus babies and the babies are having cactus babies! My cactus, the first one that has ever survived under my care, is not just surviving! It's thriving! And now I see cacti a little differently:
Every time I see little potted succulence I am reminded of their duality: how they're delicate yet resilient. The can survive under adverse conditions, but to really flourish, to really grow well, they need special care. But once they take root, once they know they're nurtured, they do more than survive. They thrive.