You could survive, but that’s not the same as thriving

You could survive, but that’s not the same as thriving

An old pet peeve of mine is when people say, “I could never do that!” in response to someone saying they’re in the middle of doing that very thing. Personally, I get it most frequently when I say that I homeschool my kids, that my own child had cancer, or when I share that I’m a stay-at-home mom (part of the time) or a working mom (part of the time).

My knee-jerk reaction is always the same: Of course you could. If you ever found yourself in a situation where homeschooling was the only good option for your child, you could do it. If your kid got really sick, you would figure out a way to deal with it. If your family really needed a stay-at-home parent—or a working parent—for a season, I feel confident that you could figure it out. You would survive. (Related: this conversation always reminds me of Eleanor Roosevelt, who was full of pithy quotes on this very subject.)

A Woman Is Like a Teabag | Eleanor Roosevelt

She’s a wise one, that Eleanor. 

But I learned something the hard way this summer. There’s a big difference between surviving and thriving.

Because of various oddities of our calendar (and our caregivers’ calendars), I spent a lot more days on stay-at-home mom duty this summer than usual. And I survived: it’s been a good summer. But it doesn’t feel like thriving, and it’s not coming easy for me.

I’ve been trying to think through the reasons for this. A lot of it has to do with being off routine. I thrive on consistency (even though I fight it) and our summer schedule has been erratic due to travel and such. My kids also love routine; I have one child who needs it desperately. We’ve all missed it.

I suspect my struggle to thrive also has a lot to do with my personality. I find it fascinating that Penelope Trunk claims that ESFJs and ISFJs are most suited to staying home with kids. Whether or not she’s right, I am neither.

Bloom Where You're Planted | Mary Engelbreit

Do I think that most people could find a way to bloom where they’re planted, to learn to live a full, even joyous life in tough (or tough-for-them) circumstances? Probably. I hope so.

But will I be a lot more gracious the next time someone says to me, “I could never …”

You betcha.

Share your experiences with surviving vs. thriving in comments. 

photo credit

P.S. I wrote a book about personality! In Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, I walk you through 7 different frameworks, explaining the basics in a way you can actually understand, sharing personal stories about how what I learned made a difference in my life, and showing you how it could make a difference in yours, as well.

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  1. Katherine says:

    I would say that our marriage survives, but in no way thrives, when I am pregnant and through that first year with the baby. Yes, our marriage deepens in so many ways and we really pull together to survive… but we do not thrive. The tiredness…It gets to be a lot.

    (That’s part of what I consider when I think about having another baby! The weariness, and toll it takes on both of us).

    • Anne says:

      Oh, the tiredness. Yes, I get this.

      New babyhood can be such a sweet time…but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard someone say they’re “thriving” during it. But I’d love to hear of any exceptions…

  2. Jaimie says:

    I like routine, but busyness is what drains me, and my husband. We’re both home-bodies, and when we have commitments all day, every day, it’s not cool. We’re learning that we need to put “time home and together without distractions” into our schedules so that it actually happens, so we can recharge and refresh–otherwise tempers get short, we get overtired, and it’s just not good. Summer is nice because our evenings are almost always free, and I have more time to be at home–we’re going to thoroughly enjoy these last two weeks of (relative) freedom!

  3. I can really relate! Surviving and thriving are two very different things. It feels like once you make it through a life phase that just needs surviving then a door opens for you to do some thriving to help keep things balanced. At least that’s what’s happened for me and that hope that there will be some thriving in the future helps get me through the surviving. My motto is Have Hope Every Day. 🙂

  4. Jamie says:

    Good post and food for thought. Life and marriage have taught me to largely stop staying that I could or would not do or survive something – too many things have changed in the last ten years that I always took for constants.

    At the same time, I am learning the confidence to restructure my life around what works for me and my husband and the value in fighting for and prioritizing certain things regardless of what anyone else thinks or what it takes to make it happen. The years go faster as you get older – it is worth every bit of effort to make sure we spend them thriving, in as much as it is in our power to do so!

    • Anne says:

      “Life and marriage have taught me to largely stop staying that I could or would not do or survive something – too many things have changed in the last ten years that I always took for constants.”

      I relate to this. Well put.

    • Jamie, Totally agree. “Life and marriage have taught me to largely stop staying that I could or would not do or survive something – too many things have changed in the last ten years that I always took for constants.”

      I said as much in my comment below (then came up to find other comments and see the sentiment echoed by others).

  5. When we were globe-trotting aviation mechanics, picking up and moving every 3-4 months (and at one location, moving 13 times in 4 months just so we’d have a place to stay or housesit), people told us ALL.THE.TIME. “I could NEVER do what you do!” You know what? My initial response was perhaps less than gracious, but it was the truth: “Then it’s a good thing God isn’t asking you to do it.” 🙂

    Fact of the matter is, P and I both feel that God uniquely equipped us to love travel, to not mind the chaos of moving over and over and over, to think culture was great, and to not mind living out of suitcases for months on end. He enabled us to do it because it’s what He moved us to do.

    After I’d shock the person with the first half of my answer, I would usually continue: “Well, I could NEVER do what you’re doing!” And when they would look at me funny, I’d say, “You know… stay in one place all the time. Be a part of one community. Live here and get involved in people’s lives on a long-term basis. But God hasn’t asked me to do that, and He has equipped YOU to do that, so we’re BOTH where God wants us to be, and we’re both doing what He has called us to do. If He wanted you to move all the time and live overseas, He would have equipped you to do that, and it wouldn’t be a big deal.”

    The point is, we’re all different, and we all have different gifts and abilities and desires. It’s like all the people who have told us for 13 years that we “had to have” kids. But we didn’t feel a desire for kids. Most people don’t understand that, even CAN’T understand that, but they don’t need to. That’s between the hubs and me and God. YOUR experience doesn’t have to be MY experience, and that goes both ways.

    The irony is that for the last 5 years we’ve now been back in the States, living in one place. There are days when I feel like I’m going to go crazy, but for the most part, God has given me the grace to deal with where He has me now, and the peace to know that it may not be forever, but I can, in fact, DO THIS because THIS is what He’s asking me to do right now. 🙂

      • Anne says:

        I love it, too! Thanks for sharing how thriving for you looks COMPLETELY different from what other people’s versions might be.

        (I knew you lived overseas for years, but I didn’t know what you did professionally. Aviation mechanics, huh? That’s pretty cool, Carrie. 🙂 )

    • A says:

      Thank you. Thank you for encouraging my heart this morning with your comment. I’ve been struggling while trying to come to terms that my wants and abilities seem to have changed. My doer personality compels me to just push through it (whatever “it” is) and make it happen but I’m making myself miserable. I used to love to travel but haven’t since I’ve had kids. What do I do? MAKE myself go on trips even though I really don’t want to.

      Perhaps God had changed my desires and my “limitations” for this season in my life. Perhaps I need to relax a little more and enjoy where I am and not worry that I should be doing x, y, z.

      ps – when I was young, I was scared to death that God was going to make me a missionary. Later, a friend who was a missionary laughed and said, “you do know that God gives people the ability and desire to do the things He’s called them to, right?” 🙂

      • Karlyne says:

        Oh, A, you are so right! God does change what you want and when you want it. As an… ahem, “older person”, I am amazed at how often it has happened to me. I say to you, keep a sense of humor and perspective and let yourself enjoy the amazement!

      • A – glad it was an encouragement. 🙂 My husband and I were working as missionaries through the aviation branches of various mission organizations, so I agree 100% with what your friend said (and it falls in line with what I said to people). God equips and uses us all in different ways. While He has not taken away our desire for travel and culture and life outside the U.S., He HAS given us the grace to deal with this new phase in our life, even on the really hard days. 🙂 I look at it as “It’s not forever, it’s just for NOW.”

        • Karlyne says:

          “It’s not forever, it’s just for NOW” sums up life. No matter how easy or hard life is right now, the one thing you can bet on is that it will change!

          • A says:

            Isn’t that the truth! Thanks to you both for the encouragement and the reminder that I’m not the only one who feels like life changes right about the time I get comfortable with where I am.

  6. Jeannie says:

    You make a really good point here. I have certainly been in the position of having people say to me “I can’t imagine doing what you do!” “I could never…” etc. I think it also applies to the uninformed opinions I sometimes have about other people who are struggling — they seem to be handling it so well! They don’t seem to need help! Therefore I don’t need to offer any help! … You can see where this is going. So your post is a great reminder on many levels, but for me it’s especially helpful to remind me not to make assumptions about those I see around me. Maybe they’re doing great, but maybe they aren’t.

    • Anne says:

      Love how you apply this to other people’s circumstances, Jeannie. And I can only imagine how many times you must hear “I could never…” given what your life looks like, so I really appreciate your perspective on this.

  7. Thank you for this post. Also, I suddenly have an understanding for my (seemingly innate) need to stay home.

    Earlier this year I had to stay home for about a week. Any longer and I would have been a recluse. I loved not leaving the house for that long.

  8. Nadine says:

    “Are you surviving or thriving?” It’s THE question I try to ask most when I am talking to a friend about life. Because sometimes all that goes on is survival mode – though I am not quite sure why. I love when I hear that a friend is thriving. That’s my favourite.

  9. bethany says:

    My husband and I have felt like we’re in survival mode for pretty much our whole marriage (4 years). It’s been a series of circumstances, some within our control but many not, and we’ve been having conversations about what to do to change it. We’re contemplating moving away from Chicago to a city less expensive and with a thriving creative community, because we’ve realized that we’ve been trying to fit ourselves into a lifestyle here that we can’t thrive in. The cost of living is too high for two creatives, and the people around us aren’t supportive of where we want to go with our careers. It’s put us in survival mode – scraping by financially, struggling in jobs we can’t stand, etc. For other people we know, Chicago is the perfect place to be and live and do what they do. For us, it’s not. And we’re ready to go somewhere we can thrive. For a long time we felt really alone in that, like we were somehow at fault. Now we’re realizing that we’re just meant for something different, and that’s okay. I found this post really encouraging, Anne. Thank you for being honest with us about your own struggles.

    • Anne says:

      Bethany, that’s so interesting. I definitely didn’t have geography in mind when I wrote this and am so glad you put that issue on the table. Interestingly, my husband and I used to be in Chicago, and we have a series of friends (some creative, some not the tiniest bit) who have moved to Cedar Rapids, Indianapolis, DeKalb County, Louisville (where I am) because the cost of living was killing them.

      Have you written about this on your blog? I can’t recall a post but I would love to read more of your story. (Also, hoping we can meet at Story Chicago. 🙂 )

      • bethany says:

        I would LOVE to blog about it, and have been trying to for weeks, but it requires a measure of extreme caution since many of my coworkers and superiors read my blog. I don’t want to give them the impression that I have one foot out the door… at least not before I’m ready to take that next step and leave. Definitely complicates things, but at the same time it’s useful, because it’s motivating me to search more earnestly for new opportunities. Rest assured that when the time comes for us to move, it will be blogged. The floodgates will burst forth with much to say about this season of my life. That’s the funny thing about the internet – you can appear totally quiet and content about life, when really it’s taking everything in you not to BLOG ALL THE THINGS.

        Anyway, thanks for your encouragement. And I would LOVE to meet you when you come to town for Story! I won’t be at the conference but I’m hoping to meet up with some of those that are going!!

        • Anne says:

          “That’s the funny thing about the internet – you can appear totally quiet and content about life, when really it’s taking everything in you not to BLOG ALL THE THINGS.”

          Hahaha! Funny cause it’s true. 🙂

          I’d love to meet you when I’m in Chicago!

    • Agree, Bethany. The cost of living in Chicagoland is killing us, too. Slowly, and with much torture. We’re down to low income housing in the suburbs, 3 kids in a 2 BD (one large enough, luckily, to be legal,) and we are trapped by the lack of job opportunity. We moved here from the employment-dead south, thinking the salary was going to bring us financial freedom, haha! To agree with Anne, you would most certainly hit on a nerve if you were to write about it on your blog or another publication. We’re surviving, but we’re hanging on by a thread.
      Anne, thank you for sharing. It helps to know we are not alone. It feels less like being abandoned by the One would could do something about it but hasn’t. (And I know He is good, but sometimes I just can’t feel it.) 🙂

    • Kitty says:

      Wow, I am so happy to have discovered your website Anne and this warm, interesting group of people contibuting to it. My family just celebrated our one year anniversary of moving to Uruguay from Canada. It has been a trying time on so many levels but we are finally out of survival mode! Yes!!! After all the hard work and suffering, a deep calm is emerging. Ok, maybe we aren’t thriving yet but the foundation feels in place for that to happen. It was an immense relief for us all when our household possesions arrived safe and sound and it is thrilling to hear the children practicing Spanish as they frolic in the garden. Now that we have started more formal lessons, my five year old is just soaking it in. Secong language? Done! Despite the serious stress of relocating, I feel great relief here in this beautiful and beachy, ultra family-centered country. And the children love it! For anyone willing to make the leap, there are lots of opportunities (but as with all things Uruguayan, you have to know where to look). This experience has given rise to Travel Uruguay, our family business, offering assistance to those who wish to follow the same path.

      • Anne says:

        Canada to Uruguay? WOW. I always wonder how–and why–people make such enormous changes. I can only imagine how incredible–and stressful–a change that must be.

        LOVE the family business!

  10. Karlyne says:

    I think we all have times when we have to be in survival mode, for whatever reason. (Several of you mentioned good ones.) The trick is to see it for what it is and not get stuck there indefinitely! We need to be creative and to look forward to our eventual thriving, and not just homestead in the rut that at one time was important.

    • Anne says:

      “I think we all have times when we have to be in survival mode, for whatever reason.”

      Yes, absolutely! And I love what you say about not getting stuck. 🙂

  11. Angie says:

    That’s really iteresting that ESFJs and ISFJs are the most suited to staying home with kids. I’m also not one of those, and I have horrible guilt that even though I am a SAHM, I’m not really suited to it. I love my kids more than anything, and would cut off my right arm for them if they needed it, but I sometimes wonder if I’m a square peg trying to make myself fit in a round hole. This was great reading! 🙂

    • Karlyne says:

      I’m an ISFJ myself, and even when I thought the kids might not “survive”, I’ve always felt that I was doing what I really liked to do and, thus, “thriving”! Angie, maybe you just need some flexibility. Maybe a SAHM most of the time? I’ll bet there are people out there who have some great creative ideas for you…. Right, people?

    • Melissa D says:

      I’m an INTJ, at home, with 3 kids (2nd, Kindergarten, and preschool). INTJs are called “masterminds” — and I’ve found that I have to approach staying at home with a fun but *utilitarian* mindset. So I write from home (mostly copywriting), and spend time problem-solving the house, and have learned to do things like make bread from scratch. I have a lot of lists to keep my brain sane on the home front, like the chore list from Motivated Mom.

      People who say “I could never…” should realize that we CAN all do what we must do. But it can require an aching amount of sweeping away of habits of mind, house or body that no longer fit what we must do *now*. The hard part is that fear-filled time between seeing what must be done, and doing it.

  12. Tracy S. says:

    I am quite a bit older than you and the statement, “I could never handle that”, still ticks me off way more than it should. It started early when I had a premie who became disabled, continued as my family grew and hit an all-time high when I had a child with serious problems with depression. I tell myself that it’s really magical thinking on their part–if they can’t “handle” it, then God won’t allow it in their lives. That helps me respond a little more kindly than if I had gone with my first impulse.

    As for surviving/thriving: You can’t see that you are thriving until you are pretty far in and coming out the other side. God always finds a way to use us and our circumstances–if we will let Him.

    • Anne says:

      “You can’t see that you are thriving until you are pretty far in and coming out the other side.”

      Oh, interesting. I’d never thought about it like that. I’ll be mulling this idea over.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I think most moms, especially of young children, feeling like their surviving. I know I still feel that way and my girls are school age now. I work full time and feel like my days are filled with the same old wake up, workout, pack lunches, go to work, come home, cook dinner, do homework, do laundry, go to bed activities each and every day. How do I thrive in an environment like this???

    But the “bloom where you’re planted” quote sticks in my mind a lot lately. I’m trying to find ways to thrive within the realities of being a mom. I’m trying my hand at blogging. I play around with new recipes. I embrace the time I have with my husband and daughters. I push myself in my morning workouts. I hope when I look back, this season of monotony and busyness will also have been a season of great memories and accomplishments. I’m just not really seeing it right now.

    • Ana says:

      Jennifer, what you wrote…about the wake up, work out…go to bed…is where I’m at right now, and I’m trying really hard to find the joy in it. Because my kids are really young and amazing, and I don’t want to remember this season as something I slogged through. I am trying to sink into our morning & evening family time—even if its full of cooking/cleaning/bed-time chores, its also full of giggles and cuddles and cuteness.

      • Anne says:

        Jennifer, Gosh, I wish I could say just how much I love what you said about blooming in the season you’re in. Blogging, experimenting with new things, cherishing the time you have, finding new challenges. Yes, yes, yes.

        Some days this is easier said than done (at least for me!) but it’s a great centering attitude to come back to.

  14. Ana says:

    I love this post. I never really got before why people were offended by “I could never do that”, but your post and some of the comments here have opened my eyes—it can come across almost an insult to your life (i.e. “I’d NEVER want to live like that…”) more so than the tribute to your strength that the say-er may have intended (or at least that was always my intent). I feel very much like I’m surviving right now, working full time and caring for two really young, really rambunctious boys—I know part of it is the lack of alone time my introvert/sensitive self needs, the constant noise and barrage on all 5 senses. I find it interesting that certain personalities are more suited to being SAH-parents, I’m definitely not an “S” so that makes some sense (though I take things Penelope Trunk says with a big grain of salt…)

    • Anne says:

      “I take things Penelope Trunk says with a big grain of salt.”

      Hahaha! Yes and absolutely! I think she starts excellent conversations, but I don’t really hang my hat on any of her pronouncements. 🙂

  15. Melanie says:

    This is so interesting and gives me much to think on. My mind first goes to my job, where I’m definitely just surviving, not thriving..I never thought about it in those terms. Or that my saying to someone else, I don’t know how you do it., coming across as an insult. This will make me choose my words more carefully.

  16. Erika says:

    I can definitely relate. I thrive on routine and consistency and, yet, I despise the monotony of it all. I like to throw them off their course, but those are the very things that keep pushing through and producing fruit and getting things done.
    My husband and I are definitely in this phase of learning how to thrive and not just survive. I definitely dream of blooming where I am planted, but, oftentimes, it is more in my head rather than implemented through my daily life. I am struggling to really live this out right now and be intentional about real living in where I am.

    • Anne says:

      “I definitely dream of blooming where I am planted, but, oftentimes, it is more in my head rather than implemented through my daily life.”

      You’re not alone. It’s easier to say than do, sadly. But I’d like to think it is possible.

    • Karlyne says:

      Probably the most important part of blooming where you’re planted is in your head! You’re doing better than you think, Erika, thinks me!

  17. sarah ronk says:

    I think (maybe pray and hope!) I’m nearing the end of an extreme basic-survival mode and can get to a new (to me) thriving phase as a new mom of 3! This is the first year we are homeschooling as well… it’s all so new! I may not recognize myself when the survival phase is over 🙂

  18. Bev says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s post. I am a Military wife with 3 deployments under my belt. I am also blessed to have 2 boys ages 10 and 7.
    I often find I’m in survival mode as it seems one challenge comes after another. I still haven’t found my thriving mode so I cannot share in that area. I look forward to thriving and all that it brings.

    • Anne says:

      Bev, I’m looking forward to you finding what “thriving” looks like. I’m not going to say “I could never…” about deployments, but I will say I imagine it to be really, really tough.

  19. So true. And few thoughts…

    I’m an ESTJ. Not the most feeling mom on the block but man can I rock the schedule. I’m an excellent home manager and love doing the stay at home mom gig, and always have. And it used to baffle me that other moms didn’t like it as much as I did until I clued in that not everyone was like me (ahem, yeah I had lots to learn…)

    But online entrepreneurship…eeks, having a lot more trouble with that one and realizing I’m not suited to certain aspects of that (like visionary, awesome idea, risk taking stuff) so I’m figuring out how to apply my managerial, get things done, (and on a schedule thank you very much) personality to my online work.

    I digress.

    I wanted to comment on the never thing. I am a chronic “I could never do that” kind of person. I said “never” to so many things as a young woman and it’s my kneejerk response to ideas that scare me. It’s a fear response.

    But I married an “open to most ideas” person and our partnership/marriage has taken me into scary places and I am now doing and living things I could never imagine myself saying yes to.

    Moving from “I could never to that” to “wow, I’m living this way and happily (mostly)” follows a predictable track.

    1.A lot of angst in the beginning and certain amount of “survival mode” while I figure out how to adjust my expectations and apply my strengths/skill set/gifts to a situation.
    2.And then once I figure out how to work with what I’ve given (and this usually involves partnering with my husband in some way so we can apply both our talents to a situation to help share the burden of change, whatever it is) the subtle shift to thriving mode happens.

    I’m not saying I could thrive in all situations but I do believe that, in spite of our personalities, humans are very resilient. God made us this way. We’re born into myriad of situations and go through so many changes through our lives and I do believe that with the right mindset (something along the lines of Phil 4:12-13, and no, I’m trying to get all “spiritual” here but I believe in the truth of Paul’s words) and in positive relationships (which may be earthly or spiritual) we can thrive in many difficult and “I could never do that” situations.

    This is a lesson I want to teach my children also. We spend so much time supporting their gifts and strengths and tailoring their ed for that (it’s a focus in our homeschool) but I want them to know they were created to be resilient and to have abundant life, no matter their personality or life situation.

    Great discussion here Anne.

    • Anne says:

      “And it used to baffle me that other moms didn’t like it as much as I did until I clued in that not everyone was like me (ahem, yeah I had lots to learn…)”

      Been there, done that! 🙂

      Renee, I just love your wise words about your personal timeline (which I can relate to) and especially about resiliency, for you and your kids. I’m going to hang on to that one.

      Also, ESTJ, rocking the schedule? No wonder you make such a good homeschooling coach/mentor. 🙂

  20. Stephanie says:

    Wow, I totally understand thriving vs. surviving. Right now, I am surviving. In fact, I am just hoping to make it through today! My husband had the opportunity to work in Brazil for a year so here we are here with our two homeschooling kids. We have been here for 7 weeks and have 3 to go before we go to the states for a visit. I am shocked at how I have reverted to survival mode. I miss my dog, my house, my friends, my family and the seasons! I just keep trying to remember that the difficult times I’m my life usually bring about the most growth and looking back I can always see God’s had at work. However, it can be so difficult in the midst of the trial! Prayers out to all of you who are I survival mode!

    • Anne says:

      Wow, Brazil for a year sounds like such an amazing opportunity! And yet, I can only imagine how stressful so much change, so fast must be. (I never thought about missing the seasons!)

      I gotta say, the Brazil pictures on your blog are GORGEOUS.

  21. Oh I love this post! I feel like I spent all of 2012 just surviving. I am trying to thrive now, but it is a lot of work, and some days are just plain survival mode still. People say to me all the time “you’re so inspiring, I could never do what you do.” Well I don’t really have a choice. I have to deal with what I’ve been given…and I’m not just going to wallow and be depressed about it. What kind of life is that? I think most people COULD handle whatever life throws at them…you just don’t know your own strength until you need it.

  22. Mady says:

    I understand what you are saying, a little bit. My child is allergic and needs a lot of work, as I don’t use conventional medicine. I wish you find a woman that will give you a lot of energy and positive vibes through her wise presence. A second mother. And you’ll see that same tasks looks much much easier. Love, M

  23. I am definitely in a period of surviving, rather than thriving. This has been a REALLY hard year, but I know it’s temporary. In the big scheme of things, this is just a blink in time. And I love that Eleanor Roosevelt quote. 🙂

  24. Julie says:

    This post really touched me today. I am an Army wife and my husband is deployed for the 4th time. We have three kids, one of them has Asperger’s. I am in survival mode right now. I am not thriving very much. When people say, “I could never do what you are doing” all I can think is, “Well I am not doing it very well either but what else can I do?” I look at others around me who seem to have it together and wonder if something is wrong with me.

    • Karlyne says:

      Oh, Julie, you’re comparing yourself to all the wrong people! Compare yourself to Ma Barker or one of those nasty Roman emperor moms if you must, but stop looking at Mrs. Cleaver (Beaver’s mom) or Claire Hustable down the street! Life is about trying, and then trying some more and then trying all over again. No one, I don’t care what their time of life is, easy or hard, always has it together all of the time! Give yourself permission to be less than perfect and do what it is that YOU need to have done! Hang in there!

  25. I’m an ISFJ and I am not suited to stay home with my kids. Even though I technically stay home with my kids.

    But not totally. Like you, I’m used to more help with my kids and more structure than I’ve experienced this summer. I haven’t handled it very well and I’m embarrassed by that. Surviving is NOT the same thing as thriving. What a perfect way to put it.

  26. charis says:

    i am a stay at home mom with 5 little boys (9 years-1 year old) and i used to say i could never home school. well, in a week we will start our first year homeschooling. and i am terrified (and excited) at the same time. i have learned to stop saying never, because it seems that is what God asks you to do. 🙂 i love being a stay at home mom – i am an ENFP. figure that one out. i may not be the ideal home manager, but in my 9 years of being a mom i have found my own way that works for me and when i let go of perceived expectations, i was a lot happier with who i am as a mom and how i raise my kids and run our house. i imagine homeschooling will be very similar… needing to let go of all those unseen expectations…

  27. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for your post! I am new to your site. I get that comment you shared about a lot, as we are a family of six (almost seven, as I am 37 weeks pregnant!) who just moved overseas three weeks ago, also taking along an 18 year old young woman who wanted to come with us! “I could never do that…” Yeah, I can’t either. I could give you an ENORMOUS laundry list of things that are extremely challenging for me at the moment, and I cry nearly every day. I am totally surviving this time, and ya know, really, it is only to be expected. When we have major life changes, major hardships and trials, we may never get to the “thriving” part, or at least it may not look like what we’d like it to. Seasons are sometimes appreciated much more and help us thrive more once they are over, and we gain a lot of perspective from them. However, even in this most stretching, broken time, I am confident that as I keep drawing nearer to God in this time, He will draw nearer to me. And that is the one, needful thing. It will serve my family, my community here and me more than anything else I can do right now. And so I guess that is my road to thriving rather than merely surviving! 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Lindsay, welcome and thanks so much for sharing! (And I wish you had a blog so I could read all about moving overseas as a soon-to-be family of seven!)

  28. Sarah says:

    Ah, to survive or thrive? This resonates with me so well right now and it’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. How do I thrive when things in life malfunction? For me to thrive is for me to live with a joyful attitude, with the default setting on peace. Unfortunately, it’s been the exception and not the rule, but as I’m learning to be thankful and prayerful, I believe that the outer chaos will not inform the inner, well, me. Thanks for the post! ~Sarah

  29. Emerald says:

    I kick butt at survival mode, not so much in thrive-al mode. I will find myself on the brink of edging out of survival and not know what to do next now that the dust has settled. Inevitably I start out thinking I need just a day or two to catch my breath and then a week later realize that I’m just rolling around in indolent nothingness rather than taking advantage of the mini-break the Universe has sent my way. Then the wheel turns and my number comes up again for the next situation and I end up kicking myself for not make the most of that mini-break. This is the perfect post for me today, my day one after a summer of survival. What does thriving me to me and how to I make that happen? Thanks for the reminder!

  30. Paula says:

    When my husband passed away five years ago, people said similar things to me quite a bit. I have to admit it was not the most encouraging thing for a new widow with a 11yo and 4yo to hear. But, it’s not like I had a choice. I did it. And for a long time I was just surviving. I think I’m only now on the road to thriving, but it takes a lot of work. It’s definitely an intentional thing for me that I have to strive for. It doesn’t just come easy.

    • Karlyne says:

      You do survive when you have to, don’t you? When there are kids involved and you’re responsible for them, there really is no choice, as you said, Paula. I’m so glad that you put in the work and can see some thriving ahead!

    • Anne says:

      Oh, Paula. I can only imagine what people said to you. No, you didn’t have a choice, and I’m so happy to hear that you feel like you’re actually on the road to thriving now. What a road it must have been these past five years.

  31. Sarah says:

    Is it weird that I feel like I’m only thriving when I’m pushed to my limit and barely surviving?

    That’s weird right.

    I’ve mentioned I’m an ENFJ right 😉

  32. Kara says:

    Your post, especially the intro paragraphs, really resonated with me. Two years ago we moved our family to China because of my husbband’s job. We decided it was a good move for his career and a good thing for our family. Many, many people said “oh I could never do that” or my favorite, “I could never do that to my family” (ouch!) We do love our extended family, but we decided we were called to move overseas. I think most people could do it, whatever “it” might be, if they had to. By the way, we are thriving!

  33. Vonia thomas says:

    I tried to update to recieve your blog newsletter etc but it said mail champ blocked it. I enjoyed reading your work so I hope I get to see more

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