Do You Know What Keeps You From Thriving?

Have you ever had a friend make you a generous offer that you couldn’t accept … even though you wanted to? Have you ever stopped to realize that this is what keeps you from thriving?

Well, I have. This past week, I’ve been dealing with some health issues, and when my friend Laura found out, she offered to bring me chicken soup.

what keeps you from thriving

My first thought was that that sounded like exactly what I needed. My next thought, however, was that I shouldn’t accept.

Why not? Well, I didn’t feel that I was quite unwell enough to say yes. Sure, I felt exhausted, with little energy, but I could force myself to get through the day. And part of me believed that if I could go it alone, then I should.

I also celebrated my thirtieth birthday last week, and receiving so many wonderful messages and gifts made me question whether I could accept any more from the universe.

Paco birthday card, thriving

One of the best cards EVER.

You know how the scarcity-based thinking goes …

You’ve already received this much, so no more good can come your way.

You can manage, so you can’t say yes to a friend’s support.

You can handle it, so you don’t deserve help.

What Keeps You From Thriving? Your Thoughts.

These harsh ideas ran through my head, and they sounded very convincing. But I questioned them: was it true that I had to be half-dead in order to accept nourishing food? Wouldn’t it be wiser to say yes before I was too sick to move?

And then there were the assumptions I’d made about Laura’s capacity to help: “She has enough on her plate.” “She’s busy, so I can’t accept her offer.”

I questioned those thoughts, too. Who am I to judge what a friend can and cannot do? Who am I to assume that I know what’s best for another? (Often I don’t even know what’s best for me!)

Once I moved through all those thoughts, I recognized a yearning to receive care, to be honest about my experience. You see, saying yes to my friend’s offer of food meant admitting that yes, I was having a hard time.

True, my hard time was not as tough as it might have been, not as bad as many others endure, but still, it was hard for me.

And the truth was that I could use some soup.

So I took a deep breath and said yes. Soon Laura came to our door and gave me delicious soup. I’ve been eating it for the last few days, and every bowl strengthens both body and soul.

Stop Going it Alone

Laura’s supportive gift helped me to see that I want to stop going it alone. I want to both offer and ask for help in a tangible way. And I want to start here and now.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll recall that I surrendered the goal of reaching 1,000 email subscribers because it was making me crazy with competitiveness.

Going cold turkey on blog ambition was necessary to get back in perspective. Now, I can look at our readership with gratitude and appreciation. On a visceral level, I understand that we have a tremendous abundance here.

We have a community of wise, wonderful readers. And if you wanted to sit all of us down together, you’d have to find a pretty big room. An auditorium, even.

As of this writing, we have 1,056 people subscribed to receive posts via email, and more following the blog through social media. My big dream came true, even after I let it go.

But what’s true for a blog is also true for life: there is always room for growth, and there are always friends yet to be met.

With that in mind, I’ve rewritten the About and Meet Caroline pages as a way of putting our metaphorical house in order. Now, we can fling open our doors and practice hospitality with confidence.

I’m excited to welcome new readers, but I don’t want to go back to the dark, unhealthy place of subscriber greed. So I’ve thought hard about what to do differently this time.

This year, I want to share the journey of blog growth with you, instead of trying to be the Lone Ranger. This year, I invite you to be part of the process.

Project TFT

Here’s the plan: each month, I’ll post an update, a short report on the state of the site so that you know what’s happening. I’ll share subscriber stats and guest posts, as well as behind-the-scenes happenings, such as what’s going on with my new book draft.

Today, we are fortunate to have 1,056 subscribers. And my dream is that, by June 2016, we’ll more than double our readership. This year, I see us welcoming an additional 1,944 subscribers, for a total of 3,000.

That breaks down to 162 new readers per month, a number that feels just crazy enough. It’s not totally outside the realm of possibility, but it represents a significant challenge. For my part, it will mean posting more often here, guest posting on other sites, and doing outreach too.

In turn, I’ll ask you for your input and advice – what do you think might facilitate our growth?

What kinds of stories do you want more of? What sites do you feel would be a good fit for guest posts? I’ll also ask for your help with social media sharing, because that’s a powerful way to get the word out.

We’ll call it Project TFT, which is a reference to the “Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving!” chant from 13 Going on 30.

Thirty Flirty and Thriving

I know, I know – I can’t help it. I love cheesy movies with happy endings. Always have. I also love glitter.

Anyway – this year, I’m taking a risk and putting the dream of blog growth out there, even though I feel nervous about it.

When it comes to subscribers, I feel like Oliver Twist, tentatively requesting more gruel, afraid that some cosmic authority figure will shame me by screaming, “More?!!? You want MORE?!?!”

But I’m also starting to believe that God is much kinder than the judgmental voice in my head … that God is actually Love.

Love doesn’t belittle our dreams or kick us when we’re down … though we might mistreat ourselves that way. No, Love shows up with encouragement, practical assistance, and maybe some chicken soup too.

So really, Project TFT is about faith. It’s about giving voice to dreams that feel too big for us. It’s about trusting that together, we can do more than we imagine.

And it’s about believing that maybe – just maybe – the impossible could be within our reach.

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Have you ever struggled to say yes to an offer of help? Is that what keeps you from thriving? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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12 thoughts on “Do You Know What Keeps You From Thriving?

  1. Bette says:

    Once, when my children were little and my husband had back surgery, a friend said, “I want to bring you dinner.” All sorts of excuses went through my head — I felt a sense of dread at the very idea of someone bringing food to my family — “What if we don’t like her cooking? What is she forgets my husband has celiac disease? What if I owe her too much in return and I can’t repay?” Etc.

    Somehow, I forced myself to accept b/c, frankly, I was overwhelmed. Imagine my surprise and TOTAL GRATITUDE to receive a three-course meal we all loved, in special containers my friend saved for just these type occasions, which didn’t have to be washed but could be thrown away or…paid forward! I was completely taken aback by how much this simple gift meant to me — and honestly, I feel teary-eyed just thinking about it — 15 years later!

    Please accept someone’s heartfelt gift — you both will benefit!

    • Bette, thank you for that beautiful story! I can feel the love coming through your words, and I’m so glad that you were able to receive that gift. And you make a wonderful point that accepting a heartfelt gift benefits both parties. Thank you again for sharing!

  2. Jeanne says:

    In January of this year, I had bilateral mastectomy. My bible study group offered to bring meals for a time. Ambitious me thought I could make ahead stuff so I didn’t have to inconvenience anyone. Ha! God does work in funny ways to make us humble! It got to where I actually had to ask instead of just saying “yes”. And every bit of food was cherished. The whole experience taught me to cherish these women even more than I thought I had. Isn’t it amazing the capacity of one’s heart to love more and more? No end to the capacity and no one loved is loved any less when you love more and more others.

    Instead of having a blog post about how many subscribers, why not just add a counter like websites do? That probably isn’t as easy as it sounds, lol!

    • Jeanne, how powerful that you found your relationships strengthened when you were able to receive food from your friends! Thank you for sharing your story, and I hope that your healing has been swift and complete.

      Oh, and I’ll be publishing updates on the blog as a footnote to regular posts – probably should have mentioned that above! I’ll look into the possibility of a counter, too – thanks for the suggestion. 🙂

  3. Caroline, first of all, a belated happy birthday to you! Secondly, this post really spoke to me. In fact, in a group I’m part of, we’ve been focusing on allowing ourselves to receive. My “default” is usually to say, “Oh, I’m fine” to offers of help, but I am getting better at sort of breathing through that and allowing more support in. 🙂

    Congrats on the blog growth, and here’s to much more!

    • Thank you Jill! That group sounds like a great idea – it definitely helps to have friends reminding me, “It’s okay to accept help. In fact, it’s wise.” Those messages are slowly overriding the old default: “Do everything by yourself and perfectly!” And your work on self-care has been a huge help too.

      (Friends, definitely check out Jill’s blog at http://www.jillwinski.com – this week’s post on self-care is a great read!)

  4. Olga Jendrek says:

    Happy Belated 30th Birthday. Entering a great new phase in your life. God bless your efforts. My story is the reverse. My daughter-in-law expresses how special she feels if I make a meal or buy some groceries for her and my son. So I try to do that when I can and then I have them over sometimes for breakfast or dinner. Seems it really makes them feel loved.

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