Over 50 & Thriving Series

Over 50 & Thriving Just the Way I Am

September 20, 2018
Over 50 & Thriving Just the Way I Am

Lately, I’ve been feeling that perhaps we are all just trying too hard.  We are looking for ways to make changes in our lives but maybe we don’t have to?  Change is good, but the adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, sometimes can be just as valid.  I was delighted when I received my next guest’s post for the Over 50 & Thriving Series, because she was discussing exactly how I had been feeling.

Janet Mary Cobb is my guest this week and I met her through the AtoZ Challenge this year. I started following her blog and she has certainly led a very interesting life.  We had much in common and I was keen for her to be part of the series and to write about what helps her to Thrive.  I’m sure her words will give you something to ponder and I hope you will connect with her through her website and social media links at the end of this post.

Over 50 & Thriving: Just the Way I Am

When Sue asked me to contribute as a guest blogger for her Over 50 & Thriving series, to share my thoughts, I was both honored and a bit stumped.

I think about many things all the time. In fact, many years ago when I claimed that I would spend the day ‘vegging out’, a mentor chuckled and said, “I’ll believe that when I see it. Your mind never stops.”
But what I have never pondered is the word ‘thrive’.

So, I got to thinking – am I thriving?

What does it mean to thrive?

I’ve heard the expression ‘failure to thrive’ referring to babies and small children who cannot maintain adequate nutrition or meet the minimum growth requirements. And I thought of just a few years back when my life consisted of personal financial crisis, unimaginable stress at work, and a serious struggle with depression. I made it through – I did not ‘fail to thrive’ – I survived, in the strictest sense of the word.

But what does it mean to thrive in midlife and beyond?

To inspire thought, I needed to do what any word nerd worthy of the name would do – first check the definition: to grow or develop well; to prosper.

Then the etymology to learn that it comes from ‘grow, increase’ and ‘grasp, get hold of’.

Then a thesaurus – which had a wide variety of words including: bloom, blossom, boom, develop, flourish, grow, mushroom, prosper, shine, succeed, advance, arrive, progress, radiate, rise, score, bear fruit, get fat, get places, turn out well, grow rich… many of which caused my jaw to clench.

I began to play tug-a-war with whether or not it is possible to ‘thrive’ if we weren’t actively ‘doing’ rather than just ‘being’.

I then checked the Chinese word: 興旺 (xing wang) – because I often find insight from how Chinese words are formed. The first character (xing) is made up of several parts that mean “to carry on one’s shoulder, together with.” The second character (wang) is made up of two parts that mean “sun or day” and “king/ruler/royal.”

Ah, if only I could be king for a day – sitting in the lap of luxury, waited upon, with power to rule over others…

We’ve all heard the stories of someone who spends life trying to get ahead, amass wealth, become ‘successful’, gain power – only to realize they are still miserable. Do I need to live like a king – even for a day – to truly thrive? Or must I live like a pauper instead – as I believed in my convent days?

The more I thought about whether or not I am thriving – and what that means for me, the more I realized that I thrive when I ‘get hold of’ myself and ‘grasp’ who I am, and ‘carry on my shoulders with’ others I love.

For me – to grasp myself and own who I am, I must accept me – strengths and weaknesses, flaws and limitations and all.

Isn’t this one of the beautiful gifts of midlife? As we inch more closely to self-actualization, just through the process of outliving the gossip, drama, pettiness, and judgments of life – we thrive in the simple joy of being.

That said, I don’t avoid or ignore activities that make me feel good physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I ride my bike, walk, garden, cook, listen to music, color, do jigsaw puzzles, visit with friends – and sometimes eat a big piece of chocolate cake for dinner (or even breakfast), stay up too late, and binge watch a Netflix series – just because. [Ok, maybe depression isn’t totally ‘under control’.]

Because I thrive when…

  • I thrive when I know with every fiber of my being that life is good – just the way it is – with my broken porch step, weeds in my garden, dirty dishes in the sink, unfinished works-in-progress on my computer, mounds of debt, frizzy hair, and wobbly stomach.
  • I thrive when I act with integrity, respect, and compassion towards each person I encounter.
  • I thrive when I recognize my wholehearted love and support of my husband and children – and theirs for me. (I don’t need to be off saving or changing the world – perhaps it is their turn now.)
  • I thrive when I do not need to prove myself (my intelligence, my talents, my beauty, my worth) to anyone – including me.
  • I thrive when I choose to en-JOY the moment.

Are you Over 50 & thriving?

Meet Janet

Over 50 & Thriving Just the Way I AmJanet Mary Cobb – Jan of many trades, master of a few… has been a cook, teacher, fundraiser, wife and mother of three, and a nun. From California, she’s lived in Oregon, Taiwan, and Hong Kong – and currently resides with her husband in a semi-empty-nester home where she coaches nonprofits in strategy and fundraising, blogs, and writes in Chicago. Her personal mission is – to act justly, love mercy, walk humbly, do good, always seek to do the next right thing, and actively attempt to help anyone I encounter to find peace, be content, and share joy.

Connect with Janet

Website: www.janetmarycobb.com
Social media
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janetmarycobb/
Twitter: @janetmarycobb

Let’s Keep Sizzling!

If you are Over 50 and would like to contribute to the Over 50 & Thriving Series, I would love to hear from you. Send me an email at sue@sizzlingtowardssixty.com.au and I can provide more details.
Click here to catch up on my previous guests in Over 50 & Thriving Series
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37 Comments

  • Reply Debbie September 20, 2018 at 20:00

    Such a good outlook on life Janet! I really enjoyed your breakdown of the term thrive and how it applies to your life. A lovley read!

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 20, 2018 at 22:51

      Debbie, I’m delighted you enjoyed my thoughts on thriving. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 23, 2018 at 08:01

      Hi Deb, I enjoyed Janet’s take on Thriving Over 50 and love how each of my guests has their own thoughts on the subject. I’ve learned so much from all of the beautiful women in the series. xx

  • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 20, 2018 at 22:50

    Sue – thanks so much for asking me to guest post on your blog. I hope you have a wonderful vacation.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 23, 2018 at 08:04

      It is my pleasure Janet. You have made me realise that sometimes all we need is to accept who we are to find the contentment in our lives. Thank you for reminding us of what we can do to Thrive in life. Have a beautiful weekend. xx

  • Reply Donna September 21, 2018 at 12:50

    Hi, Janet – I love how you search for insight from examining how Chinese words are formed. That’s another thing that we have in common! I also admire how you broke down this take (of thriving) and the conclusions that you reached. Wonderful post!

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 21, 2018 at 13:50

      Donna- thanks so much. I’m just hoping that my breakdown of the Chinese word makes sense to those who may not be familiar! I’d love to hear more about your experiences in Beijing! Thanks so much for joining the conversation.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 23, 2018 at 07:58

      I’m so impressed Donna that you and Janet can read and write, Chinese. I loved Janet’s post because sometimes we feel we aren’t enough when we see others doing what is considered to be ‘exciting’ withe their lives. The reality is that contentment is the key and if we have that there is no need to keep searching. Have a beautiful weekend. xx

  • Reply cathi September 21, 2018 at 22:41

    I was moved when you wrote, ” I don’t need to be off saving or changing the world – perhaps it is their turn now.” Your whole post is inspiring and thought provoking, but I have to admit, I’m still trying to find new ways to change the world. Maybe it isn’t necessary or has taken a back seat, but is that okay? I also try to bring laughter into my life. For whatever reason, a heartfelt laugh makes me feel as if I’m thriving on this planet, too.

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 22, 2018 at 03:22

      Cathi,
      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on ‘saving the world’. I also hope to find ways to ‘change the world’ — but I don’t feel like it all rests on my shoulders or that my worth depends on it. Laughter is great too. Nothing like a heartfelt laugh! Thanks for joining the conversation.

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au September 22, 2018 at 12:24

    Beautifully said Janet – I sometimes feel like I’m the only person around who is content with what I have. No huge dreams, no long bucket list, no plans on world domination – just a quiet contentment and my soul feels settled. I guess if we’ve planted ourselves in the right spot, get plenty of sunshine and happiness, a little rain for balance, and some TLC from those who love us, then we can’t help but thrive 🙂

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 22, 2018 at 12:31

      Leanne – love the ‘no plans for world domination’ line! Yes, quiet contentment and feeling settled. This doesn’t mean I don’t welcome new experiences and adventures but I don’t feel like I need to constantly search for more. That said, the ‘bloom where you’re planted’ saying always drives me crazy because for so long I wasn’t, as you say, in the right spot – and people insisted I be content. We need to listen to our hearts, our voices, our guts to be sure — and then settled. Thanks for joining the conversation!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 23, 2018 at 07:43

      Hi Leanne, I admit I’ve been caught up in the thinking that we need to be ‘doing’ more with our lives. But what if we are happy with the way things are? I think it takes courage to say, I am enough and I’m contented. xx

  • Reply Christine September 24, 2018 at 06:45

    Yes, indeed, life is good just the way it is with all its imperfections and it’s up to us to enjoy it just the way it is , and just as we are. Thanks Janet.

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 24, 2018 at 07:30

      Yes – it is all about enjoying life, isn’t it? That means so many different things to different people. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 26, 2018 at 07:55

      Perfectly said Christine! xx

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee September 24, 2018 at 06:47

    I think we thrive in different ways – I think the secret is knowing what you like to do (even if that is trying out new things) and making time to do them. That can also mean ‘down time’. You can be with people or by yourself. I think the secret to thriving is not feeling like you should be doing more, or feeling like you’re missing out. Nice post

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 24, 2018 at 07:32

      Lydia,
      I agree – downtime, new things- it is whatever floats our boat. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 26, 2018 at 07:56

      You do know the secret to thriving Lydia! Not feeling like you should be doing more or missing out – that is the essence isn’t it? x

  • Reply Katherine September 24, 2018 at 08:08

    I loved reading this post, but especially this sentence – ‘I thrive when I act with integrity, respect, and compassion towards each person I encounter.’

    Sometimes I think we can be so stuck in our own heads that we forget about others. Or maybe that’s just me, and I have to constantly remind myself that someone’s reaction to me could be the result of something else that happened to them that day. And not to judge on one or two encounters.

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 24, 2018 at 08:59

      Katherine,
      I am delighted that you enjoyed the post — and the sentence about how we encounter others. I think it is easy to get stuck in our own heads. Not everything is about us, right? And when I fail to live up to my expectations, I hope that others realize that any rude reaction or lack of compassion is not a reflection of them, but me. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 26, 2018 at 07:51

      I agree Katherine that we do sometimes get caught up in our own problems and forget others. You make a good point about thinking that someone might react in a certain way because of the way their day has been going. x

  • Reply Vanessa September 24, 2018 at 10:10

    I like the idea of having a personal definition of what thriving is to each of us.

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 24, 2018 at 11:45

      Vanessa,
      Isn’t it great how Sue invites such a variety of viewpoints and perspectives? Thanks for joining the conversation.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 26, 2018 at 07:37

      I do too, Vanessa. Each of my guests has written a different perspective of what thriving means to them and I’ve learned so much from them. xx

  • Reply Natalie September 24, 2018 at 11:05

    Thrive in the simple joy of being indeed. Midlife is a very freeing time of life and each one of us can choose how to spend that time. Thanks, Janet, for your post and Sue for featuring Janet here. #lifethisweek

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 24, 2018 at 11:46

      Yep – isn’t choice and freedom great! Thanks for joining the conversation.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 26, 2018 at 07:59

      Hi Natalie, Janet really nailed Thriving didn’t she? I’m glad you enjoyed her thoughts. xx

  • Reply Joanne Tracey September 24, 2018 at 16:27

    Thanks Sue, for bringing us Janet today – and her fabulous outlook on life. After reading this I think I can probably say, yeah, I reckon I’m thriving too!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 26, 2018 at 07:38

      My pleasure Jo and you smile is so gorgeous it always shows you are thriving. xx

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 26, 2018 at 08:23

      Joanne – so glad you are thriving too! And that you appreciated my post.

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl September 24, 2018 at 18:36

    Janet thank you for sharing your journey and taking a different look at thriving and failure to thrive. I’m fortunate enough to now be ‘thriving’ after some tough times in recent years. I agree, outlook is so important in terms of helping us deal with what we’re given in life.

    Be well!

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 26, 2018 at 07:58

      I learned much from Janet’s post SSG and the most important point is that sometimes we just need to do what is right for us and not get caught up in what others perceive as success or thriving. xx

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 26, 2018 at 08:27

      I totally understand the tough times too SSG! I fondly call 2010-2015 my ‘5 years of failure’ — I’ve had my share — but I’ve found that finding the tools (thoughts, habits, etc) to get through them is so important. So good to hear that you are now ‘thriving’. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  • Reply Denyse Whelan September 26, 2018 at 19:10

    Janet, thank you for sharing your views on Sue’s blog. It sure does give me food for thought. Funnily enough a cancer diagnosis brought me out of a pretty awful couple of years to help me thrive as I recovered.

    Interesting stuff, this thing called LIFE.

    Sue, Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week’s optional prompt is Share Your Snaps! Denyse

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 26, 2018 at 23:08

      Denyse, yes – this thing called LIFE! So interesting that sometimes our bodies must scream at us to make us listen, too. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 27, 2018 at 08:42

      Life is interesting isn’t it Denyse? I’m loving the thoughts of all of my guests in the Over 50 & Thriving series. Such wise and wonderful women. 🙂

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