You know those times when life is rapidly hurling one hard thing after another at you, and you feel like every ounce of joy is being sucked right out of your being?

Well, I've experienced a lot of that over the last eighteen months.

The latest version started one evening in late April when a stone moved out of my husband's kidney and got stuck.

Four weeks of pain and intense caregiving ensued.

It took four visits to the local emergency room, two hospital admissions, and two surgical procedures by two different surgeons to resolve the problem.

It was brutal for both of us.

This was immediately followed by getting word that my parents (who both have dementia) had fallen down several times in their apartment in one day.

What the heck!?

Over the last four weeks, my siblings and I have spent countless hours managing our parents' care while navigating the geriatric health system where they live in Canada.

Mom and Dad have gone from receiving four hours per day of hands-on caregiving to twenty-four-hour around-the-clock care, seemingly overnight.

I'll spare you the heartbreaking details.

The last eight weeks have been emotionally draining, to say the least.

Thriving vs. Just Getting By

It's all I can do lately to manage the "extra" that's happening and maintain some healthy nutrition, exercise, sleep, and mental health routines.

So, I am woefully behind in my creative work and staying in touch with you at How She Thrives. Even though these are some of my favorite things to do.

Honestly, I don't feel like I've been thriving much these last couple of months. It's more like I've been surviving.

Some key differences between the two:

  • Thriving is about flourishing. Surviving is about persisting.
  • Thriving means actualizing human potential. Surviving means basic needs are met.
  • Thriving is feeling fully alive. Surviving is catching your breath.
  • Thriving is feeling energized. Surviving is hanging on.
  • Thriving suggests prospering. Surviving implies difficulty.

Having shared that, I've learned that even small self-care activities can make a big difference when we're going through a rough patch. They help us recharge so we can return to feeling our best as soon as possible and start thriving again.

Any small thing that constitutes good nutrition, hydration, exercise, quality sleep, stress relief, or joy counts.

What Saves Me Most?

Although I do my best to incorporate good habits from these categories, what helps me most is a long, silent walk in the woods.

About six years ago, my husband and I consciously chose to live closer to nature, so we moved to a more rural location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina.

We now live in a wooded neighborhood on a stunning, emerald green lake with easy-access, paved walking trails I use several times a week.

I am also grateful to live next door to many wilderness areas with access to hiking trails within a twenty to thirty-minute drive from our home.

And there's even more to enjoy by driving a bit further north into the mountains.

My favorite wellbeing activity is to spend at least two hours hiking alone in the forest.

Many studies have proven that spending time in nature can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and boost thinking and memory skills.

With so many demands on us in the second half of life, making time to get outside and connect with nature is vital for maintaining resilience and wellbeing.

To me, there's something undeniably therapeutic about venturing into the forest.

The rich tapestry of greens envelops me in silence, punctuated only by the soothing sounds of a breeze through the trees, birdsong, and maybe a mountain stream.

My chattering mind quiets as my senses become attuned to the subtle nuances and rhythms of the natural world.

The weight of worries and obligations fades as I breathe, move, and become fully present in the here and now.

"Into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul."

— John Muir —

Each meditative step lulls me into a state of tranquility and gives me a deeper sense of grounding.

I feel connected to something larger than myself — the intricate web of life surrounding me. And, I am reconnected to something ancient and eternal deep within me.

The wilderness has become my sanctuary. With every visit, I am renewed and ready to face the world again.

So, there you have it — the thing that helps me most during stormy weather.

What would yours be if you had to choose only one life-saving practice for hard times?

The Mental Health Benefits of Nature | Mayo Clinic Press

Hand-Picked Just for You


Pssst... How She Thrives Now Has a Book Store

Maybe you've heard me say that my love of books and reading is legendary. So, curating this shop to support authors and indie book stores is a dream!

Click on over to browse over 200 books (and counting) with hand-picked advice and inspiration for feeling fully alive in the second half of life.

How She Thrives Storefront | Bookshop dot org

Joy Is Something We Can Create

An emerging body of research shows a clear link between our surroundings and our mental health. Yet nearly all the advice on how to find happiness ignores this fact.

Designer Ingrid Fetell Lee founded The Aesthetics of Joy to shed light on the relationship between our environment and our emotions, and share inspiration and resources for living a more joyful life through design.

The Aesthetics of Joy

The Secrets to Feeling Young Forever

“I’m 86, but I look and feel 57,” says Mel’s mother-in-law, Judie Robbins. Judie is the most happy, alive, vibrant, and well-connected person Mel knows.

She’s back on the podcast and is sharing her best life advice and all new secrets for longevity, vitality, and how to create a long and happy life that you actually enjoy.

Live a Happier, Healthier, and Longer Life | Mel Robbins Podcast

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Pop icon Cyndi Lauper has nothing left to prove. She’s plotting a farewell tour. She’s starring in a documentary about her life. And she could only ever be herself.

Cyndi Lauper Has Nothing Left to Prove | NYT (Gift Article)

It's Happening. Your Parent Is Starting to Need More Help.

I recently attended a webinar by two members of my beloved online community. Oh, how I wish I'd had this helpful advice before all hell broke loose with my own parents!

Maybe it's an occasional errand that's becoming a regular thing. Maybe Mom is having trouble with the stairs. Or Dad fell in the garage — again. Things are changing. Are you ready?

Watch (or listen to) a practical, no-nonsense webinar on what matters most and how to get ready for what’s next.

Oh Sh#t! Now What? How to Manage Care for Your Aging Parent | YouTube

Little Bits of Light

Words to open your heart and SOOTHE YOUR SOUL

Photo Credits: Richard Bennett (#1)  & Linda Wattier (#2 & #3)

About Linda Wattier

Founder and Bold Wellbeing Coach at How She Thrives. I help women over fifty design their most authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling experience of midlife and beyond.

How to Thrive in Midlife and Beyond

How to Thrive in Midlife & Beyond

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