On Being a “Surthriver”


A Happy, Healthy, Holistic New Year to ONE and ALL!

I came up with the term “Surthriver” a few years ago while going through an extremely difficult, trying time in my life. I had to put my companion dog, Nickel down to rest, my spouse and I went through a very difficult divorce, (are they ever easy?!) my cat died, a friend that lived down the road drowned in the lake surrounding our little community called home, and if that weren’t enough (and this sentence not long enough!) my closest friend of nearly 30 years was losing her life to Cancer. It was an enormous amount to go through at once, and I was overwhelmed, depressed, and felt a loss of life inside that only those going through a lot at once could relate to. To be fair I must also add that I am a complex-trauma survivor, having “Surthrived” childhood and adult traumas, so many of these life events triggered other past traumas, making it increasingly challenging (more on that later}. My therapist, Irene, was, and continues to be, a lifeline of hope and resolve. One day during our session, she asked me “When are you going to stop living in survival mode?” I left her office pondering, mulling over those words for days when it occurred to me; I wasn’t a survivor, and I wasn’t a victim, because I refused to allow the pain and suffering to take me out, and it nearly did! I was a survivor who thrived on life, it’s ups AND its downs, its triumphs, AND its failures, because each provides growth, knowledge, understanding and lessons! During those very dark days I would THRIVE on SURVIVING, (thus the term I came up with-Surthriver!) which is basically what I do to keep going during these trying times, and here’s how…

I’m a Surthriver because I walked and walked to ease the pain, in the woods, in the park with my other dog, (who kept me going), Roxy, and each step, in my mind, would be a step to recovery. I had to change my mindset.  I’m a Surthriver because each morsel of food I put in my mouth tasted better, even if it was only a 99-cent slice of pizza because that’s all I could afford that day to eat; I was GRATEFUL for each bite, knowing that that those bites would lead to restoration of my soul once the pain would subside. I’m talking the kind of pain that people can’t see on your face, can’t feel in the hug they give you, can’t hear in your voice through the tears, though the tears are a sign. My friends were my lifeline and my dear Aunt Ruthie spoke to me every day and night just to get me through the day, giving me hope to carry on. One never knows how much a smile from a stranger can mean, how much just answering the phone and listening can be tremendously powerful. I was lucky; I had friends and family, a great therapist, and somewhere, deep inside of me, the resilience to “Surthrive.” I kept focusing on all I had to feel lucky about. I never gave up, though I wanted to at times.

I’m also a Surthriver because I kept the vision alive of myself writing about all of this one day in the hopes that others may find the strength to SURTHRIVE and not just survive when the going gets tough. How? (here’s some tips)

  1. Enjoy EVERY moment as if it your life depended on it. When you are stressed, find the good in everything around you and let go of the stress, even if only for a few minutes a day, (the minutes will lead to hours, then days) and just breathe! Feel your breath, feel alive, (the alternative is not an option!) Think about the things that you’ve enjoyed when you weren’t under such stressful conditions. Then think about the future and see yourself enjoying those moments once again, except with the knowledge that this experience is going to provide you with. Each moment leads to recovery and transformation!
  2. Find ten things to be grateful for every day as you awake, and then at the end of the day when you lie down to rest. For me, the first five are always the same: family, friends, my loving canine companion, Roxy, my health, my life! Write them down in a spiritual journal, or just a plain journal if you’re not spiritual/religious. The idea here is to Practice Gratitude.
  3.  Always be prepared with something positive! A survivor is always prepared for the worst, but a SURTHRIVER is prepared for the worst and  makes the best out of every situation! For example, the power goes out in your home, bummer, right? A survivor will get out all of the necessary supplies, hunker down, be on the lookout, and wait it out. A SURTHRIVER will start a nice fire in the fireplace, or get the woodstove cranking, or light candles, whatever have you, and then put on calming, peaceful music, (with that battery-powered radio you always have at the ready!) light some incense, meditate, pray, or just practice mindful breathing, and ENJOY the peace and beauty of stillness, a day off, etc. The Surthriver will also cook a delicious meal in the fireplace, on the wood stove, etc.,  (you can use your chafer candles, the grill outside, etc.) with food from the fridge so that it doesn’t go to waste, all while enjoying the music and aroma of tranquility! Maybe even invite a few neighbors or friends over who are in the same boat and make a fun, game night out of it, by candlelight! Practicing resourcefulness is rewarding in itself.
  4. Make the best of every situation as best you can. If you’ve lost someone dear to you in your life, you can still honor them and carry on their spirit through loving acts of kindness. Since losing my dearest friend, Barb, a bunch of us, including her spouse and children, formed a team called “Barb’s Babes” to fight against Cancer and walk for the Making Strides Foundation. I will be writing about her also. She, as well as my Aunt Ruthie, who passed in 2018, will always be inspirations to me to live my best life. I’ve made the best of all of the lost by giving back in any way I can. That’s what a Surthriver does, gives back when loss is incurred, life is tough, and things don’t go the way we planned or hoped. Practicing resilience and finding joy in the journey, even if it seems impossible at the moment.
  5. Lastly, every Surthriver simply MUST take care of themselves, do something positive for themselves, and reach out every day. I found myself literally hiding out for the entire first year after my divorce and the loss of my closest friend. I mean, hey, it’s our closest friends who are usually the ones to get us through all of the challenges in life, so losing her was a particularly heavy blow. She was the light of so many lives, and having that go out, put me in the dark, so to speak. You feel a part of you go with them, and you never completely get that part of you back, you just learn to live without them, somehow. Well, to surthrive, you simply need to take care of YOU, because you’re all you’ve got to go on! That loved one you lost would want you to be your best self! And your ex spouse? Well, success is the sweetest revenge! Be successful for YOU, for your own sake. Don’t let anyone hold you back! That’s what this blog is for, after all! For me, self-care was writing in my journal, taking long, hot baths, walks, and breaths! Getting my hair done, getting medical care, studying, reading, learning more and more about myself and what I truly wanted and needed to be happy.  I began a radio show Sunday Soulstice Radio, to help others get through tough times and thrive! I lead workshops to help others, and was helping in any way I could, yet I had lost a lot of weight while going through this transition, then put it all back on and then some a year later. After three years I’m finally getting back on track, but with much perseverance. I’m getting back to me, to happy!  Patience is a big part of transformation. Practice positive self care every day, so as to thrive! 

I’ll be writing a lot more about Surthriving in the very near future. I hope this entry provided some inspiration and hope for the moment and going forward. We live in very interesting, somewhat chaotic times; it’s a perfect time to practice Surthriving! Thanks for reading! ~ Marsea, aka The Wonder Worker!