If learning from someone who has walked there before us is the heart of kindred, then giving back is its soul. And thriving should be a goal of each and everyone one of us.
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Dreams pass into reality of action. From action, stems the dream again. This interdependence produces the highest form of living.
© Anais Nin

The word that best describes "the highest form of living" to me is "thrive." With no negative connotations or baggage, it is a happy word without peer. It is more than "success" and intuitively applies to your life versus merely your work. And it is the perfectly suited title of Arianna Huffington's most recent book.

thrive |THrīv| verb. prosper; flourish; burgeon, bloom,
blossom, do well, advance, succeed, boom.

I like to ear-mark pages that resonate with me. And if I really want to revisit something, I double fold it. This is my system. As evidenced by the photo above, Arianna's book was significant to me. In the last year and a half of starting fresh and building something from scratch (wearekindred.org), it has had a profound effect on my life.

Setting about giving form to something that previously lived only in my head is not an easy task. Just trying to articulate it for the first time, as I did to my family at a Sunday brunch, proved to be a mottled mess of jumbled thoughts.

As we risk ourselves, we grow.
Each new experience is a risk. © Fran Watson

Early on I realized the significance of stretching into something new. I was not only in unchartered waters; I didn't know how to sail. So I did what I knew to do: learned from someone who had gone there before me - Arianna Huffington. Here are the topics with the most folds; the ones that made all the difference:

  • Get enough sleep and honor your internal clock.

I trained myself to wake without an alarm around the most productive schedule I desired to keep. For me, that meant waking between 4:00AM and 4:30AM and getting some quiet time in my office before my daughter woke for school.

To be well rested is perhaps one of the most dismissed advantages to thriving in life; for adults and most especially our children, who's resting bodies are actively growing and thereby in need of even more sleep. My daughter gets nine to ten hours of sleep a night, every night. To give her a different sleep time on the weekends merely throws of her own internal clock come Monday.

  • The rest of my day doesn't begin until I've exercised.

If you find a workout you enjoy, it will bring you to a meditative state where your mind is unstressed and not thinking about what you should be doing (instead of exercising). The passing of time is not anything you notice; you are only in tune with your breath.

This is why I run trails. Being in the woods is complete zen for me. When my mind is quiet I find great inspiration and have inadvertently solved many of my work challenges out on a trail.

  • Meditation is to the mind what sleep is to the body: restorative.
It is not a skill that is difficult to master or something that should remain on your "want to learn" list or your "I tried and can't do it" list. There are as many ways to meditate as there are ways to exercise, so find one that works for you.

Sometimes I like a guided meditation laying on the floor with a blanket on me. Other times I just sit still at my desk and listen to my breathing. Even though I have often fallen asleep or failed completely at getting my mind to quiet down, as a result of my refusal to give up on the practice, my thinking mind is clearer. I am more in touch with my spirit. I know now when I am being guided. I let go of self judgement when it rears its ugly head. I listen more intently, and I am much more grounded in each and every moment.

True silence is the rest of the mind;
it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body,
nourishment and refreshment.
© William Penn

  • Make your work more than just about you.

Once you find work that you love - truly love (which took me thirty years to figure out - don't give up on yourself!); how are you giving back? If you take the time to build something from scratch, as I did, then design a way to give back. I'm not talking about volunteering or donating to charity; do those things anyway. I'm suggesting you stretch and look deeper at how to contribute to individuals or society as a whole in a significant way. For inspiration, look to brands that have taken this social consciousness to new levels and interwoven it into what they stand for, like Toms or Burt's Bees or Warby Parker.

With kindred, this was a goal at the onset. I only needed to look at my life and the lives around me to know that my desire was to help individuals through events that swept them off their feet. I knew firsthand that there are people struggling after suffering a loss, or an unexpected medical emergency, or devastation from a natural disaster. The things that knock us down emotionally often come with unexpected financial stress as well. If I was going to write about these true stories to offer hope and strength and inspiration, then why wouldn't I develop a means by which to help them financially as well? So I created a line of merchandise to support each anthology and I'm giving nearly half of the profit away (40%) to individuals or families; making meaningful contributions just when they need it most.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
© Winston Churchill

If learning from someone who has walked there before us is the heart of kindred, then giving back is its soul. And thriving should be a goal of each and everyone one of us.

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