Saturday, February 28, 2009

Apex of the Pyramid: Foolish Folly or Meaningful Life Journey

In geometry, the apex of a pyramid is the point where the edge of the base meets the the top of the pyramid. As fascinating as that may be (not to me), mathematical discipline is neither my forte nor my interest. Pursuing interests, and their results, are MY interests.

My father used to tell me all the time that I should have been a writer. I was into everything and anything. I'd go deep into the details of something, stay their and sucked up what I could, then resurface to get a high level purview, then I would lose interest and move on. My father would tell me that I never stuck to anything and he would shake his head.
I always felt ashamed or sheepish when he caught a glimpse of my new interest via a new book, a new machine - think camera as in photography, or sewing machine as in design. He'd just purse his lips and keep looking forward and try hard and unsuccessfully not to shake his head in disapproval. Today I am a published writer. But that is not the point of this story. I truly believe that pursuing my interests is what brought me here today. Circuitous as my journey may have been, it never has been and never will be foolish folly.

Fast forward to Corporate America. I met a man at a company where I worked. He took a mentorship like interest in me. I had heard that he was a multi-millionaire and was consulting with the company. I had no idea either way. I first saw him in a meeting of my department. He slipped in late. Never having seen him before, I thought he was a new programming guy. Instead of sitting down like the rest of us, the poor sucker perched himself on a table. I was embarassed for him. He didn't know his place yet in the organization. Turns out I was the one uninformed. He was not to be my boss. He was my boss's boss. I got the courage to tell him who I thought he was initially and how I had felt sorry for him. He seemed to be delighted and just laughed.

He made a dream job come true for me. But the funny thing is, this is not why this man is memorable to me. I remember being in his office one day. I told him I was not sure what I wanted to do and what would he suggest. Without hesitation he looked me directly in my face, eye to eye, and said solemnly,

"Always pursue your interests."

I blinked and smiled and said thank you. What I did not realize at the time was that this man had deliverd a gold nugget of wisdom that would serve as a beacon in the darkness of confusion and as a buoy in the stormiest of tempests, for the rest of my life.

Up until meeting him I had been into competitive cheerleading, teaching children and adults, the Harlem Renaissance, race movies, King Louis the XIV of France, Movie Stars of the 20s and 30s, sewing, make-up artistry, writing, foreign language, stints of living abroad, extensive solo international travel, technology, beauty, afro-textured hair, food, fasting and cleansing and several other things.
My interest always ran VERY deep. My delvings into the detail and back out again of these various topics of interest reminded me of a picturesque scene of a dolphin in its natural habitat. You know, how dolphins dive in deep, then leap out and fly over the ocean water seemingly suspended like some beautiful graceful, long studying dancer. That's how I began to see myself, and what I was doing, as something beautiful.

At the same time I was developing an extremely valuable and priceless skill. I was learning how to dive deeply into varied and unrelated subject matter, expose myself to the detail, internalize, analyze and regurgitate it back or put it back out in ways meaningful to others. I had been developing these incredible analytical skills where I learned to make connections within any subject matter. I could take the details and create a high level process for others to quickly understand.

He helped me get a dream job in a foreign country that I absolutely loved. Then the foreign company was bought by a major bank. My most critical and career defining assignment up to that point came to pass. My job was to help transition the Information Technology Data Center and Department over to the new owner, which was Citicorp. If we failed at any point during the process, Citicorp would send in the Big Dogs, fire folks and take over. Oh boy!

Using my knowledge of the culture's protocal, I called leaders in the organization above the level of the person with whom I wanted to get access. I used my language skills to charm and navigate past the secretaries. I used my knowledge of financial organizations to determine what Citicorp needed to see in terms of a plan and to identify who in their organization could give it to me.
I located a person from Uruguay, but who was living in town at the time. He had successfully gone through one of these audits. I used my make up artistry skills and my knowledge of clothing design to 'costume' myself so that I would look like a woman to whom this man might respond positively (as in give me the information I needed without dismissing me).
I used my fearlessness and experience from solo international travel to locate him. He was three hours away, by taxi, way over in some remote part of town. When I got there, a young American woman was in the same room. She was on the verge of being hysterical and inconsolable. She was already in tears. She was talking with someone else in the room I did not know.

The executive that I had travelled three hours to see told me to ignore her. I told him I could not. I excused myself from him and went over to this girl. She was having issues adjusting. The food was making her sick. I used my knowledge of foods and cleansing to suggest what to do. She calmed down and stopped crying...weeks later I found out that she cleansed and healed just fine.
I returned to the executive. He looked at me for the briefest of moments. He studied my face and looked into my eyes. I can't tell you what he was thinking. He proceeded to tell and show me exactly what I needed to do and what Citicorp would look for in my plan and process to be successful. That plan was so successful that it was used as a template and implemented, by the other departments in the organization. I decided that it was in my best interest to leave before I was asked to leave. Yet and still, the plan took them where they needed to go without my physical presence. They were very successful.

Every skill and every interest or some part of it, that I had cultivated or dived into at some point came to play in my experience. You see, I had pursued my interests, all of them. The knowledge and experience that I had gained in the genuine pursuit of my authentic interests had culminated in my success of this critical situation.

Each interest had been like a building block of a great pyramid: the the laying of a steady and rock solid base of a monumental structure. As I pursued my interests, I jumped like the beautiful dolphin from one building base block to another. As I dived into the detail, I spiraled up and built my knowledge.

Every bit of my knowledge, every experience, every detail that I had delved into had prepared me for the culimination of events of that very moment, for that assignment. That assignment was the apex, the point at which everything wonderfully converged.

I am no longer embarassed about seeming to have been or be a "jack of all trades and a master of none." Pursuing your interests is no foolish folly. It is an essential component of a meaningful life journey. If something is genuinely interesting to you ladies and gents, pursue it. Time, opportunity and authenticity on your part, will make the breath taking connections for you on this tumultuous and gratifying ride, called "Your Life Journey".

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lotus Flower: Symptoms versus Core Problems

A blurb on the cover of a popular women's magazine caught my eye. It read something like, "Fifty Tips to Make You Beautiful in 2009". I excitedly paged through the magazine until I found the article. My excitement drained a way like blood from a gushing wound. Let's look at the source of the bloodletting I experienced.

"If you have red eyes, use a white liner inside the eye. This will make your eyes seem brighter."

"If you have bags and dark circles under your eyes, use a yellow based concealer to minimize them."

Then the article really messed up.
"If you have thin hair, put some hairspray on it to give it volume. If your hair is breaking put it in an updo..."

Ahmmm, "Nooooooooooooooooooo!" There was more, so much more. You should have seen me talking back to the magazine, sucking my teeth and rolling my eyes. This article and others like them truly do women a DIS-SERVICE. Did I spell that right? Articles like these feed into the instant gratification syndrome. These kinds of articles help perpetuate dealing with the surface level as opposed to dealing with what lies below. Dealing with symptoms is the surface and dealing with problems are two different things.

If your eyes are bloodshot, you need to look at your food, your lifestyle, the hours you keep, your internal systems. The same goes for bags and jacked up unhealthy hair. Covering up issues just covers up the problem.

Lotus flowers grow in India. The lotus root is eaten and used in many Asian dishes. The lotus flower represents purity for some cultures. The interesting thing about the Lotus flower is that it has petals within petals. The deeper you go into the flower, the more petals you seem to find.

Many people start their hair journey and experience many obstacles and successes. Then they start looking at other areas such as their food and health.

Have you ever started eating better and caring for yourself, started healing and then have another health issue crop up? Did you notice I used "issue" and not problem?

Our bodies want to keep us healthy and alive. Hair is part of that system and can be, but not always is, a barometer of the condition of our health. When a body system or critical organ is in jeapordy, this takes precedence.

What I mean is that the severest issue we have in our bodies gains the most attention. Then, when we address it, something else comes up. Something less threatening - to our bodies.

Many people view this as a regression, a falling back, a getting off track. I disagree. I got this from a Healer, Queen Afua. You see, our bodies work like a Lotus Flower. Our worst issue is like the outermost part of the lotus flower. It gets our attention first. Then, as we address our issue and resolve it and work our way to the innermost part of the flower, and heal deeper, we encounter other issues that were not as critical, but are still in need of healing and care and nurturing.

Eventually, we get to the core or the root of our issue and discover the problem. Core problems require a journey to get to them. They are not symptoms or surface issues. Issues are like signals. They catch our attention and direct us to our destination - the problem, our challenge.

When it comes to being truly beautiful, you are like flowers. You are like the lotus flower. Don't be discouraged by what you find on the outermost petals. Be encouraged and continue on your path to the innermost part of the flower. As you continue your journey whether it be hair, health, beauty or any and all these journeys, read those signs and guideposts correctly.

A petal does not make a flower, but a flower makes a petal. Use symptoms to direct you to the destination, the core problem. Heal as you go and spiral up the path to true beauty.

True beauty is not about addressing symptoms that you cover up and/or hide away. True beauty is about digging deep and nurturing the source and the essence of who you are. If you deal with symptoms, it's like putting lotion on the petals of a cut flower to keep them moist. It's a losing battle. When you beautify at the core, it's like watering a Lotus flower with roots deeply planted in a watery pond. It's alive and has the possibility to be beautiful and growing and healthy.

Water yourselves like lotus flower. Don't waste your time putting lotion on dying petals. Address the problem and the symptoms will go away. Your being will shine and illuminate whomever you encounter and wherever you step.

Bloom and be beautiful, just like the lotus flower.