Sunday, August 16, 2009

Being Childlike, A Necessary Key for Success

When I was a little girl, I remember this assignment our second grade teacher gave us. She told us to write a story about losing a pet. She asked us to tell how we felt and what we would do. I remember that we did not work in groups and we all wrote our own little essays. Invariably, the majority of us stated that we would get another dog.

I will never forget what she said. "Most of you just said you would get another dog. None of you talked about how sad you were about losing the first dog that you had. You all just said you would get another dog." I remember feeling like she disapproved.

I remember feeling disappointed, guilty or that I had somehow disappointed the teacher by not feeling sad or holding onto the sadness of the loss of the pet. I felt bad because I too had said that I would get another pet. In retrospect, it was the teacher whose action was disappointing.

Instead of realizing and being awed by the children's resiliency, their ability to bounce back and to move on and to continue to enjoy life, she was bothered by our inability to hold on, to continue to grieve, to not be able to let go or move on. She had the problem, not us.
She had lost her ability to be childlike.

This segues into, or transitions perfectly into following and pursuing our dreams. I never understood the exercise, "If you knew you only had a limited time to live, what would you do? Whatever you would chose to do, is what you should be doing with your life right now."

What? I used to get so angry and exasperated by what I thought to be a stupid, stupid, frustrating exercise. I would always say that I'd quit my job and go to the beach and die. How in the heck does that help me pursue my dreams?

Then I had an epiphany, an aha! moment. My reaction to this question and exercise was no different than the reaction the teacher had to her class when she was disappointed with us when we said we would move on and just get another pet.

I too had lost my ability to be childlike.

Huh? What do I mean? How does losing a pet and moving on relate to my inability to see the value of this exercise? Well, because the whole point of the dying exercise is to tell you and to show you that you should be trying to create your dream life right now, today, at this moment. It should not be something that you aspire to do someday. Your dream or ideal life is something that you should be working toward, conciously on a daily basis.

In order to do this, you need to know the destination, what that life looks and feels like, as well as have the faith to work on something that is heretofore unseen, and only imagined or envisaged in your HEAD. In order to put time, energy and effort into something that has not yet manifested and is unseen, you must have faith and belief in that what you are working toward WILL SOMEDAY come to fruition and manifest and be touchable, see-able and live-able in the real world, your world.

In order to do that, you must be childlike in your outlook and in your belief and in your faith. So, that exercise is not lacking, I was lacking in my perception. I couldn't or didn't "get" the exercise because I had somehow become like that teacher that had lost her way, as well. Everyday, I work on my dream. I have written down what I want to do: my destination. I will confess that living on the beach has not changed. The only part that has changed is, the "go to die", part.

I have written out my plan. I have given it great thought and effort. Some days, I feel like I am NO WHERE near where I want to be. I will say that if I were struck dead at this moment, that I would be struck down with my dreams in progress. I will say to you ladies, that being struck down with a dream in progress is a far greater achievement than being struck down with a dream that has been deferred, put off, let go, forgotten or given up upon. Don't do it. Don't defer those dreams.

Remember, "A dream deferred is like a raisin in the sun."

Reach down and pull out that childlike, wide eyed innoncence that you used to have. Dust off that dream has been buried so long. No, I am not where I want to be. But there are so many frequent moments and days when I relish in and experience unadulterated, pure authentic JOY!

Can I go and SHOW somebody my dream in tangible terms? Some of it, but not all of it.
I am genuinely happy. I am pursuing the path that I have always wished to pursue. The end result of that leg of the journey will put me on a beach somewhere, to live, but that won't be the end of my entire journey.

When things don't go the way I want, or when I have setbacks, I don't stay mired in self pity or recrimination or regret. I get up, dust myself off and get back on my path. I deem people naysayers and ignore their comments if I determine that their feedback is nothing but 'crabs in the barrel mentality'.

I don't deem them naysayers upon examination of their criticism if I see that what they say has value, whether or not I am comfortable or like what or how they said it.In order to move from where you are today, to who you wish to be and where you wish to be in your life tomorrow, requires that you know where you are and were you wish to go. More importantly, it requires a plan to get there.

Most importantly, to get there requires that you become childlike in your belief and guard and culitivate that way of seeing and perceiving the world, including your dreams. A child is not naive and ignorant. A child possesses a way of seeing that is a gift that we give up and give away to become what we believe is "to be an adult". A childlike vision remains untainted by the heartache, misery and disappointment of those around us. Childlike vision does not allow for misery for company. Now, I believe that I truly understand the purpose and the benefit for that exercise I used to to be so frustrated by.

"If you only had six months to live, what would you do?"

I wouldn't change a thing. I would do exactly what I am doing today. Enjoying my life, moving toward my dream life, by doing an action to get there on a daily basis, no matter how small that action. That's what I am doing! I finally got it! I got it!
Start today to build that dream life that you have always wanted for yourselves. In time, your inner world will manifest and become your outer world, that you can see and touch. In the meantime, you will be enjoying the journey and your daily life.

A happy woman is a beauful woman. One with a childlike view of the world, where one forgives, forgets, gets up and moves on and has the faith to pursue and believe in her dreams no matter what is unseen and unheard, is a gloriously beautiful woman. A childlike perception or view is a necessary key to accomplishment and success. To your success and to your beauty!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Brother in First Class and the Vietnamese Man on the Bike

I had to fly to Europe for a week for my job. On international flights, the company sends you business class, which is also first class, for commercial flying. There were about sixteen seats in all, out of 200 on the plan, that were in first class. I was in one of the seats and a brother was in another.

I tried to catch his eye, not because I was checking him or wanted to get with him. His response was not unusual. I get it from both men and women of color when I travel. He looked away and around me, as if I were in the way. This seems to happen to me often. So much so, that most times, I don't even try to connect with strangers of color. Isn't that a funny sounding term, 'strangers of color'?

He was a large man, probably stood at about 6'5''. He looked like he could have been a professional athlete. I wouldn't know and couldn't tell you because I didn't talk with him. I was travelling with three other gentleman, so it wasn't like I was desperate for conversation. But I wondered about that young man. I wanted to know who he was, what he was doing and why was he going to Scotland?

Not just because I was nosy, but because I wanted to congratulate him on being successful. He could have been a computer programmer or an entrepreneur. I will never know.

I hate flying so I seem to be in the rest room more than I am in my seat. On one of my 48 trips back from my place of safe haven, the restroom, I looked up and he was looking in my face. I smiled and immediately looked away as I did not want to be disappointed by his not returning my smile or by a lack of acknowledgement from him.

It wasn't like the man was brooding and moody. I was blinded by his pearly whites and giant grin whenever the stewardess walked by. She was cute, ya'll so don't be hating on him.

Fast forward. I buy a lot of my food from an Asian food grocery store in town. There was a gentleman in there buying food. He may have been in his 70's. The first thing that struck me was that the clerk was saying,"You have eleven (11) dollars left. Find something else for eleven (11) dollars." The 70 year old gentleman could barely form a word, let alone a complete sentence in English. His mental faculties were fine. He just didn't speak the English language.

I asked the clerk why did the man need to know he had eleven more dollars and the clerk said that was his [welfare] check from the government and that the gentleman wanted to spend all of the check in its entirety. I asked from where the older gentleman came and was told he was from Vietnam. In the midst of all this, he had lost his walking cane. I tried to catch his eyes to see if I could help, but he just looked past me and around me. I was disappointed because I wanted to help. I wanted to know his story, as well. But of course it didn't happen. He grinned brightly at the store clerk/owner, though. I thought that he had to be pretty courageous to come to this country at his age, without family, without knowing the language. On my way home in my car, I passed the gentleman on his way home, on his bike.

I encountered both gentlemen during a journey, one was long and far, the other short and close. I was unable to communicate with one person due to a social barrier and the other due to a language barrier. These experiences for me are the exception, as opposed to the rule.

Most times, I am able to find or have some kind of active connection or interaction with people. In both of these instances, I was unable to do so. Our connectivity was that I was on the same path, in the same place, at the same time as they, during my respective encounters with them.

I felt just as far apart, just as distant from the gentleman on the plane as I did from the gentleman in the store, for different reasons, but with the same result: no connectivity.

As these two experiences converged, or met, or came together in my mind, I realized that it is a privilege and an honor to connect with another person. More importantly, what may be required to connect with one person may be totally differently than what is required to connect with another person.

So ladies, don't assume and presume like I did, that because someone has some similarities to you- looks like you, eats like you- that the connection should require less effort or no effort or the same effort as it did for the person before.

Instead of being critical or labeling that person in your office, or at your place of business or in your neigborhood as 'typical', ignorant, or strange, try to do something else - first.

Be conscious of the fact that perhaps what it may take to connect or understand from where this person is coming, is something that you may have never called forth from yourself before. Be concious of the fact that you may not possess what it takes to connect with that other person.

Although you are not going to want to connect with every stranger in the street and in the world, I think it is important to keep this at the forefront of our minds. It is quite easy to dismiss or ignore someone. It is a lot harder to pull back, step back and let someone just be - who they are.

So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you hear yourself thinking, "Look at that fool". Or think in an exasperated tone, "What is her problem!?" Be open to the fact that perhaps there truly is no problem, perhaps he is not a fool. Perhaps there is some kind of barrier, be it language, social, cultural or some other kind of barrier, that you can't even put your finger on.

Instead of judging, or labeling, just simply let it be. You see, sometimes in order for water to do its powerful and greatest work, it doesn't need to be dammed up, redirected or harnessed. Water can be at its most powerful for you, when you just stand back and look at it and let it be.

It simply needs to just swirl around your feet and envelope you in its essence. It needs to simply just be left to be. What takes your breath away: harnessed water going over a dam or a glimpse of an open, turquoise sea where the beads of light glisten and gleam upon its waves underneath the shining sun?

The next time you encounter someone who is different or difficult, it just may mean what is required [of you] is to just let him or her be. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you were given that gift in all the interactions that YOU have?

Give to others what you wish to receive. Not because it's tit for tat: I gave you this, so you give me that. But because you can. When you are conscious and cognizant about what you do and who you are, the need to control, harness, redirect, judge or criticize, diminishes.

It may not be meant for you to connect. When one 'connects' with another, it infers that the interaction is pleasant and/or effortless. When one does not connect, the connotation is negative.

Letting something, someone or even a situation 'be', is much harder and requires more of us. That in itself is a skill we all may need to hone.

Start with yourself and, "Just let yourself be."

When you do, that difficult person at work, that weird person in your neighborhood or that fool by the trashcan may cease to be, and transform into something more beautiful than you have ever known, right before your very eyes. That difficult situation my resolve itself. That pain and sadness may just ease and subside.

It's easy to jump quick to judgement. It's so much harder and far more rewarding to let something be, especially when that something is another person, situation or experience different from you or differnt from anything you have ever encountered before. Just stand there and be awed. Sometimes that is far more appropriate than to try to harness and control it. It just may turn out to be the most beautiful thing, person or situation that you have ever experienced.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Never Lend Broke Family, Friends or Folks Money...

Always give it to them with no strings attached. If someone asks you for money you need to ask yourself, "If I give away this money, is this going to adversely impact me? Will I not be able to pay a bill or meet my own financial obligations?"

If the answer is, "Yes, by letting go of this money, I am going to place myself in dire straits, or trouble," then you CAN'T AFFORD to release the money. But if by releasing the money, there is no impact on your financial obligations, ie. you still will be able to feed yourself and pay your bills, then you CAN AFFORD to release the money.

If you can afford to release the money, release it all the way, don't attach any strings. Strings are, "I am giving you this money on a conditional basis, I want it back at a later date. Or, do this for me if I give you this money." Release the money all the way or don't release it at all.

If somebody says they want to pay you back, let them say it. But don't you say, "Okay, give it back to me when you can." You just let it go - FOREVER.

If someone insists that they are going to pay it back, or that they want to pay it back, I let them say it. The need for them to say that is just that, their need, not mine.

It has nothing to do with me. I always add, "I don't want it back. If I have released this to you, I don't want or need it back. It is my gift to you. If I couldn't afford to give it to you, I wouldn't give it to you. Period."

But there is a deeper and more important implication for you here. That is, in order to be able to give money to someone you choose, who is in need, YOU need to be in a stable enough, financial position to do so. It is not about giving away thousands or even hundreds of dollars. It could be a few bucks, a twenty dollar bill or something in between.

Am I rich? Heck no! But I try to live within my means so that if someone I know needs some financial help, I can provide it if that is what I want to do. To put myself in this kind of position, places the onus or accountability/obligation on me to try to have my financial house in order.

When you are always trying to make ends meet, struggling from paycheck to paycheck, that is not a position of power. Although we are all beholding to someone, at some level, be it our boss, our company, our spouse or whatever, it is possible to have some financial autonomy and independence.

It is very important to get yourself in a position so that in the least, YOU won't have to ask someone for a financial helping hand. It is simple, but not easy to do.

To release money to someone who needs it and to be able to do it with no adverse financial impacts to your wallet, is a gift that you create for yourself.

You honor yourself by not having to be indebted to others for stuff that has long lost it its value. More importantly, you give yourself the gift of freedom which in turn enables you to provide financial support for others, in the form of releasing money to them. Money that you have said, "Goodbye to", always and forever.

You see, we are all connected. And you never know whose life you touch or who you help. Contrary to the actions of so many people, when you help someone else, you truly benefit - you do not lose in the long run. That same person you helped may not come back around and do the same for you, but that is not the point, now is it.

Do the world a favor. Get yourself in a position so that you can release money. I have heard and seen it written that if you love something and let it go, if it is meant to be, it will come back to you. I say the same thing about support. When you release and give support to others freely, in the form of money, with no strings attached, I believe that it always comes back to you.

Beauty is as beauty does. Do it, you beautiful creatures, you!