Sunday, October 11, 2009

Your Biggest Obstacle Is Your Greatest Gift

Are you struggling with overcoming something in your life? Something that you seem to just can't get in front of? Hold up a minute. I want to come back to this later.

When I was in Japan, I dated this young man. He was into sword making. We hopped onto his motorcycle and headed out to a rural part of Kumamoto, Japan, to the sword maker's home, his master teacher.

This young man was a sullen, troubled person and was somewhat of a social outcast. But when he got to the home of his master teacher, he just lit up. At one point, he took over the process from his teacher, who had been forging a sword, when we came in. I watched the young man become engrossed in what he was doing. He forgot that both I and the master teacher were even there.

The metal was pounded, over and over. Gray wisps of material and ash floated in the air and escaped every time the metal sword received a blow. The metal being forged glowed orange in the hot center, yellow around the outline of the orange and gray and blue around the edges. He literally pounded that sword "to be" for an hour. That thing still looked like it did when we first came into the workshop.

That's why I liken obstacles in our lives to the forging of a sword or a knife. Just like that sword is strengthened by being placed in fire and being pounded upon blow after blow, so are we. Beyond that, once you actually overcome an obstacle, you become an expert on it. You create a tool from this experience as well.

You are an expert on YOUR experience. Contrary to what a lot of credentialed people may try to tell you, your personal experience has value and a use, for other people.

Many times, it is not theoretical information or direction, the general stuff that we are told about, that makes a difference. It is someone's tangible, very personal, firsthand, esoteric and distinct experience that captures, motivates and fascinates us. It is that person's story that inspires us to catapult ourselves toward our accomplisments. It is these experiences and information that we seek.

I am struggling through some very difficult challenges today. More importantly, I have overcome some incredible challenges as well. It is the history and the fact that I have overcome those challenges that I use as leverage to help me know that I can get through the obstacles of today.

But the most incredible thing that I have seen is this. Very often, the thing that is your greatest challenge that you persist to do and overcome, is your greatest gift. It is your greatest gift to yourself because you have triumphed over it. That process that you went through to come out to the light and be successful is priceless in itself. You can now transfer that same process over to the NEXT challenging area of your life. That is called experience. Unlike yesterday's challenges, you have a history and some precedence on how to address today's and tomorrow's challenges.

That's a roadmap, a guide, a gift to yourself. Through life experience, and if you live it consciously, you have created an internal compass for yourself to help you get where you need to go - even faster the next time around.

That same roadmap that came to be, came to fruition because you have coalesced your experiences into crystal clear vision, can now be gifted to someone else in need.

So the next time you start to lament about that challenge that you feel you just can't overcome, before you spiral downward into something ugly and nonproductive, such as self loathing or even depression, bless your situation.

Know that when, not if, but when you overcome this great challenge or obstacle that you face, that you will leave with some very tangible treasures: A map of how of to overcome future challenges, the gift of this map to yourself, and this gift of knowledge that you can teach and pass on to someone else.

To strengthen and forge a sword literally requires fire, an arising from the ashes, and the pressing and compression and the shaping of pounding pressure. From all of that comes a gorgeous, magnificent knife or sword - a great tool that you can always use, in your daily lives. The same process is applicable to you.

Be the gift that keeps on giving. Persist and overcome what challenges you today. Create a roadmap for those who are lost and the discouraged of tomorrow. Let your obstacle that you have overcome, be the oasis in the desert for someone. We all know that an oasis is a life giving find for anyone lost and thirsty in the desert.

By the way, that young man gave me that knife he worked on that day. It was a gift. What beautiful gift will you be creating and giving? Thank your challenges, and get ready to wrap them up in some pretty paper and a gigantic bow. Somebody's out there with outstretched arms waiting to receive your gift in the making. Get to it! Be a beautiful gift giver. Beautify bit by bit, one gift at a time, literally and figuratively.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pursue Your Passion: It Really Is in You to Do It!

A few years ago I was watching a documentary. The woman on the show had received an organ transplant. Shortly after, two things started to happen. The first was that she developed a craving and taste for green bell peppers. She started adding entire, whole green peppers to her meals. Prior to her transplant, not only did she not eat green bell peppers that often, she didn't really like them. Secondly, she began having dreams about being in an open field and she would be running toward a young man who would also be running toward her, both of them with arms outstretched toward one another. Once the young man would reach her, she would literally inhale him into her mouth and he would disappear.

She was not only given the gift of an organ, she was eventually gifted with the knowledge of her donor. It turns out the young man in her dream, whom she had never met or seen, was the spitting image of the man who had been her organ donor, whom she had never met or seen, either. His family told her that he loved, loved green bell peppers and ate them in absolutely everything!

Last Friday I attended an event for my company. The event was for African American women. The gentleman next to me was a friend of my co-worker with whom I was sharing the table. She told me that he had received a kidney transplant just two years ago. So of course, I recounted the above story about the woman and the green bell peppers. Then mostly joking, I asked him if he had a similar experience.

He said, "Yes".

I bugged him until he told me the details. He told me that his son asked for a motorcycle. He said that he himself hated them and told his son that he could get one - once he was on his own and moved out of the house. He said that he had no interest in them.

Therefore, his children were surprised to see him enjoying a chopper show where they were rebuilding motor cycle engines. He became conscious of what he was doing only when his kids asked him why he was watching such a show. He said he continues to seek out and watch motorcycle shows on television. He then said that although he had always been a heavy man, that his appetite was now different. He said he went to a buffet and got there at 11:00 am and didn't leave until 4:00 pm. Then, two hours later he went home and ate dinner.

It turns out that his donor was killed on a motorcylce. His donor loved and adored and lived for motorcycles and they were a big part of his life. It also turned out that his donor was a gigantic sized man and he loved to eat. He could eat anybody under the table!

So what's this got to do with pursuing your passions? Well, I have always heard that our cells, the cells of our body which make up our organs have 'memory'. That is from a metaphysical perspective. But from a medical perspective the same thing has been proven. Our DNA is what holds our genes. It is our genes that determine how we look, our physical attributes.

Why would they not, our genes, hold our talents and abilities as well? And if that is the case, why could we not say that our dreams, our hopes, our passions are really a part of us- as in they are a part of the very make-up of our basic physical unit, our cells, our DNA?

I have often heard people say, "If you have a dream in your heart, then it is meant for you to pursue it." When you think about this in terms of the two organ recipients and their experiences, this doesn't seem so nebulous, lofty or far-fetched. It sounds downright...sensible.

The next time something comes up and you find yourself excited by it, wanting to do it or experience or that you are gravitating toward it, don't question it and analyze it.

Trust. Just do it.

Try to make it happen, try to experience it. Pursue that passion. It really is in you to do it. It may be in your cells. Your cells don't forget, because the DNA inside of your cells won't let them forget. Talk about figuratively and literally being true to yourself! Perhaps what we deem as intuition, or a gut feeling, is really our physical cells trying to give us a hint about what we need to do. Perhaps our inner knowing is really 'inner cellular' (not a real phrase....I made it up) knowledge! Doesn't it make sense to 'listen' to it?

As I always say, being beautiful is about being who you are. Embrace those passions, as they may stem from your being who already knows not only what you like, but what you are capable of doing. If it's in you, and based on the aforementinoed stories, it probably is- then it IS meant for you to do it. Pursue it! The only person who may be surprised is you! The rest of you, already knows.