Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fortitude. . .

I woke up this morning feeling that lady luck would grace me with her presence. So I prayed for patience and handled each challenge with fortitude and grace because I knew that good things are rendered to those who endure adversity with courage.

Although I seethed inside, I did not drive my car over or into the man in front of me driving 50 miles an hour on a busy highway. Instead, I smiled and rode his bumper. Nor did I cop an attitude when a colleague politely stole the parking space that I was so patiently waiting to pull into. I simply put my middle finger up and found an alternate spot.

Subsequently, the thirty-minute meeting that turned into a working lunch didn’t irritate me one bit. It only made me appreciate my management team and the useless information they were trying to disseminate. After all, my time was negligible and I needed to lose a couple of pounds any way. So, I smiled graciously and drank a cup of water.

From what I could see, lady luck was truly on my side! I breezed through two interviews for a great promotional opportunity only to find another hoop to jump through and an additional river to swim. But, I didn’t frown or swear, I simply sighed and handled the frustration I felt with fortitude and grace because I knew that good things come to those who wait patiently. So, I agreed to wait another week to receive my blessing.

By the end of the day, I had received a generous speeding ticket from one of the locals in blue, nearly avoided a fist fight with a nasty old lady who tried to run me down in the produce department, and visited with a neighbor for two hours until my husband could get home from work to unlock our house door.

Wow! Lady luck had truly graced me with her presence. Any more luck, and I might have been captured by an alien or died from a foreign object hitting me upside my head. But in spite of everything, I thank God for fortitude, the strength of mind that allows one to endure pain or adversity with courage because without it, I don’t think I would have survived the day.

Hopefully, lady luck will give me a break tomorrow. . .

Thursday, July 23, 2009

After the Kids Leave, What's Next?

As the day approaches, (August 21) when I will drop my only child off at college, and help her get settled into her dorm and then go home without her, I am wondering how we got this far so fast? Where did the time go? What’s next in my life?

Some people call this stage the “empty nest” period. That is the stage before the adult children return home to hide out until they figure out what they want to do with their lives. I’m not sure what to call it.

In theory, this is the time in life when many parents feel a sense of relief. They have raised their kids, have seen them through high school, watched them graduate, and found a way to finance their undergraduate education. In some ways, I echo those sentiments of relief. This journey has not been easy.

However, I still can’t quite muster up the excitement that I thought I would feel when I imagined regaining my freedom back. No more babysitters. No more homework to check or dinners to cook or late nights waiting for my child to come home from a date. I won’t have to complain about how junky her bedroom and bathroom are. No more teenage mood swings, or hearing about the boyfriend drama and fussing about the cell phone bill that looked more like a car note! No, this would be my time to work hard, play hard and enjoy my husband. We would bond like we did when we were dating.

Yet, in spite of the endless fussing, coaching and chauffeuring to every school and church event, I honestly think I will treasure every moment. The past 18 years have been a learning experience for me. I have grown as an adult, developed all kinds of skills, learned to persevere through difficult times, and learned how to keep smiling through my own pain. But most of all, I have raised a beautiful, smart and loving young woman whom I am more proud of than anything in this world. I consider this to be my greatest accomplishment and a true gift from God.

So, as I count the days, and ensure that the tuition will be paid on-time, I look with apprehension and pride at the young woman whom I will be sending off to the world of academia. I know in my heart that although my life will never quite be the same, the relationship that I’ve built with her will never disappear, only grow and get better with time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Does Passion Come from Work or from Perspective

Ever wondered how some people can work the same job for 20 years and find job satisfaction? What about those who wake up every day excited about life, exuding confidence and success? What makes them different?

I think it’s probably fair to say that most people don’t fit into either category. Most people go through the motions of life, working hard, playing the hand that has been dealt to them, never quite reaching their full potential or ever discovering their true purpose in life. But, is dragging one’s self out of bed every morning, showing up to a boring job and counting the hours until the work day is over really living? I submit to you that it’s not! However, there must be a correlation between it and substance abuse, sex/food addictions and victim syndrome. A lot of people find comfort from these bedmates.

One writer once described passion as “food for the soul, the courage to express one’s convictions and zest for life, and the spark that illuminates purpose and mission” (Norris, 2000). Does passion exist in the type work that people do? Does it come from making a lot of money? What about religion, volunteerism or philanthropy?

Passion does not exist within the job but within the individual. I believe we all have the power to transform ourselves and our life situations for the better. Most of the time, it is as simple as a shift in our perspective. I like what Kara Pecknold, (2008) suggested in a recent article. She suggested that in lieu of focusing on all of the things that may be wrong in our lives and with our jobs, we should write down all of the things that are good, the things that we are grateful for and then take one thing from our list that is important to us and create a simple one month project where we can increase that component in our daily lives. When one’s focus changes, one’s attitude and perspective also changes. Thus, one's life can change.

What is your passion? I challenge you to unleash it and live life to the fullest.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why Is Change So Hard to Embrace?

I don’t know if it’s age, stubbornness or simply fear that makes change so difficult to embrace. I just know that I’ve been struggling to adapt ever since I turned 40. Everything around me is changing, except my pay check, and my ability to hit the lottery.

Am I the only one who feels like I’m running fast but not getting very far? The more I do, the less fulfilled I feel. I can’t quite put my finger on it but time seems to have sped up. It seems all I do every day is breathe, work, pay bills and try to keep my head above water. Every now and then, I find some small pleasure or some small relief. Life has to be more than just getting by. Where’s the passion? Where’s the purpose that our spiritual leaders talk about?

What’s happening to our world? In the midst of all of this change, what is there to look forward to . . . a jacked-up economy, astronomical unemployment, increased poverty, homelessness, fear, homicide, and helplessness? Everything is stagnant. Small businesses are closing up shop. Big businesses are filing bankruptcy or begging for a government bailout. Communities are being held hostage by drugs and degradation. Yet change is constant.

Nothing feels the same. There’s a sense of paranoia in the air that is slowly sucking the life out of everything that use to be fun and normal. People are afraid to spend money, walking on a tight-rope at their jobs not wanting to give their employers any reason to hand down a pink slip. Others are feeling desperate because they don’t know how they’re going to pay their mortgages or their children’s college tuition.

People are working harder and longer than ever before with no vacation in sight. No relief from this vicious cycle. Everything is pending . . . everything is changing . . . nothing is quite the same anymore. Change . . . why is it so darn hard to embrace? Why can’t we just go with the flow? Might happiness be found there? Or is it all an allusion?

Can Average People Make a Difference?

I'm a firm believer that great works are not exclusively achieved by those with the most education, the most money or the best connections. I believe that the greatest achievements derive from every day "average" people who are willing to work hard and persevere in the midst of difficulty and uncertainty. Sometimes pushing forward with nothing more than sheer will-power even when the odds are clearly not in their favor. That's when the true heroes rise to the occasion.

Today, we need a few heroes. As hard-working Americans begin to work their way through the economic crisis that threatens to unravel their foundation, the need to toughen up, tighten up, and to focus on finding workable solutions instead of finger-pointing will become essential. In spite of the many challenges that we face, this is not the time to become weak at the knees. We must resist the “victim” syndrome with all of our strength. This is an opportunity for self reflection, strategic planning and the hero syndrome to rise. Average people can make a difference. The time is now!

We must develop a can-do attitude and believe that with faith and perseverance we, the average person can prevail. Each person has a choice. Individuals can choose to be inactive, and allow the gloom to paralyze them; or proactive, and begin to pool their resources, knowledge with others to influence positive change on their own. History has shown us that there is power in numbers. As a unified voice, we can make our needs heard and influence our elected officials and leaders to stand up and address the issues that plague this country.

Since new ideas are limited in the political arena, this is an opportunity for regular citizens to begin to brainstorm and tackle the difficult problems that stagger their own communities. No longer can we afford to wait for politicians to solve our problems. Until politicians begin to feel some discomfort of their own, it will be difficult for many of them to understand and empathize with those who are jobless, homeless and feeling desperate. Because of their limited view of main street, and their hunger for power and prestige, the politicking and back-biting with continue in government instead of strategic collaboration and the search for real solutions to the problems that face this nation.

We no longer have the luxury of being passive. It is unacceptable to simply complain about the economy, the plight of the middle class, or the disadvantaged. Now is the time to roll up one’s sleeves and get busy working towards solutions that will improve the future of our communities and this country. The challenge is yours. The challenge is mine. What will you do today to make a difference? Today is a new day. Let’s empower ourselves to make a difference.