Category Archives: Wednesday’s Wisdom

The Word of the Week…

…is RESURRECTION!

1. The act of rising from the dead or returning to life.
2. The state of one who has returned to life.
3. The act of bringing back to practice, notice, or use; revival.

After being on the road for business for several days, I slid into the Easter weekend thinking about both the Christian and non-Christian significance of the season. The choice of the “Word of the Week” was therefore pretty much a no-brainer. However, due to a death in my family on Easter Sunday, my thoughts about this entry were thrown off track. Losing someone you love seems to be the very antithesis of what the Easter story calls for us to celebrate. My mind was suddenly blank.

A Facebook friend also lost a loved one this past weekend, and – before flying off to join her family for the funeral – she wrote a quick post sharing how facing this death had affected her outlook on life. This loss has had an impact on the way she wants to experience life in the future, and – in memory of her loved one – she’s committed to making some changes.

Her post really touched me and made me feel melancholy at the same time. Maybe because she is quite a bit younger than me, and I intuitively felt that she still has so many more option than I do?

That feeling only lasted for a short time. Early this morning I discovered an article online that not only touched me in a similar way; it also pushed me past the temporary feeling of stagnation and self-pity that were paralyzing me.

Called “20 Good Habits You Need To Start In Your 20s” I immediately realized that these are not only great suggestions for those just starting their adult lives. The article also helped me remember that…

…it’s never too late to start doing the right things in your life!

20. Focus on the activities and people that make you happy.
19. Trust you instincts on new opportunities.
18. Build the courage to face your fears.
17. Focus on the resources you already have a access to
16. Be less busy, and more productive.
15. Make your goals your priorities.
14. Accept your humanness.
13. Seek less approval from others.
12. Ignore society’s comparisons.
11. Believe in your ability to succeed.
10. Manage your money before it starts managing you.
09. Let the wrong people go.
08. Appreciate your true friends and return the favor.
07. Understand right from wrong.
06. Choose happiness.
05. Learn to cope with anger effectively.
04. Make your own destiny.
03. Create priorities.
02. Stay away from a routine-based life.
01. Always keep in mind that life is somewhat predictable.

I would love to hear some of you share which one resonates most with you – and why!

~~~

In Memory of Russell Davis (1950 – 2013). You are loved. You will be missed.

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Filed under Affirmations, Coaching, Monday Musings, Wednesday's Wisdom

Wednesday Wisdom

I thought I would change things up a bit this week, and meditate out loud about a question that has been following me around recently:

What is the best way to deal with negativity?

Sometimes we are so caught up in the flow of daily life, that outside influences don’t seem to pierce the shell of activity around us. But heaven forbid we stop long enough to catch our breath! Just like I used to seem doomed to come down with a bad cold the second I planned to actually take the weekend off to relax, now – when I slow down for a day or two – some negative issue gets under my skin. In need as I am of a brief physical and mental pause, it’s as though the level of inner tension and discomfort are taken up a notch or two instead of down by some issue either in my personal life or on the world stage.

It’s almost as though I am standing beside myself, too, watching myself as I amp up…

  • My inner monologue becomes increasingly resigned and bitter
  • I begin to question the “why” of current projects or – in extreme cases – my entire, primarily optimistic world view
  • My good personal habits begin to slide from reasonable and healthy back into the realm of “who cares?”

So what, I get off a pithy letter of complaint, write a searing blog post, or verbally go toe-to-toe with someone. What toll is my emotional reaction to this issue taking on me, and what is the price I pay to regain my equilibrium?

“I just don’t deal with the negativity. I can’t get involved in that side of it. I don’t understand it, and you can’t let it take away your life and what you are trying to do.” (Rick Pitino, basketball coach)

Because I am now able to observe myself, I feel more motivated to better understand why I automatically react the way I do. I’m also committed to finding ways to make my reaction to the negativity around me more effective and less self-destructive. Here are a few of the truths I’ve encountered so far:

  1. Make positivity your default setting. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life, is that you usually find what you’re looking for. If you believe the world is basically a dark and dangerous place, and your fellow humans are all out to get you, your days will be chock-full of examples to confirm that hypothesis. It’s not that there aren’t other – decidedly positive – examples to at least balance out your pessimism, but you’ll overlook all of those as your eyes search out yet another headline about acts of senseless violence, corruption, misogyny & co. While it makes no sense to ignore the sad and bad news our world has to offer, by being open to the positive, we are not only protecting our personal well-being. We are also positioning ourselves to be an inspiration in the lives of those around us.
  2. Remain solution-oriented.  There’s nothing wrong with letting off steam from time to time, but if a lengthy rant is your only reaction to the negativity and injustice you encounter, what’s the point? All your Facebook rant is likely to accomplish is a jump in your blood pressure. Ask yourself instead how you can make a concrete contribution to a sustainable solution! Is there an organization you can support? Can you contribute your time, money or useful goods? Will adding your signature to a petition make a difference? These are only a few examples of how to turn your anger and frustration into actions that can really making a difference. And don’t forget that sometimes the small things (e.g. a hug or smile, a heart-felt “how are you?” coupled with an open ear) can go a really long way in your personal life!
  3. Realize you can’t do it all. Achieving any degree of change – whether in our personal lives or society as a whole – is a process that takes time. Lasting solutions are seldom achieved instantaneously. There will be phases during that process when you will neither have the time, strength nor peace-of-mind to make a meaningful contribution to the solution. Instead of beating yourself up for not being able to drop everything you’re doing right now to join that march, spend half the night talking to a friend during a break-up or launch a coup at work, realize that your contribution can only be as good as the quality of the energy you bring to the table. Tomorrow’s another day…

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The Word of the Week…

…is VISION!

“What a desire!…To live in peace with that word: Myself” (Sylvia Ashton-Warner)

This week I’ve decided to bring you The Word of the Week in written form again. I’m wrestling with a cold, so my voice is a little sensitive. Because I am heading off to Hamburg for a meeting tomorrow, then on to Berlin to conduct a workshop on Friday and Saturday, I need to protect my it as much as I possibly can, so…

My inspiration for this week’s WoW is two-fold. The original idea came from some thoughts I had about last week’s WoW (which was “Play“, by the way). I was meditating on the (rare?) opportunities we, as adults, get to flex the muscles of our own fantasy.

  • When do we give ourselves permission to dispel disbelief?
  • Under what conditions do we allow ourselves to dream?

I also couldn’t help reflect on just how the “play” we engage in – both as adults and as children – often serves a Higher Purpose we don’t recognize right away…

This original thought was later impacted by an article I read about a white father in the States forbidding African-American hospital staff from caring for his newborn, as well as a searing commentary on the subject written by an online friend. Part of my friend’s commentary went off on a tangent that added to my thoughts on the purpose of vision. Namely, the seemingly overwhelming negativity associated with the image of black women in the American media.

  • How (much) does this negativity thwart the development of a positive self-image in black women and girls?
  • Was this negativity as pervasive in other parts of the world as it is in the States?

At some point, though, I realized I was allowing my thoughts to take me down an extremely reactive path. I was permitting myself the illusion that someone else has ultimate power of my self-image, when – in fact – they simply don’t.

It’s therefore no coincidence that something right in front of me would take me back to a place of centered self-reflection.

Several weeks ago I was looking for  some references I wanted to use in a presentation I was preparing, so I went into the basement to dig through a few boxes of unpacked books. During my excavations, I “rediscovered” a few treasures and brought them back up into my home-office. One of my finds was my copy of Sarah Ban Breathnach‘s epic “The Illustrated Discovery Journal“. I remember posting in the Facebook group that I had found it. Although I had a deadline looming, I swept things away from the center of my desk in order to spread out my own personalized version of the journal in front of me.

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Not only did it contain the collages I had spent several thoughtful afternoons creating in a cottage on the Dutch North Sea coast, I had also used the pockets in the back to store hefty stacks of other visual material, as well as articles, quotes and recipes that had caught my attention.

Going over this material – running my fingers over pictures flush with color; taking feathery pieces of news print into my hands as long-forgotten words and phrases leapt off the pages at me – allowed me to sink back into the memory of contemplating the assignments in the book, for example:

  1. What do I consider to be my authentic style?
  2. How do I define success?
  3. Where is my “house of belonging”, and what does it look and feel like?
  4. What connections in life do I  hold sacred?

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Rediscovering this book helped me remember how important it is to have my own vision of myself. To have a vision of who I am, what I stand for and what I believe. This vision of myself is an authentic reflection of my essence and my purpose. It’s what nurtures my soul and helps it grow straight and true. It’s also what shields me from the malice of someone else’s false representation of who I am; their dark image of who they need me to be in order to fulfill their own riddled agenda.

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Of course, collages or vision boards are only one way to allow our visions of ourselves to unfold. Journalling is another, as (for me, at least) is digging into your family’s genealogy. But – to quote Oprah Winfrey – there’s one thing I know for sure: If I have a vision of myself – a vision that evolves and expands and grows as I do – I feel less impacted by the false images others attempt to disseminate about me and use to control me.

What tools or techniques do you find useful in “midwifing” your authentic vision of self?

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Wednesday’s Wisdom: 30 Things To Stop Doing To Yourself

This list showed up on my Facebook feed several times, and different parts of it have stayed with me since I first read it. As I contemplate the past year as 2011 is slowly winding down,  I want to share these 30 things with all of you.

  1. Stop spending time with the wrong people
  2. Stop running from your problems.
  3. Stop lying to yourself.
  4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner.
  5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not.
  6. Stop trying to hold onto the past.
  7. Stop being scared to make a mistake.
  8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes.
  9. Stop trying to buy happiness.
  10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness.
  11. Stop being idle.
  12. Stop thinking you’re not ready.
  13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons.
  14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work.
  15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else.
  16. Stop being jealous of others.
  17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.
  18. Stop holding grudges.
  19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level.
  20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others.
  21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break.
  22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments.
  23. Stop trying to make things perfect.
  24. Stop following the path of least resistance.
  25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t.
  26. Stop blaming others for your troubles.
  27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone.
  28. Stop worrying so much.
  29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen.
  30. Stop being ungrateful.

(Source)

Of course, some of these resonate more strongly with you than others, depending on your current phase in life.

Read through them all again – s.l.o.w.l.y. –  then choose the three that resonate most strongly with you. If you like, share (and explain) your choices with us).

Here are my choices:

  • # 12
  • # 26
  • # 29

I’ll be back to explain my choices next week…

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(Belated) Wednesday Wisdom: Storytelling is (…) Sharing My Healing Experiences with Others

Sharon Dodua Otoo is a mother, activist, author and the editor of the upcoming series of books about living in Germany from a black perspective, “Witnessed”. I’m personally looking forward to hearing more about this exciting project when Sharon joins the panel on next week’s TableWalk!

If you haven’t already registered to be part of this year’s virtual round table, click to find out more about the event or go directly here to register!

When asked about the power in our own Afro-European stories, this is what Sharon had to say:

“…I find extreme comfort in working through traumatic experiences by writing about them. Writing is healing. Storytelling is an extension of that – sharing my healing experiences with others…”

For a sample of Sharon prowess as a poet and performer, you can watch Sharon – together with Philipp Khabo Köpsell – perform some of her own English-German texts after the 4.27 minute mark on the video below! But be forewarned – if you skip the beginning, you’ll miss the pleasure of seeing the next Afro-German generation in action! 🙂

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Wednesday’s Wisdom: Telling The World Who You Are

Although Carolyn Vines and I have yet to meet in person, we’ve developed a virtual rapport that has enriched my life. That’s why I’m especially glad to have her on board as one of our guest panelists for this year’s TableTalk.

Carolyn, a blogger and author who loves in the Netherlands with her Dutch husband and their two daughters, had this to say about the power in telling your own story:

 

“…You can only tell your own story if you’ve found your authentic voice. When you speak with that authentic voice, you’re telling the world who you are in your own terms and on your own terms. That is true power…”

 

To find out more about Carolyn’s mission to encourage more women – esp. African-American women – to use travel as a tool in enriching their lives and facilitating their personal journey of identity, check out the recent episodes of her online radio show on The Women’s Information Network or listen to her interview with author and book coach, Jo Parfitt!

~~

If you haven’t already registered to be part of this year’s virtual round table, click to find out more about the event or go directly here to register!

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Wednesday’s Wisdom: A Voice Ignored

One of the guest panelists on the upcoming TableTalk is Precious Williams.

Precious is a UK-based author and journalist who had this to say about the power in telling our own stories:

“…Nothing could be more undermining than being silenced, having your voice ignored. There is immense power in being heard…”

Eager to find out more about Precious and her work? The following interview  is a wonderful introduction!

If you haven’t already registered to be part of this year’s virtual round table, click to find out more about the event or go directly here to register!

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Filed under Virtual Round-Table, Wednesday's Wisdom, Who We Are...