Success, Accomplishment, Winning, Productivity, these are words that define growth, movement, or the reaching of major milestones in life. We choose what we want out of life and then we focus on that goal with faith and fervor until we finish. Life rewards those who persevere with a feeling of satisfaction.
While there may be many tangible or physical “things” that we thought we were seeking, it was the feeling and not the thing that we were seeking.
We just tied the feeling to the thing and the thing became our carrot. We are elated when we are successful at accomplishing something we desired, or when we have won, or when we have created or produced something from our own efforts. Meaningful achievements are satisfying and make us happy. We want something more, better, or different. This drive is not always a sign of discontent or dissatisfaction but more a natural response to our innate calling to mature, develop, and transform into our best selves. Without transformation, we stay as we are. When living things stop growing, they die! Label the feeling you desire and pay attention to notice how many times that feeling returns for the simple things already in your life. Decide to feel good everyday and just do it!
Recently I came across a most intriguing lesson in how to help people understand privilege. I thought the exercise was extremely thought provoking, simple, and yet profound at the same time. A high school teacher used a simple exercise to illustrate privilege brilliantly. The article didn’t point any fingers at any privileged groups nor did it paint any group as unprivileged and yet based on the comments it certainly ruffled a few feathers. Several key points emerged; one was that privilege is unearned. I encourage you to take a look at the exercise and draw your own conclusions so I won’t say much more until you experience it yourself.
In this life we all have privileges and disadvantages. Just as we are all challenged in some way, we are also all privileged in some way. I lovingly challenge you to remember and be grateful for the unique privileges you have! It humbles you and makes you more grateful and less judgmental. I know it does for me. Even in the worst of times, I always had some privilege that someone else didn’t. When I lost my mother at aged three, I was privileged to have a father and sisters. When we lived in an old raggedy shack, at least we weren’t homeless. When we were forced to work in the fields or knock on doors and sell fish and produce, we were privileged to be learning the value of work and we always had food to eat. Remembering the challenges I’ve overcome makes me grateful. Understanding my unique privileges helps keep me humble. “There but by the grace of God, go I.”
HERE’S THE LESSON ON PRIVILEGE
“A high school teacher leads a simple, powerful exercise to teach his class about privilege and social mobility. He started by giving each student a scrap piece of paper and asked them to crumple it up.
Then he moved the recycling bin to the front of the room.He said, “The game is simple — you all represent the country’s population. And everyone in the country has a chance to become wealthy and move into the upper class.”
“To move into the upper class, all you must do is throw your wadded-up paper into the bin while sitting in your seat.”
The students in the back of the room immediately piped up, “This is unfair!” They could see the rows of students in front of them had a much better chance.”
Click here to see the results of his exercise and to peruse the comments. The comments for me were even more telling about how people view and protect privilege and put down others who don’t enjoy it.
Barbara S. Talley
The Poet Speaks
Do you remember the song with the lyrics, “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand, make this a better world, if you can!” That’s our charge. Everyone can do something. Everyone has some unique gift and talent to share with the world. Remember that the next generation is learning from us.
We must teach the children values and help them to find and strengthen their gifts. This charity, this love, this encouragement must begin at home. We must expose our children to opportunities as well. A doctor will expose his or her children to the medical field. A business owner will expose their child to the world of business. I’m a writer, speaker, and author. My children have been exposed to this world. One has chosen to embrace it. Other’s found their own path of service and I support that whole-heartedly. We must all do the same for our children and other people’s children too for they are all ours. And, their decisions will one day shape the world we will be living in when we are old and gray.
I am so proud that my youngest chose to write. I’ve been sharing my platform with her whenever I can. There is no greater joy than that. We spoke together at a recent Dr. King Celebration and now she has the bug.
One of the most blatantly obvious yet misunderstood secrets about life is that selfless service leads to blessings. The Bahai Faith teaches, “My first counsel is this, possess a pure, kindly, and radiant heart.” A radiant heart is a heart full of love serving others selflessly. You can’t live this life in a vacuum only focusing on self and expect the love, joy, and satisfaction that comes from making a difference. While we are responsible for our own selves; we are also responsible for others. Like the link in a chain, when we are connected we are all stronger. Love holds those diverse links together. It is also clear that you reap what you sow as we are admonished in all the Holy Books. If you want more love in your life, love others. Love has to be put into action and that action is service,” taught Mother Teresa. Dr King’s legacy radiates throughout time because he practiced what he preached loving all humanity:
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
It is in that vein that I share a project that my daughter and I are doing to serve humanity. In preparation for our own 19-Day Bahai Fast beginning in March, we are opening our home to share the important principles behind fasting; prayer, meditation, action, reflection on our own inner lives, becoming aware of the sufferings of others, helping others understand the importance of spiritual recuperation and learning how to control carnal and evil desires. I feel it is important to take the hands of the next generation and teach them through example.
Charity begins at home. In closing, following Theodore Roosevelt’s advice, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
I’ve learned to separate the chaff from the grain and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away if I’m ever to be happy. There will be something every day to potentially make us happy or make us sad. Like wheat, a potentially nutritious food, the grain is good, but the chaff is not.
My 42 year old son and I were having a nice day shopping in Columbia Maryland with my youngest daughter after the holidays. My son has been a homeowner there for more than a decade after moving there after graduating from Towson University. He is a responsible young man, VP of HR at a local company, teaches an Introduction to HR Graduate level course at his Alma Mater, and a frequent guest on WHUR radio. He has none of flags that should “frighten” diverse. And yet, after a wonderful day of shopping, I asked my son to show me the new home he was purchasing. We proceed down a main thoroughfare in my old 12-year old Mercedes Benz and a policeman coming towards us in the opposite lane, quickly did a U-turn almost causing an accident. He was a few cars behind us and followed us as we made several turns to reach his new home. We pulled into the driveway and the policeman continued driving past the house and actually parked at the end of the street. We shook our heads, all too familiar with racial profiling and yet tiring of it. Ironically, we were just talking about that very same thing. After about fifteen minutes in the house we left to go to his current home. The policeman was still at the end of the street waiting. He must have gotten distracted and didn’t see us leave. But the experience is troubling and annoying to say the least.
THE GRAIN (FOCUSING ON THE GOOD STUFF
PEOPLE ARE ALSO AWESOME! My 5-year old grandson Alexander lost his wallet with $53 in it at Kohls during the holidays. A man came up to him and asked why he was crying. He explained that he had lost all of his Christmas shopping money. The stranger asked him how much he had lost and through his tears he managed to say $53. The man reached into his pocket, gave him the $53 plus $20 more to buy a new wallet or whatever.
AMAZING! And, even MORE amazing, the store called several hours later to report that someone had found the wallet and turned it in WITH ALL THE MONEY still in it. My daughter being such an awesome mom told him that he would have to pay it forward and pick a charity to donate the money to. She explained that since he had received such kindness from a stranger, he should give to a stranger and make someone else as happy as the stranger had made him when he was so sad. Life offers such teachable moments if we learn to recognize them.
“There’s so much GOOD in the WORST of Us, and so much BAD in the BEST of Us, that NONE of Us can JUDGE the REST of Us.”
The Bible tells us that we were created in the image of the Creator. While small minds wrangle about was he blond and blue-eyed or had “skin as bronze and hair as lambs wool”, both perceptions are limiting, erroneous, and miss the point. The greatest attribute of a creator is to create. The greatest quality of a creator joyfully lost in creation is the creation they are creating.
As a poet I get a glimpse of this creative gift we have all been bestowed when I write a powerful poem that moves people. As a mother, I get to become a co-creator in creation when I give birth to a new soul and am trusted to be the caretaker of that soul until it is mature. As an author I get to experience creation when I write and publish a book. As a motivational speaker, I get to experience the joy of inspiring another soul, igniting vision and hope where there once was doubt. We can all witness and experience this power of creation through whatever gift or talent we have been blessed with. Creating something that we have put our heart and soul into gives our lives meaning and contributes to an ever advancing civilization.
Some experience the Creator simply as an energizing force called LOVE. “Love what you do and do what you love,” has been the motivational message passed down through the ages. Some say God is LOVE. Musicians, carpenters, mechanics, chefs, and anyone who put love into what they do can experience this spark of divinity within them through creativity. With focus, commitment, and attention to their unique gifts, everyone can offer something unique and beneficial to the planet. And then, we will all be reflecting the image of the Creator and become one!
Barbara (The Poet Speaks and Inspires)
I just want to shout “Thank you” to the Creator for creating me in His own image. That makes me a co-creator in creation and endows me with the capacity to create my own reality. With all the possibilities of creatures in creation to be assigned, I was chosen to be a human. I was blessed with a mind that has the power to imagine, visualize, and create any reality I choose. All I have to do is to learn how to use this powerful tool properly. In the past I and many people I know have used this powerful tool incorrectly by focusing on what we “DON’T want” instead of what we DO WANT! We think about it, talk about it, complain about it, worry about it, justify it and do everything but CHANGE it!
The ability to create is an awesome and powerful gift and responsibility!!!! How can I not be overflowing with gratitude? I can choose to wake up each day and follow my bliss or I can let my body, the environment, or time or television dictate how I will view and respond to my day. In 2015, I’m taking charge of this gift of creativity that the Creator has so bountifully blessed me and each and every one of us with. I am reminded of a quote from the Bahai Writings.
“Dost thou consider thyself of puny form, when the universe is folded within thee?” And, “Regard man a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.”
We are all part of a miraculous creation. It’s nothing short of magical when we think about what’s going on inside of us without our conscious attention. Consider just a minuscule snapshot of your marvelous creation taken from the book 20/20 Thinking by Maggie Greenwood-Robinson.
- While in the womb, a human baby can develop more than 100,000 neurons in just one minute.
- Brain messages travel at speeds of up to 360 miles per hour.
- Nearly 100 million pieces of data race up your spinal cord every minute.
- Every minute, about 1 quart of blood flows through your brain and nearly 85% of your brain’s weight is water!
- The human nervous system has 100 billion neurons, roughly the amount of stars in the Milky Way and these 100 billion neurons are surrounded by 10 trillion synapses.
- Your short term memory holds information for no more than a few seconds and can store no more than nine pieces of information.
- Your long term memory has stored more information than a million encyclopedias by the time you are eight years old where it can stay for weeks, years, or forever! (Source: 20/20 Thinking )
I hope I’ve convinced you of how magnificent you are? You don’t have to worry about respiration, perspiration, digestion, or breathing. All of these vital functions are being taken care of for you so that you can use your conscious mind to scan the universe, to find a need, and then fill it by creating a solution. That’s life! That’s what gives meaning to life. And, that’s why we have the gift of creation.