Seven Life Lessons from Priming the Pump

hand pump fountainDo you remember the  60’s show, Green Acres with Eddie Albert and Zsa Zsa Gabor?  He wanted the farm life and she wanted the city life. I’ve tried both, and I prefer the suburbs!  I  grew up in the country, pumping water, chopping wood, making fires, and with all sorts of  chores. I’d like to say that, “Those were the good ole days, but they were not.”  Times were hard and we worked even harder. Now of course there are few things I miss. First are the people in life back then that are no longer with me anymore, a mother, father, brothers, friends.  Next was the weeping willow tree that I would lie under and dream. Those days did however teach me to work hard.  They also taught me the value of indoor plumbing and furnace heat. (LOL!) Looking back, it makes me appreciate even more what I have now.

I will also always have the memories of “priming the pump” to remind of the value of saving a little, working hard, having the willingness to sacrifice now for the bigger goal in the future, and to remember to take time out to enjoy what I’ve worked for.  The lessons I learned are:

    1. Always Have Faith and Certitude. Smart people rarely go after a goal that they don’t believe in.  We understand that we can’t (or won’t) run towards a goal that we have no faith that we can reach.  If we do, our steps are tentative and unsure. Luckily, we did not doubt as children.  We were showed how to pump and told to do it, and we did, time after time.  We believed; even though we could not see the water underground, we believed that the water was always there. All we had to do was work for it.  You too must also have complete faith and certitude that you have greatness within you and in the goal you are pursuing.  Faith is the key to starting, persevering, and finishing.
    2. Don’t Allow Yourself to Get Empty. We learned to always save a little water to prime the pump for the next time.  We never used our last bit of water, before re-filling our containers.  This relates to our goals in this way. Take care of yourself. It’s okay to help and serve others, but don’t deplete every ounce of your energy.  When you are worn-out, you are subject to all sorts of mental, physical, and spiritual illnesses. My sister would always say, “Stay prayed up!” You’ve got to protect yourself.  If you allow yourself to get too run down or too sick, or too hopeless, it becomes harder (and in some cases) almost impossible to regain your strength, your faith,  or to reach your goals.
    3. You Have to Put Something In Before You Get Anything Out. All of the lessons are important, but this one is the deal breaker. We knew that we had to sacrifice in advance to get something better later.  We had to sacrifice our water, our time, and our energy before we could expect something in return. There is a lesson in this for you too. You don’t get something for nothing. There is no credit in the well of life, meaning “Give me now and I’ll pay later.”  You must pay the piper first. Now the interesting thing was, sometimes if we hadn’t planned well, we’d have to use our last bit of water.  We’d pour the last bit we had into the pump in order to get more.  We were willing to make that sacrifice. The lesson was simple. If we weren’t willing to give it up our water, we would not be able to tap into the unlimited!
    4. You Must Be Ready; No Procrastination Allowed.  Now imagine this, once you’ve poured your limited (or last) supply of water into the pump, then you have to start pumping vigorously.  If you don’t start pumping (and pumping hard), you not only risk not getting any new water, but you will have just lost what little you had of the old.  Once we made the decision to prime the pump, we had to be ready. No procrastination was allowed. There was no time to do something else, make an excuse, or think about it. You had to see it through.
    5. Don’t Stop Until You Reach Your Goal.  Persevering with the pumping was the most critical stage. It didn’t matter how tired you were, how hot or cold it was outside, how you felt, how people felt about you, or anything at that point. You had to focus on pumping and persevere until you saw the results you sought. Sometimes we were lucky, we’d pump a little and waters would start flowing immediately.  Other times, we would pump and pump and not seem to get any results.  Sometimes we would have to add a little more water, some times we had to pump even harder, and other times you just have to pump longer.  The key is that we do what we had to do.  Excuses and quitting were never options.
    6. Give Back! We also learned to keep a certain jug set aside just for priming and we’d fill it before we would habitually fill the other containers so we wouldn’t forget.  The lesson, always give back and save a little.
    7. Enjoy Your Spoils.  Once the water starts flowing, it’s hard to stop it!  Victory is sweet! You have tapped into an unlimited underground reservoir. The fresh water under the ground was always so cold and refreshing especially on a very hot day.  On the cold days, that’s a whole different story.  It just meant that you got to go inside in the warmth and make some hot cocoa or something. Either way, we’d met our goal and that felt good!

That’s it!  Now go prime your own pump and reap your own rewards.


What I Learned from Priming a Pump

old-fashioned-water-pump-janice-drewWhen I was a little girl, we lived in an old farm-house in upstate New York that did not have running water or indoor plumbing.  “No, I did not live in the early 1900’s on Little House on the Prairie.  And, “Yes”our neighbors did have inside plumbing. We just didn’t. My dad was a migrant worker and we were quite poor. If we wanted water, we had to work for it, just like we did for everything else. Right outside the house, we had a pump which supplied the water we needed to cook, bathe, and do laundry, etc.

The lesson I learned from priming a pump was that you have to put something in if you expect to get something out. On the success train, there is no free lunch, no credit, and no loafers.  You want to ride, you must pay the price.” Barbara Talley

There is a lesson in every experience when you’re open to learning. We also had one of those old-fashioned wringer washing machines and a rub board, but I digress!)  Every day, rain, shine, snow, or sleet, we’d go out to get some fresh water.  But before we could get the fresh water we had to first “prime the pump.”  That meant we had to take some of the water that was left and pour it into the pump and pump vigorously for a few minutes.  Pumping was always the hardest part for if you stopped before the water began to flow, you’d have to start all over. [We did get strong arms though.] So, we’d pump rapidly and rhythmically until water started to flow.  At first there would be no traction and if you didn’t know any better, you’d begin to doubt and perhaps even stop too soon. But if you continued pumping faithfully, eventually the water would begin to flow and you would barely have to pump at all.  At that point, the water would gush out and we could fill our containers as much as we desired.  We had a hard life back then, but there are lessons in everything.  If you listened to my father who walked five miles to school each day, our life was a piece of cake.

For those of you who have never had to prime a pump, be grateful.  You get to benefit from the lessons without the pain.  I’ve learned however, that we all have different lives, different challenges, and different lessons.  Lessons are made for sharing. Make sure to share yours too. That gives them meaning.  Please enjoy my seven lessons from “priming a pump” in my next blog.


Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year from Barbara Talley

Happy New Year from Barbara Talley, Speaker, Author, and Poet (The Poet Speaks)

How many times have you said, read, or heard this greeting, “Happy New Year?” Probably too many to count.  And yet, how many times have you stopped to think about what will actually make you happy in this coming new year?

When you stop to really think about it, these words offer a blessing and perhaps a promise to all that say, hear, and heed them.  Everyone has heard of the benefits inherent in affirmations. Well, “Happy New Year” is a wonderful affirmation. Most however don’t really think about the blessings and promises inherent in this familiar greeting.  But, let’s change that; let’s focus on these three simple words: three thoughts, three promises; three reminders for the coming year!


The first blessing, promise, or affirmation is to be happy. Each of us must be clear about what makes us happy and focus on doing more of that. To get the answer, we must first ask the question:

“What do I think (know) will make me happy?”  What you think about, you bring about!

Have you really thought about what makes you happy and allowed yourself to want it and bring it about? So many allow others to talk us out of our true dreams and desires. And, have you thought about how to make others happy? Too much thinking on only one’s own happiness can make you selfish.  Too much thinking on only what makes others happy can make you a resentful, unhappy sacrificial martyr. That doesn’t make you happy either. We have to have balance. Being aware and concerned about our own happiness and that of others is intertwined anyway.  Did you know that by being happy, you help others to be happy?  Happiness is just as contagious as unhappiness. Did you know that there is a science to being happy?

Deepak Chopra described two types of happiness, the first was the happiness that we get from “getting what we want.”  The second is the happiness we get from just “being our authentic spiritual selves” by acknowledging who we are and developing/sharing the gifts within us.  The first type of happiness is dependent on outside events, circumstances, and people; the second is independent of these and more stable. The Chopra Center is offering a free 8-week course on happiness.  You might want to check it out.  Because in the end, isn’t happiness our ultimate goal?


The second promise is NEW! Things, ideas, and people change and some no longer serve a useful purpose in your life.  Sometimes accepting the “new” means letting go of the “old”.  Isn’t it great that we get to learn from the past and start anew, building on the knowledge gained from the past?  Newness is built into the fabric of our universe. Each day when the sun rises we get a new day or gift of 24 brand new hours.  We get a new month twelve times a year.  And we get a new year every 12 months, 52 weeks, or 365 (approximate) days.

NEW implies a fresh opportunity. We get to start a new chapter in our lives.  Some people approach the “new” year with the same old fears, hangups, habits, limiting beliefs and baggage from the preceding year. This is an opportunity or milestone to ‘let go!” The new year is an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and to say, “I’m starting all over; letting go; or becoming more serious or committed to the dreams and aspirations I’ve chosen.  No one wants to feel like a quitter or that they are giving up, and making changes now helps you to avoid that stigma. A new year gives us that opportunity.  And while we don’t have to wait for the turning of the calendar page to turn over a new leaf, it is a special time that we have support, reminders, and the inspiration to do so.  Some things in your life need to be ‘new’ and some things needs to be “renewed”, reaffirmed and recommitted to.  You decide!


2014 is the gift of another year to make our mark, to make a difference, and to make our lives and the lives of those around us more meaningful.  What do you want to accomplish this year?  What are you committing to accomplish this year?  What do you want to become?  What do you want to give?  What do you want to feel, attract, or experience? Bless yourself by taking some time right now (or carving out in the near future) to decide how you are going to spend this brand new year!  Make sure your goals are SMART. In my next post, I’ll share about how to make SMARTER GOALS. Until then, “Happy New Year!”


What did you do or not do to cause this to happen?

VICTIM OR IN CONTROL?  This morning I was reflecting on the natural law of “cause and effect” and thinking how liberating this law is when we really understand it. We can’t have it both ways.  Either our decisions and input matters and creates or contributes to our reality or it doesn’t.  Either we can initiate, create, mold and shape our reality or we have to wait for input from our environment and always be in a response mode. Our results have a cause.

cause_effect_picWe change the cause and our results have to change too. Our past thoughts, decisions, and actions have created our current realities.  If we want different results, then we have to change the input.

Isn’t it exciting that we are the creators of our reality, that we get to choose?  We get to decide what we will put our energies into and those decisions create the effects we now experience. So many people meander through life following the masses and feeling and acting like victims.  They see the world as pins and themselves as pin cushions, powerless to stop or curtail the pain.  Their primary response to the world is “fight or flight”, and the world from their perspective is a cruel and unhappy place.

Think about it, if you are a victim, then you have no control over the outcome.  If the person victimizing or causing you pain chooses not to change their ways, you’re stuck!  I’d much prefer to own some part of the outcome.  That empowers me to change my circumstances.  “Self-actualized” beings have broken free from the pack.  They realize that they have unlimited power.  They own up to reality and know that what they are perceiving, they had some hand in creating.

In my workshops, I frequently encourage participants to answer this question to help them take credit or responsibility for their actions. Owning up to the life we have created causes us to cease feeling like victims and that is empowering. Whenever they look at a specific reality that is not to their liking, they must answer the question honestly:

“What did I do or NOT do to cause the the happen or NOT TO happen?




Strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers.

We are what we think, feel, talk about, and DO every day. The sum of our actions determine our character and highlight what is valuable to us.  Most people say that their spiritual life (worship) is the most important part of their existence.

But, what does worship really mean to you? Is it something you do on a specific day of the week or is it a part of your daily habit or lifestyle?

To be truly effective, worship has to become a daily habit or a way of life that arises from our deep desire to love and serve our Creator. And be clear, the Most Great Spirit does not need us; we need that abundant grace. We show our gratitude for life and the ceaseless blessings bestowed upon us by habitually serving humanity.  Each of us must extend the love, grace, forgiveness, generosity, patience, encouragement, and justice to others that we want for ourselves. What we send out, we bring about. And this way of life has to become a habit.  It should not be something we only do on a specific day and time that is limited to only certain people or under certain conditions.  We must each strive to live in such a way that every moment of our lives is lived like beautiful prayers.