Trembling

via Daily Prompt: Tremble

Today, I was visited by another of the Education Ministry’s officials. It was expected, as it is a process we have been going through. Though I’m typically relaxed and confident in my delivery of the content I instruct in, on this occasion I felt a little off-centre, perhaps because I was being observed by an individual who knows nothing of the various personalities I am expected to teach, attend to their varied proclivities, weaknesses and strengths. Yet here she was, all serious and no nonsense, evaluating me on what I manage on a daily basis.

It struck me while I walked around, patted this one on the shoulder, encouraged another to supply an answer to the question I asked, as to how unbalanced the process is. Its filled with bureaucracy where persons are expected to fit into and perform roles that differ from day to day. They evaluate you on one role: facilitator/educator, and have no idea as to what that really means. You either love it or you leave it. You see it as a struggle or you see it as a challenge that forces you to reach for every resource within you.

And that I did. At one point I was about to let nerves kick in because I thought ” Am I doing well?” ” Am I following my plan” though this is something I’ve done without second thought, on so many occasions before. Instead, I reached for what I knew – my students and how to get them to where they need to be, reached for the tools I knew would help them get there, took a deep breath and steadied my trembling hands.

I got this.

 

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Produce Where You are Planted

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When you are surrounded by utter garbage, it’s hard to imagine or see anything other than filth.

I was at a building some time ago, one that I frequent. It is supposed to be a place of teaching and learning, and one in fact, that produces a number of stellar graduates each year. As I looked around me, my stomach cringed and my skin crawled a bit. There was garbage strewn on the floor, graffiti competing with soilage of unknown sorts and flies buzzing around, making a miserable place even more so due to the heat. I wondered, “How do they function here?”

I went about my business quickly, making use of wipes and hand sanitizer on the occasions that I had to touch something that was suspect. I left, putting it behind me as best I could. It was later, as I tried to complete an assignment,that I was reminded of a story I heard a few months ago. It was of a rose growing and flourishing despite its harsh environment. I wrote the following thought down on a sticky pad: Blossom/ Produce Where You are Planted.

I mused about the various programs I watched in the past of persons who became successful despite extreme odds. There was a basic theme that stood out to me.

Be ‘rooted and grounded’: Be so firm in your beliefs, that nothing can shake your resolve.  See yourself outside of your current circumstances. These people were able to dream and in dreaming, they remained firm in their resolve to get out of their current situations. They were unmovable in their desire to ‘get out of t/here’, a sentiment one might hear repeated by people who are faced with challenging circumstances. Their desire to be more than they were superseded anything that they faced. As a matter of fact, they channeled all that energy, and turned it into the motivation needed to drive them to work harder.

I live in a hurricane belt. Every few years we get the most terrifying of storms or hurricanes that cause millions, perhaps billions, of dollars worth of damage. I remember my first and how fascinated I was to watch the wind wreak havoc on trees and buildings. Some trees danced in a long hard fight against the wind. Some lost and were born down or torn apart. Some bent and leaned from the wind, allowing it to flow over their bent bodies, but never breaking.

We need to be like the trees. When one is buffeted by life’s winds, we need to bend and curve ourselves at our strongest part. There will be some scars, of course. We won’t come away unscathed but will be better for the experience.

Be the change you want to see: The surroundings may not be what you want it to be, but that doesn’t mean you are to give less than your best every single time. Your best shot may be a game changer changer. Imagine, if you are at work, or in an environment of mediocrity, what will happen if you performed optimally regardless of the situation, without making excuses? When opportunity meets preparation, then it will be time for promotion. Not only will your reap your just rewards, but you may cause change in another by inspiring them to become a better version of themselves. This requires you to make no excuses, but to recognize and have an understanding of the season you are in.

Like trees, we will go through seasons. The environment may be harsh and dirty and awful but this is the time we will know what we are made of. There are seasons for storing away and preparing for the journey ahead. There are seasons of growing – when the challenges and the conditions seem their harshest but then that’s when the plant morphs to fit its surroundings. It sheds some unwanted, un-necessary things that will drain it and keeps only that which is key to its survival. When I was in high school, we did an experiment with seeds where we’d put them in a glass jar filled with water and newspaper. The chemicals from the paper was obviously harsh on it but the seed took what it needed to survive and grew into a young plant. Overtime, it sprout roots and eventually was transferred into more favourable conditions. Therefore, expect your conditions to become more suitable over time.

We’re just like the seeds. We are surrounded by harsh conditions but we can take what we need and shed the unwanted. Like the seed’s outer-covering, for a while we need a coat to protect us. But as time progresses, we transform and what used to affect us, doesn’t anymore. Our roots grow out and plunges deep. They run so deep that they pass through rocks and other matter that may prevent it from getting what it needs to survive: water.

Water your soul: There’s a song I love that reads “When I get weary, when I get weary, water my soul, Lord, water my soul”. Water represents not only sustenance for our body and spirit but also cleansing and washing. Sometimes, we need to be washed clean. That means engaging in activities that allows us to just, really, free ourselves, so we are less burdened and able to move ahead unencumbered. Find that thing that ‘waters’ your soul. Only you know it and if you don’t, you will recognize it once you search for it.

Find your source, your sustenance. Reach deep down inside and draw out what you need. Be that “Tree that is planted by the rivers of waters that brings forth fruit in its season”. Bloom, call forth that which is on the inside of you. Remember, that which doesn’t produce, becomes useless and is cast aside.

Be fruitful. Go produce.

 

 

Living Beyond Limitations: Launch out into the Deep!

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“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4

I recently posted on the matter of living beyond limitations and since then, I’ve been turning over the topic in my mind. Coincidentally, in alignment with these thoughts, I’ve listened to a few messages (sermons) and watched a vlog that spoke to the issue, directly and indirectly.

The one recurring theme of them all was the requirement of risk taking. From my own intimate examination of life experiences and those of others I’ve read of or researched, I have noted that in order to self actualize and succeed at the endeavour that you engage in, one must be willing to “Cast their bread upon the water” , so to speak. This word of wisdom, written by Solomon, a couple of thousand of years ago, holds true even today. In Ecclesiastes 11, he instructs us to “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days”, which I believe is saying, “Put everything you have into it and you will reap great rewards from your investment”.

What does “Put everything into it” mean in todays context? Perhaps it means several hours and years of academic pursuits; huge commitments of time and money; foregoing ‘fun times and things’ in order for that dream business you have just started to not just come to fruition, but to flourish after a few years. Perhaps missing out on things that you’d prefer to do (for example sleep!).

We often second guess these investments because of the cost attached to it. As someone told me  a few years ago, you may toss your bread out there, and its eaten by fishes that you never catch! But that is a risk you have to take! No one knows what will happen but you can’t have the wisdom of experience unless you try! How about placing a hook inside the bread so that you get [catch] something for your investment? It’s all about perspective. Fear keeps you from launching out but the bread will eventually become stale and mouldy and less in value. The same thing with some ideas, with time they may lose their relevance or someone else may just have the same idea and step out in faith! Perhaps if its invested wisely, tossed out with careful planning and preparation, who knows what your net and bread will earn you?

In the chapter of Luke where Jesus instructs Simon Peter to let down his nets one more time, Peter had become frustrated because he had tried so many times and failed. Has this happened to you? Have you witnessed so many failures of others that you begin to self sabotage and delay or avoid important steps? Have you engaged in negative self talk that exhaust and demotivate you? Perhaps we need to do some thing that is illustrated in this passage: look to someone who knows more than us (an expert in the field perhaps), see what they have done in the past and also be willing to try again despite the many failures.

” If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!”

Be open to the process. I know, as someone who’s had several failures, that it is hard to not become discouraged. However, I know, again from experience, that when you have a passion, a dream that seems to be with you at every waking moment, no matter what comes, it’s very difficult to abandon and just give up on the dream. Sometimes, unfortunately, we work less at it and are no longer open to the process as time passes and failures pile up. I keep seeing a picture being circulated on social media of a man hacking away at a wall and just as he is close to breaking through, he walks away. That is sad, because so many of us will be and is that person. We become so exhausted, so broken that we just can’t do it anymore.

How do we know when we are close to breaking through, that success is just around the corner?

Sometimes we just know, something resonates within us, and we have to keep at it. Sometimes it comes so quickly, so absolutely, that we are overwhelmed with surprise because we ‘can’t believe how quickly it happened’, forgetting the many years of struggle and sacrifice. The fact is though, many individuals who end up with successful ventures will say that they really had no idea of when to stop, they just knew that they had to keep trying, even when friends and family stopped believing in the dream.

You may have to go it alone

You have to become radical about your dream – there are some instances when we will have to go it alone, and block out the noise of the crowd in order to see our vision clearly. Not everyone is going to believe or be willing to give it all or nothing as you are. There will be a time in the journey that you will need to close everyone out and just do it, go it alone.

Perhaps that time is now.

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Lovin’ the skin you’re in

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Rebounding from a negative self image can be challenging. For those who are still learning to love and accept all of their various parts, it seems like a journey filled with highs and lows. Oftentimes hearing comments that may have been said with the best of intentions, causes you to falter and question those nice phrases that you tell yourself, over and over, as your own little internal motivator.

So what gets you over the hump of a negative self image to one that accepts that though you may have some growing to do, you are really pretty awesome?

You start by loving the skin you’re in: Accept who you are, just as you are, right now. Yes, there are imperfections but that’s what makes you human.

Stop comparing yourself to others: That is where we often go wrong. We are judging ourselves according to the physical features, abilities and attitudes that are as unique to each individual as their genetic pattern. Each of us are given unique abilities and personalities so we may contribute, in our own special way, to the world, in our neck o’ the woods.

If there is something you need to change – get up (and out of that funky state of mind) and do it. For yourself and no one else. When the focus is on you, selfish as it may seem, it becomes more real and achievable.

Develop self appreciation, one thing at a time, one day at a time: Total self acceptance doesn’t come overnight, it takes time. Therefore, find one thing about your self to acknowledge and celebrate each day or each week. The thing is to acknowledge, own and celebrate it.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Shine it bright – the world has been waiting to meet you.