My life changed dramatically in the past year. I began working full-time, my husband and I bought a house on 5 acres, and I needed to find a new health team. I put my blog on the back burner because it was an obligation that I could not add to my busy plate. But I’ve missed the process of writing and sharing. It is a project that gives me purpose. While sometimes a painful and challenging process, clicking submit always satisfies.
I am not sure where my writings will lead this time around. Reading past postings, I realized that there was too much about my health challenges. How boring is that?! My original intention was writing as a motivator, educator and counselor but it sounded more like a whiner. I do not feel pity for myself so why would I write like I was seeking consolation from others?
This time around, perhaps Erato, the poetry muse, will bless me with inspiration more often. Perhaps my camera lens will document some of the remarkable landscape, creatures, and loved ones that surround my life. All I know for certain is that I want to nudge my creative self.
I continue to manage life with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyletis (we have to find a new name for this disease!) and fibromyalgia. Postings will continue to be influenced by my chronic illness, as it is a component of my life. But now I plan on sharing experiences from my exploration of ways that enhance my life – increasing joy and giving purpose in life.
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” — Nelson Mandela
I watched with detached interest as Mandela walked from prisoner to prime minister of S. Africa in 1990. One might think that growing up with parents active in the 1960’s civil right movement, that I would be captivated by the events but S. Africa was far away and I was busy with my graduate studies in social work.
It was several years later when I read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, that I became enamored by the man whose broad beautiful and joyful smile belied a challenging life and brilliant mind. I counsel and write about overcoming obstacles and how challenges are vehicles that strength us and teach us. Nelson Mandela was one of those rare people who lived with grace, forgiveness, inner strength, and an incredible understanding of the human nature. He also struck me as a leader and hero who accepted his role ending apartheid but never let his ego get the better of him. Maybe this was partly due to the tragedies he endured throughout his long life. He just seemed so darn approachable and the interactions with people seen on television seemed more than just for the sake of a 10 second news byte.
I believe we can all learn from Mandela. He was a lawyer, civil rights activist, prisoner, world leader, peacemaker, and AIDS activist. He was a husband, father, and grandfather.
He did not wallow in self-pity nor did he try to capitalize on his suffering. Rather than looking back, he looked forward in his work in overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles with quiet charm and an engaging smile.
Nelson Mandela was an imperfect human with faults. His wife said he had a temper and when he was angry – look out. His daughter honestly shares her frustration and sorrow growing up without a father and while she visited him while in prison, she was sad that he was not home with her and frustrated that she could never be touched by her father on these visits and when released from prison, she still rarely saw her father as he led South Africa through the new anti-apartheid rule. I think this is what I admire most about the man.
“Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” — Nelson Mandela
I challenge myself and all readers to consider how we can live a bit more like Mandela in the coming year. Instead of allowing obstacles overcome us, let’s overcome obstacles with patience and creativity. Instead of blaming others, let’s find the good in others and forgive. And perhaps most importantly, let’s smile through it all.
I first posted this a year and a half ago and it remains the most popular viewed posting. I’ve thought a lot about why it is such a popular topic and I think, at least partly, we all seek ways for improving ourselves, not because others want to but for our own satisfaction. I also believe personal development is a life long endeavor and crosses all cultures, races, religious preferences, and health. Why? Because no matter our personal situation, we all seek ways to better our lives. We all have burdens and obstacles throughout life but it is through personal development that we overcome those challenges and find joy.
What does the term personal development mean to you? When coaching clients, I consider personal development to be
whatever helps them to grow as an individual. Personal growth can include continuing education, learning a hobby, or even starting a new job or business. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn how to knit or take up photography. People who suffer from chronic illness or pain, it is important to consider what is realistic when exploring ways to develop personally.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the Web of Life is integrative with each of the segments relating to the other. Personal development should provide you with fun and joy. It may be a means to make friends or help better understand your health. Personal development may also lead to a job that becomes a satisfying career which in turn improves a financial situation. Of course, all of this depends on personal interests and priorities but this gives an idea of how the Web of Life works.
Some people have asked where religion is on the Web of Life and I believe it belongs in personal development. Not everyone is religious but those who are spiritual or religious use their beliefs to offer inner strength and personal growth. For many, God gives the strength to continue each day despite daily pain. Religion is a personal experience and how one finds or uses spirituality is a developmental process.
For people with chronic illness or pain, it may seem difficult to consider personal development as life already may seem overwhelming just trying to survive each day. But it is critical to find something that brings enjoyment and personal growth. The key is having a sense of purpose. Personal development can help lead to finding the purpose and joy that even those of us with chronic illness and pain deserve.
For more information about how I may help your personal development or other parts of yourWeb of Life, contact me for a free exploration session at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I finished reading Gone With the Wind recently. While I’ve seen the film several times and never tire of Clark Gable’s suave Rhett Butler or Vivien Leigh’s seemingly flighty yet head strong Scarlett, I never took the time to read the tome. Perhaps the size of the book was so daunting that I never thought I’d get through it. Living in the south now as well as my kindle made it less intimidating and I confess that I was sorry the story ended.
Not surprisingly, the movie depicts a very small part of Margaret Mitchell’s saga despite its length. Elements including Scarlett’s other children and that the role the Ku Klux Klan played on her second husband’s death are just two examples that the movie dropped. What struck me most, however, was Scarlett’s development from shallow, detestable teen to reluctant savior of her family and Tara and, I dare to say, a feminist.
Scarlett is one of the most interesting and transformed characters in literature. Born a southern belle with nothing to worry about but beaus and her Ashley, Scarlett soon departs from her tranquil plantation life to Atlanta where the war soon intrudes on her pleasant life. In short order, Scarlett’s world falls apart and she begrudgingly becomes a midwife, caretaker, and very successful business woman.
Scarlett’s survivor instinct and carefully calculated actions are admirable and perhaps give a hint about how it was the women’s ingenuity that rebuilt the fallen south after the civil war. Scarlett survives the most difficult unforeseen obstacles yet rarely finds a problem impossible to solve. The only time Scarlett said, “I can’t” was when forced to play midwife for Ashley’s wife, Melanie. Marriage, murder, buying saw mills, were all motivated by the red dirt of Tara, her family plantation. Facing one tragedy after another, Scarlett planned (some may say calculated) whatever action necessary to accomplish her goal: the saving and rebuilding of Tara. The downsides of a plan did not concern Scarlett. “I won’t think of that now. I’ll think of it later,” was how she dealt with the inevitable fallout from some of her actions. Some viewed her as nothing more than a gold digger by marrying for money but Scarlett was more complex and intelligent than that. Yes, Scarlett’s character is selfish and devious but she was not completely without compassion. She was a farmer willing to get her hands dirty, a business woman and the owner of saw mills. Her need for Tara’s success was more important than weak human emotions. And her refusal to feel hunger again drove her as it drove so many others who survived poverty and tragedy.
Change is hard but events happen beyond our control. War, economics, loss of a loved one some times force us to alter our lives and we must adjust accordingly. It’s risky. It’s unknown. It’s just plain
scary. But when tough times hit, what is the alternative but to survive? I don’t recommend following Scarlett’s path of insensitivity, cruelty, and deception. Though by the end of the story, we learn that Scarlett’s eyes are finally open and, too late, realizes that Ashley was a weak man, Melanie had an inner strength and fortitude comparable to her own, and admitted that Rhett Butler was the only man for her.
Was Scarlett able to win Rhett back? It seems unlikely considering her atrocious behavior and his famous departing line, “I don’t give a damn.” But then again, Scarlett succeeded in every goal she set her mind to and I want to believe in happily ever after.
Such a dreary Monday. It looks more like my hometown of Cleveland outside than Meridian, Texas. My body aches on days like this. After perusing the news websites I typically read every morning, and playing a few mindless games, I can’t seem to get started on any projects. I opened a couple of writings that I hope get published someday, added a few words and promptly delete them. Is it too early to take a nap?
Lacking inspiration, I begin day dreaming about our future ranch. We aren’t ready to buy now but it’s one of my husband and my life dreams. Turning the dream into an achievable goal takes work – and more money.
I begin writing this post and hit ‘save draft’. I move on to search ranches for sale. There are a few that pique my interest and I further explore locations, square footage, and acreage. I make notes of addresses and find the locations on my phone’s GPS. I thought taking a detour from productivity by researching one of our goals may kick-start my motivation.
It stopped raining so maybe I’ll just take a little drive and check out a couple of properties. Then again, maybe it’s finally nap time.
I see life as a river, born of the earth, merely a small trickling brook. As it leaves its point of origin, the stream quickly grows and expands
into a river. Throughout its life, forces, such as geography and climate, aid the river’s development. It flows and grows, full of endless possibilities. The water’s boundaries expand and branch off, exploring other options. Occasionally, obstacles appear, hindering movement. But a river must keep moving towards its destination so it flows over and around rocks, dislodging logs, pushing difficulties aside. At times, drought may zap its strength and hurricanes may overwhelm. But a river persists.
Winding through life, tributaries meet the river and it builds strength and quickens, sometimes losing control. It churns and swells, frustrated, angry with the overwhelming obstacles. But it has only one direction to move, forward, and obliterates any impediments. It weaves around boulders, pushes aside hindrances. Thankfully, the tantrum never last long. Eventually the river returns to normalcy, again ebbing and flowing through life. There is nothing a river cannot overcome.
Throughout our life, we grow, push boundaries, face and overcome challenges. We make goals, develop plans of action, and, like a river, move forward. Even when we feel overwhelmed and seemingly insurmountable obstacles block our path, we somehow push through. Our goals are achieved, perhaps not as anticipated, but better, more satisfying. And that gives us the confidence to keep moving forward with new goals, new dreams.