Archive for the ‘Poem’ Category

Transforming a Negative into a Positive: What I Learned from Adversity

April 7, 2009
Grand Etang Forest Reserve, Grenada

Grand Etang Forest Reserve, Grenada

 

The past five years have often felt like I was a runaway train heading for derailment. There were far more valleys than peaks. My bread and butter client disappeared overnight as a result of being acquired by a firm with a very different focus from theirs. Many other projects disappeared and suddenly I was without a safety net. Ninety percent of my income came from that one client.

 

I scrambled and tried to make it work with little success, until I finally learned to let go. I let go of the control freak within me, and I let go of the intense fear that I was feeling. Realization came crashing down like a cement wall; I no longer enjoyed what I did for a living and felt trapped. I had been feeling that way for a long time but refused to acknowledge those feelings.

 

My life now felt like a threadbare garment that had seen better days. I often wondered how I would go on. I was stuck in a familiar place that was not so comfortable. I looked at my life and compared it to a large project that’s overwhelming at first. Whenever that happened I would take on bite sized portions, and in no time the project became bearable. So, I viewed my life like one of my research projects taking one step at a time, and suddenly my life seemed less daunting.

 

And like a research project, I conducted a needs assessment, but in this case I was assessing my life. During this period of darkness, I became more self-aware and wiser. I learned that I didn’t have to discard my research skills, because they would be critical to whatever I decided to do. I learned that even though you are very good at something doesn’t mean that it’s your calling.

 

I spent a lot of time in solitude reflecting on my life and evaluating everything.  I became wiser and more aware of myself. I learned to be easier on myself. Despite the tough times, I still managed to write my first book Tales of People Who Get It and its companion workbook, Journey to Getting It. I marvel now at how much I accomplished even though I felt like I was going nowhere fast.

 

I experimented with writing poetry, short stories and about life in Jamaica. I was transported back to a simpler time when I would go to the market with grandma on Saturday mornings. I re-experienced happiness. It’s amazing how it took an adversity, the loss of my safety blanket to explore what would really make me happy.

 

Each day, I take one step closer to the life that I want to live. It’s not easy, but one step is all that I can take. The pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of my life are fitting into place and for the first time in my life I feel as if I am going exactly where I want to go, and exactly where I need to go. Here is one of the poems that I wrote during my time of transitions.

 

The Square Peg

 

All his life he tried to fit in,

A square peg into a round hole.

All his friendships were superficial at best.

He worked hard at being liked,

Always being a people pleaser – the “yes” man,

And the “go-to-it” guy.

He catered to everyone else’s needs,

Except his very own.

One day he wised up,

And took stock of his life.

He realized he could no longer,

Continue living his life this way.

For the first time in his life,

He stopped trying to fit in,

And working so hard to be liked.

In the blink of an eye, like a flash,

He was surrounded by square pegs.

All this time he wasted,

When all he had to do,

Was simply be himself.

 

I believe that we can learn from the experiences of others. And I believe that we can use the words of others as Invisible Mentors. What lessons have you learned from others? Does the poem resonate with you? Do you work very hard at fitting in? How do you deal with adversity?

 

 This post is an entry in the What I learned from Adversity Group Writing Project hosted by Robert Hruzek, Middle Zone Musings.

 

Photo Credits: Avil Beckford

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Learning from our Mistakes, Or Not

April 6, 2009

How did I get here?

Why do I keep on making the same mistakes over and over again? You would think that I would have learned by now.

 When you read Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, you find yourself  laughing, not because the poem is funny. You are laughing at yourself. You feel a connection to Portia Nelson’s words. She is speaking your words. 

I certainly felt a connection with her! She clearly articulated what I was feeling.

You feel connected to the author because it takes you forever to get it right. But one day you finally get it, perhaps by then the pain is too much for even you to bear. Or perhaps you are now more self-aware. The reason doesn’t matter because you have finally learned from that particular mistake.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

by Portia Nelson

 Chapter 1

 

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost …. I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

 

Chapter 2

 

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

 

Chapter 3

 

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit… but,

my eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

 

Chapter 4

 

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

 

Chapter 5

 

I walk down another street.

 

 Portia Nelson, 1920 – 2001, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk

As I write this post, and read the poem again, I notice something for the first time, and make a connection that I didn’t make before.

“…I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place…”

 The quote attributed to both Einstein and Bejamin Franklin pops into my consciousness, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting to get a different result.” We are in the same place because we simply haven’t made any changes. How can we expect a different result if we keep on doing the same thing the same way?

We no longer have to walk down that particular road in life because we have options. We can learn from your mistakes, or not, the choice is entirely ours.

What emotions does Autobiography in Five Short Chapters evoke? What lessons can we learn? What does this poem remind you of?

The first time I read this poem it moved me deeply. So much so that I secured permission to use it in my book Tales of People Who Get It.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters is from the book There’s a Hole in my Sidewalk, pp 2-3.

Using the Poem “My Wage” by Jessie B. Rittenhouse to Think Differently

April 1, 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Do you set your sights high enough? Are you always settling for less than you deserve? Because if you do, you’ll never be the best you were meant to be. Take some time to reflect on the poem below.

My Wage

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;

For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.

 Jessie B. Rittenhouse (1869 – 1948)

The next time you set out to accomplish something, anything, how about you raise the bar by one percent. How much more would you accomplishe in 365 days if you always do one percent more.  “For Life is a just employer, He gives you what you ask…”

Photo Credits: Avil Beckford

Photo taken in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada