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An Inspired New Year

This is the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHuRusAlw-Y

So, while watching “The Voice” tonight one of the judges commented that this is a “silly, little show.” Not in a bad way, but in a “in the grand scheme of things this isn’t curing cancer kind of way”. And though the show may not showcase researchers in a medical lab, I’m going to very kindly disagree (sort of) with the notion.

The thing about talent, is that it inspires. And inspiration is an amazing thing. There is power in inspiration. Inspiration rarely happens absent of a connection. We connect with something, and suddenly things make sense. We feel what others are feeling. And that gives rise to hope.

One of the main ways many of us find inspiration is through the arts. Whether it’s drawings, paintings, sculptures, writings, readings, and music to name a few. What exists within these forms of expression are extensions of a person’s soul. We use the arts to tell others what lives inside of us. It tells others how we connect, and gives them that same chance. When we make that connection we feel alive in a way that we don’t normally feel without that inspiration. The talents that we have matter. Sharing the talents that we have matters. I love that there are now forums for people to constantly find sources of inspiration any time we want now. It’s an amazing thing. And the show, silly or not, truly does allow for those types of connections to be made. It has the capacity to inspire millions each week. That is an awesome power. It allows people to see that following our passion truly can lead us to somewhere amazing. Somewhere unthinkable. What exists within us, each of us, can truly change lives. It can give rise to inspiration, and give rise to hope. We can bring one another to higher heights by taking a chance and doing our best.

Music is my vice (one of them, writing is as well). I don’t know how to survive without it. When I need to escape, when I need to think, or when I need to just smile there’s a song for it. There are usually multiple songs for it. Music is diversified and designed to make us feel. Even without words, music can move us. I think the universe is inherently musical. It’s how it communicates with us and how we respond in kind. Every culture on earth has some form of music as a component in it. It’s one of the few universals out there.

When I was really little, the only shows I would watch on TV were ones that had people singing in them. So as you can imagine growing up in the 80s I watched a lot of Kids Incorporated and Jem (who truly amazed me). Billy Joel was my first concert. I was somewhere around the age of 2. And that was quickly followed by the Beach Boys. The music I remember most from when I was really young comes from that era… It was the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and Motown. People find it funny in conversations when the Temptations come on and my response is always that it brings me back to my childhood, because the songs were popularized 20 years before I was born. But that’s the great thing about great music. It lives on. That connection lives on. Great music touches lives forever. Even if it’s on a silly, little show. I’m sure “The Ed Sullivan Show” could be classified in a similar manner, but it had an unprecedented impact on people around the world simply because a band played a few songs on February 9, 1964. And the impact lasts to this day. So in short, Adam and I actually agree. Everything we do matters. Everything we do has the potential to change lives, including and most likely our own.

2021 Addendum:

It’s hard sometimes to consider inspiration in a pandemic. Sometimes just surviving when there’s so much uncertainty and loss is the key. But I think we all realized just how important the arts and inspired forms of entertainment can be to surviving in the spring of 2020. I think we can also see how critical it is to have scientists, nurses, and doctors, a medical industry and scientific community who are inspired because they are tasked with keeping us safe and well. That task means we need people who are able to think outside the box and push through the hard times, and they can’t do that without support and some time for themselves to feel a little relief and a little inspiration. Life is hard right now, and I hope everyone finds a way to feel a little inspired and a little bit of hope for the new year.

Know Your Worth and Live It

“I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.” – Terence

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves, I believe it to be the single-most important thing we can do is: Know your worth and live it.

Seek out truth. Don’t believe something simply because someone says it is so. Be proactive in your quest for knowledge and growth. There will be conflicting opinions on everything, including from people you trust. Remember the importance of being an individual who has the capacity to take in what you’ve heard and discern truth from fiction.

And one of the greatest truths to remember and live by is that you are worthy. Feel free to not take me at my word and to instead look into it, explore it. Research it. We have to search into who we are and why we think and feel the way we do. What makes me believe I am not worthy? What makes me choose to believe myself undeserving of the happinesses* I seek, instead of believing that I am deserving of these things? We judge ourselves so quickly. Why are we not allowed to be a humans who are human? People who make mistakes, but are not ruined. People who fall down, but are capable of rising to the occasion, also. Not perfect, but always worthy.

Our feelings of self-worth impact just about every decision we make, even the mundane. If we look at the truth and understand that we are inherently worthy and being human doesn’t remove that, then we can rise more often and help bring others up with us along the way.

If we have self-worth we can see our dreams and believe in them.

If we have self-worth we can see our future and know we are capable of achieving it.

If we have self-worth we are able to know that we will falter, we will fall, but we can and will get back up and still be capable and someone of worth.

If we have self-worth we are able to redirect a path that didn’t work out as expected. We can change direction, but not give up or settle.

If we have self-worth we can see ourselves as who we want to be. We can see the best of what we have to offer and work towards becoming that person a little more every day.

We mostly overlook worth. We fail to realize just how important it is to each of us as individuals and to all of us in our humanity. We must take the time to stop and observe our actions and who we are. How are we contributing to our own well-being? Do we let our lack of worth lead us using fear? Or do we look to the truth and let the knowledge that we are worthy lead us to the life we want to lead? Always search for truth. Let it set you free to be who you want to be.

*Yes, I know happinesses isn’t a word, but Jack uses it that way and we do seek multiple types of happiness so it makes sense to me.

(You can start your research here if you’d like.)

Know Your Worth and Live It

“I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.” – Terence

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves, I believe it to be the single-most important thing we can do is: Know your worth and live it.

Seek out truth. Don’t believe something simply because someone says it is so. Be proactive in your quest for knowledge and growth. There will be conflicting opinions on everything, including from people you trust. Remember the importance of being an individual who has the capacity to take in what you’ve heard and discern truth from fiction.

And one of the greatest truths to remember and live by is that you are worthy. Feel free to not take me at my word and to instead look into it, explore it. Research it. We have to search into who we are and why we think and feel the way we do. What makes me believe I am not worthy? What makes me choose to believe myself undeserving of the happinesses* I seek, instead of believing that I am deserving of these things? We judge ourselves so quickly. Why are we not allowed to be a humans who are human? People who make mistakes, but are not ruined. People who fall down, but are capable of rising to the occasion, also. Not perfect, but always worthy.

Our feelings of self-worth impact just about every decision we make, even the mundane. If we look at the truth and understand that we are inherently worthy and being human doesn’t remove that, then we can rise more often and help bring others up with us along the way.

If we have self-worth we can see our dreams and believe in them.

If we have self-worth we can see our future and know we are capable of achieving it.

If we have self-worth we are able to know that we will falter, we will fall, but we can and will get back up and still be capable and someone of worth.

If we have self-worth we are able to redirect a path that didn’t work out as expected. We can change direction, but not give up or settle.

If we have self-worth we can see ourselves as who we want to be. We can see the best of what we have to offer and work towards becoming that person a little more every day.

We mostly overlook worth. We fail to realize just how important it is to each of us as individuals and to all of us in our humanity. We must take the time to stop and observe our actions and who we are. How are we contributing to our own well-being? Do we let our lack of worth lead us using fear? Or do we look to the truth and let the knowledge that we are worthy lead us to the life we want to lead? Always search for truth. Let it set you free to be who you want to be.

*Yes, I know happinesses isn’t a word, but Jack uses it that way and we do seek multiple types of happiness so it makes sense to me.

(You can start your research here if you’d like (my book)  – Barbara Walters once said, “If you care about the work that you have done, then you need to tell people about it.”)

What I learned from Dr. King

The first time I ever read the entire “I Have a Dream Speech” I was in my senior year of college. I had read excerpts and seen clips my whole life, but I had never read it all until then. I did so because I had this professor (in this class that happened to help change my life) who gave us an assignment for our first holiday weekend back at school. Our first holiday in the Spring is always the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And the assignment was to consider the purpose of the holiday – because he felt it wasn’t one that we should just ignore the meaning of simply because we were off- and write about what we decided on in our journals that we kept as a part of the course. So since I really wanted to do well in this class, I decided to do the research I hadn’t in the past and uncover my feelings on the subject. This began with reading the “I Have a Dream Speech” in its entirety.

I grew up as a white female in the south. I’ve lived here (in this state) my whole life. But as a child of the 80’s, I never experienced life prior to the passing of the Civil Rights Act. I’ve never been in a class without a mixture of races in the classroom. I grew up watching The Cosby Show, Good Times, A Different World, 227, Amen, The Jefferson’s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (I watched The Brady Bunch, Saved by the Bell, and Full House, too). And as a child (by this I mean pre-adolescence), I was naïve enough to believe that this was the norm. This was the way things had always been.

I hadn’t paid attention to the fact that even though there was always diversity in the classroom from my point of view, I was also never, ever the only person of my race in my classroom. I was never a minority. I never stood out. I spent the majority of my time blending in so well that people failed to notice I was even there. And I could do that because I didn’t stand out.

I understand how easy it can be to be revisionist in recalling our own personal experiences. As far as I knew growing up everyone got along for the most part. People all had friends. Some of the lines were sort of divisive, but growing up people tend to be clique-y anyhow. It’s easy to write off that most of the white students ate lunch with other white students, and most black students ate with other black students. We tend to gravitate towards those with whom we feel the most comfort. But looking a little deeper, even though everyone for the most part outwardly got along and everyone was able to coexist peacefully, my perspective, I found was not the only perspective.

As I read over the speech, it made more and more sense that my experience would have been entirely different had I been born a few decades earlier with a slightly darker skin tone. Today I think about what it would be like for me, the mother of a young boy to have to worry about what might happen if my son accidentally tries to play with one of the white children he sees as we are walking down the street. Or as he gets older, if someone will choose to arrest him in the middle of the street for looking at a woman of a different race. I don’t have to worry that his rights don’t exist, that he can be beaten, executed, hung, made a spectacle of for sport simply because of his race. I don’t have to worry that he is truly considered less than human, less than equal, less than anyone else who is around him simply because of any genetic factor. I don’t have to live in fear because my country treats us as less than human in its laws and in its actions, and thus encourages its citizens to do the same for fear they may become ostracized themselves. My personal experience has never known anything of this type of fear, but that is not the case for everyone, and it is essential that this notion is understood and remembered.

To quote from Dr. King’s speech, “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

We are all human, all equal in our humanity, and all deserving of our rights in this country as humans. To accomplish this we have to figure out a way to stop being divisive on our own. To look at one another and recognize that no matter who we are seeing, that person reflects the same human qualities that exist within us. We are all different, each unique, but we are also the same, and it is those similarities we must start accentuating. We are not perfect, and it is easy to judge and look for reasons that others are less than, reasons that make us feel like, even though we aren’t perfect we still have a chance, because we are better than this person or we aren’t doing what that person does. But comparison in that format is never beneficial; we only tear ourselves down when we seek to tear down others.

“They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

We will never experience true freedom as long as we are living in a way that serves to prevent others from experiencing freedom. As long as we are judging and condemning based on the superficial, we will never rise above as a whole. We have to look within, we have to confront those things that scare us within ourselves, we have to move past our own revisionist attitudes and search for truth.  And from truth we will find a place where our own inherent worth is uncovered. And with each step we take we move closer and closer to seeing the dream of Dr. King realized – a dream where humankind learns the value of humankind, and has the courage to live out those values.

This is a copy of the whole speech, in case you haven’t read it:

Click to access dream-speech.pdf

Day 15 – How to live the dream

I normally don’t watch Glee, but I watched part of it tonight. I used to be in choir so I’m a fan of chorale singing, but on the show tonight they went to Nationals. The thing that I like most about these moments in shows… the end of the singing shows, and this one as well, is that someone’s dreams are literally coming true at that moment. There is still tons of work ahead. It may not pan out the way they had hoped, but at that moment in time they have achieved something they’ve only dreamed of achieving. The closest I’ve ever come to this is when I was 14 or 15 and playing softball, and the team I was on won the state games (it used to be known as the junior olympics here). I remember singing along to “We Are the Champions.” I remember that overall feeling of how fantastic it was to finally be at the top, to be the winner, for things to have finally gone right.

Those moments don’t last, but they can certainly be moments to strive for. I was a state champion. That can’t be undone. It’s good to achieve things in our lives. It’s good to dream. Speaking in mental health terms, a mind that has hope and is capable of readily dreaming is more open to opportunities and more likely to actually achieve their dreams. They are more likely to report being happy in their lives, and they believe that life has something to offer. Dreams matter. It’s hard to feel fulfilled if we aren’t trying to do any of the things we really want to do. It doesn’t matter how big or small. If we don’t give ourselves a chance then the battle is already lost. And it affects every area of our lives.

It’s hard not to give up. It’s hard not to give in. It’s hard to figure out what’s really worth fighting for. It’s hard not to believe what other people say. But it’s hard living with yourself when you give up. It’s harder than overcoming. We have to make ends meet. We have to survive. But we have to find ways to do more as well. Time is scarce, and is completely irreversible. We are truly on a one-way track. It’s never too late to try. We have to find ways to make our contribution feel worthwhile to ourselves. We get a new chance with each new day. And every day we have something worthwhile to offer. What dreams do you have?

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