Nelson Madela’s Inspiration

Last week would have been Nelson Madela’s 100th birthday. As you may have seen, President Obama had a very public appearance in South Africa, honoring the inspirational anti-apartheid leader.
While Nelson Madela did amazing things politically, many of his thoughts and quotes can be applied to situations outside of politics. Mandela has been an inspiration for so many in Africa, but his influence and impact is absolutely global. Below are some of the quotes from him that I think can be applied to life and work, along with a few thoughts about each of them.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
I’ve seen this movement recently in many ways. On social media, there are so many people posting about confidence, body-positivity and being comfortable acknowledging the good aspects of ourselves, while retaining modesty. Those people are encouraging others to do the same. I follow @dalalovesdumbbells on IG and this was one of her captions I thought really epitomized this concept:
“Why do we allow self-loathing comments to be normal and relatable, while self-confident comments are cocky, self absorbed, even obnoxious?

Someone makes a joke about how ridiculous they look in an outfit, how much they ate last night, how many extra pounds they’re carrying around, and we all laugh and feel comfortable around them.
But if someone says “man I love my legs lately”, “I feel fire in this outfit”, “doesn’t my hair look good today?”, we’re threatened, off-put, and likely will decide we don’t like this person because they’re wayyy too into themselves.
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If you’re my friend and I love you, I don’t wanna hear you talking smack about yourself‼️Fuck that. I wanna hear you talk yourself up, hear you lovin’ on yourself, braggin’ on yourself. And if you’re not, I wanna figure out how I can help build you up to get you there.
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Being humble and being mean to yourself are not the same. 🙅🏼‍♀️ We compliment each other, but not ourselves. Why is that okay? Shouldn’t we love ourselves the most? Shouldn’t we be our own biggest fans? When you love yourself, you become the best version of yourself and then you’re a better friend/daughter/mother/coworker/lover/partner than you ever though possible.
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If your friends aren’t comfortable with you openly loving yourself, are they your friend? Should they be?
Let’s stop glorifying self loathing, and start encouraging more self love.”

I never lose. I either win or learn.
 
I know a lot of people have shared the importance of failing. One of the things my dad used to say all the time when I was skiing was “if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.” The reason why this is so important is really exemplified is in this quote. Losing is an opportunity to learn. If we don’t lose, we win, which is awesome. If we lose, we have an opportunity to learn and get better, which is also awesome.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave [wo]man is not [s]he who does not feel afraid, but [s]he who conquers that fear.
 
This is one of Mandela’s most famous and well-known quotes, but I wanted to include it because of a recent experience I had. When I started cycling a few months ago, I was freaking scared. Holy shit, riding a bike is so much more scary as an adult with clip-ins on a road with drivers who are on their cell phones all the time. Also, as we age, we fear things more easily. The nice thing about cycling is that you’re on a bike out in nature for a very long period of time, which gives you lots of time to think about a lot of things.
I was on my second or third ride when it really dawned on me how scared I was. My fear was causing me to go slower down hills, be more tense and uncomfortable, and literally almost give up so many times. On that ride though, I realized this and told myself I just needed to show up. I needed to get past this fear. A lot of human beings ride bikes. Not a lot of them die doing it. I had to find a way to mentally let go of that fear in order to be happy on a bike. By the time I got to the STP last weekend, I was still apprehensive about the ride, but it was no longer because I was scared of riding. It was because it was over 100 degrees and I was hopeful my back or knees didn’t give out on me. I finally felt like one with my bike. I was comfortable and relaxed, which allowed me to actually go really fast and have the energy to cross the finish line unassisted. It’s a little example of an every day activity where such a meaningful quote can be applied.
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Tell Me Lies

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Chapter 1:
Since the New Year started, I’ve been listening a lot more to my favorite band, Fleetwood Mac. I grew up in a household with a record player and my parents had a lot of great records: Steve Miller, the Doobie Brothers, Hall and Oats, and of course Fleetwood Mac.

Chapter 2:
My biological father was not really a super great guy. While his intentions might have been good, he treated the people around him (especially those who loved him most) quite horribly. He threatened my mom and when I was older I discovered tapes of phone calls (yes, they were actual tapes) my mom had recorded as evidence in case anything ever happened.

Chapter 3:
When I was older (I think around 5 or 6) I was fortunate enough to have my step-dad adopt me from my biological father and that is who I refer to as my dad.

Chapter 4:
When I would sit and listen to Fleetwood Mac as a pre-teen on the record player, the song “Tell Me Lies,” always made me think of my biological father. I strongly believe that because of this experience, I have this odd and relatively annoying ability to sniff out people with selfish intentions, toxicity and narcissism. It’s also not great because combined with my other odd and relatively annoying skill of being a truth-teller, it’s not uncommon for me to be disliked by people who fall into this category.

Chapter 5:
What I’ve always been fascinated by, since this experience at a young age, is how everyone has different ranges of what a lie is. On the surface, it seems obvious – a lie is something that isn’t true. But as we know, everyone’s perspective determines what their truth is.

Chapter 6:
I’ve referenced this book before and it’s available in the Streamline library. The Four Agreements has a very specific definition of honesty. Brian (my husband) read this book recently and actually adapted this portion of the book as one of his New Year’s resolutions. The Four Agreements include one agreement, called:

Be Impeccable with Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

From my perspective, the most important part – and one of the most difficult parts when we’re challenged by those who don’t – is to Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

I truly believe if every person made the promise to use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love, we would live in a much more harmonious and positive world. If you read the book, you’ll also know that the 4th agreement is to always do your best. The point is that we don’t have to be perfect at being impeccable with our word, but if we’re constantly trying our best to be impeccable with our word, we are succeeding.

Giving Gifts

Brian and I were spending way too much time (as usual) walking through Homegoods last weekend when I saw a canvas with a quote that caught my eye:

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The quote really resonated with me and got my mind going down several different paths. Obviously with the Holidays upon us, gifting is abundant. Personally, I’ve always been big into giving gifts. I am not naturally good at verbally communicating my appreciation for people, so I tend to do so via writing and gifting. I’ve always believed that the definition of a gift is accurate in that there should be no expectation of compensation or reciprocity. I have seen this in so many people all over the world. People dedicate their time to helping those less fortunate, even those they may not really like or love, simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Obviously giving something to other people makes us feel good too, but there have been some challenges to gifting that extend beyond the self-gratitifcation rationale. Some sociologists have argued that there is an inherent expectation of reciprocity when people give gifts (example here). I’ve read though some of these concepts, and while they may be valid for a certain sub-set of people, I don’t believe they are the norm. I have seen way too often people step up to help people without expectation.
Like the woman who held a stranger in her arms for hours after he was shot in Las Vegas. 
Like the homeless man who turned over a backpack with $42k in it to the police. 
Like the single mom who paid the bill for some government employees who weren’t getting paid because of the shutdown.
I’d prefer to focus on the many people in the world doing things for others or giving gifts to others without expectation and use that as my inspiration. We may not all have the artistic talents of Pablo Picasso, but we can all use our blessings and gifts and share them with others. I hope you all enjoy your time with family and friends and enjoy the experience of giving and receiving gifts as gestures of love and appreciation.