I have decided to change things up! In the near future I will be renaming this blog and moving to a new domain. Stay tuned!
17 Jul 2014 Leave a comment
My grandmother was practically a walking proverb! She could always say something that would perfectly punctuate a situation and would eventually ring in my ears for years to come. So now that she is deceased, she never truly feels gone.
When someone became too judgmental of others, she would curtly say, “Well, I knew you when!” This meant that she knew that person when they were struggling; she knew them when they were low; she knew them when they had the same behavior that they were now judging.
It is amazing and fantastic when we decided that we want to be better people and elevate our experience on this earth. However, as we get comfortable with our new paths and proudly acknowledge how far we have come, it becomes easier and easier to start saying things like, “If I can do it, anyone can do it!” That’s not the truth! While, yes, anyone is capable of a metamorphosis, no one will make those changes in exactly the same way. It’s easy to forget that there are many factors that affect why and how people implement a change. Resources, history, and support systems strongly influence the rate at which people alter their lives. We want people to meet us where we are and live our enlighten, zen, kick-butt life, but the truth is if you love someone you may need to be quiet and let them figure out their own journey.
I encourage you (myself included) to remember when. Remember when you didn’t have all the answers and you needed someone to be patient with you. Remember the pain of growth and how there were times that you wanted to give-up. Remember when all you could do was hang your head and cry, because you knew there was something great in you dying to get out, but you didn’t know how to let it shine. And remember you may have to tuck and roll; it’s a long way down from your high horse!
07 Jul 2014 Leave a comment
I know it’s been a while since I posted last and this post is also late as it was meant as my Fourth of July post, but here it is!
This is a poem I wrote after riding a bus in New York City several years ago. I was intrigued and humbled by how the bus (or subway for that matter) levels the playing field. Every kind of person from every kind of background gets on the bus to get where they are going. People are not judging each other or trying to be better than the person next to them; they are simply trying to get to their destination in life, but they are doing it together. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we treated our personal journeys that way? Just a thought…
I saw America get on the Bus©
By Vernée Smith-Isbell
I saw America get on the bus today
Shoulder to shoulder, packed tight shades of
Carmel, mocha, vanilla,
Bittersweet, latté, honey
Cinnamon, sugar, chai
Coffee with and without cream
Buildings rush by
So many suits and ties
Folks on the corner stand in line
I saw America get on the bus today
And they all talk the same; they speak
Lingo, slang, jargon
Colloquial, vernacular, patois
Dialect, idiolect, and lingua franca
She’s twenty minutes late
He has a lunch date
And it’s all very quaint
I saw America get on the bus today
CD, MP3, radio and cell
Each echo their own soundtrack
Latin jazz, classic rap, doo wop swing
Reggae blues, soul country, techno punk
Rhythm & rock, hip opera, disco pop
A baby cries
People start to rise
And I just close my eyes
They blend together like harmonies
Each completely different,
But each compliments the next in perfect composition
I saw America get on the bus today
And I smiled.
22 Mar 2014 Leave a comment
I am not Catholic, but one thing that I’ve always liked about Catholic services is when each person turns to the people around them, shakes their hands, and says, “Peace be with you.” And that person responds, “And also with you.” In my efforts to give up fear for Lent, I am seeing more and more that it is important for us all to speak peace with one another.
One any given day it can feel like the world is against us, that nothing is going right, and that we will never reach our dreams. The cure to this feeling is not just to rally within yourself, but to rally within a community. Gather together with people of your ilk. And by “ilk” I mean people that are about what you are about. People that are of a similar mindset and are striving to achieve something great.
If you are struggling in school join a study group, if you are stressed/angry join a meditation group, if your feeling behind take a class, if you are lost reach out to our friends. Put it on your schedule and gather in a place where the atmosphere compliments your needs (like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter); pick a space that promotes joy, peace, and harmony- a safe place where you are free to think and dream. Tell your people what is amazing about them; challenge their thoughts, support their spirit, lift them up, and ask them to so the same for you. Can you imagine the power of people all over the world meeting with the intention to raise each other higher?!?!?! I bet it would literally move a mountain!
So run- don’t walk!! Get your people together on the phone, on Skype, in the coffee shop, at the mall, in the conference room, in the classroom, in the theater, at the bar, in the streets, and let the peace talks begin!
06 Mar 2014 Leave a comment
I’m not Catholic, so I do not always participate in Lent, but I have on occasion given up chocolate or the like with the hopes of being a better person. This year, as I’ve seen friends preparing for Lent, something important occurred to me.
Lent is about transformation. We are meant to make sacrifices in order to move us towards our best selves. However, I realized that (when I participate) I have been giving up the wrong things. Giving up chocolate was inconvenient and made me more creative about finding other things to satisfy my sweet tooth, but I never felt enlightened or more aware after the fact. This year I am attempting to give up shackles! I see shackles as the following:
Fear Doubt Shame Guilt Self Loathing Judgement Lack Worry
I personally will be focusing on Fear as I feel it will free up some of the others for me. What can you give up that is holding you back? Or what can you change that would build you up? Remember Lent doesn’t have to be about gritting your teeth through sacrifice. Allow Lent, or anytime that you feel so inspired, be about the transformation into the person you always dreamed you would be. So what do you say? For the next 40 days we move towards freedom and away from shackles!
06 Feb 2014 Leave a comment
Years ago I was discussing with someone personal life philosophies and our modi operandi. I said that I was a golden rule kind of person- do unto others as you would have others do unto you. The person I was speaking with said that he was a platinum rule type of person. Never hearing this term before, I asked him what he meant. He said that the platinum rule is to do unto others as they would do unto themselves.
The Golden Rule vs the Platinum Rule looks like this:
You love chocolate chip cookies; they always make you feel better when you are upset. So when you notice that your co-worker has been down in the dumps lately, you bake him some chocolate chip cookies. Your co-worker finds this to be a lovely gesture and takes them home to his family. That is the golden rule.
However, what if you notice that every time your co-worker buys a sweet treat at lunch, he purchases a sugar cookie. So you bake this co- worker sugar cookies, instead, to cheer him up. He is so over joyed that his eyes get wet and he shares how his grandmother always made him sugar cookies and she has recently passed away. Your attention to detail made him recall a positive memory about her and lifted his spirits. You made his day! This is the platinum rule!
The golden rule is great, but the platinum rule is just that extra level of consideration and care. The platinum rule requires us to stop looking within and start looking “without.” If we take the time to observe and listen, we will learn to be attentive partners and parents, better co-workers, and more involved friends.
10 Jan 2014 Leave a comment
I wrote this piece for my company’s blog. It received a great response so I thought I would share it here as well. I tweaked it a, but the message is the same. Enjoy!
I once heard someone say that “there is no such thing as reality, only perception.” Meaning that how we perceive the world is the truth for each of us even if it contradicts with how others view the world. For example, a villain in a movie doesn’t believe himself to be a villain or to be doing evil, he simply has a different morality code than the hero. We all bring certain perceptions into our lives and interactions, however, our perceptions of the world may not be appropriate for every situation- especially when working with clients, fellow employees or even loved ones.
Consider the following scenario:
A father and his teenage son are driving home after the son’s basketball game when their car goes over some black ice. The father loses control and their car hits the guard rail. Their vehicle is now in a ditch on its side. Both the father and son are taken to the hospital in an ambulance. The father dies on the way to the hospital and the son is rushed into the operating room. The surgeon is about ask for the scalpel, but instead says “I cannot operate on this patient! He is my son!”
How is this possible?
This riddle first appeared on All in the Family (and later on The Cosby Show) and most people were stumped. Were you able to guess the right answer? Originally, the answer was that the surgeon was the boy’s mother. The riddle was meant to demonstrate how we categorize men and women into traditional roles based on our perceptions and illustrated a need for more diversity and inclusion. (Even today when many people think of a doctor they think of a man first.) However, how creative can you be with this situation? The boy could have had two fathers or could have had a step-father.
In this scenario, you can see how our preconceptions can be inappropriate. Our history and our given circumstances help to form certain prejudices of which we may not be aware. Clinging to our preconceived views of the world can interfere with our empathy; it can remove our ability to stand in some else’s shoes and to see events through their eyes. Ultimately, we could come across as uncaring and harsh. The next time you have a difficult time with someone, ask yourself if you are bringing anything unnecessary to the table.