CAN and WILL…and BELIEVE

leaving a legacy, self improvement, The Inspired Life

As a very small child, whenever I would get discouraged, I would plop myself down on the floor like a doll made of rags and let out a hopeless wail. “I Can’t…..” would be my pitiful cry. “I don’t know how, it’s too hard, I’m too tired.”

My mother would turn on a dime, narrow her dark Italian eyes, laser beam them into me and say in a voice as commanding as any Military General ever born, ” You CAN and you WILL. HOW does not matter. THAT  we can figure out. Now GET UP!”

Ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you, that  was the end of my temper tantrum.

Quitting has never been an option in our family of scrappy little fighters. Raised by my Mother, a woman who raised three children on her own after waking up one day to find her husband had made other plans for his life, she had learned to take surprises and situations and  wrestle them into the life that SHE wanted for us. SHE expected to rise to challenges and goals and she expected no less from us. There were no acceptable excuses. She had an answer for everything. Being tired? Everyone gets tired. So what, learn to rest, balance and push through. Being scared doesn’t cut it. Only fools are stupid enough to not be scared. Not having all the answers is not a reason not to start.  Only the truly stupid think they are wise, the wise know there is always more yet to learn. In my mother’s world, If you want something you have to go for it. If it is right for you and the people you love, then there is no excuse for not doing it. You CAN and you WILL. And she does.

Then why is it not that simple for the rest of us? Not so black and white? The simple determination to march into battle for your noble cause day after day…why does it again and again reduce us to whining, sniveling, crying children?

It took me a long time to learn the third part of my mother’s power.  She had had it all along. It was a mysterious strength that gave her indomitable spirit. That kept her strong and unflinching when she left her secure job, the only thing that put food on the table for her and her three small children and took her measly $3000 and invested every dime she had to start her own business. She could have FAILED. We could have lost everything. She had one thing in her back pocket that was so powerful that it propelled her forward and would not let her down. She had something that most people didn’t have.

She knew that the only way to get from a life that had a steady-but a measly paycheck where she had to work double shifts in a factory and leave her small children home alone was to take a chance. She knew that although the risk was great, that we wouldn’t have insurance at first, that we would have less money to begin with, that we would have no reliable income AT ALL to begin with, that she could make it on her own elbow grease. That something to look forward to with hope was better than a lifetime of looking at what she would have if she changed nothing.

I didn’t understand what that something was at such an early age. She was just my Mom. Maybe I thought that all moms were fierce warriors who went out each day to take on the world.

Later in life, I went into sales. Real Estate sales specifically, although I dabbled my way up to that in other types of sales jobs before that. Sales is HARD. Being rejected is hard. Initiating contacts, talking to strangers, making cold calls, learning contract negotiations, managing files, hand holding nervous and temperamental clients is all hard and very stressful. The overwhelming majority of Real Estate agents quit within 3-6 months of getting their license. They say anyone can become a Realtor. It takes a good one to stay one. I decided to stack my odds. I hired the industry’s best Real Estate coach in the business to coach me and teach me the tools I needed to succeed. All that I learned in the six years of being one of the top agents in our company is more than a blog could hold.  But one of the major things that I paid good money to learn had been right there at home all my life.

CAN & WILL.

Beverly Buffini is the wife of Brian Buffini, Brian being the head of Buffini & Company, the coaching company I was just referring to. Beverly Buffini worked with him and toured with him and spoke at the seminars because frankly she was so inspiring that everywhere she went the crowd went nuts. Beverly grew up to be an All-American volleyball player at the University of Tennessee where she was inducted into the Tennessee Hall of Fame in the first class of women ever to achieve that honor. She went on to become a member of the US National Volleyball Team that participated in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. She now uses her skills of discipline, determination, and focus to juggle raising six kids, and writing, and touring as a motivational speaker. Listening to her speak was one of my greatest inspired moments.

Beverly brought home for me the third part of the ingredients for success in her book, I CAN, I WILL, I BELIEVE. For each of the areas that she wrote about, and spoke about, Beverly outlined her viewpoints on the power behind each of those words. Summarizing, she wrote about:

CAN: to be able mentally or spiritually. She attributes the childhood story The Little Engine That Could with the basis for CAN. Perhaps not too coincidently, that story was one that my mom read to us almost every night. The basis of pushing away negative fears and focusing on the positive is the foundation for any dream to come true. In Beverly’s words, ” Particuarly in my athletic endeavors, I learned to be patient, that success only comes when and if the I CAN attitude endures over time. Giving up was not an option when things got tough. I had to persist if I wanted to make my hopes and dreams a reality. With that mindset, I could achieve my specific goals.”

WILL: is the reinforcement of purpose, drive and discipline necessary to spring CAN into life. WILL is the Action word that makes it happen. Webster’s defines WILL as a concious choice and a strong, fixed purpose. She spoke about the choices and priority shifting that it takes to keep the WILL going. She talks about sacrifice and risk. She states, “What was the principle lesson I learned from this? That in order to achieve and find fullfillment and enjoyment in achieving, I had to step beyond the familiar and accept personal risk. I learned that even condemnation or ridicule were possibilities if my choices did not coincide with someone else’s expectations.

BELIEVE: to take as true or real, to have confidence in something or someone; to have faith, especially religious faith (Webster). For some of us, myself included, Faith of a higher power would be moved up to the front of that defination, and for Beverly she says, “For me, I believe has a significance far beyond simply believing that I can and will do what I set out to do. I believe that we are inspired and helped by God and that we have a responsibilty to do our best to live up to that inspiration. I also get a sense of being assisted and directed by a Force beyond myself, and I desire that feeling.”

I Can, I Will, I Believe. I came out of that motivational seminar on fire. I bought the book. Heck. I bought the T-shirt. Honest, I really did. It’s royal blue with big bold white letters going right across my chest and anytime I need a little extra power pumped in to my self esteem I put it on and strut around.  All because she made my mother’s CAN & WILL tangible.

They say you can’t be a prophet in your own backyard. I guess I had to go far away and pay good money to hear what Mom had been saying all along.  I had to hear it from someone else to understand that the secret ingredient that made my mother stand so hard and fast is her faith. Belief in a higher power (God), Belief that she is doing what is right for her family, belief that if you believe in it, work hard for it, visualize it then you CAN make it happen.

By the way, that’s a far cry from stick it on a poster board, stare at it every day and sit back and wait for it to arrive. That would never be my mother’s style. While those that wait-are busy waiting, my mother and her clan are busy doing the WILL part and BELIEVING that with those two together…..why yes…yes you CAN.

False Loves

self improvement, The Inspired Life

Did somebody speed up my clock? I swear I just wrote the last weekend post a minute ago. And here it is May already. How are your 2008 goals coming along? We are almost half way into the second quarter. Time to start working on our first half of the year review to see if the year is moving along as nicely as we would like. There’s still time to get that train on the right track!

As May comes into focus, Life’s Little Inspirations is chugging right along. Welcome to everyone who has just started visiting, and thank you for being here. I am SO happy that you have found us and I hope you will feel comfortable pulling up a chair, posting your thoughts and comments and being a part of the community.

My deep desire is for everyone to feel like they can participate, chat amongst yourselves and share your tips and ideas with each other. By learning how we all deal with some of life’s challenges together, we can all help each other grow.  I love getting your feedback and ideas! To my faithful readers who have been posting all along from the beginning, thank you for your loyalty and encouragement. I couldn’t be doing this without you!

Please consider subscribing (up in the top corner) so that you won’t miss any posts! And let me know if there are any topics that you are interested in me  and I’ll put them on the list! As always, I am interested in your feedback so I can continue to improve and make this site as great as it can be.

Thanks for visiting.

 And now…

Poetry time!

This week, I chose a poem from Sir Walter Raleigh. There are all types of false loves in our lives. Not only the false people in our lives that are the obvious villains of distraction and pain, but what about the time wasters? What about those seemingly important activities and situations, those hobbies and habits that are keeping us away from living the lives of our dreams? Can you bid farewell? I know that I am going to resolve to do better this next week. Want to join me?

A Farewell to False Love
   
Farewell, false love, the oracle of lies,
A mortal foe and enemy to rest,
An envious boy, from whom all cares arise,
A bastard vile, a beast with rage possessed,
A way of error, a temple full of treason,
In all effects contrary unto reason.

A poisoned serpent covered all with flowers,
Mother of sighs, and murderer of repose,
A sea of sorrows whence are drawn such showers
As moisture lend to every grief that grows;
A school of guile, a net of deep deceit,
A gilded hook that holds a poisoned bait.

A fortress foiled, which reason did defend,
A siren song, a fever of the mind,
A maze wherein affection finds no end,
A raging cloud that runs before the wind,
A substance like the shadow of the sun,
A goal of grief for which the wisest run.

A quenchless fire, a nurse of trembling fear,
A path that leads to peril and mishap,
A true retreat of sorrow and despair,
An idle boy that sleeps in pleasure’s lap,
A deep mistrust of that which certain seems,
A hope of that which reason doubtful deems.

Sith then thy trains my younger years betrayed,
And for my faith ingratitude I find;
And sith repentance hath my wrongs betrayed,
Whose course was ever contrary to kind:
False love, desire, and beauty frail, adieu.
Dead is the root whence all these fancies grew.

Sir Walter Raleigh 

The Cannoli Tube

self improvement, The creative urge, The Inspired Life

I’m going to share a little secret that I don’t think I’ve ever shared with anyone.

Anyone at all.

I think my life is like a cannoli tube.

Now if you have never had an Aunt Nonni or a mother who makes home-made cannoli, that statement might not make any sense at all, and in fact, even if you do, it still might not. It’s taken me a long time to understand how I turned out to be a cannoli tube, so I expected I would have to go into a little detail for you as well.

The majority of us do not go through life thinking about being tubes. Not cannoli tubes, not tubes of any kind really. We think about being flesh and blood and bones, all filled up to the brim with life’s challenges and daily events. We have our goals and our projects, our kids and our bills, our needs and our wants. A lot of those wants. That can be a long list.

We jump out of bed in the morning already filled up. Stuffed in fact, with all of life’s filling. Overflowing, just like a cannoli, with goo oozing out both ends. Now, there doesn’t have to be anything wrong with that. In fact, I love cannoli. Absolutely one of the best desserts made. As long as its fresh, with a crisp crust and a sweet, creamy cheese filling that has just been piped in for you to enjoy.

But before you can have any wonderful, fresh, delicious cannoli, you have to have a clean and empty tube ready to go, ready to make the crust, ready for action. A perfectly empty vessel just waiting to be filled with the batter that will be the basis for that spectacular gift to your culinary senses.

No cannoli tube- no cannoli.

If your cannoli tube is stuffed full of old dirty gunk, not cleaned out, not ready to do its job- no spectacular cannoli.

If I want to be like a beautiful tasty cannoli- I have to be a ready and willing cannoli tube.

Now I know this is a crazy, off the wall illustration to make my point. This is why it has been a secret for all 48 years of my life.

But when I am at my very best…my very, very best, it is when I have poured myself out, made myself a clean and empty vessel- a tube if you will- gotten rid of all of the negative gunk I can find, stepped outside of myself, put away my agendas and let the good energy powers  work through me. Let Creativity, God, Serendipity all use me for the needs of the day. When I am humble enough to become nothing more than an empty tube, waiting to be filled, I become more than I ever could be alone.

Its crazy. But its also true.

One of the most delicious desserts in the world comes from an empty tube. The most delicious things that I produce in the world happen when I am an empty tube too.

That’s Not Fair…

Attitude of Gratitude, self improvement, The Inspired Life

Children are born with a built-in sense of fairness. One that is quite challenging to any parent who has ever had to settle a disagreement on fairness.

Siblings interacting with each other keep their keen little eyeballs peeled for even the slightest infraction of injustice. Every parent knows that failure to pour liquid into two matching glasses in exactly the same identical amounts will reward you with howls of “That’s NOT FAIR! He/She got MORE than me!”

If I had a nickel for every time I have lost my patience and muttered back, “Life isn’t fair, get used to it.”…Well, let’s just say that I haven’t been presented with my Lifetime Achievement Award in parenting yet.

Scott M. Peck in his best selling book, The Road Less Traveled, starts out with this thought-provoking statement:

Life is Difficult

On the surface, this statement may elicit a thought such as “Well, duh, anyone who has bought a gallon of gas lately knows that!”

Perhaps it doesn’t seem like such a provocative statement in this day and age after all.

Yet it is precisely our reaction to the opening line that is of interest. It isn’t that we don’t know that life is difficult; it’s how we feel about it that matters. It’s what we do about it that makes the difference in our daily lives.

Do we accept that life is difficult and accept that there is no such thing as fair? Do we move on from there and use our choices, talents, goals, and energy to reach the next level?

Or do we, like small children, keep our eyeballs peeled for the injustices done to us, whining about every obstacle, getting dragged down by the unfairness of it all? If we are honest, the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

To be clear, I am not speaking of the great injustice of human suffering. I’m not speaking of rampant poverty, murder and the unspeakable evils that can’t be explained. 

I am talking about the day-to-day expectation of fairness that our inner-child still secretly longs for. The child that keeps getting disappointed and wants to whine and shout, That’s not fair…” when the guy who wasn’t as qualified (in our opinion) gets the job over us. When the annoying woman ahead of us in the parking lot rushes to take the last parking space. When our spouse or dear friend makes some remark that sets our teeth on edge or our hair on fire. All the pouting and huffing over the extra work that is never noticed or the countless unreciprocated moments of our lives that we will never get back again.

There is no such thing as fair.

How do we handle it? What are our options?

We can still play fair. Stubbornly believe in the hope that others like us would like it to be fair. We could not treat others as if this is a dog-eat-dog world with all illusions of fairness blown out the window so who cares.

We have all learned that we need to give without expecting back. Love without expecting love in return. Work without expecting that next jump up the corporate ladder. Just do it because it is the right thing to do.  Do it for the greater good. Do it for yourself, because believe it or not you’ll feel better in the end.

Very lofty ideas. Good ones. Hard to put in practice. Especially at 9:00 pm when I’m still washing dinner dishes, the kids are fighting and I’m feeling at that moment that the greater good would be to bang them with the pot lid….

I needed something more practical to get me through the day. So I came up with:

Wendi’s Practical Tips For Dealing with Your Own  Whining “That’s Not Fair” Attitude.

1. Stop, Listen and Pay Attention.

As soon as you hear those magic words inside your head, train yourself to recognize them as a warning sound to alert you to trouble up ahead. Start paying close attention to your surroundings, your feelings and your physical well-being.

2. Zip the Lip

Immediately or as quickly as possible. Nothing good can come out of a conversation that comes from a whiny place. Hold your tongue until you have had time to analyze all of the facts and emotions that are in play.

3. Look in the Mirror First

We are often quick to point out what others are doing that is unfair before we have looked at how we are affecting the situation. Sometimes after a good hard look in the mirror, we see that things aren’t quite what they seemed after all. Maybe we were over-tired, too hungry, pumped up on caffeine. Perhaps our head wasn’t in the game, we were over-committed, or have under-delivered. What could we have done differently to make a change?

4. Re-examine Your Communication

Sometimes what we thought we said isn’t what they heard. Can we go back as partners and work out better ways of communicating with each other?

5. Don’t Spit in the Wind

There will be times when you have done everything on the checklist to be sure you are playing fair and the wind is just going to blow back in your face. Stop spitting in it. It doesn’t work and it never will. Ask yourself if this is a situation that you can really change or not. Some things you just can’t change. Learn when to walk away and shake it off. Don’t waste energy whining about it. Know that you did your best, release the guilt and let it go. There is too much to get done.

I think that somewhere inside, we all long for the day when life will get easier. That day isn’t coming. What can get easier is learning to take control of our actions and choices to improve our experiences in a difficult world.  A lot of us spend a great deal of time spitting in the wind, only to end up with spit on our faces and we don’t even bother to ask why.

Life isn’t fair. What are you going to do about it?