Thursday, July 22, 2010

365 Lessons-Lesson 203: Find Your Enthusiasm

When I was in junior high, I had to take Health. It was required and I was not too enthused about that as I was going through my rebellious teen years. On the first day of class, once everyone was seated, the teacher, Mr. Baerveldt yelled out, "How's your PMA (Positive Mental Attitude)?" We all just sat there, a bunch of preteens staring in emptiness at this man who looked like he might take flight from all his cheerfulness. Some students even rolled their eyes, but Mr. Baerveldt would not give up on us. He let us know that whenever he said this at the beginning of class we were supposed to jump out of our chairs, full of vigor, and yell back, "Boy am I enthusiastic!"

He tried it again and there were a few muffled voices feigning enthusiasm. He tried again. A few more people. Finally, just to get him to stop, we all jumped out of our chairs, fists in the air like Superman, and shouted back in unison, "BOY AM I ENTHUSIASTIC!"

And then we couldn't help but laugh. We all felt a little ridiculous. Day after day, this was how we started our 5th period Health class. I have to say, by the end of it, maybe through osmosis, I did feel enthusiastic.

My goal as a teen was to avoid enthusiasm. I was supposed to be cool. Cool people weren't enthusiastic, they were just "cool." I'm sorry now that I missed out on what a lot of great teachers had to offer because I wasn't in the frame of mind to "receive the teachings" so to speak. However, maybe some of it stuck with me. I can't forget Mr. Baerveldt after all these years and even when I see my best friend Lena and she says, "How's your PMA?" I automatically throw my arms up in the air and shout, "Boy am I enthusiastic!"

I have a book in my library that I think is right up Mr. Baerveldt's alley. It's called Do It! Let's Get Off Our Buts. I love this book. And I love that "buts" has a double meaning. Now that's "cool."

Even cooler is when the authors, John Roger and Peter McWilliams, explain where the word enthusiasm comes from:

Enthusiasm comes from the Latin en theos-one with the energy of the Divine.

And they go on to quote famous people who wrote about enthusiasm:

The real secret of success is enthusiasm.
-Walter Chrysler

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill.
-Edward Appleton

I couldn't agree more. If you are enthusiastic about what you are doing, how can you fail? After all, the Latin speakers of the world believe you are in tune with the Divine; the word "fail" is not in your dictionary.

If you are having trouble finding your enthusiasm, I recommend the exercise my Health teacher had us do way back when. If you say it long enough and loud enough, maybe you'll start to believe it. Maybe it will become your mantra. Maybe a life filled with enthusiasm will become "cool" for you. Maybe it will become your way.

Also published on my blog, Lessons from the Monk I Married.

Sharing some things I value.

The advantage about the lifestyle I live is that I am able to have the flexibility to be where I feel I need to be in life when I need to be. I mostly work for myself and this has allowed me to be a stay at home mom while raising my three daughters and it has allowed me to take time to recover when I’ve had health setbacks and then return to whatever work I choose to do when I am healthy enough. I’m grateful for this but it has also meant that our finances have gone up and down over the years, and when my children were very young, we really had to make a lot of sacrifices while I spent most of my time tending to them while managing my chronic health condition.

I never felt that we were sacrificing that much because I felt we were always focusing on what was truly of value to us: our family, our passions, guidance from within and always seeking to expand that to a higher level of thinking and behaving, our health, and our community. We have had our ups and downs, I’ve come close to dying a couple of times because of my health; my heart stopped under anesthesia during surgery that I had to undergo a couple of years ago that ended up being more extensive than the surgeon originally thought would need to be - it was surgery to help me be able to walk.

I credit a lot of my ability to manage my health as well as I do because of the alternative methods of healing that I use. Doctor’s and other health practitioners tell me time and again that they view me as a walking miracle. I’m grateful I’m walking and alive whether by miracle or hard work and constant focus, either way, I’m grateful.

I do work at it. I come from a long line of hardy, determined, independent, and proud people. They have also been an ancestry of cold, bitter, distant people who have also struggled with being involved in victim consciousness; acting from both sides of the coin in being both victim and victimizer. There are extremes in my lineage; often the first step toward an issue turning into a problem is having it go to the extreme.

I seek to walk a balance and look for the qualities that can carry me through and discard those that have held my family back for generations. There is a deeply entrenched, unequal, and unfair patriarchy to my family’s imbalance among strong women who have often been left to pick up the pieces even though all they may have had left of themselves after the settled dust of abuse and abandonment were fragmented pieces. I have sought to reclaim the role of strong matriarch for my family moving forward and it begins with my three daughters.

I had daughters. I choose not to see this as an accident but as an extension of the will to do better; another chance to heal and to try to do it better moving forward. I also see it as no accident that so many in my family, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, chose not to have children, even if they chose to marry, they made the decision very deliberately not to have children. The lineage is dying out and I have to say that in many ways I am grateful if no one was willing to take on the task of trying to do it better.

In my family the way paved was with little to no support, and very little understanding. There was little to no guidance because it was new unknown territory, so there was no guidance to be given. In my lineage one would be on their own in the wilderness, an ostracized member of a sick and dying tribe struggling to find the path to surviving much less the path to thriving.

I write as one of my coping mechanisms, I also expose myself to anything that will uplift and inspire because my life has been very challenging but I refuse to give up, though I will surrender. Surrender is a whole other thing - I actually find freedom and release in surrender. I surrender to the answer, which so far always comes as soon as I surrender. I choose to expose myself to that which inspires but that doesn’t mean I shy away from being exposed to something terrible or challenging, if I did I would have to be living in complete and utter denial. But when I come across something terrible or challenging, I try to seek out the inspiring. I search for the solution to a problem, or the way through the challenge; I look for the lotus in the mud.

I have always been a journal writer, I started when I was very young, and this blog is an extension of that exercise. I really use this blog as a reminder to myself to be inspired and to be inspiring. It is a part of what gets me through the day, and there are days where getting through the day means getting through the moments. I appreciate the exchange with my readers, and I am very grateful to those who are reading this and getting something out of it and comment this to be the case.

Thank you.