Archives For Aspire

Dream. . . Aim high. . . and follow excellent role model examples. . .

Sing On

06/02/2014

joyful Maya AngelouI first heard this song from 1994 around that time on a Public Broadcasting Station (commercial-free radio!), allowing for this long song. Eight enjoyable minutes of movement-motivating music! This fantastic compilation by the talented Branford Marsalis and friends, which includes Maya Angelou reading some of her incredible poem, is delightful and makes me dance.

I hope this song brightens your heart and your day as it always does for me. May we remember our love for Maya with gratitude for her magnificent example, and how she blessed us with her years here. She will live on, forever in our hearts, and we are so thankful for all she shared. Namaste. Gina

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

(This is her complete poem; certain excerpts are in the song)

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

I discovered inspirational author and speaker Raymond Charles Barker when I was in my teens and his writings still move me today. These excerpts are from my old, weathered, and deeply cherished hardcover copy of his incredible book ‘The Power Of Decision’ [1968]. These words really resonate with me, today and always, and I hope you enjoy a lift of your heart and a burst of inspiration as well. Namaste. Gina

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thoughts make me strong“A great factor in the matter of being unhappy is being bored. Many people are bored and do not even realize it. Check your mind and see if you are bored with your present situation. If so, you had better break it up and fast, for it is negative mental and emotional states that breed unhappiness.

“It is lazy thinking. It is thinking that is uncreative and, if indulged in too long, it becomes destructive. To be bored in today’s world is nonsensical. The whole planet is exploding with interesting ideas, interesting people, and interesting events. Never before has so much music, art, and great entertainment been available. To be bored takes a good deal of doing, and a large segment of the population is doing the doing that causes boredom.

“Creative thinking gives a zest to living and you are a creative thinker when you decide to be one. The feeling that it is great to be alive is a spiritual necessity. It lessens the strains and tensions of routine functioning. It quickens new ideas in consciousness, and alerts the mind to the fascinations that are available to us. It allows no morbidity, no boredom, and no lazy thinking. It prevents us from drifting in the past. It causes us to be today people expecting great things in our tomorrows.”
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Raymond Charles Barker, The Power Of Decision

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[Images not mine; please notify of source info via sidebar link]

Clear Heart Vision

02/10/2014

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, but just felt in the heart.”

Anne Sullivan taught this concept, now a well-known saying, to 11-year old Helen Keller as described in the book The Story of My Life [quote source]

invisible to the eye Antoine de Saint-ExuperyToday I share the following parable to help crystallize the concept of seeing with our heart:

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

“This window overlooks a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans play on the water while children sail their model boats.” the man by the window said. “Young lovers walk arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline can be seen in the distance.”

While the man by the window described this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. His smile growing with every new piece of detail told to him.

One afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although, the other man couldn’t hear the band, any commotion or excitement – he could see it.

branch heartsOne morning, the day nurse entered the room to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. Slowly and painfully, the man propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside that he had heard so much about. He strained to slowly look out the window. It faced a blank wall.

The man was confused and somewhat disappointed. He looked forward to seeing all the wonderful things his roommate had described to him. The park, the lake, the ducks and swans. None of that could be seen from the bedside window.

Feeling a little frustrated the man asked the nurse, “What could have compelled my roommate to lie to me like he did? He described such wonderful things outside this window but nothing he spoke of can be seen. All that is visible is that ugly grey blank wall. Why did he lie to me?”

“Didn’t he tell you?” the nurse responded, “He was blind so he couldn’t see the wall. But maybe he described such wonderful things because they were visions in his mind and he wanted to encourage you?”

The man laid back on his bed and let out a sigh as he softly said, “Yes, that he did.” Then he whispered to himself, “Thank you for sharing your wonderful world, my friend.”
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[Source of story and images unknown; notify of info through sidebar link]

Sober Celebrities

02/04/2014

The recent loss of an incredibly talented and creative man named Philip Seymour Hoffman has had me feeling introspective and pondering the serious prevalence of addictions in our society and what can be done about it.

As I continue developing upcoming posts in further depth of this important topic, I want to celebrate this handful of famous individuals who overcame their addictive behaviours. Let’s choose to focus on what is working and remember that addictive behaviours can be overcome. I know. I’ve been there, and I got sober.

May we all choose to focus on what is working in our lives, and release that which doesn’t support and encourage our further growth. May we find and celebrate our inner peace, and shine that peace outwardly. May peace prevail. Namaste. Gina

Source Tri-State Treatment Connections Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

source – Tri-State Treatment Connections
Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

source: Tri-State Treatment Connections

source: Tri-State Treatment Connections

source: Tri-State Treatment Connections Image by © Jill Greenberg/Corbis Outline

source: Tri-State Treatment Connections
Image by © Jill Greenberg/Corbis Outline

source: Tri-State Treatment Connections

source: Tri-State Treatment Connections

source: Tri-State Treatment Connections

source: Tri-State Treatment Connections

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

affects all indirectlyMonths before he delivered his significant speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was bravely writing those responsible for his incarceration a letter that would become a crucial text for the civil rights movement. His April 16, 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail defends nonviolent resistance to racism, arguing that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws. Dr. King included the full text in his 1964 book Why We Can’t Wait.

we are all connected Mitch AlbomOn this day of his birth I feel especially energized to do what I can to make a difference! Beyond the kindness for all that I always share with smiles, kind words and courtesy, I can write letters. I can support organizations and individuals working towards diversity. I can express my opinions on how we are all the same and are deeply interconnected. I can encourage dialogue on what can be done. I can do something! I can raise my voice so that I may be heard.

What more can I be doing about bringing human rights to the forefront, towards eliminating poverty and promoting equality? If my neighbours, friends or family of any religion, orientation, skin colour or nationality were suffering from hate-mongering harassment, I’d be there like a mother bear, putting myself on the line for their safety.

Let’s be like those courageous passersby caught taking a stand by hidden cameras in the program What Would You Do and we would make Martin Luther King Jr. proud! Let’s take a stand for freedom and speak out against injustice. And, as many of the folks captured on that televised ‘social experiment’ have shown, we are most powerful when we are not angry. We have the loudest voice when it is spoken softly. Take a stand with calm firmness, and bring the higher vibration of love to the moment. Be a miracle worker.

Martin Luther King Jr photoIf witnessing an injustice directed towards a minority (by small-minded persons who fear ‘otherness’) let us speak up for them as we would have them speak up for us. Once we have stepped up, we open the situation to miracles. It’s been proven that other strangers step forward more quickly after the first person has spoken. We can lead the way with our example and help miracles to happen. Let’s speak up against any injustice we may witness, as well as those occurring beyond our immediate locale. Let’s do what we can to help keep Dr. King’s life-work alive and thriving.

  • Leviticus 19:18 NIV ~ Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
  • Luke 6:31 NIV ~ Do to others as you would have them do to you.
  • Whom should I despise, since the one Lord made us all. ~ Guru Granth Sahib, p.1237
  • What thou avoidest suffering thyself, seek not to impose on others. ~ Epictetus
  • Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. ~ Laozi (Lao Tzu)

‘Do unto others’ is a concept no religion misses. All versions of the Golden Rule have one aspect in common: they urge that we treat others in a way in which we ourselves would like to be treated.

injustice Whatever affects one directly MLK

Nelson Mandela

12/06/2013

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela leave hatred behind

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
~ Written by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Nelson_MandelaBorn in the village of Mvezo in Umtatu, then a part of South Africa’s Cape Province on July 18th, 1918, Nelson Rolihlahia Mandela died of a lung infection on December 5th, 2013 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg surrounded by his family. He was 95 years of age.

His death was announced by the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. On December 6th President Zuma announced a national mourning period of ten days, with the main event being an official memorial service to be held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on the 10th of December 2013.

Within South Africa, Mandela was widely considered to be “the father of the nation”, and “the founding father of democracy”, being seen as “the national liberator, the saviour, its Washington and Lincoln rolled into one”. In 2004, Johannesburg granted Mandela the freedom of the city, and the Sandton Square shopping centre was renamed Nelson Mandela Square, after a Mandela statue was installed there. In 2008, another Mandela statue was unveiled at Groot Drakenstein Correctional Centre, formerly Victor Verster Prison, near Cape Town, standing on the spot where Mandela was released from the prison.

He has also received international acclaim. In 1993, he received the joint Nobel Peace Prize with Frederik Willem de Klerk “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”. In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Mandela’s birthday, July 18, as “Mandela Day”, marking his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle. It called on individuals to donate 67 minutes to doing something for others, commemorating the 67 years that Mandela had been a part of the movement.

mandela-povertyAwarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Order of Canada, he was the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen. The last recipient of the Soviet Union’s Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union, and first recipient of the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, in 1990 he received the Bharat Ratna Award from the government of India and in 1992 received Pakistan’s Nishan-e-Pakistan. In 1992 he was awarded the Atatürk Peace Award by Turkey. He refused the award, citing human rights violations committed by Turkey at the time but later accepted the award in 1999. Elizabeth II awarded him the Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John and the Order of Merit.

Across the world, Mandela came to be seen as “a moral authority” with a great “concern for truth”. Considered friendly and welcoming, Mandela exhibited a “relaxed charm” when talking to others, including his opponents. Although often befriending millionaires and dignitaries, he enjoyed talking with their staff when at official functions. In later life, he was known for looking for the best in everyone, even defending political opponents to his allies, though some thought him too trusting of others.

In late 1996 when Mandela was asked by friends if he was religious, Mandela explained he was a Methodist but he felt at ease in any house of prayer.

Source: Wikipedia

With love and respect, I dedicate today’s post to Mr. Mandela who has deeply inspired me throughout my life, as well as countless others around the world. He will always be remembered and will live on forever in our hearts. ~Gina