What are the stories we tell about ourselves? What are the stories we believe about ourselves. Does the past and its ‘bad experiences’ continue to hold us? Do we give bad circumstances the chance to hold us down? As I muse about this today, I’d like to introduce you to Phiona Mutesi – a girl who rewrote her own story.
Phiona Mutesi – The Queen of Katwe
How Our Story Ends
To be African is to be an underdog in the world. To be Ugandan is to be an underdog in Africa. To be from Katwe is to be an underdog in Uganda. To be an underdog in Katwe. – Robert Katende, a missionary in Katwe who mentored chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi
This young girl re-wrote the story of an African, Ugandan, girl from Katwe. She didn’t allow the story to end in the usual way. She checkmated fate.
What about our stories……
When we are beholden to a narrative that defeats us, (whatever disparages or belittles or shames), we are afraid. And when we live afraid, the script shackles us. We live defensive and angry. So we don’t recognize that we have power inside to say how the story moves forward. – Terry Hershey
The idea of our stories is something I want to continue to look at in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned.
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I see her standing there
With that broad smile on her face
A smile that belies
All the pain she is going through.
What inner strength it must take
For her to smile and not complain
To be grateful for through the pain
I see that warrior woman and I am inspired.
I walk the length of the beach
Letting my my feet sink into the sand
Watching the never-ending line of blue
I see the waves come up to the shore
Sometimes gentle, sometimes rough
I think of the Maker of this Universe
So powerful, yet so gentle
I see the sea and I am inspired.
I open the pages and start to read
Wondering how the author knows me
How has she crafted these words
That seemingly echo my feelings?
How did he create this scene
That had me in tears?
I dwell on the beauty of words
And their ability to captivate me
I read a book and I am inspired.
I watch you as you deftly transform
A blank sheet of paper
Into a riot of beautiful colors
I wonder what you are creating
What absorbs you so completely
Slowly it begins to take shape
The loveliness of your imagination
Shining through in your art
I watch you create and I am inspired.
I listen to you talking
To the young one in your care.
Where you learnt your parenting skills
I will never know.
I hear you explaining situations
Talking of consequences
With patience and humour
I listen to you and I am inspired.
I see you on the street
Gently leading an old woman through traffic
I watch you pick up litter
I see you stop to pat a stray dog.
You’ve sat at hospital bedsides
Donated your blood
Raised funds for a cause,
Never once drawing attention to yourself.
I see your kindness and I am inspired.
I’ve noticed how people are drawn to you
They come to you to talk.
I’ve watched how you listen with understanding
Not judging, not advising
Just being there – a solid presence.
You nod and smile
Show compassion and give warm hugs.
I notice your attentive listening and I am inspired.
I pause to reflect on my life Fifty years full of memories
Some good, some unpleasant
I marvel at how I’ve journeyed
Making some good choices
And some terrible ones
I’m grateful for the grace
That saw me through my low days;
Love that has surrounded me.
I reflect on my life’s journey and I am inspired.
When I first heard of Julia Butterfly Hill I was fascinated by her story. A child of a travelling preacher, she spent her childhood in various campsites, learning to love Nature. However, it wasn’t until, at age 22 after a near fatal accident, that she discovered the cause of environment. As she said in interviews:
As I recovered, I realized that my whole life had been out of balance…I had graduated high school at 16, and had been working nonstop since then, first as a waitress, then as a restaurant manager. I had been obsessed by my career, success, and material things. The crash woke me up to the importance of the moment, and doing whatever I could to make a positive impact on the future.The steering wheel in my head, both figuratively and literally, steered me in a new direction in my life.
Volunteering to work with fundraisers protesting to save the redwood forests in California, in 197, Hill was selected to stay on a tree for a week. She climbed on that luna tree and lived on two 6-by-6-foot platforms for 738 (two years and eight days) weathering freezing rain and the onslaught of the El Nino winds! She faced all manner of harassment from the stooges of the lumber bosses, but she stayed until a satisfactory agreement was reached to preserve the trees.
Find Your Tree
While she continues to be an activist, Hill is now a motivational speaker, urging people to follow their passion and harness their energies to make the world a better place. Watch this video to see what she says:
“Each and every one of us is more powerful than we could ever imagine. We are so often just a thought away from having a magical life beyond belief. We are each ancestors of the future, contributing to the vitality and well being of all those with whom we share this beautiful, Sacred life. What do we want our legacy to be? ” – Julia Butterfly Hill
Today, I’d like to reflect on what my tree is and what I will do to preserve it.
Today, I’m happy to have Evelyn Mann sharing a grateful journey here today. I happened upon this inspiring woman on a blogging forum and knew that I just had to get her to share her family’s journey on Everyday Gyaan.
Thank you for being so willing to share your story, Evelyn. You inspire me!
Evelyn Mann is a special needs mother raising her son in sunny Florida, USA. Her son has a rare form of dwarfism called Thanatophoric Dwarfism Dysplasia. And though, this is a lethal form of dwarfism, her son has exceeded all expectations and is now ten years old. You can follow her on her website where she shares insights on raising her son.
A Grateful Journey: The Power Of One Mother’s Story
Grateful: My Marriage, A Honeymoon, And A Child
I am extremely grateful to be blessed with a wonderful husband. When I was thirty-seven years old, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever find someone. My prayers were answered when I met my husband and we were married just a few weeks shy of my thirty-ninth birthday. He was worth the wait.
We went on a tour of waterfalls for our honeymoon and thus began a marriage full of love and hope. Not long after, we found out we were expecting my first child. Joy and excitement was tempered by frequent occasions of extreme sleepiness but that soon went away.
Grateful: For God and The Spark of Life
The day arrived for us to find out whether our child would be a boy or a girl. Only to discover, our child was growing slower than expected. Yes, we were having a boy but was he healthy? Time would tell.
After many meetings with doctors, we were told our son would likely not live past birth. We heard the words from the doctors but our faith in God glued us together, trusting in Him to work it all out. And so, on a summer day in August, our son came into the world very much alive.
Grateful: For Doctors & Nurses, Specialized Equipment and lots of prayer
For six months, our son struggled to be stable enough to leave the hospital and come home with us. We had a team of doctors and nurses providing around the clock care with specialized machines to help our son. My motherly emotions were on a roller-coaster of ups and downs but through it all, I prayed and trusted God for our son’s outcome.
And so, on a cold day in February, our son came home to twenty-four hour nursing care and two very jubilant and loving parents.
Grateful: A Wish and Prayers
We soon learned how to care for our son’s special needs. This required learning how to care for a tracheostomy and a feeding tube; one to help him breathe and the other to give him food and water. Coupled with managing his ventilator, it was a very steep learning curve.
My instincts as a mother were especially strong, not allowing our son to venture out except to the doctor. I didn’t even want to take him to the park. So this went on for a few years. Then, when my son turned three years old (already far exceeding any doctor’s expectations) we received a wish.
The Make-A-Wish foundation, an organization which grants wishes for medically fragile children, sent us to see the dolphins at Sea World in Orlando. Like a bird being pushed out of her nest, I was being encouraged to show my sweet son a world other than doctor’s offices and home.
And so, on winter’s day in February, we were driven by limousine to Orlando for an amazing holiday provided by the gracious kindness of the Make-A-Wish foundation. On this trip, I prayed much and learned how to travel with my special needs child which would open doors I’d never dreamed of.
Grateful: Coming Full Circle
Another miracle happened when my son comes off his ventilator. A dream I never expected to happen. I’d hoped, yes but dared not dream such things were possible. But with God, nothing is impossible.
So, two summers ago, we travel to Niagara Falls. From the tiny waterfalls of our honeymoon to one of the largest, we distanced many miles by road to see this wonder. Standing by this impressive feat of nature, I look at my son and am in awe. In awe that we are in this surreal place, far away from home (1,932 kilometers), with my special needs child. I’m struck by the mist of the falls making rainbows in the air and a child that was never expected to live now experiencing this natural wonder.
Grateful: A Way of Life
As we live our lives raising our miracle, I’ve come to be thankful for things once taken for granted. I’m extremely grateful for our health. Though our son has special needs and is considered medically fragile, I see him as a stable, happy, full of life little boy with a smile that melts hearts. And for that, I am grateful. For us, being thankful is a way of life.
What are you grateful for, even in the midst of what is considered trying circumstances? You may not have a special needs son, but we all can choose to be grateful even in the face of difficult circumstances. That is how we overcome, yes? We overcome together, through the power of our stories. I’d love to hear your story.
If there’s one thing that I admire in individuals and groups it is commitment.
I’m impressed by those who stay the course to pursue their dreams – whatever those may be.
I love when individuals come together, inspired by a cause, driven by a need and bring about change.
I admire those who fight against injustice – bearing the burden of a world that sometimes appears so callous and unfeeling. Never counting the cost to themselves.
I am in awe of doctors, lawyers, aid workers, rescue workers NGO workers who give of their time to work in far-off, war-torn areas of the world. Even if they are compensated, the personal price they pay is huge.
I have deep respect for primary caregivers who often have no one to relieve them and stay on looking after the other out of love and commitment. In my opinion, the hardest ones to look after are those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of mental illnesses.
When I watch parents of mentally challenged children, my heart is moved by their patience and fortitude. Even more when those children grow into adults and the parents age. I wonder where they draw their strength from.
Then there are those fighting handicaps with courage and grace who inspire me with their spirit.
I love inspirational stories. I love inspirational people even more. As you know, I’m not one to pass up the opportunity to share such stories with you. Today, it’s the story of a 20 year old woman who has been chosen to be part of an initiative called the Lakme School of Style.
Lakme and #fame have collaborated to create LakmeSchoolofStyle, India’s first fashion-beauty video magazine. #fame is a digital entertainment network that encourages budding musicians, comedians, chefs, fashionistas to showcase their talent, hone their skils and find a great audience. LakmeSchoolofStyle is an online venture that creates a platform for every day people to give their perspective on fashion and style.
Brave and Beautiful
So what of the young woman, you ask? Well, she’s not just another young woman. She’s a two-time cancer survivor. And you know how she fought the demon? She started at cancer in the face, saying “I have cancer, cancer doesn’t have me,’ and used fashion and styling to keep herself from depression.
Watch Karan Johar interviewing her here:
Isn’t she gorgeous? So self-assured and such an inspiration!
The side effects of cancer treatment are many. They can bring many changes to how the body looks, feels and performs – weight loss or gain, hair thinning and hair loss, changes in skin tone and nails, changes in posture and swelling of body parts. These are highly distressing and can have a big impact on one’s self-esteem and personal confidence, and might put patients off from continuing with the treatment.
Courage and confidence are called for. And this young girl certainly has loads of it. Ruchi Gokhale, perhaps unknowingly, did what is recommended by cancer care organisations! Ruchi did a lot of things right.
She reminded herself that despite the disease, she was still the same person inside.
She celebrated herself.
She experimented with ways in which to look, and therefore feel, better. She even styled her wigs!
She sought support from others.
Ruchi hasn’t stopped with herself though. Like all inspiring people, she has found a way to channelize her passion into something that can make a difference to others. She is well aware that there are several other young women might be undergoing similar experiences. Also, we are aware that all teenage girls struggle with body image issues. Her experience gives her the unique opportunity to reach out and say ‘If I could do it, so can you.’ I’m certain that Ruchi’s YouTube channel, thanks to the Lakme School of Style and #fame, will do brilliantly.
Ruchi’s message is one that we can all take home. Stay brave, stay beautiful! Credit:
Lakmé School of Style is a first of its kind show that will not only bring the newest trends and happenings from the fashion world but in the process will also create new age fashionistas and idols. A fashion brigade led by Editor-in-Chief, Karan Johar himself will bring the fashion news, views and events from all over the world to the internet screen.