It all started with a magnolia
Did you know that magnolia’s are the symbol for strength and perseverance in women? I learned this when I was living in New Orleans right after of grad school. The horticulture down there was so vastly different than where I had grown up and lived my young adult life in Central New York. Palm trees, crab grass, fruit trees and big, beautiful magnolias. Why am I bringing up magnolia tress in a blog about personal and professional development, you might ask? Let me explain further…
The first spring I spent in New Orleans, I was driving down a beautiful old street in the Garden District and suddenly saw these HUGE white flowers blooming from a tree with leaves that looked liked they were made of dark green wax. I was amazed by them. Not only were they beautiful, but they were so vast and abundant. I quickly became obsessed! Every time I walked by a magnolia tree, I would bring me to a halt and I would just stare at them.
One day, as I do with most things, I decided to research these magnificent plants. This is when I learned that they represent strength and perseverance in women. A few years later, I had a magnolia tattooed on my back. Yes, I have a tattoo and I don’t regret it one bit. When I need a reminder of how strong I am, I look at my tattoo. When I feel like giving up, I remember why I have it there.
I am women, hear me ROAR!
Corny, I know, but I truly feel women are capable of amazing things. We can grow a tiny human inside our bellies, for crying outload! But we also juggle the hundreds of things life throws at us every single day. Some small, some so big we’re not sure we’ll be able to survive it.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, Former First Lady of The United States, human right activist, friend, wife and mother of six kids
We all have been through a lot in our lives and at times (for me, it often feels like everytime), it can tear us down. It makes us feel as though we’re not capable of handling this tough life. But, I am hear to tell you, you can. And you will.
Hold on to your strength
I grew up with a pretty sheltered life. My parents were married. I had two big brothers who loved to tease me but adored me just the same. We live a fairly affluent life in a small town where the issues facing the community were whether or not to allow bars on Main Street to have neon lights. We always had food on the table and clothes on our back…including the brand new wardrobe we got at the start of every school year. More Christmas presents than you can count under the tree and stockings overflowing with goodies. The best part, I can truly say my parents did a good job raising us kids. We had all of this, yet we were truly grateful for it. We knew how lucky we were and appreciated that not everyone was able to grow up with such abundance.
And then life throws you a curve ball
(FYI – My dad would be so proud I just used a baseball reference in my blog)
We have also had our fair share of hardship though too. When I was 13 years old, our house burned down. We lost just about everything, included our two dogs. I could go on and on about this experience and the things it taught me but the reason I bring it up is, when I think back on those days, I often think about just how strong my mother was. After finding a place to live, through help of family friends, my mom spent everyday for weeks tip toeing through our shell of a home trying to find everything she could salvage. Her collection of silver dinnerware, furniture that hadn’t been destroyed, family heirlooms.
She undercovered every inch of that building to find anything that would remind us kids of our childhood. She’d bring it all home and clean it with Tarn-X; this awful smelling solution that seemed to be the only thing that cleaned up our scotched belongings enough to be usable again. Everyday for months, afterschool I’d come home to my mom being elbow deep in the stinky stuff just so we could have these memories and heritage to hold on to. Many time she had tears while doing so but most of the time she had a tremendous amount of determination that kept her going.
My mom and I are different in many ways but her strength is something I am proud to have inherited from her. That strength has pushed me to work hard and do my best. It’s also what has gotten me through the tough times of my life. If I can be strong, so can you. What do you do or have to remind yourself of your incredible strength? Hold on to it. Put it out in the open to remind yourself, every single day, that you are a multi-tasking, badass, get-shit-done, accomplished woman who is stronger than life itself.
Perseverance [per-suh–veer–uh ns] noun: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. From Dictionary.com
Do you ever just feel like giving up? Like you’ve just had it. Like you could crawl back into bed and binge on Netflix all day? Girrrrrl, I have been there! And I have also done it…but every time I have, I’ve always regretted it. And that is one way I stop myself from throwing in the towel when times get tough. I think back on those times I have simply dropped everything and crawled into bedroom or laid on the couch feeling disappointed in myself. I do not like this feeling at all. It’s kind of like when you eat junk food and feel icky afterwards. Usually we say to ourselves, I’m going to remember how this makes me feel so I don’t do it again.
Never, ever give up
Clearly persevering is not always that simple. Here are some tips for encourage your self to just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
- Write down your goals and put them out where you can see them every single day, preferably several times a day. Some people tape it to their bathroom mirror so they are reminded when they are getting ready in the morning or before going to bed. Personally, I like to have them right on my desk so I see them many, many times a day. This has worked wondered for me.
- Make a dream board or a vision board. I use to be embarrassed to admit that, yes, I do have a dream board. I did not do it for a long time because, frankly, I found it rather silly. But after reading so many development books, I noticed a common recommendation among many of them was to create a vision or dream board. Now that I have one, I love it. Again, mine is in my office where I can see it every single day, multiple times a day. I simply printed out pictures of big purchases I hope to be able to make someday (a John Deer Gator for our property, for example), places I want to go such as a picture of a beach in Greece that my best friend and I are hoping to go to within the next year, and a picture of my dad as a reminder of how I aim to make him proud.
- Affirmations. Hey, don’t knock it til you try it! Again, I was not a “believer” in affirmations. I never could’ve pictured myself looking in the mirror and saying statements like, “I am beautiful.” It makes me giggle just typing it! BUT, I’ve learned this is what many successful (and happy) individuals do. So again, I thought I’d try it. But I do my affirmations in the shower…I promised, this is not a TMI moment. Have you ever noticed you do your best thinking in the shower? Well, what better time to tell yourself, “I am kind and genuine” or “money flows to me easily and abundantly” than when you’re doing your best reflecting?? I could write an entire post on affirmations and why they work. But for the purposes of this post, imagine if you are making these statements everyday just how persistent this is going to make you feel. No way and I going to give up when I’m encouraging myself every single day.
So, the next time your inner critic starts telling you that you are not strong enough or that you might as well quit while you’re ahead, reflect on why you’re doing it in the first place. Remember, you are strong. You are independent. You are a bad ass, boss lady who is capable of anything!
Tell me, how do you remind yourself of your strength? What do you do to quiet your inner critic? Inquiring minds want to know…