Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Classic Pamela Positive: “UnConference Room” Your Meeting with a Peaceful Banyan Tree

“UnConference Room” Your Meeting with a Peaceful Banyan Tree

There are many images that come to mind when we think of Asia, from dragons to beautiful beaches, spanning varied cultures.  One of my favorite views is that of the banyan tree, for it must be strongly grounded in the earth, which also allows its larger branches and leaves to provide overreaching shade.

Banyan Tree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai; picture submitted by Ranjani Shanker

It was under a banyan tree where the Buddha felt his calling to a new level of enlightenment.  Under these same trees, Gujarati businessmen hold their meetings.  It is even used as a place for political meetings: Recently in Malaysia, the state assembly met underneath the welcome atmosphere of the banyan tree.  So for much of Asia, spirituality, entrepreneurship, politics are taking place right outdoors.

The banyan tree represents solidity, rootedness, and strength.  At the same time, it also represents comfort, shade and welcome.  It is a source of power, balanced with peace.  It represents firmness, as well as welcome.

Is America’s Banyan Tree the Conference Room?

It is interesting how in America, and in many places across the world, most of our meetings take place in walled, sterile conference rooms.  Chairs are uniformly around the table.  The walls are usually plastered with notices about the company’s achievements.  Pens and pads are available so we can write and record and get our business done. Gosh darn it, I can hear the executives say, in this room we’re going to get to the solution, get down to business and ‘make it happen.’

Yet what if we looked at doing all of our business, or even holding all of our meetings, under a banyan tree?  This return to nature might help conversations flow more easily.

Perhaps this atmosphere would allow us to be more authentic. If we are surrounded by nature’s occasional stirring winds, visionary clouds floating across the sky, and brilliant beckoning sun, would we not also settle into a more authentic course of conversation? Could it lead to more natural, comfortable (and no less impactful, but rather more so) solutions?   Within this reframing context of nature, we can discuss our goals and hopes and plans and perhaps achieve even greater goals.

Here’s a thought… We can replace the pen, paper and busy scribbling of notes, with more eye contact.  We supplant the flurried white board scrawls with more thoughtful listening. What a profound impact this has to have on any business relationship, business decision, and especially, with any personal matter.

Until we can “Unconference Room” your meeting space, perhaps we can imagine all of our conversations thoughtfully taking place under a Banyan tree.  A place where comfort, understanding, and right relationships result under its strong, rooted and peaceful presence.

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The banyan tree originally received its name from the merchants who gathered beneath it to do business; in the Gujarati language, “banya” means “merchant/grocer.”  Western visitors to India observed the merchants meeting beneath the tree, and the name evolved to refer to the tree itself.  The banyan trees are given great symbolism in both Hinduism and Buddhism.  Banyan trees can grow to cover hundreds of feet, and live for over a thousand years.

The Classic Pamela Positive: “I Got My Start by Giving Myself a Start.” – First African-American Self-Made Millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker

In the 1900s, Madam C.J. Walker made her mark for black women (and all women) by becoming the first African-American self-made millionaire in America.  She had a problem herself; in setting out to solve it, she helped others.

Madam Walker was losing some of her hair.  So she created a hair product company which addressed this need, while helping women feel stronger, prouder, more beautiful.  She was a millionaire within fifteen years.

Yet it wasn’t just enhancing women’s beauty and self-esteem that made her unique.  She employed thousands of women; she shone with brilliance by being a great CEO.  And she left us with some inspiring mottos by which she lived her life.

Two of my favorites are:

“I got my start by giving myself a start.”

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“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”

Go “start” whatever you would love to do. It can be small, it can be on the side, it can be modest.   But begin today.  You will know yourself more, giving of your “only-you” talents.  You will also be providing opportunities and inspiration for others.

In honor of Black History month, we honor Madam C.J. Walker.  She was the first self-made American millionaire who was African-American or female.  Her own hair loss inspired her to experiment with home remedies, and then sell them throughout the country. She began by selling Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, a healing conditioner for scalps.  She traveled door-to-door throughout the South and Southeast to sell her products.  Her corporation employed as many as 3,000 people at one point.  Madam Walker also founded Lelia College to train “hair culturists,” assisting other black women to start their own businesses.  She was a Civil Rights activist and philanthropist.

The Classic Pamela Positive: Winning Over Obstacles

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.”  – Bertie C. Forbes

Bertie C. Forbes (1880-1954) was the founder of Forbes magazine.  He was born in Scotland, spent time in South Africa, and emigrated to New York in 1904.  He worked at several journals and founded Forbes in 1917.  He was the Editor-in-Chief for almost 40 years, up until his death.

The Classic Pamela Positive: May Your Work Bring Just and Lasting Peace

President Lincoln advised us… “Whatever work you are devoted to….may it bring just and lasting peace.”

Our respected President Abraham Lincoln brought this to light in his 1865  Inaugural Address. What a calling for each of us to think, as we go about our work each day, how it can bring “just and lasting peace.”  And I think work here is not just our professional work, but any task to which we are devoting ourselves.  Any project, endeavor, activity — from raising a child to decorating a Valentine’s Day wreath — can have kindness, justice and peace as a necessary ingredient to our performing of it.

President Lincoln says something instrumental here: As we strive for our goal, it should be peace brought between each one us, and then also with all countries.  The point here is that gentle justice, no matter how small, and a caring, kind sense of peacefulness in all our interactions, bring that sense of worldwide peace. And it must start with ourselves, our conversations, our actions between each person we meet. That’s a great calling for us in living rightly every day!

Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States, leading the country during the Civil War.  He was instrumental in ending slavery and is admired for his commitment to national unity, equal rights, liberty, and democracy in America.

Spend All You Have for Loveliness, Buy It and Never Count the Cost—Sara Teasdale 1917

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstacy
Give all you have been, or could be.

By Sara Teasdale

What a lovely and wise poem from Sara Teasdale, early 1900s.  How we should spend it all… Give all our time, heart, energy, thought, space to that which loves, embodies loveliness, and is lovely.  We should turn away from all not reaching that standard.

Any human strife, selfish contention is an unnecessary argument.    It is but an attempt to distract us from each “white singing hour of peace” awaiting us, if we will accept it.

Love, Pamela

Bio on Sara Teasdale:
1884–1933

Sara Teasdale received public admiration for her well-crafted lyrical poetry, which centered on a woman’s changing perspectives on beauty, love, and death.  Teasdale’s work had always been characterized by its simplicity and clarity, her use of classical forms, and her passionate and romantic subject matter. The later books trace her growing finesse and poetic subtlety.

Sara Trevor Teasdale was born in St. Louis, Missouri, into an old, established, and devout family. She was home-schooled until she was nine and traveled frequently to Chicago, where she became part of the circle surrounding Poetry magazine and Harriet Monroe.

Teasdale published Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems, her first volume of verse, in 1907. Her second collection, Helen of Troy, and Other Poems, followed in 1911, and her third, Rivers to the Sea, in 1915. Sometimes she published under the pseudonym Frances Trevor.

In 1914 Teasdale married Ernst Filsinger but divorced in 1929 and lived the rest of her life as a semi-invalid. Many of Teasdale’s poems chart developments in her own life, from her experiences as a sheltered young woman in St. Louis, to those as a successful yet increasingly uneasy writer in New York City.

She won the first Columbia Poetry Prize in 1918, a prize that would later be renamed the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Critics found much of Teasdale’s poetry to be unsophisticated but full of musical language and evocative emotion.

Other Poetry:

Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems (1907), Helen of Troy and Other Poems (1911), Love Songs (1917), Flame and Shadow (1920), Dark of the Moon (1926), Stars To-night (1930), Strange Victory (1933)

Bio Source: poets.org, wikipedia.org, poetryfoundation.org