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.

******************

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.”

 *******************

“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

The Importance of Friendship: “A Time to Talk” by Robert Frost

A Time to Talk by Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Robert Frost creates a wonderful picture of our devotion to work.   It’s an image of hard, sweat inducing labor, in which we are reluctant to stop the momentum of producing on a farm.

rice-planters-1_l

As we look to a modern day context in our cities, what are we relentlessly devoted to?  Will we interrupt the flow of getting through our emails, to share a meaningful moment?  computer

In a year, will you remember that email you had to get back to…

email

Or will you remember this:   You stopped what you were doing.  You devoted your full focus to your friend.  It is a loving person who has stopped by to say hello.   Doesn’t love deserve your attention?

friends

When you look back, you will want to remember:

Kindness

smiles

not:

desk stress

Choose Your Friend.

“Go oft to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Robert Frost (1874-1963) was a highly-regarded poet known for his depiction of rural life.  He published his first poem in high school.  He attended Harvard but did not graduate due to illness; he received an honorary degree from Harvard posthumously, as well as more than 40 other honorary degrees.  Though Frost grew up in the city, he lived on farms later in his life.  He was a professor at Amherst College, and at Middlebury College for 42 years.  Some of his best-known poems include “The Road Not Taken,” “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was an American writer, lecturer and poet.  He was a leader in the Transcendentalist movement, and a founder of the Transcendental Club, which included members such as Henry David Thoreau and Bronson Alcott.  Transcendentalism emphasized the importance of individuality, and the presence of the divine in all things.  Among Emerson’s most famous writings are his essay, “Nature,” and his book, Self-Reliance.  Emerson and his wife, Lydia, had four children, including Edward Waldo Emerson who published writing on both his father and Henry David Thoreau.

No One Did it Like You–Competition Nonexistent

“Choose to stay free from a spirit of competition and just run your own race in life.  Not only will you enjoy your life more, but you’ll see your gifts and talents come out to the full.” –  Joel Osteen

I love this because the joy in life is celebrating you.  It’s about really maximizing, investing in our selves — with joy.

The last part of that sentence, joy, is necessary, wondrous. Please do think about how unique you are made. You think differently; you have a perspective which is irreplaceable.  No one else just thought that last thought… greeted someone with such warmth… opened the door to your office with joy and welcome… cooked a meal, and kindly, gently served it to your husband or wife.  They just didn’t. They didn’t do it just as you did.

No one else scales the mountain with gusto, running ahead. Or no one else thoughtfully, quietly, transcended the hiking paths in prayer, peace and contemplation.

No one strongly coached that young soccer team with high demanding standards. No one took a stand like you did when faced with an unjust comment. No one backed up your friend when he was feeling unsuccessful after losing his job like you. You came in full force to demand the best today, support the important people in your life.

No one comforted the employee as you did… or closed that business deal with determination. No one called your mother as you did today, saying hello and loving her, finding out how the start of her morning is. No one greeted the mail deliverer as you did today, thanking them.  You looked them in the eyes. You thanked them sincerely for their service. You had compassion as someone faces a possible phase out of their job or post office.  You didn’t take it for granted, rush off, or lose your sensitivity. You were patient.

No one greeted this morning, as you did, with amazement. You knew the joy of living. That you were able to wake up today, and to be purposeful,  and helpful.  That your smile would spread to a hundred other individuals, because they passed on that smile, that joy, that peace as well. You affected people today positively.

And it was all unique to you.

So how could there be competition? The word does not exist. Because you are you… because you think, breathe, live each moment with a unique charisma or calm, dynamism or thoughtfulness…you cannot replace another or be replaced.

It’s impossible.

Today, let’s celebrate who we are by living just as we are. But you need to recognize it.  Recognize the special care, contributions and qualities you bring to the world… as well as others’ unique contributions too.  Be committed, purposeful; provide meaning to yourself and others; be joyful, kind and loving.  Then, you are living in love, as no one else does.

Joel Osteen is a native Texan and the Pastor of Lakewood Church. Born in Houston, Texas, Osteen is one of five children of John Osteen and Dolores (“Dodie”) Pilgrim. His father, a former Southern Baptist pastor, founded Lakewood Church where Osteen is the current senior pastor.  For many years, John Osteen encouraged Joel to preach, but he always declined preferring to work behind the scenes. But, in early 1999 Joel felt compelled to accept his father’s invitation and he preached his first sermon on January 17th of that year.  Osteen married Victoria in 1987, two years after Osteen met her when he stopped by the jewelry store her father owned. Their two young children, Alexandra and Jonathan, also take an active role in Sunday services.

In 2004, his first book, Your Best Life Now, was released by Time Warner debuting at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List and quickly rising to #1. It remained on the New York Times Bestseller for more than 2 years and has sold more than 4 million copies.  Osteen’s popularity led to him being featured as one of ABC News’ “10 Most Fascinating People of 2006”, and was named “Most Influential Christian in America” in 2006 by The Church Report.