A couple of weekends ago, I was thinking of getting some white lilies when I saw these striking red sunflowers. I couldn’t resist them. Some people might ask why should sunflowers be red and not yellow. Others might ask why they haven’t stopped blooming when the summer was over. Not only did the flowers contrast the red petals with a dark center core, they veiled themselves with purple leaves. What excited me the most was the fact that despite their questionable existence, they bloomed and shone unapologetically. They were beautiful by being.
Denise gave me an excerpt to Nelson Mandela’s speech last week along with two assignments: to receive and to shine. To receive praises, love, friendship, and happiness. To shine because I am bright. I finally read the speech this morning with my coffee and I just couldn’t put it down until I’ve read it 3 times. So I am sharing it with my beautiful friends here, friends that bring me up by shining brilliantly, and friends that I know have that flaming redness in them, which I deeply believe, will flourish one day.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our Light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you NOT to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us — it is in everyone.
And as we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
When I was growing up, because of how my grandpa died, Mom has always reminded me not to stand out or shine. Mom always said that when you shine, you make enemies in others. They become jealous of you and it’s a very dangerous situation to be in. Having grown up with that teaching along with “humble” traditional Chinese “values”, I felt suffocated. I have decided to change that in my on-going effort to be authentic. Last week, I had my first success story.
A friend was fired from a job for the better. She was in the process of finding a research faculty position where she could do the kind of research she was interested in. However, it’s very competitive to get a position for a budding PhD in the University due to lack of funding. I happened to run into her and shared my recent success story of overcoming some of my fears. After hearing my story, she decided that she would also try to step out of her own comfort zone. She came up with an idea to get funding for her own research which in turn would help her get the faculty position. She asked me if it’d be a good idea to solicit friends and family for the initial funding. I was not only impressed by her creative solution but her courage to ask for help, something she didn’t like to do much. Remembering the advice from a successful entrepreneur that “you’d be surprised how much financial support you can get from just friends and family alone for a start up company,” I passed the advice onto her. Very shortly afterwards, she not only decided to go for the plan, but found out that the University actually welcomes researchers with “soft money” i.e. non-federal research money. She thanked me for the support and I couldn’t be happier to have been there as a part of her potential success story, however small of a role I played. All I did was to share my own success stories, to be and to shine.
Life is simple.