Monthly Archives: August 2015

What Does It Mean To Be An Upstander, By A Guest Blogger

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An UPSTANDER is defined as someone who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right. When we stand up for what is right, and do our best to help support and protect someone who is being hurt, we are being socially responsible.

The first thing that comes to mind is bullying since it’s been getting a great deal of media attention, and with good reason, but there is much more to this term than taking a stand against bullying. Here are my thoughts on what being an upstander is about (maybe a slightly less conventional spin on it)…

I went on a field trip with my daughter to the Dallas Holocaust Museum recently. It was heart-wrenching but at the same time inspiring to learn about all the people who took a stand to help others, and those who survived. It also makes me so grateful for those, like my dad, who risked their lives for the freedom of others. The message during the tour was ‘are you being a bystander or an upstander?’. Makes you think. How are we being upstanders in our world today and fighting for those who can not, or simply choosing to make a difference even in the smallest of ways?

I was born and raised in South Africa, grew up in the apartheid era and was blessed to see it come to an end because of upstanders; people who overcame their fears for the freedom of others. My dad was one of those people. He taught me what it means to have determination and courage to stand up for others and to take a stand for what I believe in, but being an upstander is not just taking a stand on a grand scale but it’s also in the small decisions we make every day.

A great example of this are stories I’ve heard about people who were on the brink of suicide when a stranger reached out to them with just a smile or started a conversation; things we do on a daily basis and sometimes take for granted but can literally make the difference between life and death for someone else. In that case, we may not know that something is wrong but in choosing to do little things out of love and kindness, we make more of a difference than we realize.

So often we feel like we are such a small fish in a giant pond; that our actions don’t really matter compared to other people who have a greater stage and are much more visible, but the truth is all change starts with one small action. It’s the ripple effect, or the butterfly effect that comes into play. What I mean by this is we don’t know who may be watching or who we may be inspiring daily to take action in their own lives. Those people, in turn, can inspire others, and so on.

I can list so many people who have inspired me in so many ways and some of them simply by always having a positive attitude and sharing a smile. I will never forget them. One of these people is someone I have never even met. I just know her as the young lady I would sometimes see in the hallways or in the elevator who never failed to give everyone a beautiful smile. That alone would make my day. She may not be an upstander in a vocal way, but her actions spoke volumes. It said to me that no matter what I’m facing today I’m going to have a positive attitude and brighten someone else’s day and help lift them up. I’m sure she helped more people than she realized. She may not have had that intention, but she certainly did that for me! Her actions also gave me pause to think about how I’m impacting the lives of others.

There are many other ways to take a stand, such as donating to a cause we believe in, attending a rally, speaking up for someone who was wronged, writing a letter, signing a petition, etc. It’s also important not to just take a stand for others, but also for ourselves. When we stand up for ourselves and what we believe in from a place of respect and not anger or resentment, we inspire others and build our self confidence.

We can all be superheroes daily. The magic is in the every day moments. How will you choose to be an upstander? What part do you play in making this world a better place? YOU matter. Your actions matter. Don’t underestimate your power.

If you haven’t found your passion yet and are not sure what you need to do to make a difference in your life and in the lives of others so you live each day with purpose, joy and fulfillment, I would love to speak with you to see if I can be of assistance.

Note: The Author of this beautiful article is a Leadership Coach. You can use the link below to sign up for a free strategy session:

http://www.bookedin.net/life-and-leadership-coaching-for-women

 

What’s In A Name? By A Guest Blogger

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What’s in a name?

When I was eight years old, my great grandmother gave me a pin with my name on it.  It said Angela…”bringer of truth.”  This was actually quite upsetting.  I was a very literal child, and assumed this meant now I must tell the truth all the time.  Adults like truth, except when you say things like “This food taste like throw up”, or “I’d rather die than eat liver. “  This was highly confusing to me.  Tell the truth, but not really.  (There is much to say about truth, but this blog post is about names.)  So I immediately decided I should change my name.  Renee is my middle name, and it means born again.  I could live with that.  That sounded French and all, perhaps because it is.  But names are hard things to change when it is others that use them, so I stuck with Angie.

Three years ago, I began the process of divorce, and it was an incredibly difficult process of losing my name.  We all have relative names that are contingent on relationships.  I am a daughter because I have parents.  I am a sister because I have siblings.  I am a mother because I have three children.  Here I was losing a relative name, wife, because he no longer wanted the relative name husband.  Also, there was what felt like an identity crisis.  I didn’t want to keep my married name.  It didn’t feel like it belonged to me, and I didn’t want to be identified by it any more.  At the same time, going back to my maiden name was weird after 16 years as one name.  It was then that I realized women get names on loan.  We borrow our father’s names until we are old enough to marry, and then we borrow our husband’s names in theory for the rest of our lives, but too often in reality, temporarily also.  It was also this recognition that I no longer belonged as a part of any group.  I became Just Angie.  For me, while I legally returned to my maiden name, I chose a new last name that would never be taken or given away.

During this time of struggling with who am I if I am not a wife, or a Mrs. Something, I saw that what was really hurting me was all the names I had taken over the years.  Words others had labeled me with or names I had taken because I believed them.  Shakespeare attests that a “Rose by any other name would smell just as sweet”, but honestly, would a rose be willing to open up to share it’s beauty if it believed it was stupid, ugly and worthless?  I also saw around me how many people grabbed and clung to names as their identities.  I saw women in similar circumstances now using the word victim to identify themselves.  It was as if instead of saying I was a victim of something, it was becoming a state of being for them.  This actually frightened me.  How do I get a good name?

One of the first steps I took was going to Collin College.  I cannot say enough wonderful things about this place.  I thought that I could prove myself, and just get new names.  Good grades made me affirm, I am smart.  Excelling made me feel like I am strong.  As part of my own personal journey, and for emotional health, I took drama classes.  At first I took them to learn how to escape my own life, but what they actually taught me was to look into my own heart, the ugly bits, the pretty bits, the confusing bits- it all.  It was there I learned from one of the most life changing people I have met, Shannon Kearns, that I didn’t need new names.  I needed to accept the true names.  She showed me that it wasn’t about becoming someone else to gain value, but about owning my place in life- who I was created to be.  She saw beauty and value in me and not only spoke it into my life, but called it out of me.  My life has never been the same.  My identity is no longer found in the names others give me, the good or the bad ones.  My identity is no longer tied to success or failure.  My identity and my value is all based on that I am Infinitely Loved, that I have everything I need to be who I am called to be, and being who I am created to be is the most joyful and beautiful experience of my life- and even better than that- me being exactly who I am created to be calls out to others to be who they were created to be also.

Hi, my name is Angie, Infinitely Loved, who loves well, bringer of truth reborn, who feels colors, who loves walking barefoot in puddles, and loves to feel the texture of trees, excited to be exactly me.

So, what’s your name?