Monday, January 5, 2015

Energy for the New Year

Observer column for MON 5 JAN 2015
By Jean Lowrie-Chin
"Everyday happiness means getting up in the morning, and you can't wait to finish your breakfast. You can't wait to do your exercises. You can't wait to put on your clothes. You can't wait to get out -- and you can't wait to come home, because the soup is hot."  
I am sharing this quote with you because it has helped to keep me energized on some daunting days.  These are the words of the late actor and stand-up comedian George Burns who continued working well into his nineties.
Hon Wycliffe Bennett
Then there was Wycliffe Bennett, rightly called the Cecil B deMille of the Caribbean because of his grand and successful productions.  I was lucky to be on his team as a young PR officer for Carifesta 76, and to see his ambitious plans become reality, because he would have it no other way.  In one of the planning meetings for the Grand Gala, as he declared that he would require over 20,000 participants, one lady made a negative comment. Turning to her he said, "My dear, you will always be a bystander at life's passing parade!" Mr Bennett got his nearly 25,000 performers, moving in amazing synchronicity for an unforgettable event.
We Jamaicans are constantly told by our grandmothers to "Have ambition."  And when someone in the district does well, you will hear the elders nodding approvingly and saying, "Yes, that girl always had ambition!" Who can forget that immortal quote from Marcus Mosiah Garvey: "If you haven't confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started. "
Enthusiasm as described by George Burns, Vision as displayed by Wycliffe Bennett, Ambition as constantly drummed into us by our elders, the Confidence recommended by Marcus Garvey: these are the intangibles that can make 2015 a great year for us.
It requires discipline to take ownership of these qualities.  Psychologists estimate that the average human has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day, with as  much as 80 percent of them having negative content. Psychologist Dr Barbara Markway, in an article published in Psychology Today, suggests that we acknowledge these thoughts, without allowing them to define us.
She advises that we label our thoughts: "Instead of  saying 'I'm a loser,' say, 'I'm having the thought that I'm a loser.' Instead of saying, 'I'm going to blow this test,' say 'I'm having the thought that I'm going to blow this test.' The difference may seem subtle, but it can help you gain the perspective that you are not your thoughts."
Many of these negative thoughts can hark back to a childhood that was short on affirmation.  I once asked a friend why she seemed uncomfortable with compliments. She explained that she hardly got any as a child; instead, her parents kept comparing her and her siblings to 'brighter' cousins.  She developed little confidence, that all important factor for success.  The most sacred duty we have is to make our children feel worthy and loved, so that they can walk confidently through their challenging world.
Every New Year brings a promise that yes, we can do better with our lives and those who depend on us. The perspectives of our legendary mentors, inviting us to embrace the moment, to be energetic visionaries and to go forward with confidence will help us to make this our best year ever.

GG Most Hon Sir Patrick Allen
GG's inspiring New Year's Message
Our Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen gave us a solid New Year's message, indeed a useful compass to navigate 2015.  "Today … I encourage each of us to make two resolutions," he stated. "First, to develop an attitude of gratitude and second, to reach out to others with truthfulness, respect and human kindness. As we look back on the year that has passed, we can perhaps remember situations which could have turned out better, if we had shown or experienced those virtues." 
He continued: "Let us begin writing the first chapter of our life in 2015, using a different language of hope, faith, forgiveness and love, and be the change we want to see in Jamaica. In this New Year we can find new strength and new thinking, when we accept our responsibility, to break the old habits and actions which pull us down."
Sir Patrick shared an important quote from Russian author, Leo Tolstoy: "Once we're thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it's only here, that the new and good begins".
He said that "that new and good beginning" will  happen: 
when we decide to stand for what is right;when we throw off the shackles of mediocrity and negativity;when we work, not only for selfish purposes and self aggrandisement, but for the good of all;and whenever we emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, and determine that we shall be the best that we were created to be.
Nari Williams-Singh
"So we press on," said Sir Patrick, "knowing that our individual character and national image, will be strengthened and burnished, as we pool our energies and intellect to achieve the great destiny of our homeland."
Thank you Sir Patrick and Lady Allen for being fine examples of these qualities you recommend as your "I Believe Initiative" continues to improve lives throughout Jamaica.

JCAA Flight Safety Team
When American Airlines flight 916 had to make an  emergency landing at Norman Manley International Airport last Tuesday, I was proud to hear our Acting Director General Nari Williams-Singh of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) explain how professionally the situation was handled by their flight safety team on an RJR News report.  With such sad news about AirAsia, we pray travelling mercies for our human family.

Congrats Hermine Metcalfe
We congratulate Hermine Metcalfe on her appointment as Chair of the St Patrick's Foundation, a dynamic organization founded by  Monsignor Richard Albert, which has promoted skills training, benefitting thousands in Kingston's inner city communities.  It is a demanding and completely voluntary post, but we know that our brilliant and generous friend Hermine will lead that Foundation to even greater heights.

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