The Musings of A: Storyteller. Dreamer. Explorer. Mentor. International Yoga & Meditation Teacher. Human.
This week last year the newspaper I used to write for wrote a story about me. Now they’re a client. It’s been an amazing year.
But it hasn’t been easy. I give talks regularly about embracing possibility and living your passion to turn your dreams into reality. People love it. They see from my example that sometimes when we take huge risks it pays off. They connect with the message and get super excited.
But they’re disappointed when wishing isn’t enough to change the status quo. Then they get discouraged and give up. They decide that pursuing their dream (whatever it is) is too hard before they even begin.
The truth is, this stuff rarely happens without lots of hard work and sacrifice. Right before this story was published I couldn’t afford to go see one of my best friends get married even though we’d already bought the plane tickets months ago. I was making decisions about which bills to pay each month and hoping to be able to keep my utilities on.
Smart people whose opinions I respected told me my idea was horrible. People didn’t take me seriously, some even made fun of me. Lots of people told me to just go get a job.
It cost me all the money I had and then some, relationships and many sleepless nights. But in the end my gamble paid off. In trusting my instincts, putting my head down and working as hard as I possibly could, I was eventually able to succeed. Without financial backing, without support from most of my old network and with limited experience as an entrepreneur.
My point here is not that I’m exceptionally smart or gifted - I’m just a regular human like you. The thing that sets me apart and has been the biggest contributing factor to my success is my willingness to work hard. Even when I don’t want to.
Talking and scheming and dreaming is not enough. At some point you have to take action. You have to be willing to work hard. And keep working hard until you get the results you want.
I recently started bartending on the weekends. Saturday night one of the cocktail waitresses looked really distressed when she came up to the bar. When I asked her what was up, she said that a guy had slapped her butt coming down the stairs. I asked her if he was still there and she reluctantly pointed to him at the end of the bar.
At first I was surprised because it looked like he was with a girl. I thought there’s no way he’d do something that gross in front of another girl, right??? I approached the group he was with and asked if they knew anything about a cocktail waitress getting slapped on the butt on the stairs.
Immediately the guy raised his hand and fessed up. I thanked him for his honesty and told him it was time to go. His friends realizing this meant they would be leaving as well, tried to argue with me. The guy apologized. They said he was drunk, so I should give him a break. They said it was a joke. As if any of that excused his behavior.
When they continued to argue and asked for the last time why he couldn’t stay, I said:
"Because my cocktail waitresses and I deserve to work in a place where we don’t get groped by strangers while we’re just trying to do our job."
They were stunned silent. Then they agreed (b/c how could you not?). Then they left.
Guys: Quit doing this shit. It’s not awesome. Girls: If you see this kind of behavior, discourage it. This isn’t cute or funny. It’s a complete violation.
My grandmother was a tough woman. She was a proud woman. And she was a tender woman. She was a woman of many convictions and didn’t see a need to hide it.
She believed that with hard work and dedication you could accomplish anything. After moving to Omaha in the 1940s from the rural South, the 4-bedroom home my grandfather eventually built for their family on S. 30th St. was her proof.
Now her big smile says it all. After 93 years, her hard work is finally over and she’s resting back in the arms of my grandfather. Thank you for showing me what it means to live out loud.
In loving memory of Ruby C. Briggs, 1921-2014.