Vacation Medley

Shelley Lieber • 3 min read

Do not underestimate the power of your pen, nor the power of what we can accomplish individually and together. If you have not yet begun, then start today. Write now.

Vacation Medley

That's a pic of my brothers and me circa 1990. My brother Michael (left) will be gone 11 years in August. My brother Joel (right) is ten years older than me. Right now I'm visiting him, and it may very well be the last time we'll see each other.

I have dozens of photos in a plastic vat of the three of us at various ages: Joel's bar mitzvah, Michael's bar mitzvah, family occasions, and holidays—in all of them, this is how we stood.

Because my focus this week is entirely on my family, I didn't write a post. I did, however, search my archives of various blogs I've written over the years and selected three entries that I think are still relevant despite the fact they're from 2005. I have not edited the copy, other than to update dates/references in brackets. I hope you find some value in these words.

Guru, Schmuru

[Original publication date: August 3 2005]

"I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me."—Anna Quindlen

I am not a guru. Unlike many of the self-proclaimed gurus, I do not claim to be in possession of some secret formula that you need to get from me.

The more I read the outrageous statements made by these "professionals," the more they all sound alike. And they are alike, because contrary to what they tell you, their thoughts are not original. They have merely read the Masters, rephrased the concepts, and now claim to be the originators of a “new” philosophy leading to self-awareness and riches.

They say they have discovered the secret of success—and if they did it, you can too. They even offer to sell their secrets to you if you attend their seminars or buy their books and audio programs.

I have studied the same books they have, and most of the gurus do a poor job imitating the great Masters. The real great philosophers of past and present did not take to the streets proclaiming their greatness and selling “answers” to the public. The great philosophers revealed their insight so that others could share their vision and benefit from it.

The “secrets” revealed are not the property of anyone to pass on to you. What I have discovered after years of study is that no one can give you anything at all. In fact, I’m suggesting it’s quite the opposite.

You have all the riches inside you.

The best another person can do is to help you find and mine your treasure within. The only way I can help you is to share the tools I’ve learned to use and show you how you can build your own life to order.

Why Are We Here?

[Original publication date: September 8, 2005]

Do you have a personal statement of purpose? Some people call it a mission statement. My mother had a more succinct, albeit less eloquent, way of putting it. "You have to stand for something," she said.

Ten years ago [1995] I was at a seminar and the speaker asked us to write down our statements of purpose. I panicked. I sat immobile as I watched everyone around me writing furiously. Not wanting to appear shallow or unmotivated, I wrote "My Purpose" on the top of a page. Then I drew flowers and hearts with my gel pen until the speaker mercifully continued with his presentation.

But the exercise was not lost on me. I thought about it often. It took me two years to write a statement that I didn't cross out, delete, or crumple up. Then another three years to perfect it to the point that I felt truly expressed my raison d'être.

Here is my statement of purpose:

To inspire, motivate, and educate women, giving them the information and resources they need to accomplish their own personal goals, so that we can work together to make this world a better place.

I began on the pages of my journal, writing plans, lists, and essays. It's one thing to write or speak your intentions. It's entirely something else to act on them. I found the courage to move forward in the words of other women, some well known, some known only to their friends and family. I began my "coming out" just about two years ago [2003].

Topping my action list of things to do in order to reach my goals were these three items: start a creative women's group, put up a website, publish a newsletter or ezine. [Done all three several times!]

Do not underestimate the power of your pen, nor the power of what we can accomplish individually and together as women. If you have not yet begun, then start today. Write now.

From the "Womanly Wisdom" column of my newsletter, September 12, 2005

"Action is the antidote to despair." —Joan Baez

These words have carried me through some personal dark moments. I thought this quote was particularly appropriate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

[…in the wake of the post-pandemic world, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #AddYourCause here]

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