As a professional speaker, every quarter I send the people on my database a newsletter, and in each edition I share a “Quote of the Quarter,” a thought that has touched my heart in a special way. This is the thought I used in my last newsletter:
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
– Elizabeth Kubler Ross
As a young person, my whole life seemed to fit the plans that I had for myself and my future. Certainly I had my share of disappointment and hurt; however, I was always able to get back on track and meet all the goals I had set for myself. Then, at age 29 my whole life fell apart in tragedies that were completely beyond my control!
Chronogically in 18 months, my gentle mother-in-law suffered a horrible death from liver cancer, my father at age 62 without any warning died of a heart attack, our infant son died after a completely normal pregnancy and birth, our St. Bernard puppy “Nanna” had a heart attack during a simple surgery, and I found a lump in my breast. With each consecutive tragedy, I realized more and more my complete helplessness.
During that devastating time, I came to two decisions that have impacted my life to the very depths of my being:
1. I was hurting so much that I knew no one could ever hurt me so deeply again in my life. I decided that I would never again try to be something or someone I was not just to please others–I vowed I would be completely authentic for the rest of my life, even if what I believed and felt was different from what others wanted to hear. To this very day I am the same person on the platform as I am off the platform, and I have begged my friends and family to challenge me immediately if they ever see this changing.
2. In my grief, I powerfully experienced the belief that “Every day is a gift from God.” Up to that point, I had been able to plan my life, and if I worked hard, I was able to achieve all the lofty goals I had set for myself. However, I quickly learned that I am NOT in control and that I must be grateful for each day of life and live it to the fullest. During my darkest time, a friend gave me a book by Jess Lair titled I Ain’t Much, Baby, But I’m All I’ve Got! In the book he talks about living five minutes at a time. There were many, many days when the depression was so great that I couldn’t even face surviving until noon; however, with prayer, I could always get through five minutes. This experience taught me the gift of living fully in the present. When I am with you, I am completely and totally with you, and although I do some planning, I know deep in my heart that the only surety I have is this immediate moment.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s thought has deeply touched my heart, not only because of my life, but also as a reminder of the lives of others. Everyone has experienced pain and suffering in ways we cannot even imagine, and as we interact with other human beings, we must always keep that thought in mind. Sometimes we are blessed to be able to hear their stories; however, other times we can only acknowledge how little we really know of the experiences of their lives and treat them with kindness and respect even if they don’t “deserve” it. I recently left this thought on my voice mail, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying something.”
If you are going through a difficult time in your life, or if you have a loved one who is suffering, hold onto the thought that no matter how awful the situation may be now, good can eventually come from it if we can open ourselves to God’s love and the love of those around us. We must be gentle with ourselves–it took me almost 5 years to be nearly “whole” again–yet I could never be the person I am today nor do the work I am doing that I know is changing lives if it had not been for that pain and suffering. In the midst of your pain or the pain of others, always remember,”BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE DO NOT JUST HAPPEN!” And when you are blessed to meet one of those “beautiful people,” never feel envious or inadequate. Remember they, too, have suffered and ask to hear their story. You will be more beautiful as a result.
© Barbara Glanz Communications. All Rights Reserved.
Barbara Glanz Biography
A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.barbaraglanz.com.