“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” Mattie Stepanek
I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death. Leonardo da Vinci
What does strength mean to you? What does it have to do with motivation and starting the week with a get-up-and-go attitude? Strength is more than our ability to work like an Ox and punch like a heavyweight champion. Strength comes in many forms and to achieve our goals in life, we need both inner and outer strength. The Sacred Lotus plant looks delicate and pretty, yet it is a tenacious, long-living plant that thrives in the murkiest of waters and rises above the crap of daily existence. According to a research report, the lotus can regulate the temperature of its flowers just like humans and warm-blooded animals do. “An individual lotus can live for over a thousand years and has the rare ability to revive into activity after stasis. In 1994, a seed from a sacred lotus, dated at roughly 1,300 years old ± 270 years, was successfully germinated (Wikipedia).” So this delicate plant can teach us about the power of inner strength; tenacity is strength.
Why is the tiny ant seemingly invincible? The tiny ant performs huge feats on a daily basis and it does so because it knows the power of numbers and the strength that comes from working in unison to accomplish a goal. When a colony of fire ants is accidentally encountered, they will attack as fiercely as a lion. They are fast, with a giant bite that leaves angry lesions that hurt for days. When ants need to move a “problem” (a huge piece of food), they gather together and create a chain of power. We can apply the same strategy in our lives. We all need mentors, supporters, and cheerleaders in our corner of this place we call earth. Without the support of others, our goals might remain a dream; unity is strength
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Khalil Gibran
INNER STRENGTH – Motivational Video
“Wherever you see happy, peaceful individuals; wherever you see children endowed with noble qualities and good dispositions; wherever you see men who have immense strength when faced with failure and adverse situations; wherever you see people who possess a great measure of understanding, sympathy, love, and compassion towards the suffering, and who give of themselves to others—you will usually find a great mother who has inspired them to become what they are.” – Amma
Did you know that the Bamboo plant is a form of grass? Yes, this elegant, strong plant that spends years underground developing its roots and nurturing its armor is grass. Then one day, out of the blue, it shoots up to almost 3 feet and keeps growing. It is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world because of its unique rhizome-dependent system. “Certain species of bamboo can grow 35 inches within a 24-hour period, at a rate of 0.00003 km/h (a growth of approximately 1 millimeter (or 0.02 inches) every 2 minutes) as a tribe of flowering perennial evergreen plants in the grass family Poaceae, Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete and a tensile strength that rivals steel (Wikipedia).” It provides much help to those who use it to build homes, containers, household furniture, and even to make food. Imagine for a moment that a type of grass has such strength that it rivals steel. It takes all that underground heavy lifting work to build the Bamboo and train it until it is ready to show its true strength; focus/commitment is strength.
What fuels a Mother’s strength? What motivates our parents and loved ones to support us? A mother’s strength is built in the fire of motherhood, in birthing and maintaining an undying love for her offspring. Just like the Bamboo, a mother carries her offspring, unseen, for a certain period of time. If she were in the wild, she might build a nest or dig deep into the ground or hibernate for a long or short period of time. When the time comes, she uses all of her reserves to birth life and then to nurture that life till it’s ready to venture out on its own; A Mother’s Love is Strength. The point here is that strength manifests in different forms and through different channels. One thing they share in common is tenacity; the determination to see a plan from its genesis to the point of completion. So the idea of building strength takes great inner reserve, preparation, focus, love, and commitment. = tenacity. What are you tenacious about? What’s the difference between your perception of your inner and outer strength and what impact has it had on your life? Think about it; love is strength.
The Story of The River Goddess: Have you heard another version?
Selekana and The River Goddess (redacted)
Selekana was a good-natured girl, always ready to help others. That is why people loved her so and gave her little gifts like a necklace or a bracelet made from multi-colored beadwork. Of course, other girls in the village envied her ornaments, not realizing that she had earned them.
One afternoon, Selekana was on her way to the river, when old mother Seleka asked her to help. Mother Seleka was a disabled person and Selekana often assisted her with work in her house. The old woman gave her a small bracelet made of an elephant’s tail hair, saying: “There, take this, it is of no more use to me now as I am old, you may wear it. Thank you for helping me. Now hurry and get your water before it is dark.” Happy and grateful, Selekana ran with her pot down to the riverside. There she found all the girls of the village waiting for her with smiles on their faces. She noticed that none of them wore any ornaments.
The leading girl said: “Selekana, you are late, we have just finished our ceremony, we decided to appease the river goddess with a ritual of offerings we had not performed in a long time. So we all sacrificed our ornaments and threw them in the river. I am sure you would like to do the same, otherwise, the river goddess might come out and catch you and drag you down to your death one day after dark.” Selekana knew that the ceremony of offerings to the river goddess was performed every year, but she had never heard that the girls organized it for themselves; on the contrary, it was something that the village chief usually announced so that the whole village took part in it, and the offerings were animals. Anyway, she was quite willing to contribute to the sacrifice in order to secure the goodwill of the river goddess for another year.
So, in good faith, Selekana took off her long necklace, her oblong breast ornament, her armrings, and bracelets and threw them into the river one by one, calling on the river goddess each time to please accept them as a token of her gratitude for the water. When all her ornaments had disappeared into the water, Selekana, absorbed in her prayers, suddenly heard loud laughter behind her, and there were all the girls with their ornaments on, which they had quickly taken from their hiding places. It was all a plot: the girls had conspired to make Selekana throw her ornaments away so she would have none left to make them jealous.
Selekana burst into tears when she realized that she had foolishly parted with all her precious beadwork for nothing, and for good, as nobody would ever dare fish them up for her from the river bottom. The girls laughed like jackals: “Hee, hee, that silly girl believed that we would throw all our jewelry into the river just like that, and that is what she did! What did you learn since you were a baby, idiot!” When they were tired of laughing, the girls put their water jars on their heads and walked back to the village, leaving poor Selekana alone with her grief.
“River, river, give me back all the jewels I gave you for nothing!” She cried again and again. Suddenly she heard a voice from downstream: “Come here, child, follow me!” Selekana walked along the riverbank until she came to a bend where the current had formed a wide and deep pool. Selekana was frightened and called again: “River, please give me my beads back, I was deceived by my fellow girls” She repeated her plea three times, and again she heard the voice, much nearer now, coming right from the center of the river: “Come down, child, and join me, I will give you your jewels!” Selekana walked into the river, desperate to get her beads back, as soon as the water rose over her knees, the river pulled her down and she sank into the deep pool.
After a long time, her feet touched the bottom at last, and in front of her, she saw a light. She walked towards it slowly. She finally stood in the doorway of an underground cave where she could see a thousand precious stones flashing and sparkling so that the whole cave was brightly illuminated by their light. When Selekana’s eyes had adjusted to the light, she saw a woman coming towards her walking on only one leg—or was it a fishtail? The woman had only one hand with which she took Selekana firmly by the elbow. She guided her to another room where she had prepared a meal for her. “Eat first, my child, I will reward you for your offerings,” said the River goddess.
The food was delicious, and when Selekana had finished, the River goddess said: “Now you must clean everything in this room, all the pots and pans, sweep the floor and when it is all done I will come back.” She left and Selekana quickly washed all the pots and dishes, tidied the floor, and as soon as she was ready, the River goddess came in again and said: “Come with me, I will give you your jewels now.”
She took the girl back to the jewel room and gave her a choice of precious stones. Confused and delighted, Selekana pointed at some of the most brightly colored stones, and the River goddess just plucked them from the wall. There were breast ornaments and necklaces, bracelets, and earrings in all the shiniest colors of the rainbow. In addition, the River goddess gave her clothes of the finest calf leather and rare silks.
Suddenly, they heard a loud splashing noise as if a rainstorm were approaching. “Quick, child, that is Kwena, the River god, he will eat you if he finds you here,” said the River goddess, and she pushed Selekana out of the door and up towards the surface. While she rose up, Selekana saw a glimpse of the River god: he was an enormous crocodile! Soon, lucky Selekana had her head above the surface of the water, and quickly she swam towards the shore. It was a miracle that the river let her go and did not drag her down!
When Selekana walked along the familiar path back to the village, she met her sister who looked at her with amazement, and when at last she recognized her, she exclaimed: “Why it is Selekana! Where have you been?” Selekana told her story, and soon the whole village talked of nothing else, they all came to visit Selekana and admire her new treasures.
Meanwhile, the leader of the girls thought that she had a right to own such riches, therefore she went to the river and plunged into the deep pool. She was received by the River goddess in the brightly lit jewel room and given a big meal. But when it came to washing the dishes, the haughty girl said: “Do you think I have nothing better to do? I am here to collect the same jewels that you gave Selekana. After all, I deserve them for I am the leader of the girls.”
The River goddess left and came back later, but the girl had not done any work, so she left again. After some time, a loud splashing noise was heard like a rainstorm approaching. You can guess who was coming, and you know that the haughty girl would not escape the big crocodile. She was never seen again in the village, and Selekana became the leader of the girls. Humility/Generosity is Strenght
“Selekena and the River God.” Knappert, Jan. Myths and Legends of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Leiden: E. J. Brill, ©1985. pp. 79-83.
Used with the permission of Brill NV. http://www.brill.nl
The details for Motivation Mondays are below. Join in! The themes for March are:
03/02 – READ
03/09 – Patience
03/16 – Responsibility
03/23 – Health
03/30 – Strength
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” Hermann Hesse
Embracing The World: Rebuilding the Future in the Philippines: Classrooms and Hope for Students Who Want to Be Teachers
It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on. It takes a lot of strength to let go.
J. C. Watts
Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
Which is stronger – Water or Fire? If you recall the Tsunami in Japan in 2011 and the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, you already know that the Ocean is a powerful force to contend with. On a calm day, it looks steady and still like a Zen Master and like the Atlantic Ocean picture above. However, when the ocean is roiled, it can destroy everything in its path. Some people ask the question: Which is stronger – water or fire? Think about it. Unlike the other examples shared above, water flows freely and can seep through almost anything. Over time, it destroys steel and absorbs everything into its depth. Water even puts out fire. Water is powerful in many ways; we need it for sustenance, to grow food and to cleanse ourselves. Yet, in a moment’s notice, it can sweep away everything and wreak havoc on our lives; Water/energy is strength
Why is there strength in letting go? As the saying goes, still waters run deep. Why? When we take time to meditate and reflect on our inner core skills and instincts; when we dig deep within, we gradually come to the understanding that what is in us is greater than what is in front of us. Letting go and going with the flow is also a sign of great strength because it gives us an opportunity to step back and let the energy flow. When we let go of being in control, our instincts are sharpened and clarity descends on us. That clarity helps us make clearer and calmer decisions and it doesn’t mislead us. When we let go of fighting the tides of life, we can get carried back to safe ground; Letting go is strength.
Positive Motivation Tip: Begin by honoring the loving, caring strength that motivates you daily to get up and go. Then honor the same in others.
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