This kwote popped into my mind after I’d announced to several people that I was leaving my tenure-track position at Florida State University. There was no visible job prospect in April 2015, but my intuition had spoken and I was listening. Even though my instinct was clear to me it wasn’t to others.
My cousin’s response, “Are you crazy?” Mind you he’d asked me the same question when I announced the commute.
My best friend at the time replied, “What??? Now I can’t say my best friend is a professor at FSU!”
My daughter’s reaction, “Are we gonna be poor?”
My aunt’s email, “So what if you’re the only Black person? Since when did that become a big deal?”
My friend and university’s alum, “What? Why?”
This is just a small number of people and their opinions. But in my mind, there were far too many and I didn’t feel as if I owed anyone an explanation for decisions about my life. With the exception of my daughter, none of these people would be affected by how I generated income. This kwote helped me to see the truth.
Oftentimes, this time of year prompts reflection and a sense of renewal. But sometimes we neglect to follow our hearts and inner voice because we’re worried about what family and friends will think about our new paths. Let me tell you something. They’ll be just fine! Now, let me ask this question. If you don’t follow your intuition, will you?
Here in the States, we pause and give thanks on the third Thursday in November, typically with our families. My family, immediate and extended are no different. You can find any one of us sitting around a table of food, perhaps holding hands and thoughtfully announcing what we’re thankful for. But remove the holiday, and I’m not convinced the sentiment remains.
Take my cousins for example. No matter what birthday or Christmas gift I sent, they never used to call to say, “Thank you,” or even text an appreciative message.
Similarly, my brother and sister-in-law rarely thanked me for the birthday or Christmas gifts I’d send to their four children. Even if presents blatantly came from me, without Dwight’s knowledge, my brother-in-law would call or text my husband, unless he heard these words: That came from Kathy, man. Then, he would reach out and thank me.
I wasted hours, days, weeks fixated on solving this “dilemma.” If I held the door open for a stranger, more than likely the person would mutter, “Thank you.” If I gave a coworker a going away card, then the colleague would probably say, “Thanks!” But some family members? Nope.
I was hurt.
I was hurt, until I began keeping a gratitude journal. Here is where I began writing five things I was thankful for each day. I was hurt, until I completed a gratitude meditation. Here is where I learned to be grateful. I was hurt, until I spent 30 days expressing gratitude to friends and family who’d positively influenced my life. Here is where I learned to stop seeking external gratitude.
It took about five years, but now, I live a life of gratitude. Consequently, Thanksgiving is meaningless to me in terms of giving thanks. I give to whomever I can, as often as I can, with no expectation of verbal reward.
What about you? Are you more thankful on Thanksgiving? Is it important to hear the words thank you? Does it matter?
Behind each kwote is a brief story that I’ll share from time to time. Each one is fewer than 250 words. Here’s the first one.
What if I told you it was all a dream? Would you do what you wanted then?”
Kwoted begins with these questions. Have you ever dreamed? When you do, are you invincible part of the time? I know I am. Sometimes, I soar. I jump off cliffs and fly. Do you? One day, I literally thought, how come we don’t live life like this? Why is it in our dreams (sometimes) we are super woman/man, but then we wake up in complacency? We awake to fears that we created. Why is this?
On some level I understand because I’ve functioned in fear too. I didn’t want to move to Tallahassee because what if Dwight doesn’t find a job? What if the girls hate me for the rest of their lives for moving them…again? What if I move there and don’t get tenure? What if? But in my dreams, I’m SuperKG conquering the world and doing what I want. How can the difference between wake and sleep be different? Because consciousness and bills, that’s how.
Well, that’s where this quote originated. Oftentimes, I wish we would be less fearful when living life. And a lot of times I believe thinking it’s all a dream would be more helpful. Think Matrix. Think What Dreams May Come? Think Vanilla Sky. Think Inception. Think The Wiz. Okay, some of these might not apply, but all I’m saying is we can be powerful in REAL life, not just when we’re sleep.