Today, I gave a speech at my Toastmasters meeting. I had been putting this speech assignment off for the last month because I just wasn’t amped about any topics. Last night, right before bed, though, I was given inspiration. And lemme tell ya, when I’m inspired, I can’t be stopped. I went to sleep with an issue on my heart, and I woke up with this speech in my brain. I didn’t read it the entire delivery (working on my speaking skills so I can’t be at the lectern reading the whole time!), so I’m sure I didn’t say exactly what’s written below, but you get the gist. Enjoy!
I had another speech planned, but last night, my godsister Schana had to be taken to the hospital because of complications with her diabetes. I was told that she has to have a toe amputated. This, of course, led me to think about a college classmate and friend of mine named Nakemia, who passed away last year due to complications with her diabetes. I also thought about my 17-year-old mentee Bria who has diabetes and had to learn to give herself insulin shots when she was in elementary school. At first, as I thought of people I love who have been taken and affected by diseases, such as breast cancer, kidney cancer, and heart disease, I thought that I would write a new speech about diseases that affect our communities, but then it dawned on me—there’s another lesson here. One that is much less dismal. WE have to live our lives to the fullest because life and health aren’t promised. We must live with intention—so today, I want to encourage each of you to live on purpose, starting with these three tips: love yourself, strive to accept your calling, and don’t put off until tomorrow what you could do today.
The first tip seems very simple, but putting it to action isn’t always so easy. Love yourself. What does that really mean? Well, you should make yourself a priority and take care of yourself. So many times, as human beings who love others, we put others before ourselves and forget to do what we need to do: eat properly, exercise regularly, get adequate rest, meditate, have fun. When you first get on a flight, what does the flight attendant say? If there is a loss of cabin pressure, a person should put on his or her OWN oxygen mask FIRST, and then put on the mask of someone needing assistance. This is because loss of oxygen is disorienting, and in order to help someone else, you need to be keen and alert with all your senses. This can be applied to life in general. When you’re at your best, you can do a much better job of helping other people than you can when you’re mediocre, or just making it. One thing I’ve started doing for myself is going to Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga, which is a form of yoga performed in a 103-105 degree room. Sounds like death, right? Well, it’s actually very refreshing. The heat allows me to zone out and clear my head and center myself while focusing on my poses, challenging my balance and increasing my flexibility. It’s great for meditation. I feel like a thousand bucks after each and every session. Whatever your method, make yourself a priority today!
Once you’re actively loving yourself, you can be much more effective in other people’s lives. I strongly believe that everyone has a calling, and living on purpose requires my second tip: strive to accept your calling. Who knows the Bible story of Jonah and the whale? Well, briefly, God told Jonah, who was from Galilee, to go to Nineveh, which was enemy territory. He was to go and preach to the Ninevites and get them to repent. Well, Jonah was not hearing that, and he ran away, which many of us do by ignoring that urge we all get to do something. He ended up being thrown overboard a ship and swallowed by a whale, all to end up doing what he was supposed to do in the first place. By living up to our purpose for being here, we live intentionally. As you all know, I do a lot of community service, and one of the things I love most is tutoring and spreading the joys of math. But it’s not just about tutoring, it’s about being there for my students when they need me and being a positive role model for kids. One of my current students, a 9th grader who lost her mom some time ago, told me last week that she wanted to drop out of school because of family issues. That really disturbed me and even after I had a long talk with her, reminding her of all her goals, the importance of education, and all the activities at school she loves, I still thought about her all weekend and came up with a strategy to use if my talk didn’t help. When I saw her last night, she was back in good spirits. She had changed her mind, and she reached out to me, asking me to spend more time with her this summer even after our tutoring sessions were over. I decided then to make it my mission to make sure she gets through the next 3 years of high school. I don’t do these things for pats on the back—I do them because I was called to. It’s a part of living on purpose.
Finally, don’t put off until tomorrow what you could do today. We all do it. Oh, I’ll call my brother tomorrow. I’ll fix up that old cabinet next weekend. I’ll reorganize my office soon. I’ll go get a massage when I have time. I’ll donate to a charity once I get a raise. Don’t keep putting off your goals and wants and needs. Do them now. Be intentional with your life! Write down your list of tasks and give yourself a deadline to get them done. Log on to Google calendar and put them where you can see them and set reminders. But also, when you feel an urge to do something small but thoughtful—call a loved one, or write a letter or send a card to someone, or ask a friend to go to dinner, just do it. Don’t wait until next week. Life is not promised. And you never know—that urge may have been God-sent. That person may have needed that at that moment. I was near a friend’s house yesterday and although it was 9 o’clock, I called her and asked her if she had eaten. Although she wasn’t at home, she was still touched that I had thought about her. It’s the little things sometimes.
So today, in the midst of all the chaos in the world, I want each of us to live on purpose. We need to love ourselves, strive to accept our callings, and do today what we can do today. Thanks.