Mothers …the hummingbirds within us

My mother was a wise woman. She was also very kind and very generous. In my life experience, she was the kindest and most generous person that I knew personally. She always saw the good in each person. It was extremely rare to hear her talk negatively about someone. If ever you heard her speak about someone in a negative way, you had better believe that person had taken a major wrong turn and landed on the bad side of town to have crossed Vivian Rouson. It took a lot to make that list and very few did.

She gave of her time, talent and treasure. She literally would give the shirt off her back, her shoes and the last dime in her purse to anyone who was in need. She gave birth to five children but was the mother to more than any of us can count because she opened her heart to so many.

We just finished celebrating Mother’s Day in the U.S. As a side note, that commemoration is celebrated on other days in other countries. It was interesting for me when I used to travel internationally for work to realize that despite our parochial view that the world rises and sets on the United States of America, other countries do exist and have different holidays than us /US. Sometimes we tend to be too US-focused and that approach can lead us to miss out sensitivities and understandings which can add value to who we are as a country. That might sound a bit odd but we enhance our country by being open to sharing and learning from other countries. Everything that is good wasn’t invented here and every person who can contribute to our greatness may not have been born here. My mother appreciated the value of each person no matter where they came from, what they looked like, what hue their skin color had, how broad their lips were or if they possessed a college degree.

Well back to other parts of my mother’s wisdom. Her favorite symbol was a hummingbird. She loved the hummingbird because she believed it defied logic in being able to fly. It’s body was really too big said scientists. “They flap their wings about 80 times per second, so fast it makes a humming sound. They can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and even upside down.  They can hover by flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern. They have a specialized long and tapered bill to obtain nectar from the very center of the flower.”

My mother was a teacher and additionally became a newspaper columnist. She published a small book in 1980 that was a collection of reprints from a newspaper column that she had in the 1970s in the St. Petersburg Times and Palm Beach Post.  The title came from one of those columns, The Hummingbird Within Us. I am going to post that column in its entirety for my blog this week. She died in December 2012 at the age of 83. Mother’s Day may be over but a mother’s wisdom is valuable every day.

The Hummingbird Within Us by Vivian Reissland Rouson, B.A., M.S. (printed in 1980,  dedicated to her “very special spouse, Willie Ervin Rouson, Ph.D. and her children”)

Trust yourself, that’s what I say. Feel confused sometimes, or jealous, sad, quarrelsome, dumb? That’s okay. Just remember you are, also, sometimes generous, pleasant, perceptive and witty.

People are that way, unique only in their individual mixtures of what society generalizes into “good” and “bad” characteristics. Nobody is all one way or the other.

If the people or conditions around you add to your feelings of inadequacy or become an uncomfortable mold for the feelings you enjoy, create your own climate for growth. I work at this by trusting my gut level instincts.

A young minister I know calls it “futuring”. He says it’s actually participating in your future now. I would add that it means to refuse to wallow in self-defamation, blocking God’s influence on my life, but to consciously create “spirit” within my community of one and to help it grow by sharing it with anyone I find receptive.

Like the commercial, I “shout it out” when confusion, doubt or worry intrudes. Then, I choose some concrete goal that maximizes the actuality of my potential without too much initial concern about theories and methods. I just start DOING what my best judgment dictates.

It helps to remember the little hummingbird winging through the air while experts ponder why it shouldn’t be able to fly.

I’ve learned that very many decisions, convictions and goals do not have to be lifelong. I give myself permission to change. And as I cope, great and beautiful things happen even amid disappointments.

I like to think: Trust your instincts. God created them; so they’re not just a pile of junk. Table confusions, doubts, pressures. Pursue some concrete, positive actions. Keep on keeping on. Maximize what you CAN do. DO it and resist the urge to become a sophisticated expert, lest you discover “It can’t be done.” Whatever your talents, they are important. Respect yourself.

I’ve followed these personal concepts in parenting, personal relations, religion, curriculum and instruction. It is uncanny how often a day, month, or a decade later, “current” experts finally legitimize those common-sense ideas. It is strange that a wee bird couples its awkward dimensions with flight ability that defies logic. It just CAN.

Based on my mother’s thinking, SO CAN YOU. We each had a mom who somewhere along the way gave us Mom wisdom. I am going to stretch that a bit and conclude that along with that, we have a hummingbird within us.

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