It was a cold December day, 20 years ago. The plane had landed on the tarmac of JFK airport an hour ago and now I stood nervously, clutching my passport tightly, waiting to be signaled by the immigration officer to his window.
When it was my turn at the window, the officer sternly asked me why I was in the United States? I am sure I gave him a half-intelligent answer because he stamped my passport and waved me in. But thinking back to that moment, I realize that the right answer would have been to “pave new roads for myself.”
Because that was what I had set out to do. To leave the comfort of my home country and to come to a foreign land, to build a life for myself among strangers. And the journey that began that day, brought me to Mansfield three years later, where I have chosen to stay and raise my family, nurture friendships, educate my children and find my tribe.
I am sure all of you can look back and remember some moment where you decided to pave your own road. Or as Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“Do not go where the path may lead, but go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
The same can be said for a city. Often longtime residents who have been witness to the glory days, are bitter and disillusioned by the present version of their city. I bet you have heard someone say “There’s nothing in Mansfield anymore.” And, I find myself confounded by this attitude. Why do we feel that we are not worthy? That Mansfield has nothing to offer: not to its residents or to outsiders. That the glory days that made Mansfield a shining star are behind us.
But then I am comforted by the dozens of examples I witness around me of residents who have chosen instead to go down a new path: of entrepreneurs willing to take a risk and invest in our community… their dreams, their hard earned money, their blood, sweat, and tears, of community leaders and nonprofit organizations who seek to move the needle, with out of the box solutions like the SXSW419 project. We are fortunate that we are home to news organizations that believe in solutions journalism and not just on the gloom and doom stories about our City.
To reflect on the progress we’ve made and to continue to shift away from the mindsets that can limit us in terms of what we can accomplish in creating the “City we want to live in”, I want to share three mindful actions we can support to accelerate this rebirth.
Advocate for your City and feel the pride
Too often we assume others should just know what we want and provide the solutions to our problems or issues. But relying on outside sources can lead to resentment and frustration. We know our worth, we know what we can be as a city and a community.
Let us take pride and be brave and deliberate in our actions. Community-based investment, in fact, has the greatest chance for success because ownership translates to pride. Let us proclaim loudly and often that we are #MansfieldProud and #RichlandRocks .
Commit to a plan but write in pencil
If you don’t know where you want to go, you can find yourself “cruising around.” The fact is unless we have a vision for what we want our City to be, it’s easy to find ourselves falling down the path of least resistance.
That said, as important as a well laid out plan can be, it’s important to be flexible in applying it. Margie Warrell in Stop Playing Safe says to, “Write your plan, but use a pencil.” Conditions and economies are constantly changing – with opportunities presenting themselves out of left field when least expected and obstacles tripping us when we are near the finish line.
The future is unknowable but we can shape it if we can set direction and know where we are headed…and we need to be ready to make the needed detours from the linear path to reach our destination.
Risk failing more often
Many factors—whether a large employer leaving town, disinvestment, or simply not managing resources can have devastating results on a city—the most important thing is to not let it define us. Failure is not fatal; it’s how we process it that can be dream killer. It is important to heal and repair but then to take risks. When the Carousel idea was proposed for downtown, it was ridiculed. It took committed believers to sustain the belief and take a risk. It is said if you’re never failing, you’re playing too safe. We discount the cost of inaction in the long run.
Our City is on the mend… the tide has begun to turn… people are sharing the same narrative… thanks in no small part to the increasing number of passionate citizens driving change by paving new roads…
And, for me personally, that is an inspiration and I hope it will be for you too. It is inspiring to meet people every day in this community whose focus is on shaping our City’s collective future and I am committed to being part of it.
Jotika Shetty moved from India to pursue a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning at the Ohio State University with a brief layover in New York City. This journey has happily culminated for her, here in Mansfield, a community she has loved to call home for the past eighteen years. She has been at her current position as the Executive Director of the Richland County Regional Planning Commission for the past four years. She is committed to the vision of a robust and resilient Richland County with a thriving metropolitan Mansfield.
2018 is going to be an AMAZING YEAR! “8” is the number of new beginnings and there’s no better time to envision a fresh start than at the start of a new year. You might say that New Year’s Day represents a big Monday on steroids. Everyone knows that Monday is “the” day for starting new projects and that January 1st is “the” day to start becoming the “new” you. Perhaps it isn’t a “new” you that’s needed, but rather the unveiling of an “evolved” you.
Until your soul is quieted, it’s actually quite difficult to drill deeply enough to identify what’s holding the “real” you hostage. Every one of us is full of the genius necessary to live out our purpose on the earth and do so quite gloriously. Getting there is the issue. It’s a process of stepping into higher and higher dimensions of ourselves. We’re not ready day one, so our lives have a way of helping us if we’re paying attention. I must not have been paying attention.
It was a cold day in January
January 19, 2017, to be exact. One moment I was in motion and the next I was not. It was a hard and brutal stop. When the squad arrived, I was still “thinking” in slow motion. “What on earth just happened? How bad is it? I’m afraid to move. I hope the others are alright. I’ve got to call my office. This is bad. This is really, really bad.” Sirens fade in and out. Surrounded by comforting voices, I just couldn’t catch up with reality.
After doing all they could, the hospital released me into my parent’s care. “I don’t have time for this. Just give me a few days to rest, and I’ll be good as new.” After being bed-ridden for the 1st three weeks, I realized “this” is happening. By the end of the 2nd, I had to surrender to “it” or lose my mind. By the end of the 3rd three weeks, I found a way to embrace it. I had been given a gift; one that came swiftly, violently, and unapologetically. Although it took some time for me to embrace it, the “stillness” was exactly what I needed. I had several months of uninterrupted time to do some work, some real work.
I had increase on my mind
When our souls are quiet, we can reflect, reconsider and re-evaluate our lives. I thought I was “on track”, whatever that means. I thought I was doing okay. But in the stillness, I began to see truths that had eluded me. I began to see what was driving me each day. I connected with the knots in my stomach and the fatigue in my bones. I leaned into the weariness I’d been avoiding. I decided to face the truth behind these manifestations of misalignment. We cannot expect to grow, to expand, or to increase when we’re disconnected from ourselves? It was clearly time for a “newer” me to emerge from the rubble.
When I considered all that I wanted to accomplish, I knew I’d never make it if something didn’t change. I decided to drill down beneath every thought, attitude, and behavior that clearly wasn’t serving me. I focused on anything based in fear, doubt, or unbelief. I probed beneath anger and unforgiveness. I examined deeply held beliefs about life, love, and living in order to pinpoint why I wasn’t manifesting the life I really wanted. I challenged myself to adopt new ways of thinking. I looked at everything I was involved in and asked myself “how does this align with my values, my purpose, and my passions?”
By the time I returned to Mansfield, I knew it wouldn’t be business as usual for me ever again. I had to maintain my new mind-body connection. I learned to honor the limits of my humanity. I eliminated things that I secretly dreaded. I decide to let go of what I thought “had” to be and opened myself up to what “was.” I decided to live a life of infinite possibilities; to approach each day with gratitude for what would unfold, believing that I had all that I needed to live each day fully.
To walk in each new dimension of life, we must become a higher version of ourselves. Who we are is sufficient for today. Who we are becoming is necessary for our tomorrows. Transformation flows from the inside out. When you embrace a new “view” of you, you unleash the power to become a “new” you or, should I say “unveil” the next higher version of yourself. She’s already in you. Isn’t it about time for “her” to show up?
A dynamic speaker and community leader, Cheryl Carter is known for making impact. A former IT Sales Account Executive, Ms. Carter has spent the last twenty-five years speaking nationally and internationally to audiences on leadership, human potential and personal empowerment. Through the power of the spoken word, she inspires audiences to embrace higher dimensions of thought and action; leading to individual and organizational transformation.
The Mind Body Align topic for this month is “infinite possibilities.” Do you live as if anything is possible or, in other words, without limitations? Can I live as if I can achieve or experience anything of which I desire or dream?
What’s your dream?
I invite you to take a moment to bring into your mind a big dream or desire.
I remember my dream to live overseas. I have always wanted to experience life as part of a different culture and fluently learn to speak a second language. I read everything I can find about restoring old villa’s in Italy and the life of an expat.
I dream about the morning ritual of going to the corner café for an espresso and casually bantering in Italian with the bel giovanotto (handsome young man) at the meat market. I imagine walking home through cobbled streets with my baguette di pane (long, thin loaf of French bread) rising gracefully out of my cloth bag.
The moment this dream comes into my mind, however, I am mentally listing all the responsibilities that make this vision impossible.
Each perceived responsibility sounds like the voice of my GPS app – “turn right in 500 feet on Aging Parents Drive” – leading me to a destination that doesn’t include a morning walk along cobbled streets.
I invite you to contemplate the beliefs, limitations or obligations that might eliminate the possibility of realizing your dream?
And yet, there are tens of thousands of people that manage to live overseas. Presumably many of those people have the same obligations; responsibilities such as family, work, and community. What makes it possible for them to live their dream? In asking myself this question, I get the sense that the difference between those that have no impossible dreams, and those that allow their dreams to become impossible, is a choice. So, what’s happening that I have chosen to make my responsibilities a barrier to living overseas?
My mind keeps returning to the fact that my dream looks a certain way. I have my life in Italy completely mapped out in my head. I have so clearly drawn the vision, I have given myself no choice in how my life in Italy would be; I have given myself two possibilities from which to choose. 1) My Italian dream and 2) my family, work, and community obligations.
What might it look, feel, sound and be like for you to honor your obligations AND continue to hold the possibility of living your dream?
Behind the wheel
The first time I visited Italy, I had no plan. My husband and I arrived in the country with a rental car, two backpacks, and a Rick Steve’s travel guide. Every day we woke up, looked at the guidebook, assessed the distance, stopped at a neighborhood café and drove into the countryside with a general direction in mind. Every evening we looked to the nearest town, consulted the travel guide and found an Albergo (hotel) for the night. It was fabulous!
We spent much of our time lost. I butchered the language; once creating a cacophony of laughter from the owner of the neighborhood produce stand by asking for a fish, pesce, when I meant to say peach, pesca.
This memory has triggered a realization. I have allowed, “it’s my way or the highway” tendencies to drive this dream. What if I put “no big deal” behind the wheel? What’s possible if I didn’t set a particular course, and I allowed the route to remain unclear; following the streets and highways that seemed the most desirable and navigable at the moment?
And… living a life of infinite possibility
1) Notice a dream or desire that you eliminated based on beliefs, limitations, and obligations.
2) Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Do the work and be introspective; inquire into the nature of your choice – possibly you are “being” a perfectionist or a victim.
3) Ask yourself the following questions:
What about this dream is important to me?
What about my beliefs, limitations and obligations are important to me?
Both the desire and the expectations and responsibilities are essential in discovering and understanding your values. Get to know your values so that you can make choices that best honor them.
4) Begin to listen to your bazillion “I cant’s.” “I can’t” usually sounds like, “living in Italy has been a dream of mine, but…” and, open your perspective to allow for more possibilities. A first step is to substitute the “but” in your language for the word “and” instead.
5) Be authentic! You are given your dreams and desires for a reason; allow you to be you.
Living in Italy has been a dream of mine, and…
I’m sending you a big hug.
Annamarie Fernyak, A certified Life & Mindfulness Coach and founder of Mind Body Align; a place which nourishes well-being, growth, and belonging through education, collaboration, and environment.