Bio: A 23 year old Kansas native, Erica originally hails from Wichita, but has made homes in Lawrence, KS, New York City, and now Boulder. With a penchant for traveling and living a semi-nomadic lifestyle, Erica decide to move to Boulder in September of 2008, in search of a place (or at least state) to finally plant some roots. Armed with an English degree, stage time in plenty of ballets over the years (performing in over 50 Nutcrackers!) and a dry sense of humor, Erica enjoys the ‘Colorado Lifestyle.'
There are so many things that inspire me; including the people that have guest posted before me on this blog. I’d have to resound all of their notions that inspiration can be found everywhere; but my strongest source of inspiration comes from strength. It’s not always easy to be strong, but strength is one of those mysterious things that somehow replenishes itself thousand-fold without you ever really knowing it.
Of course there is physical strength, and I admire that very much. But the kind of strength I am talking about is not physical.
I’ve always known my entire life that the best things in life don’t come wrapped in packages or with price tags. Strength is one of those things. I come from a family of very strong individuals, and it has been stressed to me from the time I was born that being strong isn’t just a ‘good quality’ – it’s a necessity. The strength to face your fears. The strength to tell someone how you feel. The strength to be a true, honest friend. The strength to carry yourself with integrity and do the right thing, always. The strength to push yourself into doing something that might make you a little bit uncomfortable. I truly believe that all of the qualities in a person I most admire – sincerity, curiosity, independence, emotional intelligence, humility, self-awareness and self-confidence – to name a few, come from a place of strength.
My mother always says “You come from peasant stock – your ancestors were strong farmers and worked outdoors. So are you.” I admire the strength of individuals I do not know – people such as Lance Armstrong that refuse to succumb to an illness and play the victim, and literally strongly cross the finish line. But of course I admire people in my own life that have made a difference (big or small) by merely being strong.
Both of my parents emit this strength in everything they do – the way they love each other and their children, their commitment to their careers and their community, and the way they are each very much their own person. My father especially overcame a less than ideal childhood to not only pay for his own college education (and be the first in his family to go to college at that), but also to start his own architectural firm and raise a family. But he couldn’t have done it without the strength of my mother, who sacrificed quite a bit by always having the steady job when times are tough in the architecture industry.
I admire the strength of my Croatian ancestors who left the former Yugoslav to seek a better life in America. I admire the strength of my friends who have lost jobs. I admire the strength people have in their beliefs. I admire the strength people carry as they battle a long illness; the list goes on.
Sometimes strength has a negative connotation – you can be bullheaded or stubborn. As my mother says “Your biggest virtue is oftentimes your biggest vice.”
But being strong doesn’t necessarily always have to equate to that. Strength is something that you have inside that nobody can take or buy from you; yet you can let others borrow your strength when they need it most. People and communities give each other strength when others feel they have nothing left. And you always have more strength than you realize. The strength to get out of bed when you don’t really feel like it. The strength to move to a place where you hardly know anyone. The strength to go about things alone. The strength to mend a broken heart after somebody has busted it into a billion pieces. The strength to carry on after a tragic loss. The strength to admit you were wrong or made a mistake and say you are sorry. The strength to cry and be vulnerable and open. We can all be strong for each other, be aware of when someone else needs our strength.
To me, strength and hope are in the same family, and we can always use more of that. Find whatever gives you strength or empowers you – family, friends, the activities that you love to do, and dedicate time to those things every day. I can tell you right now that whoever you are, you won’t find strength in money, power, or activities that generally involve instant gratification.
Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda says, “Strength is Happiness. Strength is itself victory. In weakness and cowardice there is no happiness. When you wage a struggle, you might win or you might lose. But regardless of the short-term outcome, the very fact of your continuing to struggle is proof of your victory as a human being.”