Overcoming Obstacles

“The Only Thing We Have to Fear …”

Written June 12th, 2011
Categories: Overcoming Obstacles
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Source:  Positively Positive (Facebook) with photo credit to Dodkinsky’s Garden of Thoughts

Saving a Dream (Success Stories Series)

(Reprinted from North Shore Community College Alumni Profiles, retrieved 5.22.11)

Bola Fayoda

Liberal Arts Class of 2005

NSCC  [North Shore Community College, Beverly, MA] alum Bola Fayoda came to America with dreams of becoming a doctor. A friend suggested if medicine was truly his calling, Massachusetts was the place to go and North Shore Community College was the place to start. For Bola, it was great advice.

Enrolling in NSCC’s Liberal Arts Program to take advantage of the College’s transfer benefits, Bola Fayoda carried a full course-load while working full-time. In 2005, Bola earned an Associate’s Degree from NSCC, graduating with honors. From there, Bola transferred his credits to Salem State College and entered the Biology program as a junior with added minors in both Chemistry and Philosophy. Two years later, Bola graduated Magna Cum Laude and, in September 2009, Bola Fayoda started medical school. What was once a dream to become a physician is now a career goal within reach.

Bola found inspiration and motivation throughout his stay at NSCC, but singled out NSCC’s TRiO program and Student Support & Advising Centers. “When I arrived in the US, I had no friends…. I want to personally say thank you to the entire staff of TRiO for their sincerity, as well as unending support throughout my educational career at NSCC. In fact, TRiO is responsible for where I am today and, if not for them, I may not have had a chance to become a medical student this soon.”

Bola also remembers his daily stop in the Student Support & Advising Center to see Peter Monaco, NSCC’s Transfer Counselor. “Peter saw me through my struggling days–he saved me in every way a young man trying to latch on to his dream could be saved.” Bola said the support, information and advice he got from those visits paid off for him not only at NSCC, but also in transferring to Salem State College. By spending his first two years at NSCC, Bola was able to cut the cost of getting a Bachelor’s Degree in half. He also strongly advises students to seek out and use the services available to them at NSCC. “As students, we tend to take things for granted and don’t realize support is there to make our lives better.”

Starting … Stopping … Starting (Success Stories Series)

(Reprinted from: Community College of Allegheny County, Featured Alumni Profile, retrieved 5.3.11) Read the rest of this entry »

Figuring It Out (Success Stories Series)

(Reprinted from:  Ilisagvik College “Student Spotlight,” March 2011)

Ray Kasak is a soft-spoken young man from Nuiqsut, the son of Rhoda Mullen and Jerry Sikvayugak. He is pursuing an Associate of Arts (AA) degree at Ilisagvik College [Barrow, Alaska] after dropping out of school in 10th grade and taking a series of jobs with no real future.  It did not take long for Ray to realize that he did not have much of a future if he did not go back to school and get his GED and pursue some postsecondary education.  Ray said, “I got tired of going from job to job. I wanted to have a career in something I liked doing. Maybe I’ll be a teacher. Maybe I’ll go on and get a four-year degree?  Right now, I’m excited to be getting my AA degree.”

Ray credits Ilisagvik’s village outreach as one of the reasons he got back into school.  An Ilisagvik recruiter went to Nuiqsut and Ray found himself listening to the recruiter’s message. Now, with the support of his family, the student services division at Ilisagvik, and financial aid, Ray finds himself on the path to a brighter future. “When I first came here I was homesick,” Ray said, “but then my family really encouraged me and the people at student services really supported me and now I feel like I’m really making it here and liking it. I think by having my family be so supportive and happy that I’m here has made all the difference in not giving up when I was homesick.”

According to Jennifer Kiser, Ilisagvik’s Student Advocate, “Ray has been doing great! He is currently a federal work-study student for student services and helps with various tasks from shoveling snow to cleaning rooms. He is very kind and generous. He enjoys spending time with friends and helping others. He really enjoys working with children and wants to have a career that has to do with helping children or helping others. Overall Ray’s positive light and care for others shines through.”

Recently Ray received the highest grade on a test in his biology class.  Instructor Linda Nicholas-Figueroa said of Ray, “In the beginning Ray was shy to ask for help but after the student services set up tutoring sessions for him he became more comfortable and learned that it is ok and a good idea to get extra help when needed.  After a couple of weeks of tutoring sessions Ray felt more confident about how to organize class time along with study time and is no longer in need of tutoring sessions.  Ray is a pleasure to have in class.  He is enthusiastic, positive, outgoing, and fully participates in all classroom activities and discussions.”

In addition, the Dean of Students and Institutional Development, Pearl Brower, states that “Ray is a great student and a great addition to our dorm family here at Ilisagvik.  I commend him for the decision he made to return to school and finish his GED and then to go on to further his education.  I look forward to seeing all of the accomplishments of this young man as he continues to grow and give back to his community.”

When asked what he would say to young people in high school or who dropped out and are now wondering whether they should go back to get their degree, Ray said, “Going to college is an experience you can keep and benefit from no matter what you study. Study something you love and then you can make it a career for the rest of your life.”

Just a Cliché?

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

Recently, I asked my Facebook friends to post their favorite sayings.  I received a dozen or so, and was delighted by the spirit, courage and joy that were common threads among them.  Below are listed the submissions:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin Roosevelt

“Do What You Like, Like What You Do” – Life Is Good (TM) motto

“I don’t think there’s anything better you can do in this world than bring light wherever you go.” – Oprah Winfrey

“You can either be happy about something or unhappy about something… I choose to be happy.” – Tamela Sparks

“If you say you can or if you say you can’t; either way you are right!” – Henry Ford

“Nobody can ever take your integrity away from you. Only you can give up your integrity.” – H. Norman Schwarzkopf

“Just because no one realizes what a gold mine you are, doesn’t mean you shine any less.” – T. D. Jakes

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” – Unknown author

“Yoga may not be a way of lifting life’s burdens from our shoulders, but it surely makes the path under foot for carrying them a lot smoother.” – George Cox

‎”Do it trembling if you must, but do it!” – Emmet Fox

‎”A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.”

- Walt Disney

What is so amazing about the quotes is their positive energy and hopeful message.  Some of the authors are famous and some are not-so-famous.  In all cases, the words are inspiring.

This is a list you might want to save.  Put it on your refrigerator, or some other place where it is handy.  Then, on a day when you need to be particularly motivated, turn one of these “clichés” into your special mantra for the day!

Going It Alone

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

It is pretty tough to get through hard times all by yourself – be they financial, emotional, spiritual or physical.   If your goals are not understood by others (or even worse, pose a threat), you can begin to sense a distance beginning to form between you and some of your friends, or even members of your family.  So you start rethinking those goals.  The demons of doubt visit you and your self-confidence can begin to erode away.  When do you stay true to your dreams, and when do you back away?

It is a dilemma indeed, and one that can be thrust upon you and catch you by surprise.  You assume that everyone will be rooting for you.  Unfortunately, it does not always work out that way.  If you have decided to train for a marathon, friends and family may be split about supporting you.  Some may be cheering you on with every milestone.  Others may question your decision from the time you buy your first pair of running shoes.  Or, maybe you are from a family that tends toward obesity, and you make the decision to maintain a normal weight.  Some family members may marvel at your success and ask your advice.  Others may begin to single out the traits of yours which they find disagreeable, and belittle you for those traits (when they are really threatened by your weight management).

What if you decided to return to college?  This decision could impact your circle of friends and family even more than running a marathon, maintaining weight or quitting smoking.  A goal of returning to school requires a different type of commitment.  It requires you to go outside your comfort zone.  In the process, you begin to change as you achieve goals along the way (e.g. completed courses) and absorb new knowledge and hone your critical thinking skills.  Your friends and family may think you “talk differently.”  I know of one person who, upon completing his educational goals was chided by a family member for “trying to be an intellectual.”

So what do you do?  First, “follow your gut.”  If you want to pursue a lifelong dream, you should do it.  Second, it is your life.  Only you live with you 24 hours a day.  Only you are inside your head wondering about the future and, perhaps, wishing you had made different decisions in the past.  Think of it this way, you can never regret achieving a goal, but you may regret not trying.  And, what if some friends and family members do distance themselves?  Remember, their problem with your goals is not your problem.  Often non-supportive friends and family are being non-supportive for other underlying reasons.

Finally, you should seek out those people who do encourage you.  It is easy to focus on those who do not understand your dreams, especially if they are your siblings, your best friend, or even your parents.  Align yourself with positive people.  Hopefully, in time, the ones who have stayed away will see how happy and accomplished you are, and will start coming back into your life.

Choosing an Image

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

Sometimes we see ourselves the way we appear in other people’s eyes.  They are mirrors reflecting back an image that they see.  This can be quite beneficial to us in that such a reflection can shake us out of our own denial about an addiction or other serious emotional and physical problems.

However, the image others reflect can also be one that they perceive because they are in denial.  They cannot accept that your hopes, dreams, intelligence and perseverance are different from theirs.  Perhaps they want you to remain where you are because your presence validates what they believe is true about themselves.

For instance, if you have ever quit smoking, lost weight, become vegetarian, or gone back to school, you know that people often start treating you differently or try to sabotage your success by being non-supportive.  They might say things like “Oh, you’ve tried to give up smoking so many times before, why do you think this time is different?”  Or, “What do you need to go back to school for?  Isn’t working with us good enough?”  They might even call you names like “Joe College” or “Jenny Craig.”

In light of this peer pressure and its corresponding need to be feel a part of something, it is easy to concede to that reflected (and distorted) image.  It may be a path of least resistance to maintain the status quo by remaining who you have always been.  Change brings uncertainty.  If you change, the people around you may be reluctant to embrace your new goals and dreams because they do not know how these goals will affect you as a person, as their friend, or maybe even as their spouse.

And, perhaps even you are uncertain as to the change that will become a part of you.  How will you feel now that you are no longer a part of the “smoking circle” that goes outside during break?  Or, the one who gets the salad at lunch instead of the hamburger?  Or, passing up going to a movie with friends or family because you have schoolwork to do?  The fact that you have rearranged your priorities is a demonstration of a new way of thinking.  And, when you begin to think differently, you act differently, and those differences become a part of you.

So, if there are goals you want to reach, and a transformation you want to make, you may have to make a decision.  Which image will you choose to see:  the image others reflect, or the image you want to become?

A New Level of Mastery: Coming Full Circle

(Source:  ”Daily OM” posted on 1.14.11)

The reappearance of a pattern is often a sign that we have come full circle and we are close to a new level of mastery.

Life is a circular journey through our issues and processes, and this is why things that are technically new often seem very familiar. It is also why, whenever we work to release a habit, change a pattern, or overcome a fear, we often encounter that issue one last time, even after we thought we had conquered it. Often, when this happens, we feel defeated or frustrated that after all our hard work we are still dealing with the same problem. However, the reappearance of a pattern, habit, or fear, is often a sign that we have come full circle, and that if we can maintain our resolve through one last test, we will achieve a new level of mastery in our lives.

When we come full circle, there is often the feeling that we have arrived in a familiar place, but that we ourselves are somehow different. We know that we can handle challenges that seemed insurmountable when we began our journey, and there is the feeling that we might be ready to take on a new problem, or some new aspect of the old problem. We feel empowered and courageous to have taken on the challenge of stopping a pattern, releasing a habit, or overcoming a fear, and to have succeeded. At times like these, we deserve a moment of rest and self-congratulation before we move on to the next challenge.

Coming full circle is like stepping into a clearing where, for a moment, we can see where we came from and where we are standing at the same time. Remembering that we will be tested again is important, but it’s also important to pause and take a look at the ground we’ve covered, honoring our courage, our persistence, and our achievement. Then we can begin the next leg of our circular journey with a fuller understanding of where we are coming from.

It’s All in Your Head

by  Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

Two of my favorite expressions are :  “If you say you can or cannot, you are always right.” (Henry Ford) ; and “You must do that thing you think you cannot do.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)  Both of these observations are of the impact of thought on our actions.  The first challenges our propensity to turn thoughts into action and thus, for good or bad, those actions become self-fulfilling prophecies.  The second challenges us to not let our thoughts hold us back.

I contemplated these words as I listened to the status update of Congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head 10 days ago in Tucson, Arizona.  By all accounts, she is making remarkable progress, going beyond what one could reasonably expect given the gravity of her injury.  I believe that the secret to her amazing recovery (in addition to a remarkable medical team who has been ministering care over the last week and a half) can be found in the words of her husband, astronaut-Commander Mark Kelly who said:  “I have her on a schedule” of recovery.  It was at that point that I realized that Ms. Giffords would most certainly fully and completely recover.  It is apparent that goals for her healing have been set and are beginning to be realized.  Today, a mere 10 days after being critically injured from a bullet entering and exiting her brain, Ms. Giffords sat in a chair and ultimately stood.  She looked at get well cards that had been sent to her and even scrolled through the photos on her husband’s iPhone.

No one believes that the path back to and through her recovery will be an easy one.  Yet, with a team effort of positive thinking and goal-setting, it appears that the road to recovery may happen more quickly than people had anticipated.  Commander Kelly and Ms. Giffords are asserting that “she can.”

When you look at someone whose life was changed in a second, going from one of public service to private challenges, it gives you pause to reflect on your own life.  What thoughts are holding you back?  What are you saying you cannot do?  How can Ms. Giffords’ healing serve to inspire you?

One of Ms. Giffords’ favorite songs is U2’s “It’s a Beautiful Day.”  Whether or not today will be a beautiful day for you is your choice.  After all, it’s all in your head.

Setting Your Sights on Sites

By Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

Early in December I wrote about a fabulous site called “The Day Zero Project.”  Apparently, I am not the only one who thought it was fabulous.

It appears that it originated in New Zealand a few years back.  The company overview, as stated on its Facebook page, is:  “Day Zero started out in 2003 as a simple way to collate lists people had created for their 101 Things in 1001 Days projects. Today it has evolved into a community website where people post their goals and get inspired by the ideas and challenges of others.”  It certainly has.

Shortly after writing my blog entry, the site, “dayzeroproject.com” went down.  As it turns out, traffic to the site had become too heavy for their server to handle.  (Note:  It is highly unlikely that those two things – my blog entry and traffic to the site – are related in any way!)  The creator of the site posted an entry on Facebook that was reassuring to those who have availed themselves of the site’s motivational format.  He said: ”I am very dedicated to this project and have a lot of plans to make the site even better in 2011. I understand this has come at a terrible time as many people are working on their goals for the New Year, but keep writing your lists and you will be able to post them online when the site returns.”  People seemed delighted and relieved to hear this news.  Fortunately, some of the site’s participants printed out copies of their lists so they can still keep crossing off their “goals achieved” while waiting to make these entries official on the site.

It is exciting to know that so many people have immersed themselves in goal-setting – from grandiose travel dreams to nice “walk in the rain” dreams.  However, the Day Zero Project is not the only site out there.

Another one of my favorites is “Couch to 5K,” or, C25K.com.  This site has a program to take you from couch potato to a 5K runner (jogger?) in 9 weeks.  When I went to this site’s page on Facebook, I was surprised to discover how many of my “friends” have been participating.  Like the “Day Zero Project,” the goals contained within this plan are little increments – so subtle that your success almost sneaks up on you!

And this is, after all, the way goal-setting works.  Sure, you can courageously state that you are going to get rid of all of your unhealthy habits in 2011.  ABC’s “Good Morning America” has an ambitious list on their site, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/healthy-years-resolutions/ or, “Five Health Goals for 2011 and How to Meet Them.”  These goals are:  1.   Lose weight;  2.  Eat better;  3.  Quit smoking;  4.  Exercise;  and 5.  Take preventive measures.  Whew!  These are wonderful goals, but are they too lofty, or are there too many? These 5 goals can actually be broken down, or coupled with others on the list.  For instance, if losing weight is a goal, then that can be coupled with exercise and eating better.  And, before you begin any weight loss regimen, you should get a checkup from a physician (i.e. #5 on the list, “Take preventive measure,” or know your numbers).  By coupling these items, once again, the success of reaching your goals will be incremental.

A new year is just that – a time for renewal.  It is an opportunity for a fresh start, the proverbial clean slate.  If none of the above sites appeal to you, search around.  There are many sites that are advocates for you to help you achieve your goals, and in the process, your dreams.