Eye-Opening Moments are real-life-stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called The Planned and the Unplanned, a moment of an encounter called A Special Agent, and a moment of a perspective called What My Eyes Say.
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Hello and welcome to Episode #44 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about The Planned and the Unplanned, A Special Agent, and What My Eyes Say.
A moment of adversity called: The Planned and the Unplanned
To plan or not to plan, which is the best option? I am a planner and always thought that planning was better than not planning. In other words, being goal-oriented to have direction and targets was best if you wanted to achieve more in life. Being prepared is better than not being prepared. Those were my mottos, but do all plans turn out the way we want? No, so pain and suffering ensue. But is it necessarily bad if they don't turn out the way we wanted?
Working at McDonald's and Burger King, I secretly made a plan for my escape from my dreadful family. I would painstakingly save my money to have money to go to college. But it wasn't enough. Though my jobs at Burger King and McDonald's didn't give me enough money to go to college, it forced me to get more creative and find other ways to obtain money for college. And I ended up graduating from college. I give myself an A+ for creativity!
I got accepted to the college of my choice and called it utopia, but I unexpectedly transferred to another college out of state and embarked on a great adventure. As a junior in college, I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast to be with my boyfriend and live happily ever after, but it didn't end that way. Though the relationship didn't work out as planned, I enjoyed a wholly different life on the West coast.
Like many girls, I dreamed of getting married and living happily ever after. I married but didn't live happily ever after because I got a divorce. Divorce was something I never thought would happen in my life, but it challenged me and gave me the chance to exercise my ability to demonstrate courage like never before.
I planned to have a loving family with children, but it didn't happen. Worse, I did everything to ensure it didn't happen because I didn't want to be an unloving and uncaring mom like my mom. Though I never had children of my own, I don't wonder or yearn for them because I see them every day in my twenty-plus years teaching children.
I became a teacher, loved it, and planned to be a teacher for the rest of my life, but my career took a detour. And that detour led me to an adventure of a lifetime. Like many people, I dreamed of wealth or making millions of dollars. I joined a business to realize that plan, but it never happened. Worse, I went from living a stable and comfortable life (as a teacher) to going bankrupt (as an entrepreneur). Though I never attained millions of dollars, the business gave me many opportunities to do things outside the box, learn new skills, and meet many people from different walks of life. The experience was invaluable. Despite the challenges and risks, I would never trade it back. Though becoming nearly penniless (from trying to do business) was devastating, it led me to unexpectedly move abroad to work (to save myself from drowning in debt). I enjoyed years of a carefree and contented life I never imagined I could experience.
Having planned many major life events that did not turn out the way I wanted, I could pause to say what a dreadful life. I could sink into depression or be melancholy. Nevertheless, all is in the past, and in the face of adversity, survival instincts kick in, and unexpected and sometimes surprising results can emerge.
No money for college gave way to creativity and the greatest accomplishment of my life: Financing my own college education. Leaving the safety of utopia ushered the way to an exciting adventure from the East coast to the West coast. A severed relationship led to a new life. Divorce brought forth ultimate courage. No children of my own created hundreds of children in my life (through my teaching career). Unrealized dreams of millions of dollars produced priceless experiences in the journey and led me to move to an affordable island that became my paradise.
Many plans were well thought out, but the results were not the intended ones. Even so, maybe the unexpected results were blessings in disguise as they yielded unimaginable escapades and greater strength of character. As I once learned, the meaning of life is not all about what we have but who we are or who we become. Despite all the adversities and unexpected results, I need not feel sad because the outcomes produced an unfathomably abundant life!
A moment of an encounter called: A Special Agent
She was warm-hearted, observant, and caring. By my side during a time when I most needed someone was this stranger. I didn’t know her, but she talked with me and asked questions like an interested and concerned friend. I came to feel like she was my best friend when I was going through a divorce.
How did I meet this stranger? When I looked through the many flyers that landed on my doorstep, I decided to call a couple of the real estate agents to get an updated appraisal of our house. I knew Hubby didn’t want to sell the house, but I would be moving out. After getting the report from the agents I called; one of them hand-delivered it to me and did not say much. Appreciating her efforts, I told her that even though we weren’t selling the house, I would like to obtain her services in helping me buy a place of my own. I felt positive vibes from her and wanted to give her business!
How come Shayanne didn’t feel like a real estate agent? It didn’t feel like she was trying to make a sale. She felt like someone looking to help meet another human being’s needs with compassion. Though she listened to understand my needs and proceeded to do what she needed to do to help me find a new home, it didn’t feel like she was only doing the job of helping me find the house I would like.
What did Shayanne do? She showed interest in me as someone who had feelings and was going through a divorce. In other words, she not only communicated with me for the business of buying a home, but she also talked to me like a caring person. While she drove me to look at each home, we chatted along the way. Most of the conversations would be about me because she wanted to understand what I was going through and asked questions of concern for my well-being.
We also had some lunches together as she knew which restaurants had the tastiest food. She said that because of her profession, she had the opportunity to find out. Shayanne also paid for each meal and insisted that it was a business write-off, so I did not need to bother. Though you could say all she did came with the job, she didn’t have to do it. I felt fortunate to be on the receiving end and enjoyed lunching with her.
Most precious to me were our conversations about life, feelings, and attitudes toward a wide array of things. It was also refreshing to have someone talk with about my impending divorce without worrying about what the other person thought about me or my divorce.
Though we did not talk too much about real estate, we didn’t need to do so because Shayanne was most observant. Each time she took me to look at a house, I would like it and be unable to choose which one I wanted most. I’d ask her how she knew what I liked even though we did not discuss it in great detail. She said she would notice what I liked from one house to the next and choose accordingly. That is why I say Shayanne is most observant. I appreciated the care she took in observing and doing her research.
Shayanne did not pressure me to come to a final decision either. Although it did not take long for me to decide, she never made me feel there was a time limit or deadline. You could say she was a salesperson, but I did not feel it to be so. You may often hear about salespeople trying to sell something and pressuring the buyer to buy. Shayanne was nothing like that description. Her way of being and working with me made me want to give her the sale!
I could never have guessed that this encounter would be the key person to help me through a difficult time. I didn’t expect to make a new friend who could be a dear friend for years to come. It was most unexpected, and I am most grateful.
Shayanne also unintentionally taught me how to do business and care about other people without judgment or pressure. She modeled compassion and benevolence for me. She showed me how one could put another person’s needs ahead of their own. And seamlessly meet their own needs, too. I learned how to be a better person from her example. I even unexpectedly learned how to do business from her when I went into business later on in the future!
Why is Shayanne a special agent? She gave me warmth, and I felt warmth from this friendship. Aside from giving her a sale, I knew not what I could give her. But on several occasions, she’d tell me that she admired me and was amazed by me because of my optimistic perspectives in the face of adversity. It is nice to know that I can give something back too.
A moment of a perspective called: What My Eyes Say
What do your eyes say to people? I never thought much about it, but adults and children alike have said to me, “You look scary.” In other words, I scare people with my eyes. It is disheartening to hear, but I didn’t know what to do about it. Why was I born looking that way? I don’t want to scare people!
My boyfriend’s mom was babysitting a five-month-old child who was standing at the edge of a playpen holding on to the rims of it. He wobbled as he did not yet know how to walk. I walked into the house to see this crying baby. He wouldn’t stop crying; so, I began to walk over. As I got near and the baby saw me, he stopped crying. My boyfriend said, “What did you do?” “You see I didn’t do anything!” I responded. He was amazed at the effect I had on a child who didn’t even know how to talk yet.
Years later when I started my teaching career, I’d be on yard duty at recess standing there monitoring students at play. If I saw any kids look like they were about to fight, I would start walking towards them. As soon as they realize my eyes looking directly at them, they would stop and disperse. This happened often. I didn’t know my eyes were at work. I thought they heard my inner voice saying, “You better stop the bad behaviors.”
In the classroom, it was the same. As soon as I appeared and students saw my presence, they’d settle down and know it was time to get down to the business of learning. Colleagues and principals would say I had a unique presence that commanded. One principal said I held a magic wand that made kids behave. Another principal said I was like Teddy Roosevelt who spoke softly but carried a big stick. Their comments were meant to be compliments, but I never received them as such for I didn’t know what I did to command the authority. Again, I didn’t know my eyes were at work.
On the street, I could be passing through a rough neighborhood. I would walk swiftly and focused on where I was headed. No one would bother or approach me. This I credited to my survival instinct. After parking the car one time, my new boyfriend and I had to walk through a rough neighborhood. He was a bit uncomfortable with street spectators and other people roaming nearby. I said to just walk fast and not look at anyone. I couldn’t believe I had to tell him! What a coward! I needed to dump this boyfriend. And then he had the nerve to say he didn’t look mean like me and couldn’t so easily scare people away. This angered me as I didn’t understand how I was scaring people away! My eyes automatically did its job.
At a party, I would often be uncomfortable with small talk and few people would talk to me. One boyfriend said it was because I scared people and they’d stay away from me because I looked unapproachable. I so wanted people to talk to me and I didn’t understand how I was scaring people away. Was I that ugly or unappealing? What is it about me that induces fear in others?
Decades later, it dawned on me what I did practically all my life. My eyes looked at people, glanced at people, stared at people, and said, “Don’t mess with me, don’t you dare try to take advantage of me or bully me.” My automatic human instinct was to protect myself from harm, the dangers or the evils of the world. And the way I did it was with my eyes.
Recognizing the power of my eyes, I realized how it kept me safe and at the same time distanced me from having more people in my life. I used my eyes to keep people at arm’s length because I didn’t want to get hurt. Always afraid of getting hurt or being vulnerable, my eyes kept doing its job on automatic mode. Despite its relentless efforts, I still got hurt in one way or another and here or there by one person or another person. Though my eyes often protected me by creating an invisible wall from others, my eyes were not always successful at its job.
When people used to say I scare others, I felt helpless, hurt, and ashamed for the longest time. Now that I am aware of what my eyes did and can do, I am proud of my eyes. I am no longer helpless, hurt, or ashamed. I can use my eyes to protect myself. I can use it to say what I wish without speaking. I can choose to use it to invite or distance myself from people. I can even stop it from functioning on automatic. What powerful eyes I have!
Key Takeaways: Though I tend to be a planner, I have found that unexpected results could happen anyway. The unplanned or unexpected results could produce surprising or welcomed results, so not always planning could be a good thing!
Though I was going through a difficult time with a divorce, my real-estate agent became an unexpected special friend who helped me through a challenging time.
Though my eyes have scared many people away from me, they have protected me. Discovering what my eyes say, I can control what they say or emit out to the world.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called The Unheard Voice, Unexpected Service, and In Search of Happiness I. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe or click like on Youtube, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!