Please welcome #RWISA author John Fioravanti.
I’m grateful to my host of this fourth post of the REFLECTIONS TOUR, and to Nonnie Jules and the #RRBC Team who arranged it all!
Reflection 8 * What’s Your Style? Thriving or Surviving?
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
~ Maya Angelou
These words speak to me about Angelou’s attitude to life and the way she approached achieving her goals. From 1928 to 2014, in her celebrated life, as an author, civil rights activist and poet, Maya Angelou was a pioneer among African-American women and an inspiration to the world.
Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, Angelou suffered tragedy and personal trauma in her childhood. For five years, she refused to speak. She endured her private suffering in addition to the racial prejudice and hatred that was common for those who shared her heritage. In this context, consider carefully the words of this revered woman.
Angelou speaks about her objective as her ‘mission in life’. For many, this word conjures up religious overtones – which could have been her intention. She was a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King who was assassinated on Angelou’s birthday – a day she refused to celebrate for the next thirty years. Within this framework, the rest of her statement becomes even more meaningful.
She did not intend to just survive, but rather to thrive; to live her life well – with energy and spirit. When you consider her many accomplishments, it is easy to picture an exuberant woman who packed every bit of living into her days. As I think about Angelou and the attitude to living that her life exemplifies, I consider the number of times I have responded, “I’m surviving”, when asked how I was doing. “I’m surviving?” Why not… “I’m thriving, thank you.”? Don’t I want to thrive?
I often joke to friends and family about my never-ending quest for life’s ‘easy button’. Countless television commercials, watched daily by millions, unashamedly promote the easy button. I know I have a fairly healthy work ethic, but the other part of thriving is enthusiasm. Am I working hard out of duty, or because I’m driven, when it could be with enthusiasm? These are tough questions – important questions.
Maya Angelou goes on to describe ‘how’ she intended to live her mission. She uses the phrase “with some passion”, bringing to mind barely controlled emotion and intense enthusiasm. For her, there was no easy button. Life is not about avoiding great effort; it involves tackling its challenges head on with all the energy one can muster.
She included the words “some compassion”. Maya Angelou knew pain and hardship in her own life, and she recognized and sympathized with the misfortunes and suffering of others. I know people who refuse to watch the television news broadcasts or read newspapers because “It’s all bad news. I don’t want to be depressed!” Point taken; bad news sells newspapers and television commercials, and is often upsetting. However, it can be a good thing if, seeing the suffering of others, whether in our own city or on the other side of the world, moves us to sympathy and, then, to action.
Angelou also speaks of living her life with “some humor” and “some style”. I often think about the expression “laughter is the best medicine”. I’ve experienced the truth of this in my own life when a good, hearty laugh raised my spirits and made me actually feel better – emotionally and physically. Deliberately adding humour to our days is a great thing. We all possess a ‘style’ in our daily living – a flair in our way of doing things. Does our way of living display dignity and respect, both for ourselves and for others? Does our ‘style’ draw others to us? Would we not accomplish more good in this world if we lived our lives with humour and style?
Introspection is a good thing. Asking oneself the tough questions, and demanding nothing but totally honest answers, is a must. However, we need to take the lessons we learn and get on with living – with great style and vigour!
John Fioravanti is a retired secondary school educator who completed his thirty-five year career in the classroom in June, 2008.
Throughout his career, John focused on developing research, analysis, and essay writing skills in his History classroom. This led to the publication of his first non-fiction work for student use, Getting It Right in History Class. A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching is his second non-fiction work; it attempts to crystallize the struggles, accomplishments, and setbacks experienced in more than three decades of effort to achieve excellence in his chosen field.
John’s first work of fiction is Passion & Struggle, Book One of The Genesis Saga, and is set within Kenneth Tam’s Equations universe (Iceberg Publishing). He claims that, after two non-fiction books, he’s having the time of his life bringing new stories and characters to life! Book Two is Treachery & Triumph.
At present, John lives in Waterloo, Ontario with Anne, his bride of forty-six years. They have three children and three grandchildren. In December of 2013, John and Anne founded Fiora Books for the express purpose of publishing John’s books.
Thank you so much for dropping by today to support John and his work. Please drop by the “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR forum at RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB to find out more about John’s time in the spotlight.
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