Last week, I attended the 96th Annual Conference for the Illinois Municipal League. This is an organization run by and for municipal officers throughout the state of Illinois. Truly a great conference, especially for me as a newly elected official. I was particularly motivated by the keynote speaker from our general session.
Christopher Gardner, the NY Times Bestselling author of his autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness and subject of the 2006 film starring Will Smith of the same name, was the headliner sponsored by Walgreens. I just blogged on my political blog - "that Mr. Gardner was worth every penny Walgreens paid to bring him to us."
He spoke about "Breaking Cycles" and MAN, did he strike a cord with me. From the very basic to extremely complex - I can relate to this man on many fronts. I sat there captivated as he spoke. Often times - I'd swear he was talking directly to me. Not in a "sermon from the pastor" sort of way but literally as he spoke of taking responsibility for his life and his decisions- some of which landed him on the streets of San Francisco homeless with a 14 month old baby boy- and asking us to do the same - there was a validation of my current journey happening in my heart and in my mind and I would guess that he saw that in my eyes as he spoke. (I was sitting in the third row on the end of a row of seats right in the diagonal eye shot of Mr. Gardner as he spoke and paced in front of the ballroom that could have seated at least 600-700 people) As the whole room stood giving him the standing ovation - I vaguely remember him pointing in my direction and thanking me (and/or perhaps Emeka from East St. Louis who sat right next to me and shouted "C'mon" with a cadence as if we were in church) for truly standing with him this day. It was thrilling and quite possibly all in my head but I don't think so.
It's interesting because the cycles that Mr. Gardner spoke of breaking were quite different from the ones I am working to break in my life but the spirit was/is the same. If there is something in your life or in your history that you don't want to see repeated- get busy working on the solution to break the cycle and rewrite the history books for your descendants.
I am on it. In a big way at that.
Dictionary says validation means the act or process of validating. Validate means to recognize, establish or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of....
Christopher Gardner, I thank you. For you validating the journey I am on to transform my life and the lives of my kids and their kids by doing the following:
Cultivating and growing a mutually respectful and loving lifelong partnership with my husband and their dad
Establishing multiple streams of income utilizing my God-given talents to secure an inheritance that will enable them to start their adult lives without debt (or a sense of entitlement)
Demonstrating to them the fruits of living within your means and a sense of responsibility to the greater good of those around me as much as to ourselves in our immediate household
Serving both in government and my church as a leader who gives of their talents as much as they profit with them
By accomplishing these small yet powerful goals, I will have successfully started new cycles by which my children can strive to build.
I am on my way.