Rags to Riches

When you read the word innovation what comes to mind?

New Technologies?  Scientific Discoveries?

What about no chairs in your apartment, so that you are forced to work on your hip mobility to comfortably sit on the floor?

What about switching to a plant-based diet because it’s less expensive, and you save more time on clean up when cooking, because you’re not handling raw meat?

What about having no TV so that you are forced to read more and talk to your house mates more?

When I use the word innovation I am in reference to any idea that is not only unique, but also helps expedite one towards the life they want to lead.  It’s about thinking critically about our everyday habits and asking, “How can I make this better?”  It’s not about being different for the sake of being different.  Or, being needlessly rebellious.  It’s about challenging our commonly held beliefs for validity.

When I was growing up my mom used to say that we were ‘poor’.  She really felt that way.  We lived in a unremarkable two-bedroom apartment when we were in Houston TX and we lived in a modest house in Birmingham AL.  Nothing over the top, but for the longest time I thought we were poor because that’s what she told me from a young kid.

Just after college, I brought my roommate home with me from Houston to Birmingham.  He was a close friend and I always told him that we were a poor family.  We were evacuating Houston due to Hurricane Rita (Post Hurricane Katrina).  When he saw our house he said, “Y’all seem okay to me?!  That isn’t much different from how I live and we aren’t poor?”

I immediately defended our poorness.  I can’t even remember what I said but I must have sounded ridiculous to him.  As I met more people, joined the military, and volunteered mentoring young people, I met people who actually grew up poor.  Still using out-houses to go to the bathroom.  Going to sleep at night hungry for years.  No heat in the winter time and no air conditioning in the summer time.  No parents.  Homelessness.  Not to mention people living in rural Afghanistan…

Based on my mother’s definition back then, today, I’m poor.  I’m totally satisfied with my material existence.  I don’t want much more than to help as many people as possible grow into who they want to be.  That involves challenging commonly held notions or, innovation.

My mom was dealing with lots of personal challenges when I was growing up in her home.  It affected how she saw life.  She acknowledges that.   Today, she always reminds me to be grateful for what I have and to not let anyone else define the way I see life… to include her.

What paradigms do you need to break down in your own life in order to start moving forward?  What limiting ideas are you holding that cause you to see a skewed version of life?  Do you need to go find some perspective?  Innovate.


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