Doing it with Poise


Working with Teen Girls...One Girl at a Time
Working with Teen Girls…One Girl at a Time

It’s my philosophy that we can be strong women, we can stand up for what we believe, set our boundaries and live our life on our own terms.  AND, we can be gracious about it.  We can be POISED!

Poise…the Final Ingredient

I love this word, poise.   It makes me think of other words like grace, peace, compassion, wisdom, purpose and authentic. Many women I have been fortunate to meet have a gift for moving through life with a certain grace and compassion—of letting go of anger, of ignoring pettiness and of living graciously and with faith.  Sometimes it almost feels like they have a secret. And somewhere in that secret place they understand who they are.  Who that little girl inside is; the one who grew up to be this complete person.

And poise is certainly a final ingredient to creating change and illuminating the lives of others.

Poise is Wisdom

Poise reflects wisdom…that things don’t happen overnight…that there are certain things we cannot transform.  Wisdom that life isn’t always fair and it’s nobody’s fault.  Poise is an understanding that putting one foot in front of the other is part of the power we have as human beings, as women. That we seek to do our part to make a difference in the world through patience, commitment and endurance.  And knowing that and putting it to use is one of the greatest gifts we can give to others and ourselves.

I’ve marveled at women I have known who demonstrate poise by taking responsibility for the direction of their own lives through their strength and perseverance. They understand their challenges and focus their lives toward their goals, no matter the barriers.  They are anchored into what is true for them.  They have evolved beyond the obstacles of the everyday, have become present with their own passions and purpose, and have acted on them for a better future.

Are you choosing to respond to the world with compassion and giving?  Are you choosing to use your resources of patience, tenacity, wisdom and compassion to realize your gifts?  Are you living with poise?

Women such as Audrey Hepburn define it. She not only carried herself beautifully in a physical way, but also in her speech, her manner, and her sense of being. Audrey was unassuming and reserved about her celebrity status.  But she knew what to do with it when the time came to make an impact.  She was quick to speak out for the children she met, for those in need who otherwise had no voice.

As a child, she lived in war-torn Holland during World War II. Never setting out to be an actress, she continued to marvel at how her life ended up the way it did.  Her words, “My career is a complete mystery to me.  It’s been a total surprise since the first day.  I never set out to be an actress.” Yet all admired her magnetism and her spirit and she is one of the most renowned actresses of our time.

It was through her poise, her courage, her compassion and her grace, that Audrey was able to set an example to all while caring for others.  She always considered her work as an ambassador with UNICEF as her greatest role.

Poise is Understanding

I am a member of a speakers’ website.  It’s set up to promote myself as a speaker and author, and to offer my services to anyone who may want to hire a motivational speaker for a female audience for an event or meeting.  This website offers the public a link to contact the speakers for more information.

I hadn’t accessed the site for a long time when one day I had some time and thought I would browse it again.  I realized I had never checked the messages page.  And there it was, a two-year-old email from a man by the name of Roger, asking if I was the same Linda Rendleman who went to elementary school in Morrison, Illinois, in 1957.

The answer was a definite yes.  But I did not remember Roger.  My curiosity piqued, I emailed back, never really expecting that Roger would even still be available at that address.  After a short wait, he responded.

Roger was trying to find me because his parents had passed away and as he was clearing out their home, he found a black and white picture he had taken of me, little 8-year-old Linda Rendleman, standing on the sidewalk in the middle of winter in 1957.  He said he would send the picture to me.  And he did.

When I received that picture I had never seen before of this little girl, I cried.  Was I crying for the little girl who is no longer?  Was I crying for the little girl who looked so sad, standing on that sidewalk in the gray of winter dressed in the dark red poodle coat with a headscarf tied neatly under her chin?  She was not smiling.  Her eyes looked sad and pierced through me.  I wanted to know her better.  I wondered where she went.  I didn’t feel like I knew that little girl any longer because through my fears, my many moves as a child, my attendance at 15 schools in the span of 14 years, I had hidden her away.  She couldn’t be sad or scared.  She had to be strong, to be tough. To belong. To be accepted. And so she held back the fearful, sensitive little girl inside of her and came out as a self-sufficient, “I can do anything” woman-warrior.

Seeing my childhood picture for the first time after 50 years truly was the first time I met and confronted my inner young self.  Not once during occasional therapy nor in educational courses to become a counselor had I realized the impact that my childhood had on my future.

And since that picture came my way, I have had a greater understanding of that person inside of me, in my core, who is the girl, then the yearning young woman, then the grown woman who seeks wisdom each and every day.

The complexities of my life experiences have affected how I have chosen to respond to what comes my way. I have gained wisdom. I have become authentic. And I pray I am growing into the woman who reflects poise.

How do you acquire poise, you ask?  How do you find your authentic self? Perhaps you already have.

Poise comes when we recognize lessons from our experiences and understand the importance of acceptance and growth from them.

Poise comes from a certain peaceful core you develop out of your experiential knowledge and intentions for understanding meaning and challenge in this world. Many cultures revere the aged for the knowledge they can impart from their experiences.  This is a beautiful way to understand and embrace the process of aging, to be sure.

Poise can be developed at any age.  And our own certain brand of poise can change over the years by integrating our own struggles and experiences, celebrations and joys we’ve seen along the way. It’s a committed, inner knowing that the duty of women—women like them and women like us—is to stand up to the world, graciously continuing with our message of connectivity and support of mankind and keeping alive our determination to enrich our own lives and the lives of others, as well.

Poise is Being Authentic

The first ingredient for carrying yourself with poise is to understand who you are.   Who you really are.  Take a look at your accomplishments when you were a child.  What experiences did you have, what goals did you achieve that are part of who you are today.  What values are important to you?  To be authentic you need to understand your values and live by them.

There’s a simple exercise you can do to get clear.  Here’s how it goes.  Make a long list of what is important to you in one word only.  Use words like honesty, trustworthiness, partnership, creativity, and excellence.  Try to come up with at least 25 of them. Then pick the top 3.  Only 3.  Once you’ve selected the top three, write a mission statement that includes them.  For example, I selected self-expression, love and zest.  My mission statement goes like this.  My purpose is to have give myself the freedom to creatively express myself, spread love to all I come in contact with, and demonstrate an enthusiasm in all that I do.

Now do it again.  Pick the next 3 values and create another mission statement.  Then one more time.  What you’ll learn is what really matters to you.  And when you understand what your values truly are, you are on you way to living your own authentic life.  The only thing left is to remind yourself of you values each and every day, as you are committing yourself to staying on track.

When you were working on the exercises and claiming your true values, you were working on your own brand of poise, on creating and being true to your authentic self.

And finally, poise is love

Love of others, love of mankind, love and compassion for the world, and self love all ways of having that certain poise that carries through to the day to day.

Women of poise don’t necessarily have all the answers or their lives in perfect balance. But they do know how to live with the uncertainties of life, and recognize the importance of taking care of themselves and fulfilling their own needs in order to help others meet theirs.

One who is a shining example, a masterpiece of grace and poise, is one of the most recognized persons in history, Mother Teresa.  A champion of the poor and suffering in Calcutta and eventually all over the world, she certainly demonstrated that poise is not about the outer self, but the good work of the inner core that drives our deeds. An eventual winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, she saw the acknowledgment as recognition of the existence of the poor in the world and the importance of helping them.

My wish for you is that you will have the blessing of spending time on this earth with deep richness, sharing love for others. I found this quote years ago and it has become the theme and mission I live by:

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

 – Diane Ackerman

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