What is this blog about?

There is no such thing as an expert on the topic of Life. We all have had our battles, our suffering, and our questions. Despite the uniqueness of our personal obstacles, we have endured them. We have endured them well enough to advise those behind us as to how to do the same. I have done the research on your behalf regarding the multitude of reasons why wisdom exists. My mission is to utilize the voices of the world's greatest thinkers and heroes to compose a guideline of life's wisdom so that you don't have to experience those trials alone.

If you have any questions, please tweet them to me @JoeSielski or email me at JJSielskiJr@comcast.net

(Please title your email with the word "Wisdom" so I know it will be for this blog.)

I will do my best to try and answer every question as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thanks.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

So I did a TEDx Talk:



So, I had the opportunity to deliver a TEDx Talk.... (more info on that once the videos are published to YouTube.)  But, the organizers asked that we submit a reflection blog describing our experience.  This is mine:


The TEDx Experience is as follows: "You have been invited to give a TEDx Talk."... the email reads. You will be so overjoyed, you will laugh, you will cry, you will panic, you will feel so proud and so humbled. So congratulations on making it this far! Shortly after, a second email arrives: the logistical one. This will have a contract to fill out and sign, this ensures that you agree to being filmed and can assure the organization that your ideas worth spreading are not plagiarized! (definitely important) The other half will have a schedule attached. This will be a full schedule of expected submissions from the moment you receive it up until the moment you hit that stage! Within days you are asked to conceive a draft of your Talk's title. As the following weeks unfold, you will be submitting an outline, videos of your Talk, as well as small blogs to reflect on your journey thus far. This is where the process can become challenging... so if you're one who likes to procrastinate, this is not for you. Either way, congratulations on being a new member to the TEDx community! 


As you prepare and rehearse your TEDx talk, remind yourself that time is crucial. Start early! Start immediately! The reason for that one email is to ensure you keep a schedule of preparedness. This is not disciplinary! It is here to assist you. The TEDx organization wants you to succeed. They will offer multiple mentors whether technological or stage-worthy. They recommend books, or other TED/TEDx talks as a means of educating yourself on how to muster the courage to get up in front of 300+ people and bear your soul. Do this, not this! Be yourself! Don't sound too rehearsed! You will hear these mantras multiple times. Don't worry! If you have any questions or difficulty, be certain to ask. There is so much help ready to help you shine brightest! You got this! Each little step matters, each little step counts. I cry as I type this because I know what amount of work is required to traverse this path. So again... congrats on making it!

As I prepared for my TEDx talk, I couldn't help but compare myself against some of the other talkers. Mark Twain is quoted saying "Comparisons are the thief of joy." ... and boy, was that true at times! As other resumes rolled in, one had 6 PhD's, another had 14 Nobel Prizes, and another was the President of 4 countries! (or I could be highly exaggerating) My point is: Your path is yours and yours alone! However, when preparing, I did often wonder how other talkers prepared. At times, I imagined how the most stereotypically successful resumes were preparing for their talks. Along the way, I decided to go with a new theory of preparation. My theory was simple... by wondering how the "more successful" talkers prepared, I hypothesized that by emulating this process, I too would have an excellent talk. So.... from the beginning, I whipped out my notepad and started writing everything down that I wanted to say. While on vacation, I hand-wrote my entire talk at least once a day. Later on, when it was time for memorization, I composed notecards. I had one notecard per sentence of my talk. As a writer, I am very particular of my sentences' composition and phrasing. I envy other speakers who can use bulletpoints and improvise along the way. I can't! I had very specific set of definitions and sentences that I needed to iterate. This required memorization. My notecard system made the editing process easier also. I could literally pull a card out or add a new one, then continue quizzing myself daily. The determination to rehearse was a surprisingly challenging one. Each day of the final month, I gave myself at least 2 run-throughs every day. I did a full rehearsal in the morning and one at night. No matter how well I thought I knew it, no matter how cocky I felt for having it fully memorized, I knew I had to override my pride and practice. I cannot stress the value of quality practice time!!! I would still think: "If the most impressive TEDx talkers are practicing multiple times a day, I can also!" So I did. I challenged myself by frequently practicing within the allotted 7-minute time. I challenged myself by rehearsing with intentional distractions; I had the TV on, I played music (both familiar music and raucous unfamiliar music), or I also practiced while driving. I thought there might be potential distractions once on the stage and I wanted to come prepared. This proved invaluable once real-life distractions did appear. And I also challenged myself to rehearse my inflections/tonality in such a way that I never sounded mechanical or robotic. I had a mentor in Mary Schaefer who gave a TEDx talk in Wilmington just 2 years prior.  She was pivotal in my journey to keep me both focused and balanced.  She was a gentle presence of wisdom to bounce ideas around with, she was the reason I made certain to not seem over-rehearsed, and she appeased my guilt for believing it was selfish for wanting to be remembered.  Day by day, rehearsal after rehearsal, the main day quickly approached.

A day before the big TEDx day, there is a main-stage rehearsal... and thank God for it! This is your first moment on the stage itself, in front of the big letters, on that iconic red carpet. This is your opportunity to see the chairs in the audience, feel the lights, learn how to adorn your lapel with the personal microphone, and finally: this is the opportunity to get your nerves out! This can be a very scary moment. So come prepared! I didn't expect to lose my train of thought, but it happened. Get those nerves out early. Also, this is your opportunity to witness other TEDx talkers deliver their wonderful talks, too. Sit a spell, and enjoy the moment. Cheer them on, they are just as anxious as you are! The big day is just around the corner. Get your rest. Oh, and congratulations again for making it this far along this momentous journey! 


August 24, 2016:
Finally, the big day arrives and the surreal becomes life.
The energy is like none other. You arrive to the building nervous, yet ready. Everything is so official, you have to catch yourself just to savor the moment! Savor it! Before it's your time on stage, you're welcomed back stage again and the mic is clipped to your shirt. It's minutes away. You hear the audience applaud as the preceding talker is exiting the stage with a smile of relief. Your heart pounds an octave lower. Your name is introduced and you hit the stage. You know your first sentence. You know what you're doing. The audience is engaged and listening. They want you to succeed too. (As I type this, I blink a small tear again.) They laugh with you. They cry with you. They celebrate your message. It is genuinely one of the most memorable moments in your life. And as fast as it has felt in all your rehearsals, it's over. You exit the stage to the sound of your own applause, it's your turn to smile with relief and wish the next speaker their luck. You join the audience again. As the day itself progresses, you can interact with audience members and other talkers. Everyone is so inspired and inspiring. They all have fantastic ideas worth spreading also. You are one of them. You are a TEDx talker now! Congratulations. You have done something so very special.  This was such an amazing experience and I am so profoundly humbled to have been selected. It was so validating. It was so encouraging. This has been such a unique foundation for confidence; confidence I hardly had, but knew I needed to develop quickly. I am so happy to have had this opportunity to celebrate my perspective on forgiveness. I hope that this is a key for many future doors.  But remember, this whole crazy, stressful, joyous experience started with a choice:  the decision to say Yes to the TEDx application and the courage to fill it out.  

 You can do it.  You’ve got this.  See you next year!

Joe Sielski 
TEDxWilmington
 Class of 2016



Photo credit belongs to Joe Del Tufo and Jim Coarse
MoonLoop Photography
http://moonloopphoto.com/

A Moment of Self-Awareness


Saturday, September 24, 2016

In Us: A Poem

In Us

In me, there is both good and evil.
In you, there is the same.

The good in me knows of my evil.
The evil in me knows of my good.

The good in me recognizes your good.
The evil in me recognizes your evil.

The good in me honors the good in you.
The good in you honors the good in me.

The evil in me taunts the evil in you.
The evil in you taunts the evil in me.

The evil in me hinders the good in me, but
The good in me silences the evil in me.

When the evil in me encounters you, it will act as to draw out more evil from you.
When the good in me encounters you, it will act as to draw out the best in you.

When the evil in me encounters the good in you, it will not listen.
When the good in me encounters the evil in you, it will be steadfast.

When the good in me encounters the evil in you,
it must first silence the evil in me because
the evil in me wants to collaborate with the evil in you.
Then the good in me will also inspire the good in you so that
the good in you can silence the evil in you also,
 thus the good in me develops the good in you. 

The good in us recognizes itself.
The good in us magnifies itself.
The good in us both silences the evil in us all. 

In us, there is both good and evil, and
I still need practice.  




(Sept. 24, 2016)
Thank you for your time

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Day for Self-Assurance

I was reminded of this message earlier today and wanted to expand on it. 





 "Opinions of you are not a reflection of you, they are a reflection of those who said it."

When you really take this into consideration, this can be a really eye-opening epiphany for many people.  In brief, we are the sum of our milieu.   We are the byproduct of our milieu.  Your milieu is your history, it's your background, it's your environment, it's your upbringing.   All the things you know, you know because of what you've learned up until this moment.  Similarly, all the ways you react are also reflective of what you've experienced up until right now.  With this in mind, understand that this is true for everyone else as well.  

The point of this blog entry is that too many of us feel so slighted when someone expresses an opinion about us, or worse, too many of us are anxious to try new things based on the potential opinions that might ensue.   This is why it's important to remember that opinions are strictly reflective of whose mouth they came from. 

If someone has an opinion about you, remember that it is a representation of who they are and how they were brought up.  Quite literally, it has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with you, your character, or your sense of Self. 

I can like pizza whereas others could not, and that's perfectly fine.
I can like the color green, and my best friend could not, and that's perfectly fine.
I could like my hair, and my family could not, and that's still fine.  
I can like every piece of clothing I'm wearing, and a random stranger might not, and that's just as OK as the preceding examples.
You should never feel as if you are to live on behalf of the opinions of others.
The only approval that should ever matter is your own.

I repeat:  IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU, YOUR CHARACTER, OR YOUR SENSE OF SELF!!!  

If ever you encounter someone who gives you a disapproving face for whatever reason, don't get self-conscious over it.... thank them!   Thank them for showing you who they are as a fully realized individual.  

Once I had bright, red hair... I mean it was electric red.   Sometimes I encountered people who had a noticeable negative reaction to it.  Maybe they had never encountered someone with arbitrarily colored hair before, or maybe it's because they haven't been around enough people of that sort.  Either way, their experiences thus far led them to the point that their reactions reflected that and my Rothko red hair was foreign to them.   And to that, you say:  "Thank you for showing me who you are in this stage of your life"

So if ever you're going through your day, have a moment to pause to remember that everyone is a series of reactions to what they've experienced thus far in life.  The gauntlet of opinions will be much easier to forge.  And most of all, it's liberating.

Thank you for your time. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Words of Wisdom from St. Teresa of Kolkata

Today, Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa.   
Now, she will be known as St. Teresa of Kolkata.
The following are some of her words of wisdom: