8 Unforgettable Lessons on Life and Love I Learned from Nelson Mandela

BY: - 10 Dec '13 | inspiration

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Nelson Mandela RIP

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Although Nelson Mandela left this world in physical form on December 5, 2013, his larger than life spirit will live on forever in his beloved country of South Africa and throughout the world. When I heard of his passing, I immediately felt this overwhelming sense of grief—and just as quickly, smiled and said “Thank You” to a man whose life’s work, struggles and accomplishments gave him the right to finally rest in peace.

As South Africans mourn his passing, they celebrate his legacy and have been singing and dancing in the streets over the past few days. “He was a man who loved life and he would have wanted us and celebrate him in this way,” said one South African when asked about the celebrations. Indeed, in picture after picture that I have found of the beloved Madiba—as his countrymen affectionately called him—he was smiling. And that is the first lesson I learned from this gentle giant who changed the world with his resolve to fight for social justice, commitment to serving his people, and love for humankind:

1. Smile. Don’t allow external circumstances to make you lose your ability to smile, laugh and find joy in just being alive.

How many times do we lose our joy because of things beyond our control that ultimately impact our lives? I, for one, know that I have allowed people and things to steal my joy—and my smile—who absolutely had no right to. But I gave them that power. After 27 years spent in jail under harsh circumstances that could break anyone, Mandela walked out of jail smiling and waving to half a million supporters. Throughout his life, he continued to smile, enjoying a newfound lease on life and sharing his unconditional love and humor with humankind. What a better place this world would be if we all learned to smile and laugh more. Mandela urged us to:

“Tread softly. Breathe peacefully. Laugh hysterically.”

2. Love your enemies and work with them when necessary.

Even at the expense of losing support from some of his own people, Mandela literally and figuratively reached across the aisle and made a deliberate effort to work with his former enemies for the good of his country. He recognized that the development and progress of his country could only be achieved through collective action—even with people who had once oppressed him. As he said,

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

Often in life, we find ourselves at odds with individuals and groups who have different ideals than we do. It’s our job to figure out if working with them is necessary to better serve others, and if so, find common ground on which to build a platform for change.

3. Forgiveness is freedom.

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” How many of us are living in our own self-imposed prisons because we hold on to bitterness that is not only poisoning our spirits, but our external surroundings. You cannot truly have peace until you’ve let go of past hurts—real or imagined. As the late Madiba so aptly stated:

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.

4. If you stay faithful, God will promote you in His time.

Who would have thought when Mandela was sentenced to life in prison on June 12, 1964 that he would walk out 27 years later only to eventually become the first Black leader of a nation whose bitter past he would work to heal? Would you stay faithful and optimistic that there was something better coming after so much struggle and hardship for five years, let alone 27? Indeed, if there’s one thing we can learn from this gentle giant, it’s that God will fulfill His promises in His time if we stay faithful to His purpose for us.

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About the author

Julian B. Kiganda wrote 32 articles on this blog.

Julian B. Kiganda is a dynamic speaker, writer and creative consultant who helps transform and build million-dollar brands for purpose-driven women. She is also co-author of "Whose Shoes Are You Wearing? 12 Steps to Uncovering the Woman You Really Want to Be." You can connect with her on her Bold & Fearless online magazine at www.boldandfearless.me


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When the Holidays Aren’t So Happy; How to Handle Grieving Over the Holidays

BY: - 10 Dec '13 | inspiration

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by Michelle Cameron,

The weekend before Thanksgiving (as in just a few weeks ago) I stood in a cemetery and watched them lower my grandmother into the ground. Twenty-four and a half years earlier, I did the same thing at the same grave as they lowered my mother. How do I grieve over the Holidays after such profound losses?

Thankfully, both losses were not sudden so I had some time to prepare myself emotionally before they left us. Here are a few steps I’ve taken to handle grieving over the Holidays.

  1. The first thing I did was I tried to focus on the wonderful, warm and funny memories we shared. I shared several personal stories on social media about my grandmother right after she passed away. I posted a couple photos as well.
  2. I decided to spend some of the Thanksgiving weekend celebrating with caring people, but I also scheduled time alone for personal reflection.  I thought that the balance would be healthy so that I would not be totally isolated from everyone. I was invited to celebrate Thanksgiving for the entire weekend elsewhere, but it would have been too much to do so soon after such a significant loss.
  3. On Thanksgiving Day, I spent time with people who didn’t mind me talking about them (i.e. my mom or my grandmother). I worked them into conversations as naturally as possible so that no-one’s emotions were overwhelmed. The conversations helped me face my new reality.  It really helped that my hosts gave me space to share my heart.
  4. I have allowed myself opportunities to laugh, cry or think as needed. I am not a “crier”, but I realize that tears cleanse the soul, and they are a healing balm to a mournful heart.
  5. This may be unusual, but I’ve also spoken out loud to my grandmother as if she could hear me. I share with her how much I miss her, and how thankful I am for her life and the impact that she made on my life.

These are just a few of the steps I’ve taken over the past two days as I face my new reality of losing a loved one who was so dear to me, especially so close to the Holidays. I hope they help others who may have lost loved ones and may also need to adjust over the Holidays. My grandmother and my mom were like my best friends. They are gone, but they will never be forgotten. 

BMWK – How do you handle grieving over the Holidays?

Michelle Cameron is an avid writer since the age of 15 with recent features on The Virtuous Diva, the Chat Kafe Blog and Chronicles of a Future Wife, and released her first book, “It’s My Life and I Live Here: One Woman’s Story” in 2011. Michelle is honing the art of public speaking to inspire and uplift women with her testimony. Michelle currently resides in New Jersey and is the mother of one son. Connect with Michelle’s blog at “Life, Love and Other Topics: My Commentary”.


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