Ep 161: STOP: Your GRATEFULNESS starts NOW

Updated: Nov 30, 2019



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If you're alive, have been blessed to touch the people you've touched so far in your lifetime, have family and support in your life, shelter, then gratefulness should be all over you. And if for some reason you're not convinced of your gratefulness, because sometimes we need reminders, then this is the episode for you to pay attention to.



In this episode, we'll talk about...


  • How hardship breeds creativity, but opportunity creation is up to the individual

  • How ownership can help you survive

  • The degree to which we ought to be grateful in the here and now



I sat down with my Aunt Leah and got her perspective on growing up in rural Mississippi and why she's so grateful today. This episode will absolutely bring you the perspective you need, to drop any excuses and keep pushing forward on making your bigger than life impact on the world.


Candace:

All right. So tell me Anglia, there is a real need to be grateful of course, but I feel like just some of the stories that I have heard from you, there is a serious need to be great.


Aunt Leah:

It's a serious need, I declare it for real.


Candace:

Tell me a little bit about that. Why for you?


Aunt Leah:

I thank God for where he brought us from cause we were very, very, very poor. I mean poor, poor, poor. We didn't have inside bathrooms, we didn't have running water and we had to go to the cotton fields and the whole all day long to make a living for $2.50 or $3 a day, all day long, burning up in the sun. We had to get up early in the morning to cook breakfast, to go to school. And e had to catch the school bus at seven o'clock in the morning, but we had to get up, cook breakfast for the whole family and then be ready to go to school. And during the time when going to the field and stuff, we would go to school a half a day we would leave school around noon, go to the field and worked about six o'clock in the afternoon, come home, cook again, wash dishes, get our homework and get ready for school for the next day.


Candace:

Now you leave in school at noon, was school still happening and you left?


Aunt Leah:

Our father, he would come to pick us up around noon, take us to the field and we would work in the field to about maybe five or six in the afternoon and then go home and still work and had to get out homework and step out.


Candace:

Wow. So you missed out on part of whatever was happening at school to go and work and prepare and get ready for the family. You know what I find interesting is just hearing you talk about that whole schedule of waking up and having to make sure everybody has breakfast and then you're going to school and you come back and you're working in the field. It just makes me think, back then as you were growing up, there was so much, it seems like grit and determination and persistence and I don't always see a lot of that today from some of our younger generations. I mean, why do you think it was? Why do you think it's so different? I don't know if you share the same sentiment, but what made you guys have so much determination growing up?


Aunt Leah:

Because I guess it was a way that we were taught that and then it was a way of survival because if we didn't do that, we couldn't survive.


Candace:

Yeah that makes sense to me. It sounds like it's, "We didn't have a choice."


Aunt Leah:

You're right! We did not have a choice either. We did that and either we would go without food. My father would work six days a week, 50 something dollars a week. I think it was 52 or $53 a week. And he had to take care of a family of 10. I don't know, out of $53, shoes, we got one pair of shoes a year. And you know what? what we would wear it until they got holes in them. So we will put cardboard and stuff in that in order to keep out our feet in our shoes. And sometimes they use clothes hangers and stuff to put around the soles, to hold the feet, to hold the shoes together so that you can wear.


Candace:

As I listened to you say this and these, to me, it's like first off, wow! that's a lot to go through. But second off, how creative! Honestly, and I realized as creativity born out of necessity, it isn't just like a, "Hey, I decided that I wanted to the shoes", but I think there is something there. So I always think about any layer. I kind of have this sort of philosophy that sometimes when you have access to too much, (it doesn't mean that you shouldn't have access to too much) but sometimes it limits our ability to be creative and to think about how we could do things differently because you know, we know we could just go and buy a new pair of shoes, right? Or we know we could go into this, but having the need to figure out how to do it is out of things like those that people become the next Nike or the next this or the next that right out of needs.


Candace:

I think that's so interesting. So now tell me a little bit and talked about being in the cotton fields. $2.50, $3 an hour, that type of thing.


Aunt Leah:

No, a day not an hour. This was a whole day.


Candace:

Oh my gosh. Whoa man. Okay. So thinking about that, and then I'm thinking about just the concept of ownership. So it's one thing to be in the cotton fields, but can you talk to me a little bit about, was there anything that you your family owned or want to own or something that helped you? Besides your labor, whether it was animals or whatever to make a living.


Aunt Leah:

All our animals, we would raise chickens and we were raising cows and hogs and stuff. Cucumbers and stuff. We picked cucumbers and we had one acre of cotton that we will pick and when they go and sell it, we would only get the seed money, which was maybe like $15 or $20 or something like that and the white man would get the rest. Mm. Mm. So I know y'all felt like, hold on [inaudible] you know, we doing all the work. And you know what, just getting the seed money, that's no good.


Candace:

Right. Thinking about that experience, how do you think about owning things today? Like did your experiences working in the cotton field, make you think differently about owning things or people who are in entrepreneurship roles and owning their own businesses? Any thoughts on that and given what you've gone through?


Aunt Leah:

Well, one thing, and they encouraged me to own your own home because if you don't own your own home and you renting from someone, they can tell you to move at anytime and they can raise their rent at anytime. You may be paying $200 or $300 this month and next month they may say, "Hey, well that's not enough. You got to pay me $500" but if you own your own home and you got the mortgage one day, you will eventually get the mortgage paid off.


Candace:

Right, right, right. Were there any times while you were growing up where either you recall your parents saying, or maybe you thought of it like, I wish I had this or it could be, I wish we own this or I wish we lived here or I wish, do you recall any of that?


Aunt Leah:

Not really. Cause your mind is so pressured. You know what I'm saying?


Candace:

But never was there like a, "Oh, I hate sharing this room with so and so. I wish.."


Aunt Leah:

No, no, no. I'm glad that you mentioned that we lived in a two-room house. The whole house was a little bit bigger than this room. Just a little bit bigger. It was two girls and three boys at the time and my mom and dad's bed was up here. We had a let out couch. The girls slept on one end and the boys slept on the other end. So the living room and bedroom and all were combined into one. And we had just enough walking room to walk through the house to the kitchen. That's all.


Candace:

Wow. And nobody was ever like, "Oh my gosh, give me my space."


Aunt Leah:

No. We were a family and we didn't just have a house, we had a home. There's a difference in having a house and a home. We had a home. So it was none of that. We were satisfied with whatever that we had or whatever we could get. And around Christmas time and my father, he was so poor and he didn't have money. Now that's the only time when we would get on just apples and nuts once the year and the toys, he didn't have the money to buy. We got secondhand toys from other people and we found out that my brother out there, he had a lot of wisdom. He's really wise, he had picked out a truck or something.

And if we broke it, he's there. "This thing ain't new. This thing is old." And that's when we realized that we had used toys, we didn't have new toys.


Aunt Leah:

But you know what? We didn't complain about it because it was great just to get those second-hand toys, second-hand clothes. They didn't have money to buys clothes. We wear other people's clothes from the year before because they didn't have money to buy it. And I guess, as a girl I used to always say, "When I get grown and I started making my own money, I want this nice house, I want this white picket fence and that kind of stuff."


Candace:

Yeah. I'm sitting here thinking, "Oh my gosh, we are so ungrateful." I'm talking about my household. My children in particular, because for you to explain that you have this one pullout bed in there, you, your sister.


Aunt Leah:

Me, my sister and the three boys slept on the other. We all slept on that one. Yeah.


Candace:

And nobody complained?


Aunt Leah:

Nobody complained. Nobody. Nobody complained.


Candace:

And we are in a four-bedroom house. There is still plenty of complaining when there is plenty of space and that just makes me think, "I feel like we constantly need to have moments like these where we really get connected back to how far have we come." As a population, we may not be right directly affected. I wasn't there. But your family, your lineage, like we've come a long way.


Aunt Leah:

We've come a long way. Ooh Lord! And I thank God everyday. And your father, when I talked to your father many times, we go back to when we were brought up. I think I could write a thick book about the way that we were brought up. And when we didn't have running water. This is the honest God true. We didn't have a cover to put on it. Bugs and lightning bugs. And so what? Fly in the water and we had to scrape the water all because we couldn't pull it out. We had to drink the water, we had to cook with it, we had to bathe with it, we had to wash with it and all of that with those two barrels of water. So he hit the whole water like two or three times a week for both families. So I'm telling you, this is why we learned to be grateful. Whatever you got, you be grateful. Be thankful.


But you know what, in preparing a meal and stuff, I noticed that today, these children, "I don't want this. I don't want that." You got to cook two or three different meals. When we were growing up, you cook one meal, whether you liked it or not, if you didn't eat, you went hungry. But the thing about it, even if we didn't like it, we ate it because we knew there was nothing else.


We will not complain. And like the inside bathrooms, when I go and ask the Lord, this is a luxury to me, just to have a regular bathroom, a regular face bowl, a regular commode, a regular tub that you can get in. We used to take a bath in a washtub. You know these round tub, these old fashioned tubs. That's the only way we could get a bath.


Magazines stuff would be crawling all in the, you know, where you use your bowels and stuff and in law you could smell it that odd house for miles. And then after, so long, daddy had to dig another deep hole and then cover that hole up.


Candace:

You just put dirt on the hall.


Aunt Leah:

This is a fact. This is facts, honey. And everybody in their house had chores funded from the least to the greatest. Some of them had to take out the pot or whatever, clean their room. Everybody had a job. But on today, these kids, even my grandson, Bryson, Oh my God.

Then I said, how can you live like this? You know what I'm saying? Because we were taught to clean up behind. You said to pick up behind you and say, but today it, they go on home, just walk all over. So they don't clean up nothing.


Candace:

Yeah, I got that problem with my house


Aunt Leah:

And I don't understand that. We didn't have nothing, but I thank God the, what word do I want to use? The training that they taught us in bringing us up. How to do things right.


Candace:

So what would you say is the biggest lesson or value or thing that you carry with you today that you learned while you were growing up? That you're thankful that you've carried that forward today or it's helped you in some way?


Aunt Leah:

Well, one great thing that I learned in the way that we were brought up, you'd be thankful for everything, be thankful for everything. And my father always taught us, he said, appreciate what people do for you and what people give you. He said, even if they give you a rag, appreciate that. Let them know that if you give me a rag, thank you so much. Look, you can use rags to dust your furniture with, you don't want to use your church clothes and stuff with whatever. I don't care how great or how small it is, appreciate whatever folks do for you. Because nobody, they don't have to do anything for you. So that's one thing. You know what he taught us that I didn't learn in the book, you'd be grateful for everything. The little, the great, the medium, small, whatever it is. You'd be grateful. You'd be thankful. And then in that way, when you learn to be grateful, you know what this teaches you to how to treat other people. My father laid down the golden rule to me. He said, little sitdown, sit down. He says, you do unto others as you want them to do unto you. He said, everybody's not going to treat you right. He instilled in me, they may not treat you right, but you treat them right. That that taught us how to treat people even when you are mistreated.


Candace:

Yeah, I love that. I absolutely think, and I hope as folks are listening (or reading) that you all recognize the importance of appreciation and the importance of gratefulness all together. And this is being thankful, recognizing that there is so much happened before us, but even even if you weren't raised that way, no matter what, you should be thankful and appreciative and, and let that help guide the relationships that we build both with our families and the community in our workplace, in our businesses. So, listeners, I hope you take everything that you have heard. Take it to heart, understands it, use it as a point of reflection and take some action in any adjustment in your own life.


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