Fifty four years since her passing, the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt remains to inspire us to higher ideals and greater achievement.
She transformed the role of First Lady from hostess to key influencer and thought leader and did plenty of other “firsts” to boot:
- 1st woman to represent the United States at the United Nations
- 1st United States Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
- 1st Chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
- 1st Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women
- Harry Truman referred to her as “First Lady of the World” (source)
She would have made a magnificent President in her own right.
Although it can be argued she was born a few paces ahead as a member of one of America’s wealthiest and most influential families, in many other ways she had the deck stacked against her throughout her life:
- Her mother thought she was homely looking and gave her the nickname “Granny”. Eleanor’s mother died when she was 8 years old.
- Her father was a hopeless alcoholic who committed suicide when Eleanor was 9 years old leaving her to be raised by an emotionally distant grandmother.
- She struggled with her “plainness” throughout her teenage and early adult years.
- She was married to a man who was larger than life who also cheated on her throughout their marriage.
- She was often vehemently criticized for her outspokeness on Human Rights. (source)
Yet through it all, she never stood in anyone’s shadow and always did what she thought was right. Her many wise words still resonate through the ages:
“The Future Belongs to Those Who Believe in the Beauty of Their Dreams.”
You were created to make something beautiful of your life. Those dreams of yours are not “just dreams”. They come from your creative force; your inborn program to leave your stamp on this world.
Eleanor did not allow cold and cruel words to stamp out her dreams. She believed in herself, created a life of meaning and purpose for herself, and in the process left the world a better place.
You are no different and you can do the same.
“Great Minds Discuss Ideas; Average Minds Discuss Events; Small Minds Discuss People.”
Discussing events and people is merely chatter but when you put words to new ideas and share them with others, you join a universal community of like minded people raising the vibration of the human race.
Man, woman, or child, it is human nature to love gossip. Yet a significant part of your journey is to overcome the more frivolous instincts we all have in common and to evolve ever closer to your highest self.
Discuss those magnificent ideas you have with like minded people.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
If someone makes you feel bad, it it because you let them, plain and simple. Your personal power comes from within, not without. Your source of happiness and self worth come from YOU and nowhere else.
Even if the negative words of others warrant your attention, just know that when they attempt to speak poorly of you, it is because they are trying to process something about themselves that they dislike.
There is never any reason to feel inferior because YOU ARE NOT inferior. You are a unique individual sent to dispense your unique gifts to the collective human experience.
Be YOU in all your glory!
“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”
You may finish some days tired, bent, and disgusted. BUT when you lay your head down on that pillow, remind yourself that it serves you in no useful way to begin the next day with negative thoughts and feelings.
Watch the sunrise when you can and renew yourself each day as does all of nature to which you belong. Yesterday influences today only in the ways you allow. Every single day brings infinite opportunities to start over again.
Eleanor knew this and she leveraged it into beautiful creation. Start this day anew!
“If life were predictable, it would cease to be life and be without flavor.”
If you knew exactly how each moment, day, or week would pan out, how exciting would that be? (Not.)
Eleanor Roosevelt always rolled with the changes and always made the best of it.
It’s doubtful that she expected her parents to die when she was so young, or that her marriage would be less than faithful, or that she would spend 12 long years as a resident of the White House, also known as the loneliest place in the world. Yet these things flavored the greatest events and achievements of her life.
We all struggle to understand the meaning of life without ever really figuring it out and that is precisely the point. It’s the journey that’s so interesting if you allow it to be.
Enjoy YOUR journey!
“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”
Eleanor was probably hearkening back to her own youth when she uttered these words. She was told by her culture and people she looked up to that she was not the prettiest girl in town.
But Eleanor was not the kind of person to be defined by conventional notions about beauty. Through her life experience and service to others she cultivated a vibration that sparked and crackled with beauty.
Great works of art are chiseled from stone and wine must age before it is drinkable. Likewise, with each passing day, ER evolved into one of the great beauties of history, within and without.
You can do the same.
“Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it, one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”
Do you make friends with someone you can’t stand to be around? Of course not.
So here’s a poignant question: Can you stand to be around your own solitary self? Can you stand to be alone with your own thoughts? Just ponder that.
I think what Eleanor is trying to say is that you are worthy of your own friendship and your priority is to develop a healthy relationship with yourself. If you enjoy your own company, so will others.
Make peace with yourself and make friends with your self. You are so worthy of your own friendship.
“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”
Here’s a thought provoking question: Which causes more pain and suffering for all of humanity?
A.) People following in lockstep with others who say their way is the only way.
B.) People finding the courage to follow their own heart and intuition.
The answer to the question is “A” but the answer to a meaningful life is “B”.
In her time, Eleanor Roosevelt stuck out like a sore thumb. She had incredibly “disturbing” ideas like all people, regardless or race, origin, or economic class, should be treated with dignity and respect. She was very outspoken about it. She got many letters telling her to SHUT UP.
Lucky for us, she did not shut up.
Your best self is your authentic self. You are a divinely created being sent to dispense divinely inspired gifts. The world needs you to be who you are, not what somebody else thinks you should be.
“The giving of love is an education in itself.”
Giving love does not always mean you will receive it back, at least not directly or right away. ER learned this the hard way just like the rest of us do.
She gave love to her parents who were not always the best parents. She gave love to FDR, who did indeed love her, but probably not the way she anticipated when they married. She showed love to all humanity and was often criticized for it.
BUT, she also knew this: The more you give love, the more you learn how to direct it where it is needed and in what measure. In return, it will flow back to you from unexpected places at unexpected times.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”
ER married a political superstar who contracted polio in the prime of his life. He thought his career was over but Eleanor would have none of it.
Up until that time, it was inconceivable that anyone with a debilitating physical illness would run for President much less become President. With Eleanor’s help and encouragement, he did it anyway. They did it together.
The two of them came to the White House during one of the most daunting episodes of American History. There was much to fear: a collapse of the United States financial system and a Nazi-Fascist menace in Europe that threatened to pull the entire world into the abyss. Then came Pearl Harbor.
One by one they faced down each fear, rallied from each disaster, and gained strength from every battle won. Thank God they did.
Face down your biggest fear today so you can face down the next one tomorrow.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So you might as well be damned if you DO.
Eleanor Roosevelt was criticized for a lot of stuff – for being a woman who wanted to nose around in politics, for helping people nobody else wanted to help, for challenging people to change their outdated beliefs, for being a goodie-goodie.
And surely the criticism hurt at times, but it didn’t stop her. Nor should it you.
Whatever you’re striving for right now, remember that the only voice that matters is the one inside of you.