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THE GIFT IS IN THE PROBLEM THE OPPORTUNITY IS IN THE PROBLEM

What does my horrific childhood have to do with myself as an adult almost jailed in developing country Zambia Africa? A lot I think. When we are going through Hell In The Hallways we think our problems are negative. I've been through so much and turned it around that I know that is not true. The gift is in the problem, the opportunity is in the problem. Here is one example of how it played out for me.

Warning: Some of the language is offensive in the following message but is necessary to the telling of this tale, a chapter from my book.

"You're A Son Of A Bitch Bastard"

You're a son of a bitch bastard. You're no good. No one likes you. You're a little piece of shit just like your father. Nobody wants to be with you. You have no friends. You'll never amount to anything".

One night I "got it" at the dinner table. The next night my brother "got it". When I "got it" I choked on my food because the tears were too many to just well up in my eyes. Besides it was important to hide them, for survival. If my mother saw me crying she would "cuff me" as she called it. I tried to conceal the overflow of tears in my eyes. But there were too many. So, my leftovers went down the back stairway to the farthest part of my throat. Their wetness mixed with the food already in my mouth but it was too much for my little throat to handle.

"Don't you spit that out or I'll kill you," my mother would say. I knew if I spit it out I would get slapped. I knew if I kept it in my mouth and tried to swallow it. I would die. Somehow, the food took care of itself.

The night my brother "got it" I felt both relieved and guilty, glad it was him instead of me. But I was never glad. I felt bad. Really really bad, way down deep. He didn't deserve it. He was a good kid. To see his eyes bulging out, the whites starting to turn red when he was beginning to choke. All I could do was keep my face forward but move my eyes to the right where he was seated to determine if he was choking too much to come back by himself. Then I could jump up and save him. Not too soon though or the tables would turn and I would be in trouble. It was the dance of hell.

Everyone grows up with a mantra. Something a person hears over and over from the time they are young. It is not necessarily meant to be your repeat-and-do-after-me inner voice, but it is that one element said or done over and over and over again, often without notice or fanfare. This phenomenon sticks with you, deep down in your amygdala, the part of your brain where childhood memories are stored. This mantra is so far inside the depths of the brain, no one detects it. But this chant influences you. No one gets off scot-free. You can work on yourself, you can read self-help books, watch Oprah and correct all you consciously know. But no one sees or "gets" especially you, what impact this mantra has, good or bad . . . your responses, your thoughts, your feelings, your decisions . . . every second of your life. It's your normal. Or even if you know it's dysfunctional, it usually takes a hurricane of great intensity to make the shift. Something highly irrational, disproportionate has to happen that forces you to do what America's 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln time and again did: "I have fallen to my knees many times because I had no place else to go". I can relate. Interesting. What I originally thought was my nemesis has turned out to be my greatest look-yourself-in-the-mirror Wendy shift gift.

Over and over my life was a coming to terms with this sort of talk. I made a decision very young that when mistreated I would say inside to myself "Someday, I will show you" and that I would try to understand what it was about the pain in the other person that would make them strike out at me or betray me. It has served me well. I have an inner peace that nothing and no one, no situation, no event can unpeace me with. It will not happen. It is not a forced issue. I am a peaceful soul because I had to do so much work on my insides to take what I had thrown at me for so many years. But think what a powerhouse I am inside.

I was tested in January 2012. I went to immigration in Zambia to get my visa extended two days. No big deal. I often did that. This time the woman, Eve, said "Your passport was never stamped when you entered Zambia so you are an illegal in our country. I am going to have to put you in jail until the trial which can take up to 9 months and then you may have to do more jail time. That's the law"

I calmly looked at her and said "Well, I really don't have anything to do when I get home to America anyway". My own authentic calmness even surprised me.

"What!" she yelled. "You mean you want to go to jail until your trial?"

"No," I responded calmly. "But better me than someone who has young children they have to take care of "

Her mouth dropped open. She didn't know what to do with my Gandhi demeanor. She made some phone calls and then said I had to get out to the airport within 30 minutes as the man was leaving and he would stamp my passport and I had to pay 50 USD. So, I did. He interrogated me for an hour.

The next day, I found that someone had stolen my credit cards and cash from my hotel safe. I went to management and said "I have paid most of my bill but can't pay the rest until I get home but I promise to send it to you". Okay.

Then when I went to the airport and checked in I was sitting with some of my street orphans waiting for my plane to be called. The hotel management came and dragged me off to the police station because I had not paid my hotel bill and that was illegal, punishable by jail until a trial and then more jail time. I was calm. So calm they didn't know what to do with me. So, they took me back to the airport and I ran down the runway to catch the plane as it was starting.

Where could calmness and peace like this come from. All I can think is that my childhood was my earth school and this was my final exam to see if I learned my lessons. The lesson I think was that I am home within myself. So, it doesn't matter if I am in a beautiful garden or a jail cell, I am home. I am enough. I am complete. I passed my hard lessons of life and graduated from earth school. And nobody can ever take that away from me. Keep it coming baby. I am ready.

And that means that YOU have that power also. if you don't feel it now. Do your lessons. Being your authentic spirit doesn't mean your world is all right. It means wherever in the world you are, you are all right. They can take your arms and legs and bruise your face, but they can't touch your soul. There's strength in that. Keep it coming baby.

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Comments

kirthijay's picture

Magnificent post!

What powerful words!

"And that means that YOU have that power also. if you don't feel it now. Do your lessons. Being your authentic spirit doesn't mean your world is all right. It means wherever in the world you are, you are all right. They can take your arms and legs and bruise your face, but they can't touch your soul. There's strength in that."

And SO true! We need to be told this, Wendy, and you did a great job of it!

Wendyiscalm's picture

Thanks

Thanks for your comment. Due to an African disease I picked up in Zambia as well as problem s with my WP account I JUST got your wonderful response. Thank you s much. It is December 28, 2012

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

kirthijay's picture

Oh how are you doing? I hope

Oh how are you doing? I hope you feel well! <3

Emily Anyango's picture

Faith

Hi Wendy,
Faith is an opposite of fear,with Faith,you can move mountains and no rock can Block your way.Back in the old days;things were rough,my mother was so rude in language and to her we were slaves to her and she could beat us brutally and give us heavy duties to carry around the house.She had many children and among us some were her favorite.I appreciate her action because she has made me a woman with confidence,personality and strong to face the day with reality and show things by acting no matter;No chance for idle mind.Wendy your story is almost the same to mine,what I have gone through.I respect you and keep the inner-most strength in you shining,that is you.I wish I could meet you one day.Cheers''UBUNTU.

ketwangi orphanage and learning center Kisumu Kenya

Wendyiscalm's picture

Bless your life and kind words

Hi Emily,

I was pleased to receive your note. First, may I say, I am SORRY you went through what you did. Even though we both know now, it was God's decision to make it so because he has bigger plans for you than you could ever imagine for yourself. As with me. And by the way, you left out one trait you got from your mother. And that was compassion for others in a way that will put you far and above so many who are trying to help. She taught you non-compassion and the suffering she caused you gave you a depth of compassion that no-one can ever touch.

WE WILL MEET ! It is not my wish. It is one of my GOALS, girl !

On the cover of my book here is what I have written and YOU will understand this.

TITLE: IT'S HELL IN THE HALLWAYS BUT I'M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT
Memoir by Wendy Stebbins

At the bottom of the title page is this:

'This is you. And this is about you and me. You are successful, like a rock or movie star and a champion like an Olympian because re-connecting with your soul purpose is monumental. It is the hardest and the highest of all achievements. I have written this for you about you. I have used my name and my specific situations. But it is your answer as it was mine. If we are all one energy, if Ubuntu is true, and I am who I am because of who we are together, this is our story. Wendy Stebbins

I have dedicated this book to my mother: "Dear Mom, Thank you. I love you. Wendy"

This is my personal email address: headingforgreatness@gmail.com. Sometimes I go over the alloted WP number of words and then I cannot write until he following day. Whichever works for you.

Ubuntu,

Wendy
"

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Wendyiscalm's picture

Thanks

Hi Emily,

It is Dec. 28. Due to my getting an African disease in Zambia and troubles with my WP account, I JUST NOW got your kind words. I want to say sorry you went through such a horrific childhood but I cannot. It was a gift. I don't know about you but there is NOTHING anyone can say to me that hurts me or offends me. Think of having that kind of power. I can be authentic. And that is what we share. We WILL meet one day.

Thank you so much. And all my love and best wishes for you in 2013.

Hugs and ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Emily Anyango's picture

My website

Hi Wendy,
I posted my website to you via your personal email.I am the best of my Mom at the moment ,as we are not to blame them but to adore them for the iron rod they gave to us,to date we are Iron Ladies.;;;Let us ride above the world by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,Amen
Emily

ketwangi orphanage and learning center Kisumu Kenya

Wendyiscalm's picture

Emily Hi

I tried to leave a post on your wonderful website but I could not remember my wordpress.com password so they wouldn't let it go through. But it is great. Love the visuals and the telling of the story in this way is impressive.
The singing and talking makes it come alive, the pictures are great too. Is that Nshema they are eating? Nshema is the staple of Zambia.

You are doing a great job. Was that you hop scotching? Quite a talented lady I must say !

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Emily Anyango's picture

Thank you so much

Hi Wendy,
Yes,I am the one who is hope scotching,I want them to be children.I have been to your website and It is confusing,are you a real estate.Or am I lost.Direct me please.They are eating Sima,that is how it is called here in Kenya.It is made out of maize flour.I am at the orphanage now,and I be back to Mombasa in mid November.How do I request to be your community member in World Pulse?
UBUNTU,
Emily

ketwangi orphanage and learning center Kisumu Kenya

Wendyiscalm's picture

Hi Emily

Great to hear back from you so soon.

I think you must have gotten the wrong website as I am not in real estate. At the top it shows some of the kids fixing roofs for the poor people so they do not suffer during the rainy season b ut I think you got the wrong site. The bulk of my pictures show the kids before and after, me working with them studying with them, teaching them to brush their teeth, all sorts of things. Again the site is:www. iamoneinamillion.ch

If you just google I am one in a million some business sites probably come up. With mine when you open it, a darling little boy with a backpack is shown.

Anyhow, we will talk later.

I don't know how to request a friend on WP or I would have done it with you. I'll try.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Emily Anyango's picture

Thank you so much

Hi Wendy,
How are you?I shared your story with a friend of mine and she is wondering of how you are strong for a woman.Unfortunately my friend is not in WP,I am always thinking about you and let us get in touch.
Much love,
Emily

ketwangi orphanage and learning center Kisumu Kenya

Wendyiscalm's picture

Hi

Hi Emily,

Good to hear from you. I am not sure I understand what you mean by your friend is wondering how I am strong for a woman. Can you explain. Maybe then I can tell you and you can tell her. Yes, by all means, let's keep in touch.

Much love and ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Wendyiscalm's picture

Problem

I think I see where the problem is, EMily. When you go on my site because we are redoing it you see the boys doing the roof seal project. But if you click on all the available areas you will see different things.

What it is: The older kids in order to be sponsored by I AM ONE IN A MILLION have to give back to the community as that is NOT done in Zambia. It is all about taking. SO, last year 5 of the older kids did tuitions/tutoring with 5-7 year olds and this year they are sealing with membrane and sealer the poorest of the poor's roof which have huge holes and when the rains come they suffer greatly. We have done over 500 which is a lot considering there are 8-18 people in a one room hut. But the website has to be redone and that is what we are in the process of.

Like I said, if you click on "Soccer anyonbe", "Hands on charity", testimonials or the other options you may get a better idea of what we do.

Talk to you later.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Greengirl's picture

Wow!

Your memoirs got me shaking and nodding my head almost simultaneously!

Everyone of us have passed through certain stages in our lifetime when it seemed all hell was let loose on us. More often than not, just you have rightly pointed out, those experiences make us better people; especially when we get determined to come out stronger and better off.

It is obvious that you are better off and making the best of it all. I love the accompanying pictures. Keep it coming!

Hugs always,

Olanike (BBG)

Wendyiscalm's picture

Wait a minute

HI BBG,

Did I download my memoir or are you talking about the article about my mother's mantra to me.

Either way, thank you.

If it is the page it is a chapter in my memoir book.

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Greengirl's picture

Just a mix up

I used the word memoir in the sense of the account you shared about your childhood days.,

Olanike (BBG)

Wendyiscalm's picture

My memoir

Hi BBG,

WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO DOWNLOAD MY MEMOIR?

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

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