Finding Rainbows After the Storms

Nature, time and patience are the three great physicians.

Chinese proverb

           There’ve been many storms in our nation recently. From the real kind to those of the human heart with the tragedy in Colorado. Driven by the fury of chaos and emotions, we often find ourselves making bad decisions that only create more of the same.  Our way gets cloudy, blurred by our personal storms.These situations remind us to often look at what and who is important.  Below is a story I wrote to reflect on the meaning of life’s storms in my life. And the role models that keep me grounded in turmoil.

“Honey, there’s a bright side somewhere.”

My grandmother would often say these words taken from one of her favorite hymns to comfort us during one of life’s storms. In facing some difficult situation, she wanted to assure us things wouldn’t be this way forever. Even during a thunderstorm she’d remind us, “The noise will cease and the rains will stop. So for now just admire another part of the Lord’s work. Maybe a rainbow will come out after it’s over.”  The insight for me—after bad comes good. They work together to affect our lives. It’s all in how you see it and what you do with that type of force. Give it ‘props’.

I came to love rainbows!

I was visiting Phoenix during an abnormally rainy December a few years ago and during a break in the rain I took a walk. A double rainbow appeared over the Camelback Mountains that border the city. The vivid spectrum of color was beautiful and inspiring. As I stood admiring this work of creation, it gave me pause for reflection. I couldn’t stop looking and feeling very thankful for what I was seeing.  The ability of the energy of nature at its best to comfort and influence brought meaning and illumination to the end of this rainy time.

I have a print entitled Influences by the artist Brenda Joysmith, which was specially commissioned for my sorority. It hangs framed in my guest bedroom. In the picture, a woman adorned in our red and white colors and emblem stands, glancing back. Behind her are colorful images of people on a pathway; no doubt those who have made up her journey’s collage. Some faces are clear and recognizable, others not— fading as the path moves further along.

This depiction begs the questions:

Who or what has made an impact on your journey?

What clarity have they brought that has helped you through the rains and storms?

I have vivid memories of many very different people who’ve decorated my own colorful development and helped me along my odyssey’s rainy paths. Certainly my family, whose words of encouragement, sacrifice and actions on my behalf stands high in that number. I also remember my first grade teacher who wrote a note on my report card, “Encourage her to read.” Then there was my fifth grade math teacher who used a western metaphor of smoking guns to help me understand the complexities of formulas. One of my high school English teachers treated me like family and would come to our home to bring me books and gifts. My high school guidance counselor spent time with me, helping in my decision-making about going to college. In my army career, commanding officers who believed in my leadership skills wrote glowing words on my evaluation reports. There were those consultants who didn’t know me that well, but trusted me enough to bring me onto their projects when I was struggling to get my business started. All have contributed to the prisms of my odyssey—opening a lens to success. Their bright presence shines – on time.

Reflecting back to acknowledge those who saw me through life’s storms is necessary because I have been a “colored girl who considered suicide when the rainbow was enuf.”

And I’ve gradually came to realize as Judy Garland or Patti LaBelle sang, Somewhere over the rainbow …the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

“Stay with it Debbie.” “Dream and look up.” “Someway, somehow, it’ll all work out.” These words are some of the phrases that these stars of my life have imparted to keep me trekking on. And give my best when I can. I’ve also tried to pay it forward (double) in tangible and intangible ways—donating my time and support to family, friends and participants in my workshops.

Think about it.

Whose arches of insights and inspiration have sent you on your way?

Who will we touch; encouraging them to seek and shine, not resting until they find their luminous place on their journey to self?

Let’s fill our paint buckets and mirror the colors and faces of our own rainbows, those bright stars of our lives. Respect the time and talent they donated to create our masterpieces!

Excerpted from Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration For Your Journey (available on Amazon in Kindle and print)

Posted in Adversity, Inspirational Stories, Leadership Tagged , , , , , permalink

About Deborah L. Parker

Deborah L. Parker is a sought after speaker on issues of leadership, personal development, career management, communications and diversity through her company The DPJ Training Group. She has also written on these topics for business publications in the Metropolitan DC and Phoenix AZ communities. Deborah is the author of 5 non-fiction books on life choices, workplace problem-solving, leadership and career management to include a well-received motivational memoir, Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey, which chronicles her setbacks and successes around work, family, culture and relationship issues. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from The College of William and Mary and M.A. in Human Resource Development from George Mason University. Deborah gleans learnings from her varied careers as an Army officer as well as in corporate operations and human resources positions with ExxonMobil and Booz Allen Hamilton to cement her presentations. She is a member of the Loudoun County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Chamber of Commerce and Metro DC Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development.

Leave a Reply