5: Positive People Preferred, Please

5: Positive People Preferred, Please

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

Positive People Preferred, Please

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

~Mark Twain

“Mommy?” A four-year-old me asked, casually scribbling some intricate free-hand composition with a purple crayon.

“Yes?” my mother replied, eyes never leaving her paperback book.

“Can I be a ballerina?”

My mother put the book in her lap. “If you want.”

“Can I be an animal doctor?”

“Yes.” My mother was very serious.

“Can I be a farmer like Grandpa?” He grew the best vegetables I’d ever eaten and the most beautiful and fragrant flowers I’d ever seen or smelled.


“Can I be an artist?” I looked down at my crayon drawing of what was supposed to be a horse.

“Why not?”

“Or a writer?” I’d just composed my first poem about ponies. I thought it was brilliant. So did my parents.

“You can be anything you want. If you want it enough, you can do it. Whatever you decide to do, Daddy and I will be behind you.”

Those words reverberated through my life, leaving a deep, lasting impression. “You can be anything you want to be,” is a simple yet strong message. The rest, well, it didn’t really make sense until I was older, but the impact is just as powerful — and positive.

From the time I was young, my parents always told me I could do anything I wanted, I could be anyone I wanted. In no particular order (and this changed depending on day, date and age): a dancer, an artist, a jockey, a vet, a singer, a rock star, a doctor, a psychiatrist, an archaeologist, a psychic, a gem expert, a counselor, and a writer. I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list; if asked, my mother would happily add to it.

Fast-forward fifteen years, to college and the summer between sophomore and junior years. I announced to my parents at dinner, “I’m going to backpack with Veronika in Europe over the summer.”

To my parents’ credit, they didn’t freak out. My dad replied, “Do you have enough money saved?”

I did. I’d been working two jobs. I could either put that money towards my loan or take a once-in-a-lifetime trip with my Frankfurt-based friend Veronika. The kicker was: I’d never been to Europe. Or on a plane. Or, really, done anything adventurous.

Nothing like taking a leap.

They let me go. For nearly three months, my friend and I backpacked and camped, traveled by railroad, car and on foot, and explored almost every European country. A priceless experience.

I came back a changed person. Not only did I change, but so did my (nervous) parents. But just as they’d promised since I’d been four, they supported me in whatever I wanted to do.

This included my decision to go into the music business. No, not as a singer or a rock star, but as a manager of bands. The best part of following my dream? I got to travel with bands and artists who were talented, a lot of fun, some very spiritual, and I got to travel the world. Again.

But guess what? My parents had fun, too. When one of my heavy metal bands played near my parents’ house, they invited the band to sleep over. All four of them. This was during the big hair 1980s, so huge amounts of hairspray, eyeliner and make-up were used — not all by me. They took it in stride when, as everyone blow-dried their hair, the circuits in the house blew.

Did my father freak out? Did my mother melt down? Nope. They took it in stride and stayed positive, as my dad and the band changed the circuits, complete in stage dress, teased hair and make-up (the band, not my dad). Said my father, shrugging, “No big deal. These things happen.”

But, even to this day, I’m fairly certain not many parents can say they hosted a rock band who blew out the power in their home.

When I went exploring my spirituality and took at least two-dozen different classes and certifications, I looked at things as a positive adventure, never knowing where it might lead. I’ve submitted stories and articles, some accepted, some not.

But, because I knew no matter what I did or wanted to do in life that I’d have my parents’ emotional support, it gave me the courage to be bold, to try new things, to reach for my dreams, to be positive in whatever I did — no matter what.

My mantra is repeated within a portion of a quote attributed to the German philosopher Goethe. “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” I’ve never wavered from that, staying positive, knowing that the Universe is this wonderfully vast and magical place.

Courage is key to positivity, along with an open mind and a sense of wonder, fueled by a loving support system. It unlocks opportunities I could have never envisioned.

Throughout every bump, every situation, I’ve stayed positive. For me, positivity is the charge that magnetizes your aura, drawing great things to you. Is it like The Secret? I don’t know. I’ve never read The Secret. What I do know is this: if negative thoughts invade your mind, they also invade your heart, your soul and your body, until eventually you begin to rot from the inside out.

I often tell my friends how much my parents pumped me up with positive thinking, how they stood by me no matter what. Most of them tell me that was not their experience. I want to cry for them. I cannot imagine how different I’d be if it were not for all that parental positivity.

I prefer positive people. Negative people with dark personalities are dream killers, sucking joy from the marrow of the soul.

Last year, I decided to make a leap of faith again. Stepping off into the yawning abyss of unemployment, I declined an offer to move cross-country for a job I’d had (and liked) for eighteen years. Instead, I rationalized in my brain, I’d start my own business . . . and I’d write.

No matter what.

Just the other day, I said to my mother, “I know that these little writing jobs that pay nothing will lead to something. I just have to finish my book, and I know my agent will be able to sell this one. I feel it.” At that moment, I did. I still do. I believe it to the core of my soul. I have no doubts whatsoever, but the key is courage, to move forward, to finish it.

Instantly, Mom replied, just like she had forty-five years earlier, “I know you’ll do it. I believe in you.”

And somehow, just knowing that, makes me believe it even more.

~Syndee A. Barwick

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