This I Believe: Sylvia Sharma (1990)

It is an honor for me to be the voice of many here. Although we are separate in physical body we know we are inter-related. I am an expression of your inner- most mental and spiritual thoughts.

My remarks are organized into three parts. The first is to describe the personal story. The second is to share the values and priorities of my belief system and third, to summarize.

Personal Story

It is important to begin my talk about my family of origin because in my belief system, I feel we decide to incarnate upon this planet at a particular point in time and space. My belief system is similar to what Louise Hay has described in the book, You Can Heal Your Life. I became familiar with her concepts two years ago when I was dealing with our move to Minnesota. It was fun to find someone who agreed with me. I chose my gender, female, my skin coloring –olive complexion, my background, Mexican-American and this country, and then looked around for the particular set of parents who would mirror the pattern of gifts I bring into this lifetime. My parents were perfect for what I wanted. I invite you to examine you r own childhood and life specifics because we learn our belief systems as very little children and then move through life creating experiences that match our beliefs.

As part of my personal growth process I have l looked back in my own life and noticed how often have gone through the same experience. I believe we create experiences over and over because they mirror something we believe about ourselves. It doesn’t matter how long we have had a problem or how big it is or how life-threatening it is.

Regarding my own family of origin, I was the oldest daughter and second child of five, born and raised in Sacramento, California, part of the beginning baby boom generation. I attended Catholic school and taught catechism in high school. I was sheltered in life and lived in the country on five acres of land. Later, my maternal grandparents became our nearest neighbors. We were raised on raw milk and sold it to other large families. We had cows, a horse, raised pigs and chickens, and had a creek that ran through our property. The previous owners had planted every variety of fruit trees: pomegranate, fig, plum, cherry, mulberry, apricot, peach, walnut, grapes, and the other trees of California including a huge wind break of eucalyptus trees and a similar variety of flowers.

My lack was in personal friends and neighbors, so I loved to take walks to the creek, pretending it was the Amazon. My brothers and sisters built rafts and collected buckets of tadpoles and waited to see them become frogs near the pump house. I explored what fruits l could eat off the trees after school, depending on the season. My favorite was pomegranates and the tangy quince in the fall.

My other outlet was to study. The Catholic nuns taught strict academic discipline; we had lots of daily homework. I was rewarded for my scholarship, later graduating in the top 10 from a class of 500 public high school students and entering the University of California with honors. My boyfriend had asked why I hadn’t applied at Stanford University with such good grades so after graduating from the University of California, I went on to get my Masters Degree at Stanford University and later a Ph.D at Michigan State University in higher education administration.

My childhood pattern was to develop my intelligence through study. I didn’t escape the socialization of acceptable female careers however, and chose teaching as a career focus, although I excelled in chemistry and loved geometry. My father would have been satisfied with my being a secretary, although he did not stop me in the pursuit of my goals. My high school counsellor thought I should attend beauty college or the local community college, and my experience with a sexist and racist professor at Stanford University took me out of my sheltered life and to recognize that l was stereotyped by others as being a woman of color.

I set up the pattern in my life of doing what I could do without listening to the advice of others, knowing l had the right to trust myself, even if my ideas were radical or idealistic. My

black female roommate from Alabama became my mentor while at Stanford during the late- sixties. It was not surprising for me to meet, fall in love and marry an East Indian. We are the parents of two teenagers, Dave and Susan.

Belief System

My belief system includes the pattern to see the world from the bilingual / bicultural perspective and to have an extended family upbringing. I used to feel superior to those who did not have the richness of cultural and traditional values that was my life. I no longer judge others by their homogeneity and recognize that my life is just different and in the diversity of each of our lives lies the richness.

The most important part of my belief system is that I believe it is important to honor that I and each of you have chosen to come, creating flower arrangements, reading personal growth books or attending seminars, and trusting.

In the book, Beyond the Love Game, the definition of happiness is offered: “Being truly happy comes about when we live by our hearts, which are hooked up to the universe. Happiness is becoming perfectly attuned to the harmony of the universe. Each person is a song and the universe, a symphony. For the symphony to play, we must be in harmony with the universe, nature, others, and most important, ourselves. This process is like a flower opening up to the sun. Once we begin to perceive our own hearts, then we can begin to perceive the hearts of others.

Roles between Men and Women

Thirdly, feminist writers have contributed to my belief system. These are writers like: Anne Wilson Schaef, Diane Riesler’s The Chalice and the Blade, Barbara Walker, all of Lynn Andrews books, Medicine Woman, Jaguar Woman, Crystal Woman and Teachings around the Sacred Wheel, Magaly Rodriguez Mossman’s Techniques in Light Imagery Work, Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization, Living in the Light, and Return to the Garden, the collection of essays in Reweaving the World, and the classic work channeled by Helen Schucman that became the material for the book, A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace. In addition to these written materials, I went through personal life experiences that felt like a force to explore the nature of human consciousness and the limitless capacities to learn to be well and to care for others. I am a student of astrology, numerology, the Mayan sacred calendar, medicine cards, and psychic healing.

A recent exciting life experience included participating in the planning and holding this past Wednesday, December 5, 1990, of the day- long conference for women in the health sciences professions at the University of Minnesota. The purpose of this meeting was to examine the aspects of women moving into leadership positions in higher education. It was exhilarating to see women and men examine the gender apartheid that has excluded women and non-white males from policy making positions in those health professions that now include women in the applicant pool.

In summary, I believe the evolution of our society can be based on loving qualities of giving and nurturing. As a female with a highly developed intellectual side, I have iust recently learned to honor my female qualities. I invite you to do your own self-diagnosis regarding developing your male and female qualities. I believe global partnership is integrally related to the reexamination and transformation of the role of women and men.

into this world to express love. We forget that is our mission.

What is love? To whom do we listen to regarding our own definition of love, love of self and love of others including animals and pIants and all living things and especially the love of the aspects of ourselves that we don’t like, our shadow side. Perhaps Leo Buscaglia is our contemporary love consultant regarding human relationships. His advice taken from the book, Loving Each Other, is outlined in his chapter titles, for example: “For love through communication, Honesty, Forgiveness, Joy, Loving each other enough to let go, Intimacy, Loving relationships are living things.”

I believe in the principles of love through communication. Leo Buscaglia says it succinctly, and I quote: ” Communication , the art of talking with each other, saying what we feel and mean, saying it clearly, listening to what the other says and making sure that we’re hearing accurately, is by all indication, the skill most essential for creating and maintaining loving relationships.

It is important to say: “I love you,” and not assume this is known. It is important to compliment. It is important that I let you know when I feel low or lonely or misunderstood because the feelings, unverbalized, can be destructive. It is my belief about love that I Iisten without iudgment or preconception. Being heard, like being seen, is vital. I need to be touched, held and hugged. My body itself is revitalized by loving nonverbal communication. When you respond to me I feel special, making up for those who have not seen. Another part of my belief system is to listen to my inner voice, the subconscious part of my psyche not necessarily my mental and highly developed left brain side. I believe it is possible, as the song goes, for every one of use to be wise, find our heart and open up both our eyes. We can know everything; tap into the universal intelligence or life force, for me a goddess/god energy, and at times even anthropomorphic without knowing why. This can be accomplished differently for each of us. For me, I accomplish this through:

creative visualization exercises,
honoring my female intuition,
being still,
taking walks in nature,
listening to New Age music,
hugging a tree,
ceremony and rituals to the moon,
getting a massage,
talking to my spirit guides and guardian angels,
doing imagery,
hands on healing, either receiving one or doing one,
dream analysis.