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    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • December 16, 2012 in Columnists

    Just keep walking

    by Maya North

    “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
    Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
    Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

    I talk to strangers and I give them advice. Nobody’s safe. I’ll talk to anybody. I talk to the street kid. I talk to the guy in the hand-tailored Italian suit. I talk to the forgotten elders in the grocery store (and don’t they look startled—nobody notices them anymore). I talk to kids (after catching their parents’ eye to make sure it’s okay). Yes, it is presumptuous, but I’ve spent most of my 57 years trying to figure out how I got from where I began to where I am now. I figure what I’ve learned might save a few people some steps, so it’s worth sharing. The worst that can happen is they roll their eyes and walk away or they ignore the advice. Most of the time, they stay to listen and share their own stories. And so, we both grow.

    I tell them that, for the most part, they can do anything they want to do in life. They just have to keep on walking. Just put one foot in front of the other until they get there.

    Look at me, I tell them. My doctor agreed I probably have some form of ADD. A psychologist agreed that my symptoms are classic PTSD. My family of origin disliked me. Most of the kids I knew disdained me. I was a street kid. I spent seven months in a juvenile institution. I got married at 17. My husband announced he’d be pursuing other women after just two months of marriage. I wasn’t particularly pretty. I certain was not thin. Just two things distinguished me from the other kids who were where I was as a teenager. I believed I had as much right to get where I wanted to go as anybody else — and I kept on walking.

    I just kept walking when I found myself pregnant as I was leaving my husband and starting college. I kept walking, baby on my hip, past the moment where I had to choose my asthmatic 4 year old over a career in medicine. I walked my way to a bachelor’s degree.

    And when I couldn’t get a good job with that degree, I just kept walking anyway. I kept walking when I had to take Thursdays off to go to the food bank while working full time. When I had to go hungry so my daughter could eat, when we had to spend her birthday money on groceries, when I had to do all our laundry by hand (by the way, wringing out seven loads of laundry will rip the skin away from the palms of your hands; those blisters make it hard to go to work the next day). When I made stupid decisions, largely based on my own self-loathing, and we had to crawl out of the trench I’d dug us into, nonetheless, I kept on walking, kiddo in tow.

    After I went back to school to get a programming degree (and was once more destitute during that time), it took years to get my first computer programming job and I lost it after only six months! I was unemployed for 10 months and had to start over as a clerical, but I just kept on walking until I got my current IT position where I have been for the last 15 years.

    Persistence is the key to everything — persistence and an odd little secret about it. You actually do not have to believe you will get there. Nor do you even have to have hope that you will. You simply cannot give up. You have to keep on going, hope or no, belief or no, and one day, you look up, and there you are.

    When I decided to start lifting weights, I went to the gym and I was one of the strongest women there within a month or so. The great big guys used to ask me “Hey, how’s your workout?” When I tell people the weights I did, they just shake their heads. Men still admire my biceps.

    I decided to learn languages. I speak five other than English, from nearly bilingual to a smattering. I decided that I wanted to embrace Judaism. I’ve been Jewish since 1995. I decided I wanted to take martial arts and boy, was that interesting. The teachers asserted I could do it, but they were the only ones who thought so. However, the doubters (who were, nonetheless, supportive) had not taken into account my having been a weightlifter. After the startled look I got from them when they realized just what they’d taken on in sparring, I delighted in telling them ‘honey, I was 40 when you were born — now what’s your grandmother doing?). I have a red belt. That’s just shy of black. Did I mention I have numb feet from neuropathy, balance issues and vertigo?

    I did not do this in a vacuum. I had help. Part of persistence is recognizing good help when it’s offered and taking people up on it. I have had amazing encouragement, more so in my later life than the earlier — and I’ve chosen to believe it, and then act on it. However, if I had not persisted, no amount of help or encouragement would have worked. I would never have gotten anywhere, and I have come farther than I ever dreamed I would — and I don’t think I’m done seeing where these feet can take me!

    So trust me on this. Do not give up — not ever. Just keep on walking.

    • I really liked this column and I needed to read it just now. Thanks for the inspiration and for your amazing example.

        • Maya North

        • December 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm
        • Reply

        Oh, Judy, thank you so much. Now and then, my persistence has bitten me hard, but most often, it’s the only thing that has gotten me there…


    • Maya, thanks for the braveness of your life. What spirit. As to Vertigo, check out Benign Positional Vertigo and the Epley procedure. It is a miracle and saved me a lot of expensive tests and was the answer for me. It comes and goes every few years and I go to the Neurologist and he tweeks me with the Epley and I am good as new. It never hurts to pass on information. Let me know if it works for you.

      • I forgot to mention I am 64 and talk to everyone and always have. It has lead me to meet amazing people and have a blessed life. Let’s here it for us talkers. I don’t necessarily give advice each time but I love people’s stories and they are always willing to share to someone who listens.

          • Maya North

          • December 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm

          Oh Madgew–I believe I am in love with you! I *do* have that kind of vertigo and I just need to go in and request the Epley procedure instead of toughing it out as I always do. Toughing things out, in my case, tends to be pure cussedness, and pure cussedness, at least half the time, is just stupid 😉 🙂

        • I woke up recently and the room was madly spinning. I was in an auto accident a few days before this. I go right to my neurologist and as nauseous as he makes me feel I am cured almost instantly. I am going back this week again because I need one more tweeking. I am tough but for this I give in because I am so limited if I move my head fast. Annoying me more than going to the doctor.

      • Kelvin

      • December 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm
      • Reply

      Simply awesome. What a great debut! Your message of persistence is a real keeper. There’s a lot to be said of sticking to something until you get where you need to go. I look forward to your future columns! 🙂

        • Maya North

        • December 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm
        • Reply

        Kelvin, you are an angel. Thank you with all my heart! 🙂

      • Matt Najmowicz

      • December 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm
      • Reply

      This just kicked ass! Can’t wait to see more!

        • Maya North

        • December 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you so much 🙂 (Can you see me just beaming with delight?)

      • Nicola

      • December 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm
      • Reply

      I am incredibly proud of you. *hugs*

        • Maya North

        • December 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm
        • Reply

        You, my angel daughter, were the reason I pushed so hard. I wish I had done a better job, but I tried and I loved you as I still do–more than words can ever express. I am so grateful you are my daughter–and so proud. XXXOOO YAM

    • Myra, I’m amazed…you have come so far and I would never have guessed you were where you were!

        • Maya North

        • December 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm
        • Reply

        Linda, thank you so much. Big hugs! 🙂

      • deborah tuhy surfer

      • December 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm
      • Reply

      BRAVO my sweet and everlasting fairy godmother.
      Beautifully written Maya style. Inspiring, loving, and full of life.
      to quote Matt above..”This just kicked ass!”

      love you
      xoxoxo surfer girl

        • Maya North

        • December 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm
        • Reply

        I love you back Deborah Tuhy 🙂 XXXOOO

      • Thomas

      • December 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm
      • Reply

      Dear Maya, this is a wonderful piece and an auspicious start on this next leg of your journey. Persistence and Love!

        • Maya North

        • December 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm
        • Reply

        Oh Thomas, thank you so much! Given your caliber as poet, writer and photographer, that means everything! Hugs! 🙂

    • I am so very touched by this piece. we (okay, I) can get so bogged down in the “hows” and “whys,” and “should I’s” that we forget the most important part of getting to where we want to go: just doing it.
      what a beautiful debut piece, Maya–I look forward to hearing more from you. xo

        • Maya North

        • December 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm
        • Reply

        Oh Lori, you bless me. And I bless the fact our paths have crossed and I will be able to learn so much from you and your gorgeous work–written or photographed. XXXOOO

    • Well, it looks like you have won over my online family, which is a good thing. I admire a person that can and will discuss the personal side of their life in an open manner. Thank you for this and welcome to iPinion. You see, if Matt, Kelvin, Madge and Judy like your work then LL and I have to follow suit and we do this freely. I look forward to your next entry.

        • Maya North

        • December 17, 2012 at 6:06 am
        • Reply

        Oh thank you. Thank you with all my heart. 🙂

      • Jesse

      • December 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm
      • Reply

      Maya, welcome to the iPinion family. You sound like a loving, strong, tough cookie. I look forward to your next editorial.
      Just put one foot in front of the other! Jesse

      • Laura

      • December 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm
      • Reply

      Thanks Maya! That’s a message I can apply to several objectives.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • October 7, 2016 at 6:36 pm
        • Reply

        You are so welcome! It is one of the things most central to my life. It’s how I got anywhere…

      • Eva Balga

      • October 5, 2016 at 11:17 am
      • Reply

      Maya, I finally made time to read your article and started with this one. What a beauty of spirit and incredible strength! You are amazing person and I am forever your follower.

        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • October 7, 2016 at 6:35 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you so much. You honor me with your words and friendship. ♡♡♡♡♡

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