You Can Focus on Poverty or You Can Focus on Life

By Candace E. Salima, Contributor, US Daily Review

Apparently, because I don’t whine and cry and use my poverty stricken childhood as an excuse to be a failure in life, I am mistaken for a woman who has lived a charmed life, even born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but I’m still not going to dwell on it. It does me no good, other than give me the impetus to live my life as my mother did.

Although we had very little growing up, that was not the focus my mother chose to have. Instead, she taught us to read, write and speak proficiently before we ever entered kindergarten. Instead of focusing on how little food was on the table, my mother chose to fill the dinner table with laughter and love. And although she worked full-time, as did my biological father, she always took time to read to us every night, first from the James Herriott series, and then the scriptures.

My mother taught us how to write plays and perform them. She taught us to play the piano and sing. She taught us how to use our imaginations and literally soar far beyond our circumstances. She always found time, somehow, to take us to the Bookmobile, or the library, depending on where we were living at the time. Mother would often usher us into that old station wagon and drive down to the local market, buy some fried chicken and a flat of Bing cherries and head to the park. We played. We climbed trees. We ate, and generally had a great time while Mom rested under the tree.

We didn’t have new school clothes every year. We didn’t have backpacks, calculators, iPads, laptops or anything else like unto it. But what we did have was a mother who put dinner on the table every night. We would gather around for dinner and she would ask us about our days, what we had learned. She would correct what was incorrectly taught to us, although she did tell us to regurgitate the incorrect information to the teacher, and she always taught with love and perseverance.

No, we didn’t have a lot, but what we had was priceless beyond measure. We had a mother who taught us to focus on the positive rather than the circumstances around us. And because she did so, we did not grow up with a victim mentality. There was never a “woe is me” moment in our lives. There was “things are tight, everyone is going to have to pitch in.” And we did. There was “your father and I are getting a divorce, but I promise everything will be okay.” And it was.

As such, because we were taught to make the best of our circumstances and constantly reach for the stars, in our family we have a mathematician and expert on terrorism, a psychologist, a lawyer, an artist, a musician, a writer and talk show host, a general contractor, and so much more. This is because Mother never let us have a “woe is me” moment. Those are deadly moments and will kill dreams and ambition more quickly than anything else in the world.

Let this be a lesson to us all, life is what we make of it, not what it makes of us.

Candace E. Salima is a syndicated talk show host, author, and columnist.  Learn more about her at

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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