Tag Archives: hard work


hustler n. an aggressively enterprising person;  a go-getter. FIFA World Cup Besides the risqué connotation that this word holds due to a well – known and scantily clad publication, this word bears marked significance in my life and, in general, success in life as a whole. I was in the third grade (or thereabouts) when I was first told that I had a talent for hustling. I remember it so vividly I can almost smell the fresh cut grass at Votee Park in Teaneck, NJ on that day. My parents had pushed me to join the CYO track team at my school, mostly because I was always running and they wanted a break from watching me for a few hours. Practices were held at the small running circle at the park –  which is remarkably still there. My coach put me up against an older girl to sprint 200 meters – most likely as a joke. I completely sucked at distance running and my dad insisted I could sprint – so here was my chance to see what I was made of, if anything at all. The nerves came on, even though we weren’t starting out of blocks, and he set us off to race. I started a little behind and then something clicked in my head and ran through my whole body. I somewhere found speed -it felt like I had to bring it up from the bottom of myself. I don’t remember for sure if I won. I might have. But what I do remember is my coach’s smile when we called me a hustler. Whether I realized it or not, it was at that moment that one of my best qualities was discovered. Throughout my life I have been referred to as a hustler and thought it was a bit negative. To me it sounded like I was forcing things to happen while it came easily for others. I’ve come to think differently as I’ve grown older. Hustling is more than just working hard to get what you want. It’s about defying the odds of success. If you’re a hustler, you don’t take no for an answer or accept that the odds are not in your favor. You fight on anyway knowing that failure is likely. It’s that 10% chance that keeps you vying and motivated. You need tenacity, perseverance and the ability to withstand repeated failure. The life of a hustler isn’t pretty. You also know a hustler when you see one. I was watching the World Cup this past weekend and this word came to mind when I saw Gary Medel from the Chilean team playing against Brazil. He had a major muscle pull that the coach said would have put him out of commission only a day earlier. Not only that, but he was playing as a defender and not in his usual midfield role. The 109 minutes he played was all heart and hustle, all about reaching deep down and finding strength to endure. He hustled through that game and when they carried him off the field I nearly wept with him. His performance had me wanting Chile to win despite my loyalty to Brazil. No one seemed to want it more than he did. Few people in life are born with an innate or natural ability in any specific thing. Many of us are talentless, completely ordinary in the grand scheme of things. But most of us have a spark, even if it’s extremely small – maybe even hidden way down deep. Just a hint of something we might be capable of. Hustling is taking that spark, that teeny tiny starting point and working like hell to make it into something more – not taking no for an answer and continuing to plough forward despite disappointment or failure. Hustling blazes the trail that becomes the story of your life. In the end, if you land on failure you still have the fight, the path littered with what you accomplished trying to get to the finish.  Hustlers may not always win, but in their journey they inspire others and contribute the much needed hope that the world is often so short of. “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” -Abraham Lincoln

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luck n. success or failure apparently brought by chance

I have to confess that I chose this word on purpose because I really wanted to write about it. Over the years my husband and I have created a comfortable life for ourselves. We have a nice home, a happy baby boy and a great dog. We sit by the fire and drink wine. We have dear friends, plenty of good, healthy food, and have travelled well. We are grateful and feel blessed. However, if you say we are “lucky” I might have to punch you.

The word lucky inevitably comes up to describe my life after some piteous story about someone else’s hardship. I am forced to recall the adage “never judge a book by it’s cover” when I hear the word lucky to describe my life. I wish I could start spouting off the stories of my hardships – my brothers cancer, my father’s death from a brain tumor, how I worked in a factory out of high school because I couldn’t afford college, my first job as an accountant that I took so I could pay the rent…etc. etc. If one were to stack up all of the hardship and troubles I have had in my life, the pile would be equal to or higher than my good fortune pile. Good things come to those who work, and sometimes they don’t come at all even if you’re working really hard. Sometimes you have to keep working toward the light at the end of the tunnel however small that light may be.

I would prefer to say that we are blessed for having some of the good things in our life. We were blessed to give birth to a healthy baby, but it has taken skill and hard work to keep him healthy and growing well. I have definitely made sacrifices for it. Yes, we have a nice house in the suburbs – but you should have seen some of the shit holes (pardon my language) we have lived in – including a fourth floor attic apartment that was slanted and a duplex that had no subfloor that Stella (our dog) would pee through to the basement because she was scared of living in Brooklyn. We’ve had brand new cars that have been keyed and tires slashed. There have been firings from jobs, death and lots of debt. I have cried for whole days until my eyes were swollen shut…and I know my future has its fair share of pain and hardship waiting for me when I least expect it.

You can say I am lucky for one day or one hour, but not to describe my entire life. I am not entitled to what I have and I know it can go away tomorrow. I know what it means to have nothing at all and to have to start over from the beginning. Yet therein lies the beauty of a well worn life – there is always a beginning. When you’ve seen the bottom and looked up to the top the last thing you count on getting you there is luck.

Mother to Son 

By Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

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