Inspirational Stories: The Lesson from the Big Ugly Bear
What Ugly Means...
Inspirational stories uplift us when we needed it the most. This is an inspirational story about the things I learned from a bear that I thought was ugly.
The word ugly has the following definitions:
- frightful, dire
- offensive to the sight, hideous
- morally offensive or objectionable (e.g. corruption-the ugliest stain of all)
- likely to cause inconvenience or discomfort (e.g.the ugly truth)
- quarrelsome (e.g. an ugly disposition)
And of course, our famous story Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen. The term ugly duckling has the meaning of one that appears very unpromising but often has great potential.
My best friend Stella, also my partner in our preschool, loves to draw and paint. She was actively involved (and still is) in the making of our materials when we started our Play and Learn Program for toddlers ten years ago.
We needed pictures to show the different positional concepts such as big and small, up and down, over and under, inside and outside, far and near and so on. Sensing that I was feeling low, she invited me to paint with her. She handed me a picture of a big and a small bear.
I was grouchy, feeling low and down in the dumps. "I don't know how to paint." I muttered under my breath.
"What?" she asked.
"I don't know how to paint," I growled, angry that I had to repeat what I had to say.
"It's okay," she smiled brightly. "It's quite easy. We are using poster color paints so it's not as hard as water color."
I frowned as I grudgingly sat beside her. When she looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes, I frowned some more (if it were possible to have more lines on my forehead).
"Here," she handed me the paint brush and placed the palette near me. I pushed it away.
I was being stubborn and she knew it. So she just focused on the activity instead. "Okay, I'll paint the small bear first and you try painting the big bear."
I watched her work for a few minutes. It was fast and it looked quite easy. Well, when it was time for me to paint the big bear. I began to feel angry. Many thoughts were running in my head. Thoughts of how I was not good enough. That no matter what I was going to do, it was going to end up ugly anyway. Why bother!!!
That was the year that I was finding myself. (How I got lost, that's another story to tell--and a long one at that!) I was feeling angry with myself and the world and so the poor bear got the brunt of it all.
I grabbed the paint brush, the paper and the palette and began to furiously paint. I stabbed the bear many times and finally when the bear was ugly already, I declared, "see it's ugly! I told you I can't do it." But as the words escaped my mouth, I could feel the tears forming in my eyes.
The Ugly Bear
Stella looked at my painting. It wasn't such a nice work. And I knew it. She knew it too. Before she could speak, I blurted some more. "I hate it. It's ugly... see! It's very ugly. I could never do anything beautiful! It's hopeless!"
She opened her mouth, closed it and gently got hold of my hand which was stabbing the bear with the paint brush. "Chelle, there is still hope. It's not ugly at all. Just a bit of a mess but it can be improved. There's always something we can do."
She got the paint brush, dipped it into the brown mixture and right before my eyes transformed the ugly looking bear. She didn't do much really. Just improved what I did and cleaned out the mess I made with my stabbing motions. But it worked. Even in my depressed state, I saw the bear starting to look better.
A Better Looking Bear
I grew silent...
The painting lesson taught me something truly valuable.
1. Painting is a form of therapy. Watch what you or your kids draw and paint. Listen to the words they use to describe the picture. It reflects so much of what is inside the heart and mind.
2. If you feel ugly inside, you tend to view everything and everyone as ugly too. The world is the reflection of how we view ourselves. It's our mirror. What do you see?
3. Ugliness can eat you up. It can cause you to growl, flare up and get irritated easily. And if you meet people who "bite" and "snarl", chances are they have so many hurt and pain inside, and not knowing how to handle it, end up by hating anything and everything around them.
4. A person with low self esteem and self confidence often exhibit fear of trying new things. If you meet people like this, don't condemn them. Show compassion and understanding. And help them change perspective about themselves.
5. Sometimes we may make a mess of ourselves and our lives. But there is always the chance to stand up after you fall, to forgive yourself and others and begin anew.
6. Love and kindness heals a wounded soul. True friends and those who love you see beyond the "ugliness" and finds the beauty within you. And this will motivate you to change amidst their love.
My Nephew and Me with Our Bears!
There was a time...
I used to feel really ugly about myself. It seems I just couldn't do anything right. And I thought things were just hopeless and there was no way out of this situation. But that day, Stella planted a seed of hope inside me.
Somehow if she saw something beautiful in me, perhaps there is truth in the story of the Ugly Duckling --that he actually became a beautiful and graceful swan. And the truth is that I had something good in me too. And I just needed to unfold and heal and discover who I really am.
By: Michelle Simtoco
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