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Many years ago, when I was preparing for an audition at the Metropolitan Opera, I was nervous and feeling insecure, as I had never performed at that level. I was looking for inspiration to make me feel better, and I read a quote from Beverly Sills that said, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” She was talking about inner STRENGTH: The emotional or mental qualities necessary in dealing with situations or events that are distressing and difficult.

It was at that point in my life that I first encountered the poem below, which now hangs prominently in my office. May it remind you to NEVER GIVE UP! Keep going… you will eventually SHINE LIKE THE STAR YOU ARE!

THE OAK TREE by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.

A mighty wind blew night and day

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away

Then snapped it’s boughs

and pulled it’s bark

until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held it’s ground

while other trees fell all around...


The weary wind gave up and spoke,

How can you still be standing oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you

can break each branch of mine in two,

carry every leaf away,

shake my limbs, and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,

growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them, for you see,

they are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn’t sure

of just how much I could endure,

But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.