Lessons learned from Oprah

Over the year, I’ve watched, read, and ignored Oprah.  Here’s what I’ve learned from her:

  1. It’s ok to make yourself the center of attention.  If the magazine is named after you, take that chance to put yourself on every cover!  Seriously!  If you don’t grab it, someone else will take your spotlight.
  2. Leverage your job to help your friends.  Of Oprah’s friends, I love Rachael Ray the most.  But I also just appreciate the idea of helping your pals achieve their goals, even if it means you have to find a new host for that segment.  (Or a new Senator for Illinois…)
  3. Use your power to make good changes.  In this case, I care about the way Oprah brought new voters to the polls in 2008 and made reading cool with her book club.  Speaking of which…
  4. Hold people accountable.  I just finished reading A Million Little Pieces to see what all the controversy was about, and WOW that book should not have been marketed as a memoir.
  5. It is better to give than to receive.  Let me just say, no one likes giving things away as much as this chick does.  I’ve never seen someone so excited about getting a car, nevermind giving one.  And I watch a lot of “The Price is Right” so that’s saying something.
So long, Oprah, and thanks for the memories.

Intersecting Lives on the T

Living in a city puts you in contact with all sorts of different people as they go about their daily lives.  In the course of this week, I’ve had people fall asleep on my shoulder, seen a couple fight and then kiss and make up, moved out of the way of strollers and bikes, and sat elbow to elbow with perfect strangers as I drank my coffee and shuttled toward work.

And then today I saw this adorable scene, part of a longer conversation about life.

The place: the T in the early evening.

The people: a young boy with a Thomas the Tank Engine backpack and a mom in pink scrubs.

Son: Moooom.  I got detention today.
Mom: Yeah?  Tell me about it.  What did you do?
Son: I wasn’t being quiet, and the teacher said “I want detention for three minutes.”
Mom: Are you sure she said she wanted detention?
Son: Yeah.  She said she wanted detention for everyone.
Mom: Do you think maybe she said she wanted attention, like she wanted you to listen to her?
Son: Yeah.  She said “I want your attention” so I did what she said.
Mom: Good, I bet your teacher appreciated that.

::end scene:::

A few minutes later, they had a similarly cute misunderstanding about a nurse that “gave [him] his blood pressure”, and if he would have to miss school for his next doctor’s appointment.

I just love it when I see parents taking kids seriously while also talking to them at their level.  I’ve been reading a lot about problem solving, and this conversation made me think about how this negatively could have gone (“You got detention?  How could you?  Didn’t I raise you to be better than that?”) if the mom just hadn’t taken the time to calmly talk through the circumstances.  I saw a similar conversation in DC where a mom was telling her daughter that she couldn’t have chicken nuggets for dinner even if her friend was, because “what Ashley wants and what Becky needs are not the same thing.”

So, I’m storing today’s conversation away as a reminder of a few things:

  • It’s always worth figuring out what people really mean before getting mad.
  • There’s usually a way to talk to someone where they’re at (tired, distracted, ten years old) that will help you get more accomplished.
  • If you hear something adorable on the T, just pretend to read your book and listen up, because you might learn something.

Duct Tape

Tonight’s lesson: be flexible, but be prepared.

With the way my life has been going lately, I have a tendency to over-schedule everything.  When I am going to see someone again, which exact hour I have time for the gym, where we’re going for dinner, etc.  When this happens, I tend to get too involved in my plan, and then I become my own roadblock to happiness.  I end up saying things like, “Well, no, I shouldn’t have another drink, I need to hit the gym later,” or “Sorry, I packed my lunch,” or “I should get home before too long.”

To make matters worse, it’s really easy to convince myself that I’m somehow not prepared for spontaneous events.  Maybe my shoes are too uncomfortable, or my jeans are too casual, or I feel weird that I wasn’t specifically invited.

But tonight, I decided to be more like duct tape.  Flexible, durable, and ready for anything.

I was at an event for my old job, a close-out party within a bigger conference about consumer issues.  I planned to stay for a bit, see some old friends, meet some new people, and call it a night.  Then, I got  a text from my boyfriend saying that he was at a movie screening right down the street and could meet up with me after my party to give me a ride home.  For once, rather than taking the easy way out and getting home two hours before his movie ended as planned, I rerouted and went to join him.

And you know what?  It was totally worth it.

I had so much fun, it didn’t matter that I never had a chance to eat dinner, and that I barely knew the friend he was there to support.  It wasn’t a deal breaker that my back hurt and my bare legs were freezing as I walked to the car after.  I could have let any one of those things stand in the way of having a great night, and for once, I didn’t.

Now, I need more of this.  Less planning, more fun.  From everything I hear, that is exactly what my twenties should be for, and I intend to make the most of it from this day forward.

Enjoying the Journey

This Postsecret struck a chord with me.  This is the lesson I have been trying to learn and integrate into my life; it’s basically just another way to say “Enjoy the journey!”

I like to think that there are very few things I will regret about my roaring twenties.  One of my college bffs and I were talking about life recently and thinking about what we might wish we had done differently in twenty or thirty or fifty years.  I decided that I would wish I had taken better care of my body (working on it now), traveled more, and spent much more time with my friends and less time stressing out, watching tv, or playing computer games.

What do you think will count in twenty years, and what won’t?  Do you have any serious regrets to date?