The old adage says “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. This common saying presumes that you have to “do something” in order to “get something” in return.
A few weeks ago I attended a fabulous lecture at the Savannah Morning News auditorium. The lecture was FREE and so was the lunch! All I had “to do” to receive this “free lunch” was to register and show up. I didn’t have to tour a time share or buy anything. I just had to show up and listen. I was blown away by the speaker, Susan Isaacs, and the story of her life in Savannah and her drive to create a successful company here. Her story validated my story. Her work values mimic mine. She attributed her success to four things:
- Hire people who are thoughtful, considerate and talented
- Treat employees with respect
- Work hard
- Serve others
I am in the midst of a personal “tipping point” and I hunger for any information that will guide me in a new direction. I am reminded of another “tipping point” in my life back in 2003 when I had a “conflict” at work with another staff member. Whatever was going on for this person had nothing to do with me but somehow I became part of her story and she became part of mine. I was verbally assaulted over something minor, stupid and meaningless that I had nothing to do with. This was one of many events that changed my life and sent me on a new path. When it happened my first instinct was to “fight back”and I did that a few weeks later when I applied to graduate school! Educating myself is my way of “fighting back” against injustice and disrespect. I was determined to change my status and ensure that no one would ever treat me that way again. Ha! I know – Pollyanna thinking!
Eleven years and several life-changing events later I know that it doesn’t always work out that way. I’ve had personal heartbreak that was worse than any toxic work experience could ever be. Crappy things happen and it’s learning from the crappy things that makes the difference in being happy again. Things will continuously fall apart and come back together again. Read Pema Chödrön for a more enlightened take on this concept. Gathering information is how I deal with things falling apart in my life. In “knowing” I think I can be better prepared for the “next” time things fall apart and ready with a plan for when they start to come back together. It’s just what I do. I surround myself with books and research the Internet. I talk to people and I ask a lot of questions. I should know by now that there never really is a way to prepare for the “next” struggle in life though. The truth is I just feel better when I’m learning. It is very intimate and personal. It helps me to sort out whatever psychological junk is going on in my head. It helps me become “unstuck”. It helps me get back on the right track. It calms me. It encourages me. It uplifts me. I’m always amazed at what is available to learn.
So I keep learning as I wait for the next chapter in my life. Maybe I’m already in the next chapter! It’s the all together, slowing down, practicing patience, embracing calmness, eating ice cream and enjoying life chapter. I know that one day something else will happen and things will fall apart again. Until then I’ll try and keep my daily activities positive and my brain moving in a forward direction.
I enjoy watching at least one Ted Talk (www.ted.com) a day. I have to limit myself to three or I could watch them all day long. Most of the talks are less than 15 minutes long. Quick little mini lectures. The other day I learned about the love lives of fireflies. Who knew! I’m usually more interested in the inspirational stories but for some reason the firefly story peaked my interest. We don’t have fireflies in Savannah. I wonder why? My church, The Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah (http://www.uusavannah.org), has “Popcorn with TED” on the last Friday of the month. It’s a wonderful social engagement for people who want to learn something new while watching TED Talks together. I know that some libraries across the country have held similar programs. The Creative Coast (http://www.thecreativecoast.org) in Savannah recently featured a local TEDx conference. Look for TED Talks online or local events in your area. Great ideas. All FREE!
I have been inspired by Oprah Winfrey for years and record the Oprah’s Master Classes, Super Soul Sundays and Life Classes on the OWN station. Oprah says “Use your own life as a class”. I can do that! I have found encouragement from the superb guest speakers featured on these shows. I did not know much about Bishop T.D. Jakes until I saw him recently as a speaker on Master Class. One of the many things I learned from Bishop Jakes was that “when you hold on to your history you do it at the expense of your destiny”. Brilliant! I really needed to hear that! This is a great daily reminder. I picked up two of T.D. Jakes books at the library yesterday and know I can learn more from this inspirational speaker. I feel energized by the stories and journeys of other people. I take notes and record quotes. I make lists of the authors and lecturers I’ve heard and pick up their books at the library. I read. I learn something new and I am influenced.
I’m 52 years old and I’m still learning. I have more wisdom than I did when I was 22, 32 and even 42 but I still have a lot to learn. The biggest reward to exploring new ideas is that I always learn something important about myself. My life changes for the better with each experience. The opportunity for learning something new is always there and all you have to do is show up. It’s fantastic! The best thing is that feasting on knowledge IS free.