My “Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend” Experience

Good Afternoon! I have been so anxious to share my experience with you guys all weekend. As many of you know, I was able to see Oprah live this past Friday and Saturday because of the funds I raised from my GoFundMe fundraiser back in May (Thanks to everyone who donated and/or spread the word!) I have shared pictures and video clips on Instagram and Facebook all weekend but I wanted to wait until today to talk about my experience in further detail.  I have  to say that this experience was one of the best moments of my life. The lessons I learned were so simple but profound.  On Friday night titled  “An Evening With Oprah”, she spoke for about 2 hours about specific moments in her life and how her thought process affected the course of her life. She referred to her Mississippi upbringing many times and how her grandmother  who raised her in her early years wanted her to “work for a good white family like the Leonards’ (the family her grandmother worked  for” She then went on to say that she wishes her grandmother were alive because she has some “good white people working for me” and even though it was a funny moment, it made me think about going above and beyond the expectations that someone else may have  in store for you. I thought that I couldn’t bring my camera (wrong) or a bag that would be big enough to fit my iPad, (wrong again!) I didn’t get to take many videos or pictures because my phone died within minutes after she stepped on stage! here is a pic of her that I was able to take before my battery’s inevitable demise.

I was already familiar with many of the milestones that occurred in her life but to hear the stories behind these milestones was what made this evening so special. She was so obsessed with the book “The Color Purple” that she bought 8 copies of it and gave the book to her coworkers so they could be just as excited as she was. When she heard that they were making a movie based on the book, she found a way to get in contact with the casting director and even with no previous acting experience, auditioned for the movie. She even went as far as going to a “fat camp” to lose the weight because she thought the casting director did not call her back because she was too big to be considered for any role. While at the fat camp, she received a call from Steven Spielberg telling her that she better not lose a pound or she would no longer have the part of Sophia and the rest is cinematic history! Even when she doubted her abilities, she still wanted it so bad that she didn’t give up and spoke this opportunity into existence. I know that no matter how crazy or difficult something may seem, if I want it bad enough, I can achieve it. In fact one of my favorite quotes from that night was when she said “”You don’t get what you wish for; you get what you believe.” Wishing is not enough, you have to believe in something with all of your heart and go out there and get it. I left feeling inspired and anxious for the next day’s events!

I woke up at 6am the next day (haven’t done that in forever!) to get out of the house by 7 and get to the arena by 8. At 9am, Oprah came out and spoke about how she was constantly worrying about being seen as nice in the eyes of others. She would do things that she necessarily didn’t want to do because she was afraid of the negative opinions of others. This kind of behavior would be what would hold her back and to be happy in life, she had to stop worrying about others opinions of her and listen to her inner voice.

She also spoke about the constant need for acceptance and validation from others to make important decisions in your life. She said that after interviewing notable people like President Obama (then Senator Obama) and Beyoncé, they would always ask her “Was that okay?” That simple phrase showed that they needed that reassurance that they did a good job in her eyes and hopefully in the eyes of others. Her message was that only you have the power to know what’s going on in your life and that you have to be still and listen to your inner voice to receive that information.

Oprah also had amazing speakers that she called “TrailBlazers” talk for about 15 minutes and share their own experiences on how to live the life you want. I am going to be perfectly honest with all of you. Out of the four speakers that were there (Mark Nepo, Elizabeth Gilbert Rob Bell and Iyanla Vanzant) the only ones that really spoke to me were Elizabeth and Iyanla. I don’t know if it was because they were women or because I actually knew who they were before the event but I focused on their messages more than the other two but I’m sure Oprah.com and YouTube have highlights from all the Trailblazers so be sure to check them out!

Elizabeth Gilbert is known for writing the book “Eat, Pray, Love” which talks about her journey to different parts of the world after leaving her husband and her job to find true happiness. She spoke about how throughout history, there were many tales written about men going on quests to find themselves and their passions. They would go through internal and external struggles before they reached their goals but these battles are what made them stronger in the long run. The only issue with these tales were that none focused on a woman’s journey. It was as if history was saying that women had it easy or were not complex enough to have layers to their emotional and spiritual beings. She felt that this was unacceptable and to find her happiness, she prayed any and everywhere (even in the middle of the street in NYC) and God gave her signs that showed her where she needed to be which inspired her to travel and discover beauty and joy in every thing around her. She spoke about how difficult it can be to drop everything to figure out what makes you happy but never lose yourself or your dreams completely even during the toughest times. She spoke about a single woman with 5 children who would save $1 everyday until her children were adults and moved out of the home. As a result, she saved enough money to go on the trip of her dreams.

I loved this story because this woman was able to see something bigger for her future and her life even through adversity and when it was all said and done, she found her happiness. I loved the way Elizabeth shared her experiences but I was waiting for Iyanla Vanzant and she definitely did not disappoint!

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“Courage is doing what you know you have to do before you are forced to do it!” Iyanla Vanzant

Iyanla spoke about being able to get rid the “humping puppies”(those voices that get inside your head that have you stuck in a particular situation) and life the best possible life you can. She also spoke about how your vision can be blurred and you don’t even see it because you think you know exactly how everything should be and it takes someone else who can see things for what they are to tell you differently. There was a funny story about this dress she bought on sale even though it wasn’t her size because she really wanted it. I didn’t get to record that one but YouTube it and you will laugh and learn a lot! I loved her approach because it felt like she was having a conversation with one of her friends and she would drink her champagne and her spirit just vibrated throughout the room. Outside of Oprah’s appearances, she was my favorite person of the day!

In between the “Trailblazers” sessions, Oprah would do mini workshop lessons with the audience by having us do exercises from the programs we received earlier that morning. My favorite lesson was when she had us divide parts of our lives (spiritual, financial, family etc,) into pie pieces and size them in order of importance. After we did that, we would draw emoticons inside of the pie pieces based on how we felt about it at that particular moment but using a :) emoticon which meant good, a :| emoticon which mean so so and a :( emoticon which meant bad. I had way too many :| and :( faces on important pieces so I knew that I had to focus on those to be happy with the pie that is my life. She also gave us homework to do which was to write our new vision. After writing what I wanted out of my life, I felt refreshed and renewed and writing this post takes me back those moments that I feel were truly life changing. I tried to explain many of those moments in this post but it’s very difficult to fully capture how big this moment was for me. I have been at a standstill in my life for sometime now and this weekend was the encouragement I needed to push past my pain and struggles to get to that next level. I know it won’t be easy but Oprah and her trailblazers proved that it was possible!

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My life is saying that I need to get up and get out there instead of waiting for someone to rescue me from the sidelines. What is your life saying to you?

If you have any questions or comments, make sure you leave them in the comments section below:) Have an amazing week and always remember to love and live luxuriously!

 

 

Life of The Party

“We don’t have to be ordinary…Make your best mistakes…‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry…So baby be the life of the party.”

Shawn Mendes- Life of The Party

 

teenagepartypic2This post is dedicated to the  Columbia High School class of 2004. It’s been 10 years already and I am excited about our 10 year reunion next month (still gotta get my ticket though!)  I started thinking about high school and all the things that went on and I realized that although I was there physically, I didn’t know how to live my life to the fullest just yet. Instead of going to parties, dating, and getting involved in other social activities like the other kids my age,  I was  focused on getting the hell out of there in one piece  because I felt like no one understood me and who I really was. All people knew was that I was obsessed with Usher (I had it bad lol) and that I was shy and socially awkward when not talking about him. Part of that was my fault because I feared rejection so I chose isolation instead.  I don’t believe in clichés and high school wasn’t a “Mean Girls” or “She’s All That type of situation but I do feel like I wasted a lot of time worrying about what other people expected of me. I was so worried about not fitting in that I didn’t realize that standing out was what set certain people out from the pack and made them memorable. Recently, I’ve had  conversations with people from high school that I still keep in touch with and I realized that many of them had the same insecurities that I had when it came to how people perceived them. All that time when I felt like I was alone, there were people who were going through similar dilemmas but they just chose to handle them differently. Instead of becoming withdrawn like I did, they became the “life of the party” and chose to follow their hearts. Granted, some people became dynamic personalities solely because of the attention and/or  because they wanted to be seen cool in the eyes of their peers but many of them just decided not the give any more fucks and do what made them happy. It took me a bit longer to catch on but I got it eventually:)

10 years later, I am able to look back and see things in a different light. I do not regret missing out on anything in high school because it made me the person I am today. I am able to say that I still have my shy and awkward moments but I know now that the only opinion that matters is my own so when I start to get in my way, I do whatever it takes to make sure I don’t fall back into those behaviors and patterns. Many people don’t feel the need for high school reunions anymore since Facebook came to existence (Thanks Mark Zuckerberg!) but I still think that it will be nice to interact with everyone up close and in person. I want to make sure that I speak to everyone because I have to make up for lost time :p You only live once but if you do it right, once is enough.

To the CHS Class of 04: See you soon!

 

Always remember to love and live luxuriously!

 

Lost and Found

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.

Line from “Amazing Grace”

 

little_girl_lost_by_kelchele-d4ox4cmFor the past couple of weeks, I have racked my brain trying to figure out what I wanted to write about. I wanted my words to be  positive and have some type of meaning to them. I didn’t want to sound  redundant and mention topics/themes that I have written about recently but it’s been difficult because I feel like I’ve been at a standstill lately. I haven’t been as focused and driven as I wanted to be and have settled when it comes to what I want  out of life. Instead of making changes, I became complacent and that is a  scary thing because when you are in that mode, you feel like nothing will ever change and that this is the best that it will ever be. I was wallowing in self-pity especially when I started to compare my life to my peers and started becoming envious of their success. I  know envy is one of the seven deadly sins but “dead” in this instance meant that the part of me that made me different and unique was starting to die. I was losing myself because I put limits on my expectations by settling and being jealous of others who haven’t . Nothing worth having comes easy and  even though I knew all of this, I still allowed myself to sink deeper and everything I wanted and desired felt like it was slipping further away from me and the woman I wanted to be started to slip away as well.

I have epiphanies on a regular basis especially as of late. I have had a lot of time to reflect on life and see things as they are. The problem is that after said epiphany, I don’t take the necessary actions to change my situation because of all the work that has to be put in place. I realized all of this when I was talking to one of my kids at my tutoring job. She was upset because she felt one of the other girls was being mean to her and she felt like she was treated unfairly by the other girls in the center as well as her siblings at home. As a result, she started sulking and crying. I told her that although I understood why she was upset, she had to take responsibility for her own actions because she had been mean to the girls in the past and had hurt their feelings. In order for her to get along with the girls and her siblings, she would have to be the type of person that others would want to be around and in turn, they would give her the same treatment. Crying and sulking wouldn’t help her situation but making the necessary changes would. I said it in simpler terms of course but  I realized I was giving her good advice but I wasn’t applying any of it to my life but instead, continued to go through the motions. I realized that I would continue to lose myself if I kept doing the same things over and over. That experience was definitely an eye opener and was the main inspiration for this post!

It would be a lie to say that I have all the answers and I know exactly what it is I need to do to get to where I want to be because I am still trying to figure all that out but I do know that I can’t keep wasting the knowledge that my epiphanies give me because it is liking ignoring signs that will keep me on the road to my destiny. I am finding my way back on the right path slowly but surely and  I want to thank all of you because by reading and sharing your thoughts/opinions, I feel as if you are on this journey with me:) Have an amazing weekend and always remember to love and live luxuriously!

 

 

Conquering My Fears

fearquoteI kept telling myself that I would talk about this fear of mine once I faced it head on but then I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to feel like a failure if I wasn’t able to overcome it. I have had a fear of driving ever since I could remember and combined with my fear of failure, I have been hesitant to take my road test again after failing it the first time 3 years ago. I don’t like the feeling I get when I can’t do something properly and although taking the written test wasn’t hard (had to take it 3 times over the last 6 years after letting my permit expire) when it came to facing the road test, I always pushed back the date because I never felt like I was ready. I tried figuring out why I was so afraid behind the wheel and I have come to the conclusion that although I am afraid of failure, my biggest issue is my fear of death. I am not worried about my demise but being responsible for someone else’s life is a very scary thing and even if I am the most careful driver, things can happen. I know that thinking this way is only holding me back but when I get behind the wheel, I can’t completely relax because of it. I start over thinking every little thing and simple tasks become complicated inside my jumbled mind. I have to get over this to get my license and most importantly. to gain control over my life and my destiny. Fear can be crippling mentally and physically and I don’t like the fact that I am the one that’s standing in my way. So what should I do?

 

At first I wasn’t sure of what the answer was but after getting to the root of my fears, I know to deal with my fear of driving and fear of failure I have to understand that even though I may have some control over my life, I can’t control outside factors and how others think and act. There is only but so much that I can control and I have believe in myself and God that everything will be alright. Letting go and having faith is one of the hardest things but to face your fears, you have to be ready to deal with the outcome, no matter what it is. Although my fear is of driving, this can apply to any fear or obstacle you may have. My road test is 2 weeks away and I promised myself that I would not cancel no matter what because I need to take it again and even if I do fail, I can always go back in 2 weeks and try again.  There is a quote by Thomas Edison that goes, “”I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work” and once you look at failure and life from that perspective, it changes everything. Wish me luck:)

 

Love and live luxuriously!