I was especially lucky this Mother’s Day weekend to spend time not only with my wonderful daughter A, but with my wonderful daughter A at a wonderful mother-daughter weekend. You see, I took my daughter A to the Live Your Best Life Weekend to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of “O” magazine in New York City. (Okay, okay, okay, I also spent Friday with my son D. I was very proud of myself as I navigated the city streets to move him out of his dorm without getting a parking ticket. And I spent Sunday evening with D too, welcoming him back home for the summer. There goes my empty nest for the next several months! I do love my son D, even if he did take my bottle of Dove soap out of my shower and forget to put it back on Monday morning. Who needs soap any way? So what if he left an empty iced tea bottle in the refrigerator on Monday evening.Why would I want a full bottle of green tea sitting in my refrigerator all day any way? I can drink warm tea with my dinner or no tea at all. Whatever. It’s all cool)
“O” magazine is a relatively new magazine in my magazine repetoire. (how could I resist since the subscription was only $5 for the year, what a bargain…right? Even if I don’t read the entire magazine every month, it is still a great magazine. And I share it with my friends.)
When I read about this special weekend with Oprah and all her life-changing experts, I registered the minute the tickets went on sale on March 15th. I knew it would be a fabulous way to spend Mother’s Day weekend. And since I was going to stay at my daughter A’s NYC apartment during the weekend, I decided to purchase a ticket and take her along.
I learned so much from Oprah and her life experts. And there is so much I want to share with each of you. Yes, I do. I do. I do.
Oprah was amazing. She had so many quotes I wanted to savor as she welcomed everyone on Saturday morning. “You must fill your cup first so that your cup will over flow and reach others,” she said as she welcomed the thousands of women, and a few men too, who had each come, like me, as Oprah said “to be a seeker in search of my best self.”
“There’s a special guest on the agenda today,” said Oprah. “It’s Elizabeth Gilbert.” Ooh, aah. I was so excited. Elizabeth Gilbert authored one of my favorite books, “Eat, Pray, Love.” I read her book cover to cover and many of the pages several times after my husband died a few years ago. I so wanted to go to Italy to eat, India to pray and Indonesia to fall in love again, just like Elizabeth did in that book and in real life.
I felt like Elizabeth was talking directly to me, as she shared her philosophy and tips on living life to the fullest.
“Do you see your life as a series of final exams that you have to pass every day, instead of a journey?” said Elizabeth. (Yes, I sometimes do feel like my life is a series of final exams. In fact, at this point I feel like I’m not passing the “sell my house” exam. I wish I could get a passing grade on this test, so I could downsize or right size my living quarters, give up my bamboo backyard and not have to worry about sump pumps and basements anymore.)
“We long to have someone help us solve our life,” Elizabeth stated. “Our lives are journeys that no one can solve for us.” According to Elizabeth, we listen to speakers like her and others and watch reality shows and read blogs and memoirs to “find clues on how others solve problems” in the hopes that we will learn how to solve our own problems.
“But, we are each unique,” she added. “Our lives don’t look like the lives of the women who came before us.” (What you say is so true, so true. However, I still would like to eat my way through Italy and go do some yoga and meditation in India…just like you did. Maybe someday, even if it doesn’t solve all my problems. Maybe if I ever sell my house or maybe when I retire, I’ll eat my way through Italy and go to India just like Elizabeth did.)
Elizabeth quoted life coach Martha Beck (another Oprah columnist and another speaker who I heard present on Saturday afternoon. Martha was fabulous too, but I need another blog post to fully share her words of wisdom.) Elizabeth said that Martha Beck says there are four kinds of women:
1. Women who chose career over family (not me)
2. Women who choose family over career (not me)
3. Women who choose family and career (I guess that would be me)
4. Women who are ‘mystics,’ those who chose any combination of the three who follow their own path and drown out all the other choices (I want to be a ‘mystic.’ I think I will become a ‘mystic’ during my 50+ years.)
Elizabeth inspired me with her closing words: “I get up every day and do my best with what I’ve been given. I try to do better each day. I’m not kind to myself. My head is a neighborhood that you wouldn’t want to be in. If we are going forward, there will be risks, failure. Have self-forgiveness for not doing well on certain days.” (Yes, yes, I shook my head, some days I’m really hard on myself too. Okay, most days I set very high expectations and maybe I need to move to a neighborhood more like Dr. Rodgers neighborhood used to be. Or even to Sesame Street so I can be easier on myself.)
I was so moved by Elizabeth’s words that when I heard she was doing a book signing I went right up to the Barnes and Noble stand at the conference and bought her new book “Committed,” even though I told myself that I was not going to allow myself to purchase any new books at this conference because I have sooooo many new books at home from other conferences that I have not read on my “waiting for retirement” bookshelf. (But, I decided that, as Elizabeth said, I should not be so hard on myself . So I allowed myself to buy the book. That was an easy decision.) Then I waited patiently on line to get my book signed, as my daughter A went off to wait in line so we would be able to get a seat at the next session with Dr. Oz., taking the camera with her…so I missed the moment to get my picture taken with Elizabeth Gilbert. Oh well.
As I stepped up to the table, Elizabeth commented on the shirt I was wearing. “I really like that teeshirt,” she said. (I was wearing my “Love This Life” teeshirt with the big yellow sunflower on it. I thought it was the perfect tee for the day.) “You do?” I said to Elizabeth, “I love it too.”
P.S. – Stay tuned for more recaps from the Live Your Best Life Weekend. I need to get some rest before I share more about what I learned about living longer from Dr. Oz, and what I learned about decorating from Nate Berkus, and what I learned about the 10 Roads to the Right Life from Martha Beck. While I did enjoy my weekend in NYC, I got very little shut eye. I’m just not a good NYC apartment living sleeper like my twentysomething daughter A is. I cannot sleep with earplugs. And I cannot sleep with sirens going off at 2:00 a.m. I’m just a menopausal fiftysomething woman who needs her sleep routine in the suburbs of NJ. It’s so good to be home, even if my home is no longer an empty nest.
How well I remember the conversation on the first hike my girlfriends and I took after our kids came home from freshman year at college: "I sooo love having him/her/them around the house. It feels sooo full. I know. I can't wait til they leave again"
Parenthood – it's all about being comfortable with the ambivalence. I think Elizabeth Gilbert gets that part too.
Ashleigh, Thanks for your postive comments.