feelings, competition, oprah, making a difference, helping people, anxiety, making a difference, motivation, self, reframing, perspective, my own oprah contest, oprah, taking a risk, emotional management
So this whole Oprah thing has been a fascinating journey into what makes me tick, what makes others tick and how people view themselves. Lest you wonder what the heck I am talking about here’s the deal: Oprah has her own TV network and the Oprah Network (OWN) created a contest to win your own TV show. There are several categories, including ‘Wildcard,’ which I would offer really sums up this entire experience.
Video’s were to be ‘approximately’ three minutes long and you were to share your idea for your show. A few people forwarded the contest information to me and I thought, sure I’ll get to this. Work, my daughter’s graduation, and life interrupted that thought train and I quickly found myself with a few days left trying to figure out what to do.
The essence of all that I work on, from writing to video’s to coaching to being a Mom and friend is all centered on emotional management. My simple premise is that we all show up every day and do the best we can with what we have. The key in this is to learn new skills and most importantly, learn how to manage our emotions. It can be tough work but oh-so-worth the effort.
So here I was, trying to figure out what to say and how to position it and what to do - I decided to just take a big, fat, wide view, ‘I’m here to help people learn how to communicate and manage their emotions.’ Knowing enough about marketing and presence, I realized that keeping one’s interest during a video is key and that if I tried too hard it would not be good, if you know what I mean. My favorite editor and aspiring filmmaker helped me put it together and walah! I was done.
Ha! I was soooo naive. Getting the video put into their format, trying to add music (nah, we finally decided, this was taking up way too much time) and then getting it accepted took hhhhooouuuurrrrrsssss. And then I realized that, silly me, this is Oprah for goodness sake. It was taking time b/c everyone in the country was doing what I was. There are millions who would drop to her knees in gratitude should she show up to their grocery store unannounced. (Just to put it out there, my personal opinion is that this is the right thing to do. I consider her to be a fabulous role model for all people, self-effacing, giving and always growing-girl that she is).
So the time and the entry’s and the angst all started building. And I drove myself crazy. I kept refreshing the url to check on my video – I realized my chances are slim to none but I just wanted to get it ‘done’ and not let this once in a lifetime opportunity go. And of course, curiosity being what it is, I watched every new video that was uploaded in my category of ‘Health and Wellness’. Some were silly, some were thought provoking and some were good. I have to admit that more than once I thought, this is really going to be embarrassing when I finally get it loaded, I simply don’t stand a chance.
And then my business head would rule and remind me that this is a competition! I need to kick butt. OK, so I started getting a bit anxious. There is a form that you have to complete with the video to be a fully vested in the contest process and, somehow in my ‘busyness,’ I thought I had another 10 days to submit the form. As I was clicking, watching, and checking, I thought I would review the form again and quickly noted that the form was due! Shxx! I think I even surprised the dog as I panicked and was typing away adding in answers to their thoughtful questions with answers that were anything but thoughtful. Shxx. I was panicked, I hit ‘submit’ and it reminded me I didn’t put down my favorite movie or magazine. I am oh-so-sure most applicants listed The Color Purple for the movie and Oprah for the magazine. Not me, I wasn’t going to be cheesy. I just wanted to be me. I wanted to provide a list; I can’t pick one of anything, I just can’t’. Doubting my logic, I compromised between the two and picked Love Actually for the movie and "Oprah" for the magazine. Form submitted, I went back to my monitoring process.
Here’s what I found. Some of the entries were really just for entertainment. I saw people flexing muscles with cans of beans, talking from Jacuzzi’s (so they could be comfortable while talking), lots and lots and lots of diet ‘stuff’ (including dialogue about the healthy nature of the avocado, including a comparison on the shape of the avocado and a womb) along with an accomplished make-up artist sharing how to put on bronzer ‘just so’. The more I watched the more I thought, well that one is kinda interesting, jeez I wouldn’t mind learning that, or it would be fun watching her or even interviewing him.
The largeness of it all overwhelmed me. There are so many video entries. How in the world are they going to pick someone?! The rules offer that you can ‘win’ by the number of votes OR they can pick you. The votes are telling, the leader now has 8 million votes. Yep, 8 million. If I was on the selection committee, I would have to beg forgiveness and move on, I don’t know how you determine something so specific from so much.
My poor husband was left with me in a puddle at the end of the day. My video hadn’t appeared, there were more and more entries, and I was lost in a sea of information. I finally decided to hell with it; I gave it a shot, it’s late and I’m exhausted. I have work to do. Heading to bed, he reminded me that there are 200 plus million people in the country so it’s ok. I tried and that is what counts.
This morning I woke up to a sinus headache and a full house of college kids. As I quietly snuck into my office to see what had happened I typed in my name and OMG, there it was. My little project, all on it’s own with 0 views and 0 votes. I had at least jumped on the boat, I had that going for me.
And now, I wonder why my panic and why the craziness of it all. Really what was that all about? I landed on a simple premise. It’s about making a difference, making an impact. That seems to be the driver, not just for me, but for all of us. Today as I look at it and notice how many care about so much, it gives me a smile. How very cool for all of us throwing our hat into the ring; how very overwhelming for the Oprah team. I’m sure they’ll figure it out. I’m just glad I don’t have to.. I would give everyone a vote of ‘yes’ and never leave my office again.
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She casually mentions this ‘beach week’ thing and how she and five of her good friends would like to go and have the entire ‘senior year’ experience. Without even hesitating, I offered a ‘sure’ remembering how it felt to be 18, wanting to be my very own person, having the freedom to decide what I wanted to do, when and who I wanted to spend time with, and the best of all, deciding what I actually wanted to do. OH the joy of these decisions, they seemed so freeing.
My Mom had a set approach for dealing with each of us; I was the oldest, deemed the ‘responsible’ one, and so I was offered few freedoms. In fact, I was given little to no room for error. I was kept busy and that worked in a sense, because I could at least keep my mind active as I was tearing through the house with laundry or Windex. Thoughts of ‘I will never make my kids vacuum the house this often’ are still with me to this day – so when my daughter relates her teenage angst to me, empathy I’ve got.
After I mention the 'beach week' to my husband, he naturally, and appropriately, brings in the much-needed reality check. You told her what? Where? Who will drive? We aren’t signing on for the house; lets make sure we are on the same page with this. Yes, yes, I tell him. "Of course you make sense. She’ll be ok. We will make sure she is prepared."
Months go by, time pushes fast and right before me this past week, I watch her walk a path and move a tassel and all of a sudden she’s done with public education and beach week is days away.
We had already mandated that she and her girlfriends attend a ‘come to the parents’ meeting to review the dangers of the trip. She is accustomed to these meetings; we have created these for other serious ‘rite of passage’ events – driving, getting your first car, turning 18 and the change in curfew, etc. These meetings have sign-in sheets, hand out documents and sometimes show a PowerPoint illustrating our well-versed mandates.
Yet I realized I was ill prepared for this trip and for this meeting because the more research I did, the more fear crept in. The statistics for beach week (by the way, this pertains to wherever there is a beach) illustrate more than the occasional drunk teen. Quickly and repeatedly I read accounts of beach week grads jumping off of balconies, contests to see who can hook-up (still amazes me that this slang has replaced ‘having sex’), and lots and lots of binge drinking.
Then I learn of a documentary, ‘The Haze’, about a Colorado teen who dies three weeks into college after binge drinking at a fraternity event. The more I research, the worse it gets. The stats are horrifying.
Binge drinking. Tons of shots. Drinking upside down. Drinking from some apparatus that has a hose on it. Mixing wine, beer and liquor for the ‘effect’. It’s enough to make me the terrible, mean Mom, who changes her mind on a big decision. I realize that the real answer is teaching and preparation.
I recently saw some movie footage showing interviews with parents, asking them what they felt their primary job was in terms of taking care of their children? The most common answer was to love them. Some answered to parent them and then to let them go, or to enjoy them, or protect them, or a worried helicopter Mom’s answer, to pull out the best in them.
My take on this is a bit different – I have always felt that I was handed these little beings filled with love and life and my job was to teach. Teach them the basic skills of life. Teach them how to look someone in the eye and shake hands. Teach them how to how to handle crazy Aunt Toots during the holidays when she says something totally inappropriate to them. Teach them how to reframe the expected setbacks in life so they don’t feel so put upon. Teach, teach, teach.
And so I approached this beach meeting with the same philosophy. I was going to teach, come hell or high-water. On a dark humid summer evening this week, the girls all piled into the dining room with their long hair and flip flops and excitement to get this last one obstacle before them completed. The beach awaits.
Two and a half hours later we were done and they were appropriately taught. And quiet. And maybe, just maybe, a wee bit wiser. We reviewed the PowerPoint, we talked about boys and how they are at a different place in life than they are, we talked about the buddy system and safety and even riptides and jellyfish. We reviewed budgets and keys and insurance. We watched the documentary ‘The Haze’.
As the patched together saying goes, the teacher is really the student and learns from his students – and yes, I learned. I learned that though they are 18, they are really big kids. I learned that they are still growing and learning and trying to figure it out. I remember this now; I guess I was the same way.
We all heard the same information, and though I am sure this made an impact, I can only hope it sticks. Beach, boys and being young are strong contenders. Here’s to teachers everywhere in every form and fashion.
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P.S. If you want a copy of the PowerPoint send an email to: kimromancorle(at)me.com with the subject line ‘Beach’ and I’ll send it you.
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