The Lessons I Continue to Learn…

The last two weeks of January can only be described as incredible Teachable Moments! Situations that could have turned out badly were both memorable and joyful!

On the 19th I headed down to Harrisonburg, VA excited to give an all-day workshop on Emotional Intelligence at Generations Crossing, one of my fav places on earth. In proactive fashion I had gotten my 65,000 mile service on my car the day before so I’d be ready for my trip. About 40 miles from my hotel in Harrisonburg another driver pulled up alongside me pointing to the drivers side of my car, alerting me that something was hanging from underneath my car. I pulled off to discover that the shield that protects the engine was hanging down. I quickly grabbed some duct tape from the gas station I’d pulled into, got under the car and taped it up. But I was clearly worried about going the 130 miles back home with the entire front of my car held together by duct tape. I looked up the closest Ford dealer and saw there was one just a few miles from the location where I’d be speaking. On the morning of Martin Luther King’s Holiday I pulled into the Ford dealer to see if they could fix my car before I got back on the road later in the afternoon, but the service manager took one look at me as I walked in and said “before you ask we are booked solid all day”….. I paused and then said “Good Morning, I’m Loretta and I’m in town to give a presentation before driving back home to DC this afternoon and I’m truly worried about going that far with this duct tape holding my car together. Is there any way you can help me?” He looked up at my sad face and then down at his computer. “Can you be here at 4?”…. I guaranteed that I’d be there and I was. Turns out the Ford dealership in MD had neglected to put 5 screws back in the shield that covers the engine and it had started dragging the ground causing sparks…. I was so grateful to the Harrisonburg Ford folks for helping me. The manager who waited on me in the afternoon said the manager who waited on me in the morning told him that I was the “happiest person he’d every met” and he had to help me though they were booked. Lessons Learned – Duct tape can be your friend, it pays to be nice to people even when they aren’t particularly nice to you AND I can do anything I need to do in a pinch!

On Jan 23rd, I finally got the injection in my infected eye that I’d been putting off. I’d been told that it wouldn’t hurt, and maybe that was true, but it was the most uncomfortable 21 seconds I’d spent in a long time. I’d tried to be proactive and had arranged a ride and backup ride to my appointment but both had fallen through at the last minute so I drove myself. That was a mistake! I was literally shaking after the injection and had to sit in the office waiting room until I was strong enough to head home. I made it home safely but it wasn’t a smart decision. Lesson Learned – don’t hesitate to call on others for help even at the last minute.

On January 28th I was supposed to fly to Westchester County, NY to give a presentation in Pearl River. The flight was delayed so I decided to drive. I had time to chill by the fire in the hotel lobby before my presentation and I was relaxed and ready to go! The Artis Senior Living staff was welcoming and loving as they always are and we had a blast together!

But I noticed right away that some of the folks attending were clearly not aware that the speaker was going to be African-American. A woman who was seated in the front of the room as the full dinner buffet was being set up in the back of the room came up to me and said “what’s on the menu for tonight so I can tell you what I want on my plate?”….. “ummmm”, I paused. “I don’t know what’s on the menu” was the best I could come up with. “Why not?” she shot back. “Because I don’t work here.” She simply said “oh” and brushed by me clearly aggravated and headed to make her own plate. As the presentation was about to start she realized I was the speaker. She turned her chair around away from the screen and with her back to me. “Oh Lordy” I thought. But I started my presentation with my usual humor and joy and within two minutes my friend in the front turned her chair around to face me. For the rest of the presentation she took notes, laughed and cheered and a couple of times wiped tears from her eyes. Artis had purchased books for every attendee which I had signed in advance but I offered to add their names to my signature if they wanted that. My “friend” in the front of the room grabbed her book and jumped up to be first in line. She came up to me, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked right into my eyes and said “you are a beautiful soul” and hugged me tighter than I’d been held in a while. I hugged her back for what seemed like forever! It wasn’t an apology for her earlier treatment of me, it was even better than an apology. Before I started my presentation I had decided I wasn’t going to let this woman or anyone else ruin that great evening that I’d driven 4 hours to get to. Lesson Learned – Be open and forgiving and give folks a second chance to make a first impression.

On the 29th after work I gave a presentation at Olney Assisted Living. A Facebook friend accepted my last minute invitation and joined me. There were just a few people in attendance but I’m a true believer that size doesn’t matter at all and we had the best time ever!! My friend Nancy Piness and I possibly had met many years ago and we have so many connections from work, church and the Veney family that we could actually feel as if we are related. What a gem she is and it was such a pleasure to have her there!! We will be friends forever! Lesson Learned – invite people to hear you speak even at the last minute!!

Last night I ended the month of January in the best possible way! I went Contra Dancing with my friend Katherine…it’s kinda like line dancing and square dancing mashed together (see YouTube) and you dance with almost everyone as the night goes on.

I swear the people who were there were the nicest people ever!! New people like me wear blue buttons so everyone knows it’s your first time. Anyone can ask anyone else to dance regardless of gender or orientation. It was amazing learning the steps and the turns but it didn’t matter if you messed up!! People just laughed and kept going! There were different ethnicities, young folks and old folks and men in skirts and kilts so it would twirl when they turned, and everyone was so comfortable in their own skin and welcomed each other unconditionally! I honestly have to say I’ve never attended another event quite like it!! Katherine and I danced for more than 3 hours and I didn’t get home until after midnight but felt exhilarated! I laid in bed remembering the names of the people I’d danced with, the steps, the smiles and most of all the fun! Lessons Learned – be open to trying new things and meeting new people, it may end up being an experience you’ll never forget!!

Hello February!!! If you’re anything like January you’re going to be a great month and I’m ready!!

4 thoughts on “The Lessons I Continue to Learn…

  1. Ms Loretta, you truly are living your ‘best life’ 🤗. I pictured u fixing your car with the duct tape 🤔. Your words rings true, treating people better than treat us. The service man couldn’t resist your beautiful smile 😊. Your experience with the lady reminds us that it is easy to meet people where they are and forgive them in the process. Thanks for explaining the Contra Dancing, sounds like great fun.

    Blessings, Belinda

    >

    • Belinda,

      You are so awesome! Thank you!! I definitely try to give everyone an honest chance without judging them. Empathy helps because we’ve all said and done dumb things in our lives….

      Yeah that contra dancing was amazing!! I can’t wait to go again!!! What fun!!!

      Hope you are well my friend!!

      Loretta

  2. Dear Loretta,

    No surprise at all, but you continue to amaze me. I can’t even imagine crawling under my car to fix it, but there you are doing just that! And your attitude going into the Ford dealer. Most people in this day and age would have argued, pouted, and harangued at the manager’s first utterance, but you won him over with your honesty, your smile, and your expectation that, given a chance, people are going to do the right thing. “Happiest person he’d ever met!” He got that right!

    And then that woman at the presentation!!! I can’t even imagine receiving and greeting her attitude with magnanimity, but of course you did, and look at the outcome. She learned something from you that was far more important than what you had to say in your presentation (not to minimize the importance of that!), but she saw a woman willing to meet her in the ugly place she was in and take her to a new place full of warmth and acceptance she may have never experienced in her life. I think she is a changed woman because of you, Loretta. And that’s going to make life better for her as well as for a lot of people she encounters in the future. Your influence is spreading in the world, Loretta! When I think of all the good will and blessing you bring to people in your travels and your work, I am so glad I am lucky enough to know you and call you friend!

    I loved your description of the contra dancing. It sounds like such a good time. I hope it opens up a new avenue of fun and relationships for you, dear Loretta.

    Thank you for sharing this very special post. It made my day to read about your January. I can’t wait to read about February!

    Much love to you, dear lady!

    Karen

    • THANK YOU SO MUCH Karen!!!!! You have no idea how much your words mean to me!! You yourself are a beautiful soul and I’m thrilled that my journey brought me to your town!! I am thrilled that we are friends. And I’m
      thrilled that you always read my words and that you “get me”.

      I write everything down so that on my bad days I can read responses like yours and know that I’m doing some good in this world. And I want to remember how much joy I experience in this world!!

      I don’t know what I would have done if the service manager hadn’t agreed to fix my car. I guess I would have just applied more duct tape and prayed all the way home til I got to the dealership that caused the problem in the first place. I’ve never been one to argue much and it’s served me well!! I was surprised that they did help me!! I wanted to hug the man who agreed to fit me in! I know this world feels kind of terrible at the moment but there can be some really COOL moments too!

      As for the woman at the presentation, she’s not the first person like that I’ve met on the road or in my professional life and she certainly won’t be the last, BUT I can’t tell you how AMAZING I felt when we hugged!! I’ve never won the lottery but I can’t imagine it being any better than what I felt that night!!! So very powerful and you certainly got that!!

      I’ll keep going on this journey and I’m excited that you will be with me!!! I’m pretty excited about February and Yep I’ll be writing!! And I definitely can’t wait to go back to Contra Dancing!!!

      Love ya much!!!! Hope to see you in 2020 my friend!!

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