This is the start of something good, don't you agree? Ah, that's the first line of a Gavin DeGraw song that I love. It's titled, like this post, 'Follow Through.' Whenever you set your mind to start something, I'm pretty certain that follow through is the key if we have any desire at all of something to come from it.
However, today is about endings.
For the past five weeks I was part of an amazing e-course called Flying Lessons. Kelly Rae warned us it would be intense. She warned us it would be loaded with content and information. She did not disappoint. She left me so very inspired.
In fact, I found myself searching, wondering what and when was the last time I had read words that made me feel like that. Aha! My 'Oprah' magazine. Then it all came rushing back. Her column - What I Know for Sure. It's my favorite part of the magazine. Back in college I even wrote a cover letter in the same format. Aha! Writing - another passion. So that's what I did. I began writing. Only this wasn't exactly a What I Know for Sure so much as a What I Know I Don't Know - my take on how I have gotten here and where I am, in part thanks to Oprah and without a doubt to Kelly Rae Roberts and my fellow flyers.
Wow, twenty-five years young! I say it that way because I always felt like The Oprah Show had been around as long as I have been alive. But I’m twenty-eight. So I guess I have three years on ‘Oprah.’ Still, what will be on the television every day at 4:00? I pride myself on my knowledge of the lineup: All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital, and then The Oprah Show. In fact, The Oprah Show usually was a daily guarantee since I was almost always home from school by 4:00.
I grew up with Oprah, or maybe she grew with me. I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. I did not always agree with her, and that’s okay. That is one thing I definitely know for sure. You don’t have to agree with everyone in life, but you can respectfully disagree. You treat people with respect, which was always demonstrated on The Oprah Show.
As the years went on, Oprah was still there with me at 4:00, as though nothing had changed. Thank goodness for that because things had changed. Fortunately, Oprah talked about accepting and embracing change something I greatly needed to learn how to do. As luck would have it, during my sophomore year of college (college in and of itself brought a lot of change) a friend gifted me with an ‘O Magazine’ subscription for my birthday. To this day, I still read it. Each month the magazine inspires me in a different way, and on a different level.
Sometimes we need that little nudge to turn up the volume on the voice inside our beings and allow us hear it saying, ‘You really can do this. Just go for it. If you fall on your face it’s okay, but at least you tried. You’ll never know unless you try. How will you achieve your dreams if you don’t even reach for them?’ That’s what Oprah began to do for me as I worked to complete my English degree from the University of Michigan.
As my senior year was coming to a close I had decided I wanted to work in book or magazine publishing in New York (a big jump for this Georgia Peach). Like any good student does, I had done my research. ‘The O Magazine’ is located in Manhattan, right where I had decided to go give it a try. You’ll never know unless you try. What would Oprah do? You’ve got to put yourself out there. Everyone starts somewhere. So I sent my resume and cover letter to ‘THE OPRAH MAGAZINE.’ ME. I sent it along with my portfolio! I mean, what was I thinking? I was thinking I don’t know for sure if this will work. I don’t know for sure if this will get me anywhere. I don’t know for sure if these materials will even get to anyone of any importance. I do know for sure, with absolute certainty that I have to try.
I didn’t get a job with ‘The Oprah Magazine.’ I didn’t even get an interview. Somewhere there’s a bigger plan. Keep going and don’t give up. I did not give up though dueing those two months I wanted to a time or so. For two years I worked at Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins Publishers respectively. And yes, even as those daily changes came, The Oprah Show was still there at 4:00, only I watched her closer to 6:00 p.m off of Tivo with my roommates.
Oprah’s topics moved ahead with the times keeping her, and also the rest of us, ‘with it.’ My mother certainly has benefited from my watching of some makeover shows. I also know for sure that my (and maybe sometimes my dad’s) wallet has not benefited from my watching annually Oprah’s Favorite Things episodes. We may have had some great gifts and slept well in our Karen Neuburger pajamas (one of Oprah’s original favorites) but my debt grew. Maybe that was Oprah’s strategy all along (I am kidding, I know she wouldn’t really do that). But, I do know for sure I watched intently when Suze Orman told me to put all my credit cards out in front of me. Well, I stuck mine in my dresser drawer so that they aren’t even in my wallet. If they aren’t in my wallet then I know I can’t use them even if I wanted to. That’s for sure. Right, Oprah and Suze?
I can only hope so because I don’t know exactly when I will crawl out of my debt. In these times it’s hard to know. As I write this, which I have thoroughly enjoyed because writing has and always will be one of my true passions, I live back home in Atlanta. I left New York to become a teacher. I wanted a way to use my skills while being able to give back and help others. I don’t know why even sometimes the best intentions are not easy. Though I completed my Master’s Degree over a year ago, I have yet to have my own classroom. Georgia’s cutbacks and treatment of teachers has been unreal. I don’t know when I will work again. I feel like I don’t know anything. Despite interview after interview, with furloughs and budget cuts, I may have to take my career down a different path – only this time it’s a path unknown and as she enters her final season, Oprah will no longer be there at 4:00. I know nothing is for sure in this life and I don’t know what lies ahead, but I know I am the one who holds the power.
*Note: There's still a lot I know I don't know...I don't know when things will be easier. I don't know if the fear of having a creative business ever fully goes away. I don't know if I'll ever be completely ready. But I'm pretty sure that after endings like these it's gotta be a start of something good. Don't you agree?