I'd all but written off going to see Iyanla Vanzant on Saturday morning. Not being familiar with her work and having the time that she would begin speaking changed from 9am to 8:30, I figured with the dry throat I'd exhibited on Friday, it'd be a good idea to sleep a couple extra hours and be ready for the breakouts that began at 11:30.
I woke up earlier than expected, however (at about 7:30) and decided to start getting ready, still not planning to go see her. I did something while on the trip that I very rarely do at home: shave every day. I wanted to feel ultra clean and pure each morning that I attended the workshops and was greatly helped in this endeavor by removing the hair from my face.
I heard people leaving and heading to Vanzant's talk as I brushed my teeth and so on. I started thinking about going, but knew I'd have to sit in the back side of the room if I did so. I was all ready at about 8:15 and figured, "What the hell, let's check this one out".
Surprisingly, I was able to get a seat in about the 10th row; it's easier to find seats if you're just a group of one as opposed to two or more, definitely a perk of going solo. As I waited for the show to get underway, a lady walked up front who had a shirt that said, "Love is my religion".
A young man who'd I'd seen at Neale's all-day the day before sat next to me. He told me he was originally from Denmark, but now lived in the States. I asked, "Where are you living?" and he said, "Where I am". Damn, he was good.
Iyanla came out to much applause a few minutes later. Most appeared to be quite familiar with her due to the fact that she appeared on Oprah more than a dozen times.
I'd heard of the book "One Day My Soul Just Opened Up", but didn't know any of the specifics of her life. She came out dressed all in white and wound up being a hoot. There were some aspects that I didn't particularly care for such as sometimes having an attitude when not being respected by others, but I can't say I've not done the same thing in similar circumstances.
Throughout the weekend, I noticed that certain words spoken by the speaker would queue up songs in my mind having to do with the words said. Whenever someone said, "Joy" which was frequent, I would think of "General Joy" by Tori Amos. When someone said, "Benefit", I thought of the Beatles' "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite". When I heard "Make Me Better", I thought of the rap song of the same name. I wondered if others had the same experience or didn't know enough songs for this to happen to them all the time.
One of her discussions really hit the mark. She told us to frequently ask ourselves, "How many strangers can you make smile today?" One of the greatest joys in my life is making people laugh, even if it's at my own expense. Something I need to work on is smiling more at people.
She took a number of questions after she concluded the regular portion of her talk. A man from Maryland said he'd been married for 40 years to the same woman, a woman who sleeps with one of Iyanla's books under her pillow. He said that though they have separate bedrooms, they have a great sex life. This got a number of laughs as you might expect and I did a little whistle looking back at him. Vanzant kept the laughter coming by saying, "I wanna see the woman you're having sex with". The wife, embarassed beyond belief, rose a few inches, but didn't have the nerve to stand fully.
Another great quote she gave was, "Live your life with some pizazz and excitement! You're gonna die. Get over it. You might even be going to hell!". A great sense of humor and one I really resonated with. As people came up to her to sign books, there would be a number who had tears in their eyes. Iyanla responded by saying, "People look at me and start crying! What does that mean?"
As I left the ballroom, I was extremely pleased that my body had gotten me up when it did. Seeing this beautiful black woman had gotten my day off to a great start.