I have always dreamed of being someone wise and enlightened since I was a child. Looking up at the big blue sky, I wonder, “what is my life’s purpose? Why was I born at this time to my parents and the place where I am?” These were big thoughts for a ten-year-old to ponder, but these were important to me. I was born to a blue-eyed platinum-blonde mom of European descent and a taller-than-average Japanese man in Montana in the 1970s. Why? I am still figuring this out, even now.
Everyone has that one person in their lives growing up, the shining jewel in their childhood that is the inspiration for the rest of their lives. For me, this was my grandmother. She was the salt of the earth and the beacon of hope to a child that felt out of place. I never felt like I belonged anywhere and was bored with almost everything. My grandmother, whom I lovingly refer to as “Buttons,” introduced me to the world of art, theatre, and writing. We called her Buttons because that was one of her clown names. How lucky am I to be a twenty-five percent clown?
She ignited the spark of adventure and a desire for travel. She also stressed the importance of education. She was a woman born in the 1920s, grew up in the Great Depression, and attended college in the 1940s. I truly admired her for all that she was. She grew up in Iowa. During World War II, her brother enlisted in the Marines. While in the military, he met the love of his life, which broke my grandmother’s heart a bit because they were so close. However, she had a brother, and my grandmother began writing to him, although they never laid eyes on one another. They fell in love through their letters. After two years of correspondence, they finally met in person. In this first meeting, he kindly asked my grandmother if she would like to live in Montana. What a marriage proposal! How could she say no to this gorgeous, tall, blue-eyed blonde Marine? She was swept off her feet, dropped out of college, and landed on a rural farm in Montana. My mother was born nine months later, followed by my uncle a little over a year later.
She had a happy marriage and a great family but longed to finish her formal education. She enrolled in college in the mid-forties to finish her degree. She ended up earning two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree. One of her degrees was in theatre. It was fun spending time at her house and seeing the exotic and intriguing people that came to her cast parties. She was a fantastic actor and talented artist. The first play I saw was when I was four years old. She died in the play, and I was the blubbering preschooler in the front row.
Even after her formal education, she never stopped learning. In college, I visited her and remembered her sitting in the living room teaching herself to mime. I was confused because I thought mimes and clowns didn’t get along. Which, she assured me, wasn’t the case. She kept her mind sharp by always keeping busy, doing crossword puzzles, reading, and creating artistry in everything she did until dementia crept in. She lived until the age of ninety-three.
She inspired my lifelong Journey of learning. I struggled with health issues during college, so I had to take an extra two years to finish. I always kept sight of the goal of getting my degree because of her voice in my head cheering me on. But after that goal, I lost sight of being a perpetual learner. I had several jobs, owned businesses, had a family, divorced, and became a single parent. It wasn’t easy getting back into work after being a stay-at-home mom. I looked for ways to stay close to my children since they were small.
I found multi-level marketing (MLM). I know what you’re thinking; very few people can do well with this business model, which isn’t easy. While these are valid points, I will tell you why I love MLM companies! They, or at least the ones I was involved with, encouraged personal development. I could be learning and growing again, making myself better for myself and my children. It was exciting to read about personal growth; I haven’t stopped for the past eight years. I got to a point where I was reading a book a week for a year. But how do you find the time as a single parent?
I found myself in the car a lot, and I would listen to a book on audio. I turned my idle driving time into an educational driving experience. I started with simple books and moved to more intellectual, thought-provoking, and unique insights of varying degrees. These audiobooks have been the catapult to a new learning hemisphere for me. Education doesn’t end with formal education; it is lifelong. I hear the voices of personal development gurus such as Brian Tracy, Jack Canfield, Robert Kiyosaki, Jim Rohm, Les Brown, and many more in my head today. Besides audiobooks, I can listen to podcasts and learn something new daily. More importantly, many audiobooks are free. Well, as long as you have the most crucial card in your wallet. And no, I’m not talking about a credit card; I am talking about a library card.
I also check books out of the library, purchase books, and read Kindle and other eBook formats. I buy the ones I want to keep reading repeatedly and use some for reference. I am happy to know that I have built a diverse library. I do watch a lot of videos as well. I even learned to knit on YouTube! If I need to change a brake light in my car, I search for a video and watch it on YouTube! I also love the courses and certificates from LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and EdX you can earn.
As Warren Buffet has said, “The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself… the more you learn, the more you earn.” Knowing skills and providing value to others can keep you afloat in today’s economy. With the skyrocketing gas and food prices, it is always good to help others with your expertise and get paid to do it. These are challenging times, but you can get ahead by increasing your knowledge, honing your skills with personal development, and becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.