Unique Lives - Linda Ellerbee - Feb. 25, 2002

Linda Ellerbee was one of the funnier speakers we have ever had. She also had one of the more profound messages. She continues the insider connections of the series as well. She dropped the names of friends like Cokie Roberts and Leslie Stahl, both previous speakers and fellow journalists. She also mentioned that some have said the TV show Murphy Brown was based on her. Candice Bergen, who starred as Murphy Brown, was one of the speakers last year.

Linda's delivery style is very similar to that of Cokie Roberts. Very fast paced and lightening quick with the one liners. Most of them went by so fast I could not remember them or write them down. One twist of language I do remember. She characterized a foolish media behavior as being the "act of a moral dwarf." I do love creative use of language. Most of her humor came from that. I may have to go read the book for more.

There were also deep and moving momements. The most memorable for me was when she talked about her recent visit with children in Afghanistan. If you ask them about their hopes for the future, their answer is likely to be, "Dinner." She talked about writing in her hotel room and crumpling up paper with ideas that weren't working and tossing them in the trash. We all know and have used that dramatic gesture. She later saw a hotel employee taking those papers out of the trash and straightening them out so his kids could use them in school. I seem to recall this sort of information missing from our daily news from the region.

The main theme of the evening though was about change. How in life sometimes we choose change and sometimes change chooses us. Later in life change tends to choose us more often than we choose change. We should all make the most of our opportunities for choosing change. Ms. Ellerbee had Seven Rules for dealing with change and for life. The list follows along with whatever commentary popped to mind as I was typing them up.
  1. If you believe you are morally right, fight to do it your way.
    This thought was echoed by Betty Mahmoody, author of Not Without My Daughter, in a first season's talk. If you aren't standing up for what you believe in, odds are you are sitting down for what someone else believes in. That would be okay if there weren't so many confident fools out there leading the way.
  2. If we only use power the way we learned from men.....
    I missed the end of this rule, but the idea relates to the previous rule. If you believe you have a better way to use power do it your way rather than the way men have taught you.
  3. Keep Your Mouth Open
    Speak your mind. Don't keep what you believe in hidden.
  4. If you don't want to get old, don't mellow.
    And just last week I read a quote in the paper from Helen Hayes, "If you rest, you rust." Keep the home fires burning I guess.
  5. Always set a place in life for the unexpected guest.
    Nice to hear this one. I got a broken leg for Christmas last year. Welcoming it to the table has made the recovery process a rich learning and growth experience. Beats the heck out of sulking in the corner.
  6. Just because everything has changed, does not mean everything is different.
    The story that went this needs to be told. Her mom had recently been transplanted from Texas to New York. She was having a very difficult time taking root. Linda finally saw her mom's face light up. She was reading the paper and stopped to stare at a page. She smiled and said, "Look! They have a Saks Fifth Avenue here too!"
  7. A good time to laugh is any time you can.
    I sure laughed a lot at this lecture. In fact sometimes she was delivering lines so fast that we missed jokes while we were laughing. Marie Osmond, a future speaker this season, was quoted as saying, "If someday we are going to be able to look back on this and laugh, then why not laugh about it now?" That advice has helped me laugh at a lot of adversity along the way. It didn't stop the hurt, but it did speed up the recovery. Sometimes that is the best we can ask for. Life is going to hurt a lot. Let's keep the downtime to a minimum.