July 2009 is one of the most life changing months of my life. It may sound melodramatic, but it's real. After years of enjoying how technology connects me with like-minded people and people I can serve in some way, I have learned new ways to use technology to change lives.
At the invitation of Sister Cathleen Timberlake, a member of the Indie Beauty Network whom I met through the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild, I spent Wednesday through Friday leading a 3-day social media training workshop at the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, population 79, not including the Sisters. (Enjoy a video about the community.) This awesome experience has changed my life in many ways, not the least of which is a renewed appreciation for the power of technology. Here's what I mean.
- Technology Is For Everyone. Some people think technology is most useful for small business owners and entrepreneurs. While there's no doubt that the efficient and cost effective use of technology is important for those with a product or service to sell, even if you don't have a business, technology is for you.
This week, I learned for the Sisters how technology can be used to advance the goals of their monastic community. For example, they plan to use the things I taught them to spread the word about the benefits of their lifestyle, increase donations, increase downloads of the recording of their daily prayers, increase the number of people they can pray for, advance sales of their soaps and body care products, create more demand for their handmade altar breads and find manufacturers of equipment they can use to streamline their altar bread manufacturing operation. And this is just the beginning.
Whatever goals you have, technology can help you achieve them.
– Do you want to stop the construction of a parking lot that would destroy a dog park in your neighborhood? Use a blog to do it.
– Do you want to connect breast cancer survivors to share stories, encouragement and resources? Use a social network to do it.
– Do you want to share your original music with the world? Use MySpace to do it.
– Do you want to get a new job? Put together a resume website to do it.
– Do you want to share quick and breastfeeding tips with other moms? Use Twitter to do it.
These examples are the tip of the iceberg. Soon, Google will release Google Wave and there will be another incredibly powerful way for you to use technology to positively impact others and change your life and circumstances for the better.
Technology is changing the world for the better. It will change your life for the better too, if you embrace it for the good it can do.
- Technology Decimates Barriers and Stereotypes. When I arrived at Clyde, I was very self conscious. Could I wear make-up? Did I have to remove my red fingernail polish? Was my blouse too revealing? Open-toed shoes, skirt length? Did I smile to much? Crack too many off-color jokes? Would they see me as a techno-geek invading their quiet sanctuary with the evils of the Internet?
Would everyone wear long black robes? Would they all act exactly the same? Did they walk around with their hands folded across their chests all day? Could I hug them or was I too germ-y?
All of these things crossed my mind in one way or another.
But from the moment sister Cathleen picked me up at the airport, every single thing I thought about monastic life changed.
I will share some of these details over the next few weeks at my blog. But for now, my point is that it is only through technology that I have had the opportunity to rid my life of stereotypes that were holding me back from seeing a part of the world that is exceptionally special.
Technology brought me and Sister Cathleen separately to join the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild. The Soap Guild brought us together at a conference where I spoke on the topic of social media. That speech led Sister Cathleen to invite me to join her at Clyde to share what I knew with her Sisters.
Technology changes lives and I want every child to have the opportunity to use it to make the world a better place.
- Technology Is An Equal Opportunity Employee. Anyone with a message to share can use technology to share it. Technology is a good employee. It's easy to manage and can be used by anyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc., to accomplish goals.
The Benedictine Sisters have been in existence since the turn of the century. For much of that time, they lived in seclusion. But since implementation of Vatican II, they have been using technology to modernize their monasteries and share their important prayer work with the world.
I was thrilled to meet so many Sisters who were eager to see how easy and fun it is to use new and free technologies to spread their message of God's love and allow you and me to see the benefits of their simple, peaceful and joy-filled lifestyle.
The Sisters told me what a difference my teaching has made in their lives. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve them. But know for sure that I gained at least as much as they did from our time together.
My time in Clyde was personally pivotal in ways that I cannot fully appreciate at this time. I was like a sponge, soaking up so many new things that I could hardly take it in at once. So far, I've seen only glimpses of how what I learned will make a difference in my life. Here are a few examples.
– Sister Sophia taught me what prayer mandala is and even helped me learn to make my own.
– Sister Cathleen taught me about lauds, noonday prayer and vespers, and how slowing down for each makes my day more focused and productive.
– Sister Rita showed me that the monastic life is rich and full of laughter, humor and personality.
– Sister Lynn showed me how having faith can change the direction of your life, even when you fight against it.
– Sister Dawn personified the kind of intelligence and style that a Sister brings with her into a monastic community, and showed me that she does not have to abandon her personality to serve God effectively.
I will be sharing more from this experience in the coming weeks.
Question: What do you think of these experiences? Has technology helped break down some of the stereotypes you once held? Would you like me to lead a social media training in your area? Let me know!!