The last two weeks of January can only be described as incredible Teachable Moments! Situations that could have turned out badly were both memorable and joyful!
On the 19th I headed down to Harrisonburg, VA excited to give an all-day workshop on Emotional Intelligence at Generations Crossing, one of my fav places on earth. In proactive fashion I had gotten my 65,000 mile service on my car the day before so I’d be ready for my trip. About 40 miles from my hotel in Harrisonburg another driver pulled up alongside me pointing to the drivers side of my car, alerting me that something was hanging from underneath my car. I pulled off to discover that the shield that protects the engine was hanging down. I quickly grabbed some duct tape from the gas station I’d pulled into, got under the car and taped it up. But I was clearly worried about going the 130 miles back home with the entire front of my car held together by duct tape. I looked up the closest Ford dealer and saw there was one just a few miles from the location where I’d be speaking. On the morning of Martin Luther King’s Holiday I pulled into the Ford dealer to see if they could fix my car before I got back on the road later in the afternoon, but the service manager took one look at me as I walked in and said “before you ask we are booked solid all day”….. I paused and then said “Good Morning, I’m Loretta and I’m in town to give a presentation before driving back home to DC this afternoon and I’m truly worried about going that far with this duct tape holding my car together. Is there any way you can help me?” He looked up at my sad face and then down at his computer. “Can you be here at 4?”…. I guaranteed that I’d be there and I was. Turns out the Ford dealership in MD had neglected to put 5 screws back in the shield that covers the engine and it had started dragging the ground causing sparks…. I was so grateful to the Harrisonburg Ford folks for helping me. The manager who waited on me in the afternoon said the manager who waited on me in the morning told him that I was the “happiest person he’d every met” and he had to help me though they were booked. Lessons Learned – Duct tape can be your friend, it pays to be nice to people even when they aren’t particularly nice to you AND I can do anything I need to do in a pinch!
On Jan 23rd, I finally got the injection in my infected eye that I’d been putting off. I’d been told that it wouldn’t hurt, and maybe that was true, but it was the most uncomfortable 21 seconds I’d spent in a long time. I’d tried to be proactive and had arranged a ride and backup ride to my appointment but both had fallen through at the last minute so I drove myself. That was a mistake! I was literally shaking after the injection and had to sit in the office waiting room until I was strong enough to head home. I made it home safely but it wasn’t a smart decision. Lesson Learned – don’t hesitate to call on others for help even at the last minute.
On January 28th I was supposed to fly to Westchester County, NY to give a presentation in Pearl River. The flight was delayed so I decided to drive. I had time to chill by the fire in the hotel lobby before my presentation and I was relaxed and ready to go! The Artis Senior Living staff was welcoming and loving as they always are and we had a blast together!
But I noticed right away that some of the folks attending were clearly not aware that the speaker was going to be African-American. A woman who was seated in the front of the room as the full dinner buffet was being set up in the back of the room came up to me and said “what’s on the menu for tonight so I can tell you what I want on my plate?”….. “ummmm”, I paused. “I don’t know what’s on the menu” was the best I could come up with. “Why not?” she shot back. “Because I don’t work here.” She simply said “oh” and brushed by me clearly aggravated and headed to make her own plate. As the presentation was about to start she realized I was the speaker. She turned her chair around away from the screen and with her back to me. “Oh Lordy” I thought. But I started my presentation with my usual humor and joy and within two minutes my friend in the front turned her chair around to face me. For the rest of the presentation she took notes, laughed and cheered and a couple of times wiped tears from her eyes. Artis had purchased books for every attendee which I had signed in advance but I offered to add their names to my signature if they wanted that. My “friend” in the front of the room grabbed her book and jumped up to be first in line. She came up to me, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked right into my eyes and said “you are a beautiful soul” and hugged me tighter than I’d been held in a while. I hugged her back for what seemed like forever! It wasn’t an apology for her earlier treatment of me, it was even better than an apology. Before I started my presentation I had decided I wasn’t going to let this woman or anyone else ruin that great evening that I’d driven 4 hours to get to. Lesson Learned – Be open and forgiving and give folks a second chance to make a first impression.
On the 29th after work I gave a presentation at Olney Assisted Living. A Facebook friend accepted my last minute invitation and joined me. There were just a few people in attendance but I’m a true believer that size doesn’t matter at all and we had the best time ever!! My friend Nancy Piness and I possibly had met many years ago and we have so many connections from work, church and the Veney family that we could actually feel as if we are related. What a gem she is and it was such a pleasure to have her there!! We will be friends forever! Lesson Learned – invite people to hear you speak even at the last minute!!
Last night I ended the month of January in the best possible way! I went Contra Dancing with my friend Katherine…it’s kinda like line dancing and square dancing mashed together (see YouTube) and you dance with almost everyone as the night goes on.
I swear the people who were there were the nicest people ever!! New people like me wear blue buttons so everyone knows it’s your first time. Anyone can ask anyone else to dance regardless of gender or orientation. It was amazing learning the steps and the turns but it didn’t matter if you messed up!! People just laughed and kept going! There were different ethnicities, young folks and old folks and men in skirts and kilts so it would twirl when they turned, and everyone was so comfortable in their own skin and welcomed each other unconditionally! I honestly have to say I’ve never attended another event quite like it!! Katherine and I danced for more than 3 hours and I didn’t get home until after midnight but felt exhilarated! I laid in bed remembering the names of the people I’d danced with, the steps, the smiles and most of all the fun! Lessons Learned – be open to trying new things and meeting new people, it may end up being an experience you’ll never forget!!
Hello February!!! If you’re anything like January you’re going to be a great month and I’m ready!!