Written 10/13/12 after participating in the Corporate Counsel Women of Color conference in Chicago, IL
(I left this story pretty much as I wrote it on the plane that day because the writing was so fresh after the experience and I can remember the post-conference contentment. My beloved dad passed away just a couple of weeks after I wrote this and it feels like I was a different person before that happened. Didn’t quite feel comfortable posting it until now . . . hope it speaks to someone.)
I’m not much of a fanatic about people or things. I don’t think of myself as having an idol or a hero other than my parents, whom I adore and respect. But on October 12, 2012, I found myself nervous in anticipation of a speech by one of my favorite motivational speakers/authors, Valorie Burton. She was set to speak at 11 am at the Corporate Counsel Women of Color (“CCWC”) conference in Chicago. I love CCWC because it focuses not only on career strategies but also on nurturing your spirit. And that is exactly what happened in 2007 when I first attended CCWC in NYC and encountered the lovely, spirit-filled Ms. Valorie Burton. I was having a rough time at work back in 2007, wondering where my life was headed in terms of my career. And Valorie spoke to me. I mean SPOKE to me! It was like God was talking to me through her. It was then I really started honing in on my purpose. At age 35? Yes, it’s never too late.
So when I found out Valorie was speaking at this year’s CCWC, oh boy was I excited! Got there early, picked a good seat up in front. Even had my books ready for her to sign. (This is where the fan part comes in.) At about 9 am or so, I noticed that 2 other speakers were there but no Valorie. At 9:30, I looked around, still no Valorie. Still early, Nicole, no worries. 10 am – uh, is she not coming? I actually found myself getting nervous, heart beating faster (no perspiration . . . yet). What if she doesn’t come talk today? OK, calm down, Nicole. She’ll be here. When I saw her finally walk in the room, there was some calm, but also some anxiety. I know I need to go up and talk to her, but will I get the chance? What will I say??? How can I explain to her how much she touched me in 2007. As I write this, I feel myself getting emotional just as I did that day. Long story short, I did talk to Valorie and I did try to relay how she inspired me back in 2007 to become a coach myself. And you guessed it, all that pent up nervousness, excitement, anxiety led to tears. Yes, I cried through my short conversation with her. But she hugged me, gave me her card (she’s excellent about marketing, too!), and she was gracious.
To have come from where I was in 2007 and to see her again at this different stage in my life – now a mother, certified coach and a person who is reasonably satisfied in my life – wow. My tablemates that day listened as I told them how inspirational Valorie is and what a great speaker she is, etc. They probably thought I was a bit touched given my tears as I told them the story. But I hope they understood how people can really touch you and sometimes that memory is so vivid and strong that it brings tears of joy. You never know who is going to touch you or what someone is going to say that will really speak to you. But if we can just be open to it, it can happen. And it will affect us in ways we can barely imagine.
To those of you who read all the way to the end here – thank you, I’m grateful you did. And I ask you, who is speaking to you right now? Are you listening? Take it all in. It just might be the lesson of a lifetime!