This is part one of a two-part post. It was getting too long so I cut it in half. Part two will come tomorrow.
I work at the best place.
The director of our department hosted a professional development day earlier this week. Our director believes that it’s important to provide opportunities for staff to gather outside of the workplace, to engage their minds in thinking of the many possibilities in life rather than of the restrictions that often guide us in our daily dealings. Our director rocks, to be truthful. She’s got a reputation of pure gold all across the organization and it’s richly deserved and worn well. This year the event was held at The Lakeview on the shores of beautiful Lake Ontario in Hamilton.
I was excited because I found out a couple of days earlier that Rona Maynard, ex-editor at Chatelaine magazine would be our afternoon speaker. She left the masthead of the magazine back in 2004 when, as she said to us, she lost the desire for the problems at Chatelaine. Now, as an aspiring writer and a avid reader of Chatelaine – I even wrote a paper on the magazine for one of my university courses – I looked up to Rona Maynard. She sat in the top job in Canada for women’s magazines, a job I used to dream of having when I had those dreams. Her departure left the magazine in a turmoil in terms of editorial leadership.
Chatelaine sent me my first rejection letter from a woman’s magazine and I’ve never been published there. I went for the best when I pitched: The Atlantic, Walrus, New Yorker, Chatelaine. Only the best rejection letters for me. I met once with their health editor when I worked at a women’s health resource office years and years ago. I was all eager and looking for a mentor; she was looking for story ideas. I gave her one and we never talked again. She didn’t seem too interested in it at the time but I later found evidence she pursued it. I think my take would have been a bit different, but I’m glad she picked it up. Welcome to the sisterhood.
Nevertheless, needless to say, I was excited about the day.
We began at 9:00 with a short warm-up activity, to get us energized. It was a game of “who’s got …. in her purse”. Now, we number almost 100 and the men are in the <5% range and I don’t think any of them brought their purse, but they did have backpacks and briefcases so no one was left out. I carry almost nothing with me but the barest I need: wallet, notebook, change purse, electronics (phone, ipod, Livescribe, camera, ear buds, memory stick) and keys. Oh – and lipstick (Deep Violet). Brand new. Bought it the other day. The only thing I could get my hands on quick was my memory stick – which to me seemed too common to call out so I was content to watch the others. Until I heard the words “memory stick” and my hand shot straight up into the air “ME” I yelled out while my other hand furiously sought it out of the pocket in the bag. Woo hoo, I won – second comer – but I won. Lipgloss. I guess that’s my measure of this week’s luck gone – best save the lottery money for next week.
The morning speaker was Janice Butler, who runs Creative Breeze Training in New Brunswick. She was perfect for the morning, a bundle of energy dancing to the music and spreading positive messages: we are born to be alive, the importance of dreams and the necessity to act on them.
She asked us to think back to a time when we were kids and what it was that we spent hours doing, when time flew by we were so engaged in the moment. For me it was making newspapers, cutting up other pictures, creating headlines. I only wrote the front page, but I remember it so vividly. That and reading. The reading was constant, unstoppable, like breathing. Still is. She said to reconnect with it, somehow find a way to incorporate it into your life; you will be surprised at how it can carry you to new, dream-realizing experiences.
Janice uses a visual board to keep her dreams before her eyes and suggested that we do too. A visual board is a large poster board containing images of aspects of your dream and you in them. She used her example of her dream to go on the Ellen Degeneres show and she showed us a picture she used of Ellen interviewing a guest only Janice put her head on the guest’s body. Keeping your dream at the forefront of your mind will inspire you to act on it in many tiny ways and it will inform your thinking about future opportunities. Well, Janice hasn’t yet made it to the Ellen Degeneres Show, but she was invited as a guest on a local New Brunswick talk show similar to Ellen’s. One step closer every day.
Janice also shared with us the example of her sister and brother-in-law who had a dream to visit Tuscany. Teamwork brought them to a Quebec television show that offered people the chance to win their dreams if they satisfactorily met the challenge presented. Their challenge was to correctly identify, by tune, the 104 symphonies of Hayden. None of them were familiar with Hayden, never mind his symphonies. But positive messaging (It’s a success!) and teamwork served them well. They attacked the problem together and when the challenge came, and Janice had to answer for her team, don’t you know she won!
Isn’t that amazing, how something they thought was impossible became possible through teamwork and positive thinking.
I’ll leave it here and relate my meeting with Rona tomorrow.
Until then – remember: it’s a success – whatever it is….