I was honored to be invited to present the Flourishing Treatment Approach to 300 diabetes educators, nurses, dietitians, social workers, pharmacists and physicians at the 6th annual Charles H. Best Diabetes conference last Friday.
Forget the fact that the night before going to Kennedy airport for my flight there had been a water main break and all cars were being diverted away from the airport. Forget the fact that I had to travel on a bus, railroad and the AirTrain to get there. Forget the fact that my flight left 90 minutes late and when I arrived in Toronto I had no idea how to get to my pre-arranged car because I had no phone plan for Canada. Yes, Canada is a separate country.
Ignore the fact that when I did find the car we drove in a wicked thunderstorm 90 minutes to the hotel. That I dined alone at 8:30 pm in the lobby pub of the Sheraton. That I had to climb on some cabinets (up to my childhood antics) to pull the plug out of the full size refrigerator that was making a racket of noise in my room. That I barely slept and woke at 6:30 am to spring into action. Forget it, ignore it, because none of it matters. I realize like a pregnant woman (no, I’m not, don’t start any rumors) who forgets the pain of childbirth, I forget the pain of flying and hotel living. Because when you get where you’re going and you do what you do, it is soul-gratifying.
Conference day at 10 AM, as I walked up the staircase to prepare the room where I would give my workshop, I stopped in my tracks seeing this poster (above) on the stairs. What popped into my head was a palm reader’s prediction, (I went to many readers when I was in my twenties searching for the meaning of life, my life) “You will be known, not by your face, people won’t follow you down the street, but many will know you by your work.” An amazing prediction at the time. And there it was, this poster sitting at my feet making me recall that prophesy and feel slightly heady. As I did the whole day.
There is such a dearth of tools for the professionals who dedicate their lives to working with people who have diabetes. And most of these tools, and the approach most providers have been taught, is old-fashioned thinking and limited; I bring them fresh air and fresh insights. I am also advantaged at conferences by not being a medical person. I do not come armed with clinical statistics and bullet-riddled powerpoint slides. I come with a patient’s experience, pictures that evoke feelings and tap into intuition and ideas that provoke one’s mind and the status quo. My opening slide for example:
I am in my element on stage which is still a wonder for this girl who grew up so shy. But I feel the love and support that emanates from the floor, it comes in waves rising to meet me. Before I take the stage my body is flooded with stress hormones and my blood sugar surges (yes, this career will kill me) but once on stage I am relaxed; I am where I should be. I revel in each nodding head affirming what I say, in the eyes that follow mine, and last Friday in Toronto, in the unexpected standing ovation that greeted my close.
I have been told that I embody my message. In that way I can almost not fail which is a comfort. But it is the connection, the open heart and offering that I come with and the open hearts and willingness to hear that my audiences return, where the magic is made. Thank you I do not take it for granted.