If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it. [Oliver Wendell Holmes]
Welcome to Thursday. We had a big adventure yesterday in Ajax at the Connect.Women event, put on by the Whitby Chamber of Commerce. Time was, my heart would have stopped. But the gifts of years of experience, confidence that nobody dies from these things, and a good set of lungs all came through for me.
For the fourth year in a row – and the first for me - a group of (mostly) women gathered to network, to learn, to share and to enjoy each other's company. Little did we know we'd all leave with memories far and above what we'd expected: the power went off in much of Ajax around 11 am, right in the middle of the Connect.Women event. Maybe you were affected by the outage.
I was enlightened by it.
As part of my emceeing duties, I was in the midst of reading out the accomplishments of four nominees for the event's Woman of the Year award. If you've been in the Ajax Community Centre, you know how large their grand ballroom is (and how impressive). First thing Whitby Chamber of Commerce CEO Tracy Hansen did was open up the curtains at each end of the room to let in some light. That was good thinking! I used my sizeable lung capacity to fill the room and let every person there hear the incredible things each of these four women had done in their lives. The award was handed out to WindReach Farm's Kate Bird, a brief speech followed and then...dessert. Before lunch.
You see, the ovens apparently were electric and there was no way to warm the chicken, quinoa and vegetables. So what did we do? We improvised and ice cream-filled crêpes were brought out. “Perfect,” I said, “and in keeping with everyone's mantra to 'eat dessert first'!” (I hope that it becomes a tradition for next year's event.) I also reminded everyone of the women on the Titanic who passed on the dessert cart – and look how well that worked out!
Our keynote speaker, Oakville's Rebecca Heaslip, President of Leadership Insight Inc., reminded everyone of the importance of listening to our intuition and how to do that. If anyone is visiting here after yesterday's lunch, the meditation app I mentioned was Headspace. Its host, Andy Puddicombe, was a guest on CHFI a few weeks back and I've been doing this now for 11 days. LOVING Headspace.
Rebecca did half of her speech without a mic and from a small balcony above the ballroom (we figured her voice would carry best from up there, and it seemed to). I did have the bright idea to ask the table of Durham Region police officers in attendance if anyone had a bullhorn in their car, but they use speakers directly wired through their cars now. So, short of having Rebecca sit in a cruiser right there in the ballroom, that idea didn't work. As it turns out, about halfway through Rebecca's speech, the power returned. She made her way down to the stage, its microphone and a screen for her PowerPoint presentation. And everything then rolled out normally: chicken was served, prizes were drawn, thanks were given and we said our good-byes.
It was a memorable day, not only for the fact that I ended up putting on my Town Crier hat (figuratively, of course – girl's gotta watch her hair), but for what happened when the electricity failed. In a room of 200-250 women – all there to meet, to talk, to network and to be inspired by a brilliant panel with which we started the event before power went out – when we needed it, there was absolute silence. No one talked, everyone listened and afforded Rebecca and me the greatest consideration and respect. Sure, there was no music for a two-part fashion show. Yes, Rebecca missed out on several slides and then (after power was restored) lost the internet that should have allowed her to play a few videos in her keynote speech. But overall, it was a day in which messages were delivered loudly and clearly, both by us and to us. It's because of the kindness of everyone there that I only had to project and not scream the many elements of the script with which I was entrusted. And it's how I still am able to use my voice today for my “day job”.
It's an event I won't forget, and I'm grateful for the experience. (But yes, I'm really thankful for a microphone.) Thanks for coming by today and we'll usher in the weekend – and its impending Daylight Saving Time – tomorrow. We're supposed to be adjusting our bed times a little earlier to get set for the missed hour's sleep Sunday now, by the way. Yeah, right!