Just a thought… Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. [Seneca]
Welcome. I promised you the story of a real surprise that happened during this trip. It was Sunday. I was pleased to be hosting the annual leadership summit for the Canadian Real Estate Association, held in Ottawa at the Westin Hotel downtown. It’s a gathering that, spread over a few days, helps realtors form policies and band together to take on challenges that face them from government, competition and the ever-changing world of the 21st century.
As someone who has used the services and talents of realtors in my lifetime, I learned a lot and was up for a great day of inspiration. Little did Rob and I know that the whole event would take a turn that would challenge us to rise to the occasion!
First hints that there might be a fly in the ointment came on Saturday when we were hearing from CBC personality, podcast host, best-selling author and ad guru Terry O’Reilly that he was having trouble getting out of Toronto’s ice-bound Pearson airport. He did arrive that evening but we wondered about Sunday’s other headliner.
Michele Romanow of TV’s Dragon’s Den has been part of CREA’s Real Time: Let’s Talk program, along with Terry (fellow speaker) and me (emcee). You may recall last year we took our road show to realtors in Victoria, Calgary and Kitchener. I loved it and there’s talk of more cities being visited later this year, so the program has been popular!
Sunday morning rolled around and Michele was still stuck in Toronto. I hosted the morning’s activities, moderating one panel and just keeping things moving along, but something was definitely in the back of my mind: as the clock ticked down to Michele’s appearance after lunch, Rob and I had suggested to CREA’s organizers that we might have a solution: my “Transformations” speech, given in one incarnation to Rogers broadcasters in Toronto last spring and being revised to deliver to the BC Association of Broadcasters next month in Kelowna.
After CREA had approved the speech and Rob had gone over the tech requirements needed to get over 80 slides and a few video clips to the ballroom’s five huge screens while I spoke, we all waited through the morning to learn whether Ms Romanow’s flight had made it to Ottawa.
Soon it was time to break for lunch. I tore up to our hotel room and went over the script and presentation with Rob, who had uploaded it to his iPad for me to work from and was running the audio visual element of the half-hour speech on his laptop. We felt confident that we could deliver our “Transformations” message – from the changes I experienced in my radio career to the biggest one of all, from mother to bereaved mom, to writer and (hopefully) living proof that one can survive and thrive after the worst possible tragedy – to this group of hundreds of realtors and executives from across the country.
I was excited to deliver this speech, as it marks a new beginning for us. Rob and I are about to embark on a new chapter in our lives: keynote speaking as part of the publication of the book Mourning Has Broken next February. Our literary agent has introduced us to people who are hopefully going to make that happen and we had hoped that this life would bring just exactly these challenges and opportunities. To be able to deliver this speech as a step into that new future, was a great gift to us.
I used bandaids on my neck and hairline to tape the Madonna-style headphone mic into place so that I could walk the stage, iPad in hand, moving back and forth, relating with ease to this large crowd with no worries about my microphone shifting or falling off (it didn’t).
The fact that our volunteering to speak helped out the organizers of a group that I really admire and whose company I enjoy was the best part of the whole adventure.
I haven’t yet talked to the CREA folks, except for the comments I got from them in the elevators afterward, but it felt like the presentation was well received; at least, my friend and a man whom I greatly admire, Terry O’Reilly, was truly kind in his feedback. Rob and I were heartened to hear that we seemed to have hit the right note. I do want to lean more towards inspiring and funny than into the tragedy of it all. What would be the good in just telling a sad story without having the message of moving forward into hope and happiness? Who needs that, right? It’s just what we planned for the book, too.
All in all, it was an incredible day. A lot of things had to happen for us to get that opportunity and I’m so sorry that the audience didn’t get to hear the address I’ve enjoyed now three times from Michele. But the weather that kept Michele from getting to Ottawa also prevented Rob from heading off towards Quebec to visit his brother that day as planned! This isn’t a speech I could do without him and the visual elements; had he gone, it wouldn’t have happened.
I felt Lauren’s hand on our shoulders the whole time and know she was urging us onwards. I do wish that in all of the rush and exhaustion that followed, I’d paused to take a picture of the license plate of a vehicle we noticed on the way to ours: it said X DEE X. Dee is one of the nicknames we had for Lauren, more specifically “Little Dee.”
There you go: she sent us love, three dimes and a whole lot of strength that day, that weekend and that trip, as we all move forward into this new life with longer, stronger strides every day. Come on back here tomorrow and we’ll step into the weekend together. Now with more holes. I’ll explain….