TALK 12 - San Francisco REI (Part One)



I am fired up about this talk. This is the one my old agency colleagues said they'd come to. A year ago we were on the Trans-Catalina Trail. Last week, the talks were amazing.

I feel refreshed, having just celebrated my 34th birthday the day before. I've been sailing, hiking, paddleboarding, eating dim sum, and we had dinner with my chosen family who surprised me with cupcakes, complete with a candle to blow out. Now, it's showtime.

We walk into the store, and on the calendar board, it says Guest Presenter, time TBD.

It stings.

When I was first offered the opportunity to share my story in-store, REI support came in the form of an event page on their website, emails to local members, and in-store promotion. Recently, they shifted strategy and stopped promoting free sessions via email.

I sit with the sting and I find the silver lining. How cool is it that folks are finding this talk, almost selling this out, when there isn't even a listing the store?

I pat myself on the back for the work Barry and I do to promote these talks, then I find a team member and introduce myself as the guest speaker.

Her eyes widen, and I know this look intimately. This is the OMG WE ARE NOT PREPARED face, and I've worn it a million times. I watch her find her words in slow motion. I see her face contort from wide-eyed fear to a forced smile, one only retail and service industry employees can pull off as swiftly, and I remember every instance I've had to do the same. As I witness it, I remain calm. It's not even an effort to remain calm, it's my new normal, apparently.

34 feels good.

I watch as they hustle to make room for me upstairs. The energy is panicked, chaotic, and for the first time in my life, I feel an emotional moat around me. It's as if I am alone on my own little island with my thoughts. When I've collected them, I let down a bridge with my words, inviting others to come to the island. The moat is my protection from feeling and absorbing everyone else's energy. I feel safe. Protected. Calm.

I wake from my visualization and when I turn around, my old boss from the agency is there.

(to be continued)