Friday, September 18, 2009

A Convergence at the Conference

I’m a different person this morning than I was yesterday.

And it’s all Suze Orman’s fault. In a good way.

A really good way.

Yesterday, 4,000 women converged on the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the 6th annual Pennsylvania Governor’s Conference for Women held here in Philadelphia. It was billed as a day to rethink, resolve and renew.

It was all that, and more.

I made some connections for the nonprofit that I work for (a supporting organization of the conference), always a good thing. I thanked sponsors of our events and hopefully, spread a little awareness about what we do and our cause.

And then there was what the conference did for me on a personal level.

Regular readers of this blog know that I have a hell of a commute. I’m sure you’re as tired of my bitching about my nearly 2 hour (each way) trek up I-95 as I am of doing it. I do it because I love what I do, the cause and the people I work for, and yes – there’s the small matter of a paycheck. Those of you who know me in real life know that, while I’ve been interviewing for possibilities in our new state, it’s been an interesting two years on that front.

Wow, you've got a lot of experience. I'm afraid you’re overqualified.

We’d love to hire you, but we really want someone who knows this teeny tiny state and you’re not from here.

Those salary requirements are a little more than we were expecting. The economy, you know ...

Or nothing at all, which frankly, in my opinion, is among the worst possible PR for a nonprofit. There have been more than a few nonprofits with whom I’ve interviewed, once, twice – never to be heard from again. Not the courtesy of a rejection, just ... stone cold silence.

Well, you see, I’m not just a potential employee of that organization, I’m a potential donor, and don't think that's how that organization is branded in my mind the next time a solicitation comes my way.

But I'm starting to rethink all this. I’m starting to realize that these frustrating two years in a traffic jam have actually been a gift, a blessing – and although this shift was in place long before yesterday, the messages I heard from keynote speaker extraordinaire Suze Orman, brilliantly savvy entrepreneur (and fellow mom of twins!) Jen Groover, and tough-as-freakin’-nails-but-with-a-big-heart Judge Glenda Hackett all converged in my mind.

I bonded over books and lunch with Peg, an entrepreneur with a coaching business, who gave me a peek at her Kindle and seemed interested in my blog. (Hope you like it here, Peg!)

I met Kim Allen, President of Tailor Made Travel, and dreamed with her of England and Italy and lands unknown as she and I sat in a session together. (Kim offers personalized travel "for the trip that fits you." I needed her this spring when The Dean and I were dreaming of a 40th birthday trip to England that would combine our love of Beatles and literature.)

And Sonia Dozier from Uniquely You was my resume critique expert and although we only talked for 20 minutes or so, I love her already for the lovely shot of self-esteem she gave me in our session. I treated myself to new bracelets and a necklace from BeadforLife and bought four books (you know I couldn't resist the conference bookstore!) plus got one free just for attending! Although I didn't have a chance to get the books signed, I'm going to approach the authors for an interview here on the blog once I'm done reading them. (First on my list? Keynote speaker Tory Johnson's Will Work from Home.)

But it was Suze, Suze, Suze (who I love and who was the main attraction for me to raise my hand to volunteer as our organization's representative at the conference) who rocked the house and then rocked it some more, telling me and 3,999 others in her trademarked style that we had to Save Ourselves. Now.

(This first photo is from my table at lunch. The real Suze is to the left, and the Suze via jumbotron is to the right. We had excellent seats!)

Suze had us in the palm of her hand and we loved every moment of it.

She reminded us to remember that when you're going one way, God allows U-turns. (Maybe even encourages them, I thought.)

And then I got back on the train, and then took a more-abbreviated trip than usual down I-95. And I thought of how it would be nice to shorten my 20 hour a week commute to ... well, something slightly less. I thought of the entrepreneurs I met and the inspiring words I heard, and I realized that I am so lucky to have a job I love, in a field and for a cause I love. And that maybe these two years of trying to find something a little closer to home weren't for naught, that maybe the lesson learned is to put yourself out there, yes - but in a way that doesn't result in feeling rejected, neglected, overqualified, a stranger in a tiny land. In a way that saves myself.

U-turns are allowed. Even on I-95. There's no need to ride on autopilot for the next decade, or two, or three, or four.

So, something is brewing. I've tasted the coffee over at Jen Groover's Launcher's Cafe. My caffeinated soul is perculating.

I love the blogging and social media and philanthropic work that I do. I love the public relations angle of things. I love to write (and if this post doesn't prove that, nothing does.) I love making connections and being connected, sharing information, being a persuader and being in the know.

I want to do all of this while embracing and engaging in the causes I care about - women and girls' issues, children, literacy, education, AIDS, and so many more, more, more.

I love reading and would love to interview more authors (my superheroes) here on this blog. I'm planning to go to BlogHer next year in New York, and possibly Book Expo America.

I want to write a novel, and I've signed up for NaNoWriMo this November.

I want to try and make all of these things converge.

Maybe they already have.

About these photos, taken by me yesterday as I left the conference. It's of the Grand Hall of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and was formerly the headhouse of Reading Terminal, a major train station and complex in Philadelphia. For years, my father commuted to and from work through Reading Terminal, and I always think about him whenever I am here in this Grand Hall, walking where he once walked but in an entirely new space.

Apparently, the very taking of this photo was a criminal offense. I'm not sure why, but a security guard reprimanded me for doing so, and since I had a train to catch, I didn't ask.

I was, however, secretly pleased about breaking the rules.

Suze would probably say that sometimes, we need to do exactly that.


Florinda said...

Thanks for sharing what was clearly a big day for you.

And please DO go to BlogHer'10 in NYC next August. I'm already registered. We'll have so much to talk about!

Musings of a Housewife said...

You're in Philly! How cool!!!! And I'm hoping to go to BlogHer'10. :-)

Infant Bibliophile said...

Hi - just a note to say that I signed up for NanoWrimo too! I don't know how successful I'll be, because everytime I try to come up with an outline, my mind wanders and I end up web browsing all night. ;) But I think it is such a fun idea. Do you know of any blogs about it? I mean, other than the website. It would be fun to have other book bloggers joined somehow to talk about their progress. I think quite a few people of twitter do it, but I don't use twitter all that often.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Infant Bib - awesome! So nice to know someone else who is doing this, and who (like me) is at a similar stage. (Not only do I not have an outline, but I don't have a plot.)

I'll have to see if there are any blogs about it ... I would love that. The more the merrier! Let me know if you find any, and I will do the same.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Florinda - I am pretty sure I will be going ... just need to register, which I plan to do soon. You are among my top people who I must meet at BlogHer, definitely. We can be social wallflowers together. :)

Musings - hi there! Love your blog, and how fun to see you here. Yes, I'm in Philly ... sorta, just a few miles to the south here in Biden country. Would love to officially meet you at BlogHer, if not before.

DemMom said...

Hmmm... sounds interesting. I've been going through a bit of a entreprenuer phase myself (although I may have misspelled that!). Potential... maybe we can discuss it in NYC if I get up the nerve to go to BlogHer!

Jackie Cassidy said...

Great review of the day. I attended too and was just as inspired by all the speakers. I was even struggling with whether I should take a personal off from work to attend the workshop...I'm so glad I did, the best way to spend a personal day!
Good luck with all your endeavors!!!