To say that joining this MKMMA course was “out of my comfort zone” would be an understatement. I am much better at taking care of others from the comforts of my home. Writing a weekly blog and then letting people see it is practically killing me. What if I do it wrong? What if I have nothing to say? What if I never figure out how to change the font or use a Gravatar? What if I suck at it? I was a Writing major in college and didn’t choose Journalism because I enjoyed writing and didn’t want to have to meet deadlines with it to make a living. I wrote stories and prose and poetry in High-school, and I received awards and recognition for it. It was my safety choice when it came to looking at the future. I almost won a Coast Guard scholarship to the CG Academy, which would have taken me in a much more disciplined direction, and I had been accepted to schools in other states to study Marine Science for a B.S., but then I panicked at the last minute and re-applied to schools within New York State for a B.A. in English instead. I had already begun my addiction path in high-school, and I knew I wasn’t done with that yet, so I chose to stay “home,” to be closer to my friends and cohorts where I could really feed my addictions and somewhat glide through college with a major I knew was easier.
Two weeks ago, I was set to be in Orlando for a business conference in the middle of a hurricane. I had everything arranged so my two daughters and I could go; rooms and tickets had been bought, the pet-sitters would take care of my dogs, Disney awaited my kids…and then Matthew happened, strengthening into a monster storm that might come directly through my area. What if my house lost its roof or a tree fell on it? What if my fur-babies got scared without us there? What if some of them got hurt or worse and I wasn’t there to take care of them? What if I couldn’t live with the regrets if any of this should happen? How could I even think of bringing my kids and myself into a potential disaster area? The highways were jammed with people heading away from the storm…I started to consider not leaving, doing the responsible thing and staying home to take care of everyone. So many people I knew were battening down the hatches, the stores were zoo-ish because mobs of people were rushing in for safety supplies, only 2 jugs of water left on the shelf. Everywhere I went, the weather news was on and people were talking about it.
But many of my team members were already at the conference and sending me messages about why I should still come – “It’s sunny here.” “You have to come!” “The store is open!” All of them had flown in from other states, including Hawaii, and I was the one closest to Orlando and still not there. Then one of them texted “Shelley, hurricanes will come and go. This is your time, here in Orlando. Your future is here…Get in the car, pray to the Creator that you will be taken care of and take your future by the reins. Seriously. You will not regret it.” Sitting in an endless line at the gas station, something shifted in me, and I felt a new sense of purpose and commitment to take this chance, this opportunity, to grow my business and network with people who were well on their way to success, and to see my friends. So I told the kids we were leaving, that we would have an adventure and some pretty cool memories about this one day. And I prayed.
Orlando was wet and quite a bit windy, but the conference schedules were adjusted and we were told to get off the streets and stay in our rooms all the next day, for safety. We all went out to get dinner after curfew, where everything was closed or mobbed, and we finally found a tiny Chinese place that was still open and took an hour to get our food. Then we got back off the roads and into our rooms, where we all slept through the hurricane.
As the conference sessions started up again the next afternoon, I found myself stepping out of my box and talking to people I had never met, including some pretty high-ranking business associates. That sense of commitment and purpose had not left me, and I soaked up every bit of information and wisdom I could get. I even got interviewed for a news segment that’s now on YouTube, and I took a selfie next to the jeep I expect to receive one day because of my success in the business. I kept thinking about how I almost didn’t come, how I wanted to be home, away from all these crowds and taking care of everyone. But then I finally shifted my paradigm and embraced the discomfort, the worry and fear, and put myself in a place where I could invest in myself right now. It truly was an adventure and will continue to be.