Things in Erin’s Head
From sea to shining sea…
Last week I crossed the vast United States of America from the warm, crystal waters of the Atlantic to the blue-grey, rolling and tumbling Pacific.
I went to Coronado, a quick jaunt over the 2.12 mile bridge from San Diego, California to the quaint resort island.
When they say San Diego is perfect… they aren’t far off. The weather was… yeah, perfect. It was slightly foggy and overcast in the mornings, but it was clear, sunny, and ideal for eating tacos poolside come lunch time. I did not need a jacket. I was not sweating. When we opened the sliding glass door to our room we got a COOL BREEZE. It was a lovely reprieve from the recent heavily oppressive humidity of South Florida.
I was in Coronado to speak at the annual conference for the Society for Transplant Social Workers. Bright and early Wednesday morning I stood on a stage in front of about 300 attendees (their highest attendance yet). As my eyes panned over the crowd, emotions of gratitude and love started to bubble up. And before I could begin to say anything I had planned to say, I was compelled to speak directly to them. With a crack in my voice I thanked them for being there. For choosing to attend the conference. For choosing the line of work they’re in. For helping to save lives.
I could have sat for an entire week and just listened to THEIR stories about how they became transplant social workers. Because the world of transplants is truly a world all its own and I believe it takes a special experience or connection to be called to this line of work. If you were in attendance, and you’d like to share your story with me, I’d love to hear it.
The hour long presentation about my caregiving experiences with Jerry went really, really well. The crowd got all my jokes (the obvious ones, the hidden, inside joke one, and one I didn’t even realize was funny – but it was and I appreciate the laughter. Afterall, it is the best medicine.). They gasped with horror at the moments that made me gasp in real life. They participated when I asked them to. I may have caught a tear or two being shed. They were beautiful and it felt beautiful to be received in this way.
At the end of my speech, as the audience was clapping. I reached under the podium to gather my notes, water, and tissues, and when I looked up I realized they were standing.
All of them.
I put all of my stuff on the floor and stood before them, in pure gratitude and awe.
Later that night I shared the experience with my mentor over dinner. Instead of letting me gloss over the experience, she stopped me and what she said left an imprint on my heart that I hope I will never forget. The abbreviated version went something like this:
“Erin. In order for there to be a standing ovation, there has to be enough energy in the room, enough positive energy, that the mass is drawn to their feet. And you created that energy.”
I’ve participated in standing ovations before. In the crowd. Part of the mass. And I knew exactly what she was speaking about. Have you felt that energy dear reader? Something so magical and beautiful, that in the moment it drew you to your feet?
But to be on the receiving end of it… oh, my dear friends… feeling seen, heard, received, appreciated… especially on the other side of sharing some of my most vulnerable experiences (talking about your mental health, fears, and weakest moments can be… terrifying). I was awash with emotion.
For the rest of the day I was approached by attendees with heart felt comments like,
“You’re such an inspiration.”
“You really made me think…” (what better compliment is there than to make someone *think*?)
“You’re such a natural speaker,”
I’ve received email messages with comments like,
“Your presentation was so profound, and just changed me in so many ways.”
“Thank you for shining a light and how important the caregiver experience is, and how important caregivers themselves are!”
“Your breakout session was the best experience I encountered in the whole Conference.”
Thank you to everyone who attended the conference.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my book.
Thank YOU, for reading this newsletter every single week.
Thank you for the love.
Because it’s all about love…
P.S. I’ve received some beautiful invitations to speak with various groups and organizations. I’m working on my 2024 calendar, so if you’d like to get rates and book time with me to speak to your organization, you may email me directly at email@example.com.