Sunday, November 1, 2009

Crossing Paths With Maria Shriver

Okay, well, not exactly “crossing paths.” But she was in the building. I saw her myself on the life-size TV screen and I have to say, her hair was spectacular. But even if I hadn’t seen her famous visage, I would have known she was there because this was Maria’s fourth annual Women’s Conference in Long Beach. Fourteen thousand women, over 1200 vendors and speakers so famous only their first names were needed below their larger-than-life headshots. Warren. Madeline. Caroline. Martha (Beck, not Stewart), Kate, Ashton et al. And, of course, Arnold.

Actually I did cross paths with Arnold. Well, if I’d had a path, he would have crossed it. I was standing stock still behind 3L Publishing’s book table—just close enough to see a blue-suit river of testosterone going by with Arnold’s head bobbing in the midst like a beaming buoy. Close, but no Irish Crème cigarillo.

I admire people not because they’re famous, but because they use their status to make a positive impact on the world. People like Maria Shiver, whose path I would enjoy literally crossing one day and perhaps even stopping for a chat.

But the most important path I crossed this week wasn’t someone famous. It was my own. Two days after the grueling trade show workout (I’m sure I burned calories just from lifting my smile so much), I traveled to the Radisson Hotel in Dublin to speak to a lively and lovely group of women led by Sahar Kordahi. It’s called “The Bright Side of Life,” and there I intersected with my own shadowy self. She’s the part of me that has spent a lifetime (albeit intermittently) of speaking in public and successfully making an ordeal out of it each and every time. Here’s the synopsis: neurosis, nerves and notes followed by relief and critical rumination. Last year, I decided that I would either stop speaking in public or find a way to do it with terrorizing myself and those I love.

I’ve had some modest successes this year, but Dublin was the test: a new 45-minute talk on a topic that is as close to my heart as a topic can get without causing arrhythmia. “Beyond Change: Radical Trust in Your Own Transformation.” Obviously, I was my own poster child. In the name of peace, I prepared for the talk differently (mostly lying in bed then making notes on a huge tableau on the wall); letting go of memorizing or using notes; adopting a new pace of speaking; and staying in my body and breathing whenever anticipation turned to fear. And the Universe, in a show of support, sent me a new method of remembering the flow of a talk.

It worked! I did something I’ve done all my life differently. I think that’s just what transformation is. And I also think we’ve all bought the bit that transformation is just for houses, hairstyles and bodies. But no. It’s for us. It’s our life-size experience of radical change!

What are you ready to do differently? What are you ready to transform?

Keeping it Grand,