Friday morning, I woke up at 5 am. My roommates were still asleep so I crept into the bathroom and put on my work-out clothes and went down to the gym. My key didn't work. No surprise there, par for the course so far I suppose. I called the front desk and they sent someone right away to let me in. I ran for about 45 minutes before anyone else showed up. I enjoyed the solitude. When I returned to the room, my roommates were up and dressed. I was not in a huge hurry to get to the convention hall. The women I had met up with the night before planned on being there at 6:30 to get good seats. My roommates and I arrived at 7:30. The large hallway was just beginning to fill up, but it wasn't overly crowded and we found our group near the front of the line. Next to us was a woman with a service dog. Not just any service dog - a great dane.
|Service dog at convention.|
Because of what happened next, I may need him. I stood with my group near the front and by the wall.
As the crowds got heavier, I moved closer to the wall where it was a little more open. Several minutes later, I begin feeling agitated. I'm looking around, shifting my weight from foot to foot, backing up, turning around. My heart is pounding and I start breathing heavy. Basically, I'm in fight or flight mode and I'm starting to shake. Mentally, I know I'm safe, not in any danger. Physically, my body is rejecting all intellectual thought. Suddenly my eyes begin to tear up and one of the ladies in our group turns around and looks me in the face, "All you okay?" she asks with a very concerned tone. I shake my head no and tell her I'm going to the bathroom and I'll be out when the crowds go away. Fortunately, the bathroom is only about three yards away but I have to push through the crowd to get there. Inside the converted men's room, I find and empty stall, lock myself in and start crying my eyes out. I texted my husband, "I wanna come home!" I did at that point. I could have left with no regrets. Being the wonderful man he is, he assured me I was fine and to take a breather and go back in when I was ready. Which I did. I was embarrassed. This was the second time this had happened. The first was at a race when I couldn't find my husband after crossing the finish line. I sat on a curb and cried for 20 minutes (after running around in a panic thinking he had left me).
About 10 minutes or so later, I left the sanctuary of the men's room and found my group. Fortunately, they were near the front and I was able to relax - sort of.
The main session was really good. The shadow dance group performed and Bell (the founder) sang. Several videos were shown. One was about the trip to Europe and the new Swarovski crystal line of jewelry (yippies) and the Origami Owl story. If your kids want a car for their birthday, have them watch this video. If you've ever wanted to own your own business, watch it. Also, we learned something that I thought was really exciting. Origami Owl will begin offering health insurance through Agentra beginning August 1st to qualified designers (meeting minimum volumes). Read more about it here.
Near 12:30 I was ready to climb the walls. Plus, I was starving. 12:30 Phoenix is 3:30 Orlando so way past my lunch time. I excused myself and found some food and a free massage!!! I so needed that massage. It was free but I tipped the woman well. I went to two breakout classes and then I broke out and went back to the hotel. Around 5 pm just as we were all leaving for our group dinner, a sandstorm warning set off alarms on everyone's phones. We didn't get caught in the storm, but could see it in the distance.
Dinner went well, I had dairy-free options to eat. It was a little stressful at first because I had to find a waiter, in the crowd, to ask about food. I'm always stressed when eating out and this was no different, worse even. One of the women, Christina, made the evening and really the whole week-end bearable and even a little fun.
There was a photo booth in the restaurant and she was the first person to pull me in. Normally, I don't like having my picture taken, however, with the hats and funny glasses and mustaches it was fun. She, Christina, always answered my texts right away and checked in with me often throughout the week-end. My roommates were great, too. In fact, they decorated our hotel room door. The pictures of me they pulled off the internet.
I love this quote from Chrissy Weems: The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our "behind the scenes" with everyone else's "highlight reel". You may think the grass is greener on the other side, but if you took the time to water your own grass, your's would be just as green.
My husband often says the same thing, referring mainly to Facebook. People's lives aren't that perfect and we tend to compare our meager life to what is portrayed on FB as a perfect, happy life.
All you need is within you, right now. Search for it, find it, water it, and let your light shine. If you are having a bad day, skip!
Overall, this was an experience that I needed as much as I did not want it. I needed to get out of my comfort zone. I can't say that I'm afraid of crowds. Otherwise, I would not have gone at all. For me it's a physical reaction that I, thus far, have little control over. Praying definitely helped. I know my limits. I push myself out of the box a little at a time and next time, if there is a next time, I will do more, enjoy it more, engage more, socialize more.
I returned home exhausted, yet excited at all the possibilities that lay before me. I leave you with this:
AND HERE ARE A FEW PICS:
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