*This is the second installment in a series (Read Part 1 HERE).
As predicted, my mood lifted as soon as I pulled into the city limits of Nashville, TN.
It was hot, which may be a surprising thing to say from someone who lives in central Florida. The sun was out and shining its warming rays down on my face, as if to say,
“Welcome! I’m glad you’re here.”
I arrived at my girlfriend Ronei “The Queen” Harden’s home mid-afternoon, and I got settled in the spare bedroom I’d share with my friend, and event planner extraordinaire, Becky Caldwell. I hadn’t met Becky in person yet and was stoked to greet her with a hug so tight she’d wonder if I was part anaconda. She is the peanut butter to my jam. I vibed with her one night while we shared our love of improvisation and inappropriate humor. An hour after I got settled, Becky arrived and we ran toward each other as if in a rom com, on the beach, at sunset, in slow mo.
After we got that silliness out of the way, we began to chat about the workshop she would be presenting that weekend, “Making Fun”. I was honored to help facilitate a portion of it with her. The central theme of the breakout was to utilize an improv game called, “The Truth Is…” to dig into the core motives of why we do what we do and feel what we feel; it’s a great tool to sit alongside Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why“.
Sitting there in Ronei’s home, I was in the moment.
My discontent disappeared and was replaced with joy.
The weekend went by quickly and before I knew it, Sunday morning arrived. It would soon be time to make the return trip back to Gainesville. I laid in bed basking in the glow of friendship and the warmth of the covers. I laid there pondering seemingly random moments from the weekend.
Speakers, workshops, one-on-one conversations with old friends and new, spending time loving around a table, playing games late into the night. So many memories washed over me. They were all cherished.
Sarah Harmeyer of Neighbors Table speaking on nurturing your dream
Late night game of Cards Against Humanity at The Hyatt
However that lingering, unsettled feeling resurfaced.
Not exactly the same feeling as a week prior, but a new feeling. A feeling of discontent. I laid there and let my mind wander, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
The bed is one of my favorite places. It’s safe and comforting. But I didn’t have any more time to linger in the space between sleep and up-and-at-em. One of my other favorite things was on the menu.
At 11:30, I loaded everything up in my car and set out for The Pfunky Griddle.
This little house, converted into a smorgasboard of scrumptousness, is similar to a Japanese Hibachi place and fondue eatery all rolled into one. Every table has its own griddle to ensure each person can see how bad their friends are in the kitchen. Normally I can flip an egg like a beast, but apparently my skills were left at home in Gainesville. Thankfully, in a group of 11 of us, my friend Laretha was by my side and rescued my egg. My hero!
At our table sat Laretha and I, my spirituality sistah Lena Elizer, Chris Dennis, the doughnut diva, and Ronei “The Queen” Harden. At the other table sat our resident health coach and commediane Whitney Treloar, Amy Campbell who is a wiz at lead generation, Andrew Bryant videographer to the stars, Debra Hennesy the yoga guru, Ebony Sonnetbird the brightest ray of sunshine this side of the Mississippi, and Becky.
After breakfast, our posse spilled outside a few at a time, gathering on the front porch, still chatting, unable to say goodbye. I stood there and looked around at our group. I spied Lena, who also happens to be my graphic and web designer, and asked her to chat privately with me for a bit. She and I walked a few paces away so as not to be within earshot.
In a low sort of ramble, I shared with her my feelings prior to arriving at the conference, how I knew they would change when I arrived, and did. She stood still, quietly listening. Not giving away any thoughts she may have.
I took a deep breath and continued. I really enjoyed the weekend as I knew I would, but unlike other conferences I’ve attended, I didn’t have a big defining hallelujah “I needed to be here to hear THIS” moment. And I was bummed and surprised. All the speakers were great. Their messages had lots of powerful ideas. So I wasn’t sure what my deal was.
When she could tell I was done, she methodically replied that she could understand why I felt that way. And she wondered if maybe I was in a different head-space personally and professionally, and that might be why I was feeling that way. I nodded and acknowledged the likelihood of that theory, slightly disappointed that it may be the only logical outcome. I thanked her for listening and letting me share, and we returned to the group.
We all finally threw in the towel and said our goodbyes an hour later and headed our respective ways; north, south, east, and west.
Before I pulled out of the parking lot, I checked my phone for emails, texts, phone calls and began to respond. Next I cycled through social media like an addict, needing my fix before I set out on my journey.
There, in my Facebook messages, was a note from my friend Amy Latta. She is an expert on worthiness and wellness, and we will both be speaking at Modern Femme Movement early next year. This weekend, she conducted a workshop at the same time as Becky’s “Making Fun” session, so I wasn’t able to attend.
The message said, “Check out this cool episode” followed by a link to a podcast titled, “How to manage Negative Influences | A New Twist on Toxic People”.
Immediately a memory popped up in my mind from Saturday night at the closing party.
There we all were in the room that once held the main stage and the marketplace, dancing to music blasting through the speakers, cleaning up tables and chairs to restore the space to its original purpose, and saying our goodbyes. I spied Amy off to the side. I went over to chat and give her a hug. She was the first person I hugged when I arrived and ended up being the last person I hugged in that space before I left.
As we released the heartfelt embrace, Amy stepped back and asked me if I had heard of Chalene Johnson. I told her I wasn’t familiar with that name and asked why. She shared a bit about who she was and then said,
“I was listening to her podcast the other day and immediately thought of you. She spoke about toxic people and how we needed to stop approaching them with that label. It was fascinating. You should listen to it.”
I bounced back into the present moment. I glanced at the clock and knew I needed to get on the road. I clicked the link and downloaded the file to my podcast app. Taking a deep breath, I plugged in the auxiliary jack, started the track, and put my car into drive. The first thing out of her mouth was,
[Tweet “Today, I am going to give you a completely fresh perspective on dealing with toxic people.”]
For the next thirty minutes Chalene’s voice filled my ears. My eyes were transfixed on the road, yet my subconscious was piecing together oodles of realizations that were a long time coming. Memories flashed into my consciousness. The four-hour drive yielded clarity and change beyond measure.
My new truth was coming, many moments in the making.
(Read the third installment HERE)XO,