Thursday morning, the conference starts. There are a whole lot of people. I sit next to a spirited, outgoing woman in her 50s who is a bit of a mother hen to me. In light of the huge crowd, extra drinking water at a distance, and speech at which the information comes at us, I accept her doting gladly.
James is a dynamic speaker and right away, my brain is cooking, coming up with ways to implement his advice to my own situation. I’m having ideas like never before. Just as I suspected, a clearer picture of my future starts to gel. Not only are all the parts taking shape, but I’m getting the sequence it should come together. By the end of the first day, I feel like I’ve learned a week’s worth. During the breaks, people spot my cane and offer to help me get around. They’re interested in my life story and my plans for sharing it. For the first time, I realize my visual limitations make me more interesting, not less so, like I believed for years. Here and there, I get bits of advice, which breed even new ideas. I’m totally in my element. This was one of the most sublime times of my life. Why?
Because I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be, doing exactly what I was put here to do.
Telling my story, telling the stories of others, giving hope, and really making a difference in the lives of thousands–it’s was God has chosen for me to do and when I’m doing it on a larger scale, the feeling is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.
Finally, I was getting usable advice about how to market myself, how to think on a much larger scale than I have before. It was an up-close look at a future that is both easier and more successful.
On the second day, Cuba Gooding Jr. speaks about having a mission. It was a good talk but I’ve already had mine in mind for a while. I donate 10 percent of the What Makes Us Stronger line to charities and organizations helping people recovery from a life crisis. Later, Steadman Graham speaks on the importance of defining our unique self. This resonates with me. I’ve only recently come to terms with my extremely unique life and how I don’t fit into any category. Not long before flying out to L.A. I realized there’s more freedom than isolation in that because I get to define what a middle-aged legally blind ex-diabetic writer with a kidney/pancreas transplant looks like. Me. I own it. I define it.
At the conference, I have a light-hearted self-acceptance I haven’t felt since college. The notion finally hits home that, even legally blind, middle-aged, with two transplanted organs to take care of, I can still have off-the-wall kind of fun I hadn’t had since I was younger and I had better eyesight. It turns out a long-lost side of myself was hiding at the LAX Westin.
Streadman Graham gives me plenty of things to write down. This would be the high point of the Boot Camp. How ironic that my sitiation would take a huge plunge.
Next: Seismic Jolt