“If you stay in motion you don’t have to face the things that make you emotional.” Jon Acuff, opening keynote of World Domination Summit 2015.
He’s spot on, I thought. We go and go, to and fro. And there I was as if time had stopped, on the other side of the world far away from my own everyday circumstance (that is…life as a 40-something mum in the ‘burbs to my three every-hungry boys, wife, chief ironing avoider and dedicated work-from-home on the interwebs manager type of person, a life I adore…most days!) instead, spending a whole week in Portland, Oregon at the World Domination Summit (WDS) which is all about living a remarkable life in a conventional world.
And then suddenly …
Hang on….let’s first enjoy some highlights from this trip to Portland for a moment shall we?
Was it fun? Yes!
Did we get free hugs? Of course, it’s Portland!
(yes I asked for one too)
Did we break a World Record with 600 people? Um, officially record-breakers from Down Under!
(Okay, we were very surprised to find ourselves in the local news (image above). I just joined in because …why not? The beds were also donated to local community organisations. There were even OTHER record breaking attempts we joined in with – 3000 people putting on lipstick at the same time, eating a cupcake at the same time, blowing out a candle at the same time and the longest high-five chain)
And did we find inspiration on the streets of Portland? Everywhere.
“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself”
Peace, freedom and movement on Steel Bridge
Did we discover inspiration and insight? Yes, practical teaching but most of all… I was reminded of the strength and potential of the human spirit.
I didn’t expect to be so profoundly moved, even a little disturbed at times. WDS 2015 wasn’t about being comfortable just like life isn’t always sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and everything. We laughed, we cried. We …(yes, really)…held hands with 2998 other attendees. I even found myself carrying balloons and a block of wood around the city in an official WDS race.
(I really confused people as I carried these balloons back to the hotel. “P…U..???” they asked aloud)
But we also heard from some very smart entrepreneurs with some practical advice – and more than that – how we can be super-human in an evolving and challenging business world.
Derek Sivers telling it like it is.
During a smaller workshop Jadah Sellner taught us about using “heart and hustle” to build a business, building and knowing your community then loving and delighting them at every opportunity.
Jeremy Cowart’s presentation was a visual feast filled with heart. A photographer who was told he wouldn’t amount to much, he shared an incredible journey and how he attracted the attention of the UN (!) to make change simply through 70 days of photos. He challenged us..“what have you been afraid to try?”
There were so many speakers. So much to take in over just a few short days.
The experience of WDS 2015 was a bit like being in an adventure book where you met crazy characters, meet heartbreaking heroes, wear sequined slippers on the sidewalk, fall in love with Kid President, and sit in bed with strangers in the town square to break a world record …somewhere between discovering good icecream, cocktails with long lost friends and late night Pizza. At one stage I found myself chatting to a super smart guy talk about the ethics of artificial intelligence and transhumanism (his speciality) as we cruised on a boat with a couple of hundred other WDSers at sunset. Phew! Not my everyday, at all.
As we flew out of Portland I turned to Stacey and blabbed (as I tend to blab a lot when I’m flying or sleep deprived) ‘If there’s one word I could use to describe how I’m feeling after WDS this year it’s – alive.
And so home I returned to to the everyday circumstance and my family who certainly make me feel alive every day, determined to embrace even more moments of awesomeness, the complexity of the human spirit and adventure. I’m ready. At least, that’s what I thought.
AND THEN SUDDENLY…
We were driving our sedan to high school a couple of weeks later when suddenly – a huge 4×4 ute pulled out in front of us in a 70km zone.
There’s a truck right in front of us. I freaked.
BRAAAKE! We’re not slowing down in time.
We’re going to hit him. We’re hitting him! Fast.
This is it. I thought.
Within seconds my car was totalled and the other car went over three lanes and up through a fence. By a miracle my son walked out without a scratch. The other driver was safe, but dazed. As soon as my son reminded me that we should get probably get out of the smoke-filled car, we somehow made it to the footpath, I realised my chest hurt, my arm was bleeding, and so we called the police and ambulance. As it turns out, when you crash into another car like that your seatbelt saves you but also holds you really, really tightly. I was extremely lucky to just be mildly burnt on my arm and badly bruised through my ribs.
For the record, while I’m so grateful things were not worse, seatbelt injury hurts like crazy. For the last three weeks I’ve been in so much agony that I couldn’t move much without wanting to cry from the pain. You can’t breathe properly. Everything in your rib cage becomes inflamed. Simple things like cutting bread or picking something up were difficult. My mind went into shock for a couple of weeks. I tried to keep hold of the awesome, to stay positive, but it wasn’t easy because I could barely write a shopping list. I canceled everything, my appointments, my meetings, my fundraising exhibition. Somehow I still made it to PBEVENT which was held just a week after the crash thanks to a caring team who looked after me.
It’s okay. We’re okay! On Friday my ribs finally stopped aching. On the same day my husband drove home in a new car for our family. We’re extremely lucky. I’m out of the haze and I can start thinking about the human spirit again. And second chances. And just dance.
You know what really helped? People.
My boss and his wife who sent me flowers straight after the crash. My team who blew me away by delivering another exceptional event..this time to over 700 bloggers.
“Online” friends who came up to me and just started helping at PBEVENT when I was feeling so useless. Attendees who laughed at my wig, outfit and awkward pained disco moves (or attempts to move) at the Friday night “Shine” party.
My kids who gave me hugs and blocks of cheese to make me happy. My husband who held me when I wept and whimpered, helped me by BBQ’ing dinners, and dealt with car salesmen and insurance people for me. A handwritten poem in the mail from my mum. Friends who make me laugh so hard even thought it hurt my ribs to giggle. People. Bold, brave, amazing people.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been thankful that my pain only seems to be temporary. My body is finally healing and I no longer feel like I’ve been in a boxing match each day. I know there are others who deal with pain every day. I’m very fortunate and grateful.
At WDS we heard stories of people with great courage. Megan Devine, who tragically lost her husband. She implored us to be brave with people in grief by simply being there. Not giving advice. Just being there. The delightfully creative, humble, compassionate and inspiring Brad Montague shared how Kid President chooses to dance, smile and laugh even when he’s in hospital often for a severe medical condition. Lewis Howes who bore his deepest shame to demonstrate that there is more unity, love and compassion when we let our guard down. ‘Drop the shield and become superhuman.’
I nodded when I heard Jon Acuff share his quote about motion keeping us emotionless. I didn’t realise that I would be forced to stop.
He also went on to say ‘bravery sucks. It’s not comfortable. It’s a choice, not a feeling.’
He encouraged us to ‘find time to find our voice.’ Well, that happened.
To ‘stop being distracted by the shiny.’
You can’t monetise joy, he said. Truth.
Obviously, I couldn’t do much after WDS, or during PBEVENT, and I’ve heard so many stories of shiny creative projects people are working on since then. But right now I’m just getting better and getting back to being there for my family. I’m painting. Listening to podcasts. Eating healthy food. And keeping things
simple…uncomplicated. So I was reassured to revisit another thing Jon Acuff said.
‘Your voice is never lost. Always waiting to be found. What’s your voice?’
Thanks WDS speakers. And thanks for the pep talk Kid President. I’ll be watching this little video of his to the end (and reading his book) again to keep feeling the awesomeness…
As he says..”There’s always a reason to complain and there’s always a reason to dance. Choose to dance ” Even when you have bruised ribs. Just don’t surprise me by jumping in my path on the dancefloor unless it’s a brilliant breakdancing move…I startle easily these days.