I had twenty minutes left before I had to be downstairs for the morning session of the conference. I decided I wanted another cup of tea, so I sat back down by the open sliding glass door of the hotel room and propped my feet on the wall at the edge of the doorway. I sipped my hot, sweet tea, gazed unseeing at the buildings across the street, let my mind drift.
I can’t remember the details, which path led to the next. I wandered about in my thoughts, instances where I’ve felt less than, or not understood, not seen, not valued. I was staring down at the rooftop below when I heard a voice inside me. “It’s all you, Ri,” it said. “It’s all you.” Everything I thought was outside of me, every imagined slight or dismissal, all me. It wasn’t a new idea for me–I’d suspected it might be true for a long time. But when I heard the voice, I got it in my body, knew it in my bones. What happened next felt like the universe marching in with a huge affirmative, the gods nodding their heads. “Yes, yes–exactly,” they say, grinning at me, relishing my realization. I hear Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. “By George, I think she’s got it!” Ten minutes later in the hotel ballroom I received the first “Celebrating Excellence” award from the Etudes Board of Directors. It still takes my breath, makes me grin. It still surprises me, makes me feel honored, lucky, loved. And the twinned experiences still have me shaking my head in awe. I heard a voice, understood in the core of me that my perceived lack of being valued was not outside me. And ten minutes later that knowing was reflected back at me from my world. I was getting an award, being told by the community that already held my heart that I was valued for my passion, my dedication, for contributing, for going “above and beyond.” Ten minutes later I was being celebrated. “By George, I think she’s got it,” I hear again as I write. And I hope I’ll keep it now.