Part XXXXII: Homecoming
All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
In June of 2001, I had coordinated an event for my client, Amersham Health, a pharmaceutical company that hosted receptions during medical conventions. We chose ESPN Zone, a sports themed venue, for the client to entertain their physician guests following a day at the convention center. This was for the American Urology Association, a major medical convention held in Anaheim. We bought out the entire sports bar and entertained the 400 doctors who showed up that evening. The entire convention probably attracted over 30,000 attendees. I was responsible only for this after hours “off site” event.
In November of 2001, I created the same event for this client, only this time for the American Heart Association convention in Anaheim. Again, we bought out ESPN Zone. The client also contracted me to handle the printing and mailing of the invitations to their doctor clients all over the United States and Europe. The attendance at the convention itself turned out to be a fraction of the previous one, and only a small handful of doctors actually showed up at our reception. The fact was that the physicians who would normally not miss a major convention had chosen not to fly in the wake of 9/11.
I then found out that of all of the invitations – I think about six hundred - that we mailed out to various hospitals, clinics, universities and medical offices, only a small number even made it out of the mailing rooms to their destinations due to anthrax measures.
There was no question of the impact that 9/11 caused on the hospitality and special event industries. Everything had changed dramatically.
I was greatly relieved when a large media event we had booked earlier for my client, Michelin North American, actually took place in October and didn’t cancel, just one month following 9/11. It was called the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, hosted by Michelin and Ford Motor Company. There were media luncheons and reception and a showcase of 90 innovative environmental cars. Eduardo Michelin himself surprisingly flew in from France for the media blitz.
I honestly didn’t know what the future would hold for the events industry. I did have several significant events in the couple of years that followed, but it was nothing like the years prior to 9/11. I knew that something was happening but I didn’t know what. I knew that something had changed outside of me and something had changed inside of me. Thinking back I believe I was feeling increasingly disconnected from my business. For the first time in two decades, I began to consider the possibility of a change, for increasing financial reasons and because of my growing dissatisfaction. First of all, I think I had experienced just one disaster too many for my taste. :-) But I also didn’t relate to events anymore – the crowds, the themes, the catering, the music - all of those creative elements I had dealt with for so long. They just weren’t me anymore. I didn’t want to be around them anymore.
I wanted peace. I wanted quiet. I wanted refuge. I wanted stillness. I wanted to speak to my soul. More importantly, I wanted to listen to my soul.
I recall going through this difficult time reaching for spiritual support. Rev. June showed up in my life. She was a retired New Thought minister who did several prayer “treatments” for me. She asked for nothing and gave out of love. I was feeling lost. My business had been my “baby” – my identity - for so long and it was detaching itself from me.
Rev. June in her sweet soft manner had a great impact on me at that time. I wondered what I would do if I didn’t have my business. I had no idea where the income would come from if I no longer had the special events industry, if I didn’t have any corporate clients. I will never forget June softly saying to me in one conversation, “Marilyn, you know your business is not your source of income.”
Those were among the most important words I have ever heard in my life. Today they are among the most important words that I ever say to my students. It was also one of the two most important things that June had said to me that impacted my life.
I knew with every atom of my being that she was right. Yes, it was time. It was time for me to go back to my Source.
June had reminded me. My business of twenty years was not my source of income. It had NEVER been my source of income.
To be continued...
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