A Lecture to Remember

Last Tuesday the Fairfield County chapter of the professional group named Over 40 Females met at the restaurant Artisan. They had invited me to speak, and I knew that I wanted to address them on something different than my usual lectures on gardening and design. I felt compelled to suggest the theme of “Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do.” That said, with all my passion and love for life, I was ready to take the ladies on a journey to Life on Mar’s; more specifically, I planned to invite them into my personal journey. Arriving at the location I noted that the restaurant is located in Southport’s Delamar hotel—I felt because it had “MAR” in it’s name it was a sign that the lecture would go well.

This beautiful, enthusiastic and excited audience was very welcoming; perhaps because I began by asking the group if we were still waiting for the ladies over 40?

As I walked around and talked to the group, I felt unusually open, and free to share. For the first time in my life I dove deeply into my past with a group, sharing personal stories of my life, both good and bad. There were laughs and smiles and even nods of encouragement and recognition of common obstacles. Nothing compared to the silence that took over the room when I described the final moments of a friend’s life and shared his last words of wisdom: “Life's too short. Do what you love and love what you do.” I paused, taking a moment to gather myself, then said, “I knew I had two things to do after that: start my own company, and figure out how to grow some new hair.” (Of course the second comment helped break the tension.)

My career as a professional skater turned banker turned media figure has provided me with many lessons, so sharing my passion and experiences with the group was, I’m assured, very memorable and fascinating, but also quite therapeutic for me. I must say the comments I received after speaking were very heartwarming and enthusiastic. Many e-mails have followed since; they have really touched my heart. As I reflect back I must say it was very rewarding to meet such amazing women and have them be interested and inspired by my lecture. Any one of them could have been the guest speaker on the same topic; they are all so accomplished and have such fascinating lives, it is very flattering to have any of them think the same of mine.

This week I shared my life, my deeply personal stories and the passion that fueled me. Someone suggested that doing so was “brave,” but really all I did was allow myself to share my core feelings. If I made a difference and motivated others then I did it while making new friends along the way. Now how’s that for doing what you love and loving what you do? This will be certainly a lecture to remember for me, too.

For information on Over 40 Females, visit www.over40females.com.

Photo credit: Christine Chagaris. Photo (L-R):  Deering Rose, Mar Jennings, and Chapter Director Christine Oleynick

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