empty

women's day
Provo Women’s Day

Today’s prompt is “empty” and I know about empty and I’ve written about empty but because it is women’s day and I really don’t do bleak I’m writing about “full.” Because my heart is full.

Last night I dragged myself to a Utah Women & Leadership Project event at UVU because I’ve been wanting to learn about Crucial Conversations. I went by myself. After backing out of at least the last 5 events I meant to go to by myself. And I’m so grateful I did. Hopefully I can write about the substance of both the events I’ve attended the past to days another time. But what I want to write about today are the people who made a difference in the way I experienced these events.

At the breakout session on Crucial Conversations, I sat on the end and two women filed in next to me who had obviously come together. They were bilingual and visited together comfortably in their native language when we were to take a few minutes to talk to the person next to us and since I was on the end I kind of sat there with nothing to do. After talking with her companion for a bit in Spanish, the woman turned to be and invited me to converse with her, so I could participate in the class as directed.

She didn’t have to do that. But she did. Both that time and the next. I was grateful. And because being inclusive is important to me, I was sure to thank her for being inclusive.

As I was walking out of the breakout session I thought about just going home, but I decided to take a look at the social gathering for refreshments on my way out. A friendly man walked up the stairs with me, said hello, introduced himself to me, asked me my name, and then asked how I’d heard about the event. Apparently his wife is involved with the group who sponsored the event and I just figured he was surveying people for her and that was that. But he–his name is Craig–kept pace with me. And kept talking. He introduced me to his son who was at the top of the stairs. And kept up with me as I walked through the refreshment line by myself. He asked me about my job and about my family and told me about his job and about his family. Then he stood out in the hall next to me while I munched on fresh fruit and cheeses and we talked about entrepreneurship and the challenges of following your dreams and other things. And he was kind and gracious and made me feel like it mattered that I was there participating.

He didn’t have to do that. But he did. I wished him well with his startup and we parted ways.

Today was the 2nd annual Provo Women’s Day event celebrating International Women’s Day. I wanted to go, but didn’t think I could take work off. A couple of weeks ago my calendar cleared up so I got the day off work only to find the event was full. I sent the mayor a comment thanking Provo for their efforts to provide such a great event but asking that they consider finding a bigger venue for next year. The mayor emailed me back and asked me if I would still come if he could find me a seat. Of course I would still come! Within a couple of hours I got an email from his staff saying they had a seat for me and inviting me to please come.

This morning as I parked my car west of the city building a tiny older woman waved and smiled at me as she pulled up next to my parking stall. As we walked in together we talked about where we were from and how we were happy Provo hosted such a great event. We visited as we navigated the long halls trying to find the council chambers. Because she had a ticket and all I had was an email, she got in ahead of me, but found me as I entered to let me know she had saved a seat for me, a stranger, as if for a friend. She didn’t have to do that, but she did. And it meant something to me, which I was sure to let her know.

Before the event started I went over to find the mayor and thank him for making a place for me today. He told me that he had to after learning I had taken off work. I reminded him that he didn’t have to–because he didn’t–he chose to. And the fact that he did meant a good deal to me. Because it does.

One of the speakers today talked about feeling invisible. It may be hard to believe that someone tall and large and strong–very physically visible–could possibly feel invisible, but I often do.

My heart is full of gratitude for the people who notice and care and who treat strangers as though they were friends.

[Day 88 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

Post edit:
Writing simply for my own memory: I don’t have so much an opportunity to work with students in my job at UVU, but am forever looking for ways to make a difference. I learned today that sometimes by small and simple things you can help others without even knowing.

A couple of years ago I bumped into a friend I made when our kids were friends together at school. I hadn’t seen her for a few years and didn’t know she too was working at UVU. As we caught up I she mentioned her son-in-law was wanting to be a pilot but didn’t know how to get his hours in. Because at the time I did our social media, I was able to tell her about a bridge program we have with an airline that helps student pilots get their hours in a queue up to the front with seniority. I didn’t think anything would come of it. In fact, if I recall, her son-in-law lived in another state at the time.

Today we connected again at the Provo Women’s Day event. She pulled me aside to tell me that not only had my advice helped her son-in-law, but also another family member, in a significant way. They are both involved in the program and this much closer to working for the airlines. #thingsthatmakemehappy

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