Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The week of crying and inspiration (Part I)

Two weeks ago I was at the AIDS 2012 conference. I am sure the conference was awesome and inspirational but I was so tired from preparing for the conference. During the event I was mostly confined to the media center. I left the conference tired and I felt like I really missed out. The next week at work was really hard and I was left wondering if I was on the right career path. I woke up every morning not feeling very well and I think my body was shutting down. I love public health but sometimes I get jaded when I can't convince myself that my work is helping people.

Last week I went to the CDC Health Communications, Marketing, and Media Conference. I made it a point to get to know people at the conference, to build my personal brand, and build relationships with colleagues.  Maybe that would help me not feel so jaded. I did meet at least four new people that I will be in contact with post conference.

On the morning of the last day of the conference, a former colleague invited me to his workshop on inspiration. I thought this was about inspiring your audience to behavior change. That is after all the goal of health communications. I was so wrong.

The session was simply about what inspires each of us everyday. Four panelist did ignite style presentations and shared their lives with us. I was blown away. One person in particular that spoke to me was Alexandra Bornkessel. Earlier in the year I met her at a conference where she talked about building relationships through social media. Little did I know that she would make me question my very existence on this planet. She spoke about having passion behind everything that you do. She gave examples of people who took risks to follow their passion. She also told the story of her father and how raising money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) led her family to start a nonprofit for MS Research.

That set off a lightbulb and the waterworks. I was totally a mess. You see my father was a big inspiration to me but he's phsically gone now. He touched so many people and I hope my light can one day shine as bright has his. He spent a lot of time doing things he was passionate about but also a lot of time doing things he was not passionate about in the name of getting rich quick.  That always made me sad.

Doug Weinbrenner, another one of the panelist, quoted Dr. Howard Thurman.

Dr. Thurman was one of my father's greatest inspirations. He loved to read his books and would talk to me about his scholarly works way before I could appreciate it. So I found myself in a room where my father was speaking to me. What are the chances that someone would quote Dr. Thurman at a health communications conference? Infinitesimally small.

I spend a lot of time doing things that I am only sort of passionate about so the workshop got me thinking that I need to change that.  The workshop had a lot of other  quotables that I am going to remember. Lest I forget,  I made my first Storify to document the moment.

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