It was early in the morning and I was with a client, preparing for a leadership program that I was facilitating that day. As I readied the room, I shared small talk with one of the women in the program, and she told me about something that had happened at their offices the day before.
She shared her story of the “near accident” that had happened at their radiology practice, not knowing of a tragedy that had happened in my family years back. She could not know that her story would remind me of the incident, and I did not know that being reminded of the incident would hit me so hard. I had to stop the conversation as emotions washed over me. I went to the side of the room to lean against the wall to catch my breath, and ended up sliding down the wall, crying silently, remembering.
Within a few moments the intense onslaught of emotions had passed, but I knew that I was still shaken and that I would probably remain shaken all day. And my day entailed my standing in front of the room, leading the program, and guiding the participants through intense exercises and (hopefully) deep learning. I knew I wouldn’t be at my best.
So, practicing what I preach, I launched the day by sharing with the room what had happened and what I was going through. I explained that I might not be at my best that day, as I was still reacting to the memories of my family tragedy. They all listened quietly and respectfully, and I felt the emotions rising once again. I held my hand to my heart and tried to catch my breath, so as to not lose it in front of everyone.
As my pulse quickened, I became warmer, so I removed my jacket. I stood there, in front of the room, doing my best to calm down, and then, out of nowhere one of the women in the room exclaimed, “Oh my God, look at her arms!”
I was wearing a sleeveless tank, and I have been working out, specifically lifting weights, for twenty years. And the reason I kept lifting weights after I first started, all those decades ago, was because my arm muscles became defined.
Needless to say, that woman’s statement broke my mood. I could only laugh, upon hearing her, as she catapulted me back to the present. I could feel myself back in the room with everyone, back in the moment.
I’ve said before (and I’ll probably say again) that I like when people comment on my arms. Maybe I like it because I’m so petite (my drivers license says 5 foot, but if that was ever true it no longer is). Maybe it makes me feel stronger and more powerful. Who knows?
I know I liked it when she said it, but I especially liked it that day because it broke my mood. It brought me back. It gave me something to think about other than the past, and something to laugh about while I felt my heart breaking all over again.
I like to think that I’ll always have these sculpted arms. Probably not true, but I like to think that. I like that my daughter now likes it when she has sculpted arms, and when people comment on how cut she is. I like it that we have this in common, and I like it that she likes it because I like it. ☺
And I love that woman for breaking the mood.
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