Salute to Spouses Blog

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Learning and Networking

By Amy Nielsen

I live in an area of the country that has a great concentration of interesting people. Many of them work in the alternative health and wellness field. As this is my chosen track, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to take small classes in intimate settings with renowned and esteemed practitioners who choose to give back to the community through free or low cost classes and lectures.

It so happened that last wednesday, as my husband was driving our family to our weekly homeschool co-op, we passed the fancy country day school and out front was stuck a little sigh about the same size as all of the political flora. He chirped up, “Hey didn’t that say Women’s Wellness Symposium? Remind me to check out the sign on the way home. I think it said it was this weekend.”

I was face down planted firmly in email, not paying the least bit of attention. Ok, I was Pinteresting…

As we entered the community center where we hold our co-op, I noticed a flier about the symposium and it was indeed this weekend. The list of presenters was fantastic. Including a teacher I have wanted to hear in person for a while, but kept missing at other much larger conferences and classes.

Being the quick gal I am, I hopped on my trusty phone and checked out the symposium website. Not only was the symposium open to the public, it wasn’t sold out yet, and I was still in time to get the early bird price.

I registered on the spot. Then I realized it was all day saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., an hour drive away. My husband works second shift.

Child care – late notice – DOOM! Lo and behold our co-op family came to the rescue and offered to watch the kiddos for the afternoon while I was at the symposium.

Saturday morning came and I made it, barely on time. I surveyed the parking lot, suspiciously empty for the list of presenters I saw. Did I have the wrong day?

No. Turns out that for whatever reason, this particular event happened to be very low attendance. Low enough that, had one presenter not flown in, they would have cancelled. What was supposed to be a group of 80 to 100 health and wellness professionals turned into 16 attendees, five presenters, and three organizers. What an experience!

I knew nothing about three of the presenters. I read their biographies online the evening before and did a little primary research into what they might talk about. But really, for these sorts of presenters, their talks can lead where the winds blow very easily. Another presenter I knew by reputation. The final presenter was who drew me to the event.

I had expected to learn a few new techniques or topics in the field of alternative or complementary medicine. And I was not in the least disappointed. Topics ranged from the current scientific white papers comparing outcome for mammography versus thermography, to great medicine stories that lulled us all into a waking dream state, to some magical stuff that is beyond my limited vibrational comprehension.

Because of the size of the group, the presenters and organizers decided to change the physical dynamics of the room and move the chairs out from in front of the podium and into a circle. Bringing the event inward made the whole day so much more intimate and so much more interesting.

The presenters still spoke monologue lecture style, and with the exception of one, none used notes. It really became a stream of consciousness ramble. Because of the range of presenters, and the varied viewpoints they each hold, the day was truly an ebb and flow of debate and rebuttal, with a few off-topic meanders down wild and wonderful side tracks.

I love my complementary and traditional medicine colleagues and friends. Really I do. But sometimes I need a margarita the size of my head to swallow the grain of salt I have to take with the lecture. These symposiums are always eye opening for me. I always find new modalities of treatment and systems of care that, might not resonate with me, might with a future client. No knowledge is ever wasted knowledge. I did get a ton of really pertinent information too.

And, I met several interesting participants. I am planning to get together with one gal later next month once we get a bit of breathing room. I am still working on how to introduce myself to the world and to my colleagues. I am still working on my elevator speech. I am still testing out the title of mentor. Does it fit me yet? Can I comfortably wear it around the folks in that room? How do I hear myself introduce myself? What do I keep coming back to?

I was able to connect with the presenter I really wanted to meet. It was a great experience. I understand her specific teachings and system of work much better after spending the afternoon listening to her talk. The other speakers were gracious enough to spend a few extra minutes explaining the finer points of their topic to me. Had the group been larger, they would not have been able to take the time.

That is really the point of going on a whim to something that sounds interesting and is somewhat related to your field, especially if there is a well-known speaker. It’s a great place to practice, learn and stretch your understanding of what your field really is, what your place within it is going to be and make the connections that will help get you there.

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