Monday, April 30, 2018

On Belay: Lost and Found in LA

I am incredibly excited to add a new Blogger to my rotation. Shelby Mathis will be posting every Monday. I'll be sharing more about her in the future. Stay tuned!!!

I went to a personal growth conference called RISE the first weekend of April and it was amazing and challenging and I hardly have words for all I heard and learned. I do keep being asked about my biggest takeaway. It is this: The kindness of strangers and radical hospitality are holy and beautiful. I am so full of gratitude if that's the only lesson learned that weekend.
I had to make a gratitude list on a bus I never intended to take. I was tired, frustrated, anxious, and near-stranded in an unfamiliar city without a phone.
But I remembered that I can't be anxious and grateful in the same breath. So I dug out a pen and scribbled down all the things I was grateful for from the last few challenging and exhausting hours.
Just like that, the anxiety was gone. I was not lost. I was not stranded. I was sleep-deprived out of my right mind, but counting the blessings of the rough morning snapped me out of it.
Here's where the chaos began: I had arrived in Los Angeles without a working cell phone. I couldn't even get in an Uber and figure it out at the hotel. I decided -- at 30,000 feet -- that my options were 1) take a $150+ taxi across the city to the venue or 2) figure it out when I got there.
I am not new to solo city travel, even sans smartphone, but when I've taken this on historically, I deplaned with a plan. That is not this story.
I learned of a shuttle that could get me halfway there for $8. I knew where it picked up but had no clue where exactly I'd be dropped off. Hollywood and Vine, as it turns out.
I wandered into Starbucks across from the deserted bus stop and starting asking caffeinated patrons if they mind calling me a cab. One kind Katie asked where I was going and how long I had to get there and she told me which metro bus to take, where it left from, which stop to take it to. I ventured back out onto the street and noticed Katie a few paces behind me. When I caught her eye she said she'd looked up the status of the bus and the next was on its way, that I'd be on time, and that I was going to be fine.
I was 1.5 stairs onto the bus when the driver asked where I was going and if this was my first time. I wondered if I looked the part: lost. He just assumed because I put too much cash in the meter that I couldn't be a local. No change, apparently.
Half an hour later I had to ask another rider where to get off and she told me to follow her. Still lost, but still resourceful. I made it to the venue while the line was still queued around the building.
All weekend at the conference, bands women let me tell the story of my phone's epic tank dive into a public bathroom toilet and unexpected journey across the city, and would pull out their phones and ask if I needed to call someone. One called me a Lyft one night for the trek to the hotel. One called the tech store to see if they could take a look at my phone.
But the magic happened on the second day of the conference. It had occurred to me briefly throughout the first day I did not have a solid plan to return to the airport, much less get to my house from the Denver airport in the middle of the night. I noticed the woman seated next to me booking a flight. I admit I was totally being nosy but I wanted to make sure she wasn't leaving early because she felt out of place, or worse, left out. I'd been praying all weekend to make connections with like-minded women myself, and I know what it's like to be alone in a crowded room.
But holy divine appointment. She didn't need me like I needed her.
She was from Denver.
On the same flight as me.
Could take me to the airport in her rental car if I agreed to go to the beach on the way (twist my arm.)
Had a car parked at the Denver airport.
Would take me home to Aurora way out of her way home.
She saved me not only a ton of money and time and heartache, but she saved me from making the weekend all about me. I am so grateful. Thank you thank you thank you.
My favorite quote from the conference is from the RISE founder and New York Times best-selling author Rachel Hollis. She was mid-key note and literally mid-sentence and asked "who is that sitting by herself back there?" [points to the accessible platform, crowd assures her it's a facility staff member] "GOOD," she shouts. "NO ONE sits alone at my conference."
LIVE. THIS. WAY. Make sure no one sits alone at your conference.
I am writing this as a reminder to myself and to you: be brave enough to disconnect, ask for help, expect the kindness of strangers, practice radical hospitality, and adopt a tribe mentality. If you're lonely in a crowded room, invite someone in (or invite yourself into their rental car all the way home!) but refuse to sit alone and expect the world to come to you. Go find your angels.

These are the only three known photos of me from the weekend. They were all taken by other people with cell phones or cameras that hadn't gone swimming, obviously. I am grateful for this group of women who refuse to let other women sit alone at their conferences.

Climb on,

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