My first career was as a dancer. A dream fulfilled -- a life of dance -- and I poured all my passion and energy into it.
Grace. Precision. Creativity. All my strengths, all my movements were predicated on the ability to maintain balance. Without perfect balance, the illusion of effortless motion vanished. Gravity would not be mocked. And the floor was hard.
To achieve and maintain a high level of performance, countless hours of practice were required. Watch. Dance. Repeat. The price of success was inextricably linked to the value of persistence.
Then, suddenly, that dream was over: a debilitating groin injury suffered while auditioning for the television show FAME. How do you tell the dancer there is no longer any dance? That's hard. Much harder than any floor. But there was no other choice than to pursue other dreams. A new, broader dream -- success in business -- slowly and steadily replaced the old one over the next two decades.
About 10 years ago, the first incarnation of a more specific dream-within-a-dream began creeping tentatively from my mind. While it would've preferred to have leapt dramatically onto the public stage in a singular flourish of light, colour and applause, experience was telling me this new entity would require much thinking: Planning. Persistence. Perseverance.
My home for the past two decades, Canada's capital city of Ottawa offered many things. But a conference dedicated to women in business was not one of them. Yes, there were -- and are -- business conferences with fine, world-renowned, inspirational speakers that businesswomen like myself could attend. Yet where was the event that spoke directly to women?
There wasn't one. It seemed like such a glaring oversight. And a sparkling opportunity.
When I told them about my idea, my friends and colleagues would tell me they could see its appeal. As I explained it to them, they saw how a conference that touched all the areas of a woman's life -- including career, social, financial, community, and health and wellness matters -- was an idea whose time has come. Helping women balance all the often competing elements of their lives, they agreed, is something women want. And need.
I was fuelled by this dream of helping other women keep it together, and keep it all in balance. But making this conference a reality was something altogether different.
Just as in my first career as a dancer, achieving balance would require perseverance. Lots of it.
There have been times when I just wanted to throw in the towel. Just say no. Just not do it. But there's always a voice telling me to keep going.
Spurred by that voice, my dream today takes the form of Ottawa's seventh annual Women in Business conference (which is seeing a doubling of the number of speakers from last year).
Just as in my dance days, I work hard at the ideal of presenting perfect balance. When I'm on the stage myself -- welcoming attendees, introducing speakers, taking questions and offering answers -- I feel the energy and power of all us who are involved. I feel in those moments, guiding and sharing, there couldn't be, shouldn't be anywhere else I am supposed to be.
I am once again lifted by an appreciative audience, my spirit soaring, hearing my calling to create an event that truly touches people's lives.
And all in perfect balance.
For a short while anyway. Then it's back to earth, back to work getting next year's conference off the ground.
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