I think it's kind of funny that the two trips I've taken to Portland have been filled with blue skies, white puffy clouds, and sunshine. My first visit was in August 2004, and my friend Anna, who lives there, informed me that July and August are the "dry months". "It really does rain a lot here," she insisted. When I told her I was visiting in February, she replied that I'd actually get to see Portland at its wettest. On my last evening in Portland, Anna and I went out to dinner, and she tried hard to convince me that all the stories we hear about how much rain Portland gets isn't just an attempt to keep people from moving there. I'm not buying it.
Wonderful weather was only one part of the wonderfulness that was my business trip. At one point I considered a minute-by-minute telling of my time there, but decided that you'd probably be more than a little bored after the first half-hour and it would take as much, if not more, time to write it as to experience it. Instead, I opted for one of my favorite writing devices - highlights. So, here they are, the highlights of my business trip to Portland: (in no particular order)
1. Hotel room to myself. I stayed at the Marriott Downtown Hotel and it was pretty fab-u-lous. It still had the essence of the typical hotel room but with enough tweaks to make it seem almost like a bedroom. Almost. I had two beds, one in which to sleep, the other on which to pile the goodies I acquired throughout my stay. The bed was deliciously comfortable and the pillows were divine. I only needed one pillow! Yes, they were that fab.
2. Rubbing elbows with movers and shakers. I sat next to and conversed with CEOs of huge companies, an Air Force general, scientists who pioneered the hearing conservation movement, and other highly influential people. For example, on the bus to the Friday night event (dinner and a show at the planitarium), I sat next to a very nice woman in her early 60's. We chatted, and she noticed the ribbons on my name tag that indicated I'm new to the association and the conference. She asked how I got involved in hearing conservation, and I told her how I kind of fell into it. We discussed what we find interesting in Audiology and hearing loss prevention, and she encouraged me to become more involved in the association. The next day, at the awards luncheon, she was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award - only the second given in the last 20 or so years. The presenter mentioned all her accomplishments and how many of the things we do now in hearing conservation are due to her doctoral dissertation. Her husband and brother-in-law were instrumental in getting the Occupational Health and Safety Act passed; her husband was a speech writer for President Ford. And I had sat next to her on that bus having no clue. Sigh.
3. Networking. Not only did I meet prestigious people, I also met people that will help me grow this business. I met a man who is a higher-up at a hearing protection lab, and he taught me a lot about how to train employees on how to wear the ear plugs. We exchanged business cards, and he offered to help in any way possible. Incidentally, he's LDS and attended BYU. We sat by each other at the planitarium show and he noticed that I live in Utah, so he commented that he had graduated from BYU. I mentioned attending the "U" and that I wouldn't hold his alma mater against him. He laughed, and we ended up chatting for a long time. He also introduced me to other people that are "in the know" about things I need to know. It was awesome to make these contacts and build a network of people that I can turn to for information!
4. Anna. I only get to see my former missionary companion every couple years or so, so it was great to spend time with her and her family. She is married and has two darling little girls. The first night that I hung out with her, Thursday night, we went to her house and had dinner with her kids while her husband was at night classes. We talked and talked and talked and talked. It was great! Saturday night, she and I went out to dinner by ourselves - no kids - and talked some more. Anna gets me. She always has. I don't have to explain myself at all when I'm around her. There is a bond between us that is as strong as it is undefineable. I know we've known each other for an eternity. It was so great being with her again.
5. Time to relax. Okay, I didn't have a lot of time to relax because I kept pretty busy, but when I managed to have time to myself, I could relax completely. I didn't have to worry about cleaning my house, running errands, or doing any of the million things I do at home. I could just relax! I realized during this trip that my life has become off-balanced. I have so much on my plate that I have shoved off some of the things that are essential for my well-being; namely sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and quiet time. I'm not 100% sure how to rearrange my life to refit these important things, but this trip reminded me how essential it is that I do it.
6. Anthony. Someday I'll write a post without mentioning him, but it may be awhile. Sorry! Anyway, it was good to have some time away from him. Hmmm. That doesn't sound right; let me explain. Last Monday night, he came over to my house because we knew we wouldn't see each other for at least a week. We played the dice game my family loves, laughing and talking for hours. It got kind of late, so I started to say goodbye, but he told me we needed to talk. That's never good. Well, it really was in a way. Without going into details (sorry!), let me just say that he blew my mind again. He was really honest about his feelings, about his past, about what he wants for his future, his faith and beliefs, everything! I handled it fairly well while we were talking, and in return for his openess, was quite honest with him about some of my issues. When he left at 2am, he kissed me goodbye, and looked deep into my eyes and said he loves me. At one point during the talk I had questioned this, so it was like he was trying to assure me that he really does love me. After he left, I kind of freaked out. Remember, I'm off-balance and can't cope with things as well as I normally could! I didn't sleep a lot that night, and the next day I asked my boss for a blessing. It had such a calming effect, it's undescribable! Anthony texted me every night I was in Portland to see how my day had gone. We'd "chat" for a couple minutes, then he'd say good night, tell me he loves me and that he was missing me a lot. It always made my heart melt to see the words "I love you" on the screen. The blessing from my boss, Anthony's attentiveness, and a little time to ponder everything was just what I had needed. I came back ready to see what happens next and to have fun with it all.
7. Knowledge. I learned so much at this conference, it isn't even funny. I took so many notes and came up with so many ideas on how to do things better! It's going to take me a few days to process everything I learned and to develop exact strategies for implementing the new ideas. I'm excited to do it! Who would have thought I'd find a field that interests me so much? Who would have thought it would have to do with hearing? Life is funny.
So, those are the highlights. Notice how I didn't say at the start that they'd be short highlights? Can you imagine if I would have given you the minute-to-minute version??? It was a wonderful trip, and I'm already coming up with reasons for my boss to let me go next year!