Monday, October 17, 2011

Music to My Ears

As I pulled away from the Nashville airport, tears were streaming down my cheeks. No, I had not just experienced some tearful goodbye with a loved one. Quite the opposite. These were happy tears. Tears of earnest appreciation for the compliment I had just received. I knew I'd want to write about it but I didn't -- and, to some degree, still don't-- know if I could find the right words.

I met Lee Stringer on the first day of a conference I had planned and immediately I knew he was somewhat extraordinary. He oozed wisdom and his life experiences only added to his credibility. As a former crack addict living under the 109 platform in New York City's Grand Central Station, he had endured the most profound of life's stress-inducers: addiction, homelessness, poverty and hunger. And as I listened to his story on the way to the airport, I suddenly felt the urge to drive him to New York soak up every nugget of wisdom pouring forth from his lips. The only response I could muster was " are amazing."

That's when he blew me away with an observation so touching that I will never forget his mannerisms as he said it or the cool tone with which he spoke. He said "Listen to me. I want to tell you something." I wasn't sure where he was headed, but I knew I would hang on his every word. He continued, "I have been watching you this week. And you are an amazing event planner. You are an outstanding people are incredible at what you do." And before I could thank him, he continued..."But it is not WHAT you do that makes you amazing, Katie. It's how you do it. You plan events and you live your life....with music." As he uttered the word music his clinched fist opened up in a starburst fashion and I was speechless.

You see, music to me is soul-soothing, uplifting, emotion-evoking stuff. It possesses the power to transport me to places I've been as well as places I wanna carries with it a sense of purpose, of communicating feeling. In short, it moves me. That's why Lee's comment made such a big impact on me.

I have struggled recently with a job transition that was not of my doing and a feeling that my eight years of service to them was swept under the rug at the end. But, fresh on the heels of that came this smaller meeting along with a feeling of genuine appreciation by attendees and fellow staff alike. It was refreshing and timely...and then came Lee's observation.

Little did that man know what an impact he made on me. It is no secret that my love language is words of affirmation and his words not only affirmed me but moved me to the core. I love what I do and I love the people I do it for. And as I pulled away from the airport, tears streaming down my cheeks, I realized someone had actually seen me. The me I want to be.

Believe me, it was music to my ears...and to my heart.