During a crisis in my life, I spent a few weeks in and out of the hospital for a mysterious "illness". My panic attacks had progressed from every now and then to 24/7, 7-days a week. I knew I had to stop speaking and traveling for a living, it was just way too rough on my nervous system. But I just couldn't quite let it go.
It felt like such a blessing to be able to connect with people in such an intimate way, once I stepped off the stage and was able to hear their stories of struggle and success. As my friend Judy Carter had suggested, I had turned my mess into my message - but my mess was too big to contain.
So, I decided to make two commitments to myself, in an attempt to restore my health and recharge my own battery. First, I would get a massage every week. And second, I would have a little "stress monkey" up on stage with me to remind me that the more fun I had, the more I would enjoy the experience, and the better my message would land with my audience. Thanks to Barb Grapstein for being the first to introduce me to the monkey with the big heart I would soon name Melvin.
I started connecting glimpses with Melvin from the stage with a unique opportunity to connect with others in my life off stage. I began giving away my stress monkeys to other people I wanted to share love and laughter with. Sometimes it was someone I saw struggling with stress (usually working for Delta airlines), and other times it was people in airports showing kindness to strangers.
Since I kept running out of them, I contacted the manufacturer and ordered 10,000 (literally) to help me share the love with people who inspire me on my journey.
Many people find it odd that I am a professional speaker yet very shy, a stress expert who struggles with severe anxiety and depression from a young age (although you know we often teach what we most need to learn).
This Melvin monkey not only enables me to strike up conversations with people I want to share gratitude with, squeezing him and seeing his heart pop out reminds me of the importance of breathing, connecting with my heart, and leading with love.
When I do this effectively, the energy that I once called stress becomes energy to fuel a positive connection with others.
The Journey Continues
Which leads us to this moment in time. Having given away nearly all of the 10,000 Melvin's I ordered a few years ago, I'm working on raising money to purchase another 10,000 so I can share more love and laughter along my journey. If you'd like to join Melvin and me, you can support us on our Go-Fund-Me page here.
Please come back to visit soon to hear how our journey continues!