What Moves You?

I wake up at 3:28AM yesterday to attend New York Leadership Center’s Annual Movement Day. Although registration doesn’t open until 8:00AM, volunteers are asked to arrive at the downtown Hilton at 5:30AM. Unfortunately, no LIRR lines from Locust Valley leave early enough to get me there, so I can either drive into the city and take my chances finding parking or carpool with my two friends and get dropped off at the door. I choose the latter, but it comes at a price. Sleep, of course. Because I have to be at my friend’s house at 4:30AM, and just typing all these before the sunrise clock times is making me drowsey.

As I line my toothbrush with toothpaste at 3:30AM, I notice my lips. Oh No! Not again!

They’re huge. What did I eat last night, I think to myself? Nothing. Literally. After my dentist appointment, my mouth remained numb so long, I never had a chance to eat. The last two times this happened, I learned that I’m allergic to mangos. Wahh! But I didn’t eat any mangoes yesterday. I don’t have time to self-diagnose. Time is ticking and my ride is waiting for me. I decide a last minute wardrobe change to draw attention to my feet rather than my face. I pick the strappy black heels over my comfy loafers and throw a tube of cream in my purse for operation tackle dry skin which I will do once I’m no longer driving. If someone says to me, “Hey, what happened to your lips?” I’ll just point to my feet and say, “Like my shoes? Payless. $15.99. Best deal eva!”

I pop two benedryl capsules, brush on some mascara and race out the door with my laptop on my shoulder and a protein shake in my right hand. I’ll caffeinate once I get to the hotel. Driving into Manhattan this early, the sky is still dark and there’s hardly any traffic. When we arrive at the Hilton, we spend the next two hours going over our responsabilities, touring  the layout of the event, and drinking coffee. Lots of coffee.

Come to find out that only three of us are on the hospitality crew, specifically assigned to take care of the VIP’s of the event. That’s like telling me I’m Secret Service for the day! When each of the Plenary speakers registers, one of us guides them up to the event, shows them around, and then takes them to the green room. Which by the way, is not green. But there’s coffee there.

So as we organize name tags, attach personal schedules and place gift bags under the VIP chairs, I think to myself, “Who do I want to meet today?” Because I know that in those few minutes of interaction, I get a chance to interact with some men and women who I wouldn’t normally have access to. [Twitter doesn’t count until you’ve met the person, IMO.] The chosen panel included men and women who are moving their cities and the world, and making a difference in their communities. Thus the name, Movement Day.

My first assignment is Kevin Palau, son of Luis Palau. As we ascend the elevator, I ask, “So what’s it like to grow up with a such a famous dad?”

“I didn’t really think about it. Because, well, he’s just my dad.” Come to find out Kevin initiated a friendship with Portland’s Mayor Sam Adams and together, their teams are helping transform the city by tackling such issues as poverty and homelessness. Together.

As we walk into the main ballroom, Luis Palau follows, and I get the pleasure of showing him his seat and leading him up to the green room as well. He has me laughing when he asks, “Do you think I should wear a tie? I brought one. I just didn’t put it on. What do you think?”

“Whatever makes you speak better.” And the funny thing is, he sounds just he does on the radio. Go figure.

Next, I walk up with Jim Mellado, President of Willow Creek. And he’s from Chicago! So of course, we talk about the Bulls the entire time. We’re both rooting for D. Rose’s speedy recovery. That was fun! 

Later still, I meet an author of a book I actually read. Tim Keller, also senior pastor of Manhattan’s Redeemer, is wearing jeans with his sports coat. As we start toward the escalator, I turn to face him and confess. “I’m a bit of a fan. I really love your book The Prodigal God.”

We chat all the way through the main ballroom and up to the Green Room, and then he totally throws me off. “How old are you?” he asks.

“You know you’re never supposed to ask a lady that question.” I’m thinking he’ll drop it.

“Just tell me. How old are you?”

“Seriously?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, fine, I’m 41. But you’re still not supposed to ask.”

“Good.” He says. “Because if you had said 20 or even 30, I’d say you needed a few more years of life experiences before you can write good fiction. But 41. That’s good. I’ll bet you have a decent amount of material now.” And then he says, “I hope you weren’t offended?”

“Nahh. Just last week, someone asked me if I was in college. I’m fine. And I think you’re right in some ways. Doing the mommy thing for a decade has definitely given me a lot of material.”

As I walk back to the registration desk, I find myself smiling. Because Movement Day has barely started, and I already feel something moving inside of me—the aspiration to write stories that move people. Because life is too short to stay put. To stay the same. Or to stay stuck.

So What Moves YOU? Who inspires you? When’s the last time you woke up at 3:28AM? :)

More Movement Day Posts coming next week. Right here. So come on back y’all! :)

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5 thoughts on “What Moves You?

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  4. Does it count, Raj, if I’m still up at 3:28 a.m.? Because that would be most days. I can tell you who inspires me. Moms who get up at 3:28 a.m. to devote time to what moves them, Dads who stay, and work long hours at a job they don’t like because their family needs them to (and then write at night). Grandparents who raise their grandchildren and can still do somersaults, and help with new math homework. Teens who get good grades, and work every evening to save for college. Women who have the baby even when it is a huge inconvenience (thanks, Mom). The list is quite long.

    • Of course it counts Steph!! When do you sleep girlfriend?!? And are you telling me your grandma does somersaults? Cuz that is too awesome! I want video footage! Love all your shout outs! -Raj