Hello all!! It’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me on my personal blog. I promise you will hear more from Reesie. I have been in an uncomfortable space for a few months. I am sure many of you can relate. The place where you know that something in your spirit is not right. I have endured devastating events this year, however, I could not determine the cause of the calamity. The war in my mind that impeded my state of tranquility. The sadness and depression defied description. I carried on with my daily routine, staying busy to elude the voices in my head telling me to slow down and tend to myself. I have been here before so woe and I are fully acquainted. This time, something great pulled me out of my “funk.” An event that rejuvenated my spirit. My cup ran over. Now I want to pour into you hoping I can spread the same joy and understanding that I found.

I had the privilege of attending the HealtheVoices conference this year in Chicago, Illinois. The conference was sponsored by Janssen and it brought together passionate, gifted and chronically ill advocates. Before I delve into the details, I need to say this. For the first time ever, as I said goodbye to my husband at the airport, I could not stop crying. I felt an overwhelming sadness, like I was bidding my last farewell. Although we are together most of the time, I have traveled without him before. I could not explain the reason for my unexpected reaction. It took at least ten minutes before I was able to compose myself. Eventually I did.

From the moment I arrived at the hotel, I felt an energy shift. I was happy to see my mentor and excited about what was to come. I knew that this was going to be an amazing, unforgettable experience. It was indeed. From Janssen’s staff to everyone involved in HealtheVoices, the proof was “in the pudding.” The planning and labor of love that went into the execution of the conference was apparent. Even more fulfilling were the amazing stories of the advocates and their work. The awe and confirmation that even in the midst of illness and adversity, there is a greater purpose to our existence. There is joy in our hearts and souls. Confirmation that our lives are no longer about us, but the greater good. The realization that even though we have different ailments and experiences, we are on the same path. We travel together living our truth, educating, uplifting and inspiring

The fragility of life is recognized among all. We fall only to rise again.

The conference was a safe space. It was the forum where we poured from our spirits, only to receive a refill. A hug said what words could not. Great advocacy requires vulnerability. It is not an easy space. It can be challenging and lonely at times, however, as the old adage states, nothing good comes easy. There is strength in our unmasking. I have met some of the most incredible people in such a short time. They have inspired me to continue on. Bearing witness to their work and being inspired by their words, I am propelled to aim higher. I am reminded of the great work I have yet to do and am ready to do it.

As I reflect, I see why I cried at the airport. As I said farewell to my husband my spirit knew that there was a transformation in progress. It knew I was not going to return the way I left. There was a foretelling in progress. I said goodbye to uncertainty and all things that did not feed my spirit. I said goodbye to the person I was. With each new experience and every individual that I met on this journey, you’ve changed me. Thank you will never be enough. To quote a line from my one of my favorite songs “Near, far, wherever you are, you are here in my heart and my heart will go on and on.” (Celine Dion)

To everyone reading this blog, you matter and so does your work. Feed your spirit and care for it. Protect your space and your peace. Align yourself with those who embolden you to live your truth. There is power in it. There will be many people who will pour into you, yet a few will change your existence. They are your tribe. Find them, protect them and keep them close. As my cousin repeats, “iron sharpens iron.” Be inspired and on fire.

Disclaimer: Janssen Global Services, LLC paid for my travel expenses. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are not reflective of those held by Janssen.