Rachel Shadoan Muses

Something wicked…

This is from the Wednesday, November 25, the day we presented the Capability Scotland project.

Today began barely perceptible moments after last night ended. Honestly, I am not sure if I slept in those moments, or merely laid in bed in a stress-induced haze of near consciousness, filled with twitching nervous energy. Cognition returned with the sounds of Alicia bustling in the kitchen and the rain splattering my window. Alicia brought me breakfast–tea sweetened slightly with honey and with some lemon (less lemon than I would have used and delicious for it), accompanied by bread with butter, ham, and cheese. I drank my tea in the gray haze of dawn and regretted in advance that I would have to vacate the comfort of my bed.

But we got out of bed and put our game faces on. Power suit for Alicia, with makeup and heels. Vest and blouse for me, skirt and earrings. We walked outside to meet our cab, jittering and psyching ourselves up. The wind was fierce and wild, whipping through our hair like a memory of home.

“It feels like Oklahoma. This is a good omen,” Ala said. “Something wicked this way comes…”

We laughed about a middle school art class in which we watched Something Wicked This Way Comes at least seven times and as we stepped into our cab, I summed up our plan for the day.

“Let’s rock and roll.”

And so we did.

I wrote my presentation on the bus to Edinburgh as we were buffeted from side to side by the wind. If I were prone to carsickness I would have been a lost cause–even as it was I was slightly nauseous.

I was nervous–more nervous than I’ve been in a long time. I solicited hugs and ran the Fibonacci sequence in my head over and over again as high I could count. I tested my slides with the projector, I tested them with the mouse I was using as a clicker (borrowed from Alicia, my go-to gadget girl).

And then, in the boardroom, before a long table surrounded by my teammates, my classmates, and my clients, it began.

It was like sliding into a pool–a shock of cool from which you reel, followed by the comfort of the water and the familiar swoosh of the water around you. I hit my stride, and it was good and beautiful. It was not my finest performance–that belongs to the speech I gave at high school graduation–but it was good.

The next two presentations passed before I could refocus my attention from my own work. I still had my presentation to present. We took a break after Alicia’s presentation–enough time for a group hug in the bathroom and another slide test.

This slide test was a failure. The projector was cutting off the last half inch of my slides. We quickly exhausted my audio/video troubleshooting skills, and had to call in Paul, who was along to video us. His skills didn’t help us, either.

So I rolled with it. And then the mouse ran out of batteries, and I rolled with that too.

It wasn’t a perfect presentation–but it was adequate. I was glad it was over, and felt it was solid. But I wasn’t overjoyed with myself–there wasn’t the high I expected.

That was to come later.

After our lunch (in which I discovered caramel slice, which is amazing), we had a workshop that Alicia had designed and facilitated. We were split into groups of six and worked on brainstorms with our clients. Kate, Mark, Neha G. and I were with Nicola. We chose two sheets from the six that Alicia had worked up, and we brainstormed ways to improve awareness within the organization of what it is, exactly, that Capability does. Then we brainstormed ways to make volunteers feel valued. From there, we chose a single idea to flesh out and plan to implement.

This was the magic. Our clients got so excited and just ran with it. Nicola came up with an idea for a Very Valued Volunteers (V^3) system, by which the employees of Capability would let the volunteers know how much they were valued. The idea was to say thank you, little and often. They don’t need huge parties–they need notes and smiles and small rewards. My favorite idea from this was packs of thank you notes that all have to be distributed by a certain date. I think I am going to implement it in my own life.

We walked away on the highest high I have ever experienced. It was the euphoria of knowing that we had really delivered, on a real project, for real clients… and that in doing so, we had created the potential for the lives of thousands of people to change for the better. It was an unbelievably good feeling. Even as exhausted as I was, as horrifically frustrating as the entire process was, nothing could have brought that down.

Oh yeah. Rock and roll.

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One comment on “Something wicked…

  1. Shanna
    December 6, 2009

    I’m so proud of you!!!!

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