Wholed It Together – W.I.T
Blog entry 9 of many
Entry: Communication

Recently, I was responsible for chairing a speech contest. This meant I helped organize, delegate, plan, and lead a bunch of people in producing a fun and inspiring event. This was my first time in such a position and I was both excited and nervous.

I began by asking my fellow speakers lots of questions and taking scantily coherent notes. Spending a lot of energy on creating a skeleton version of how I envisioned the event, left me with just that; a skeleton with no muscles, blood, or skin.

As a massage therapist, I couldn’t help but see this experience as a human body that needed the same type of care and nourishment. The skeleton was comprised of the rules, guidelines, and by-laws that created a foundational structure for the contest. Since it was my first time producing the event, I was very consumed by the skeleton and dug myself into the enamel and marrow. I wanted to understand and utilize the rules in a way that would not be depleting, but quickly I realized the structure was not healthy.

I printed documents, had contestants sign forms, read the laws, watched tutorials. I began to understand what was legal and what wasn’t. But, when I went to a meeting with the speakers and mentioned what I had been working on, they looked at me blankly. Oh yeah, I had been doing this all on my own and nobody really knew what was going on! Here lied the muscles. The people were what moved this body. Noticing that I had done it alone exposed the naked skeleton for what it was. I began the process of strength training. As a group, we met and collaborated; we began planning locations and whether we should have a potluck. It wasn’t just the talk of food that was nourishing, but the inclusion of others.

The body that was the speech contest began to come to life! With a strong skeleton and healthy muscles, we had a foundation and the movement required to forge ahead. The rules never changed, but just as with bones, sometimes nutrients are absorbed to create a hardier material. This was true as more senior speakers helped by adding their knowledge and expertise. The muscles required consistent training to prevent wasting. For over a month, there was not a dull moment. People needed questions answered, reassurance, tips, direction, and support. They needed to understand the rules and guidelines so they didn’t hang too loosely on the skeleton. Being responsible for directing the body can be intimidating. This is where I found the blood.

Blood is life. Blood carries nutrients and energy. Blood is passion and purpose. The life-blood of the speech contest turned out to be when I heard the speeches themselves. Wow! I was blown away by the speaker’s confidence, prowess, and powerful topics. The body was formed, had moved, and was flushed with healthy blood. The blood did not need direction from me because we had the container for it to course. All the hard work to create a fun an inspiring event had paid off. Our speakers could practice speaking with the support of all of us. And this was the skin. 

Skin is a vessel; it contains all the good stuff inside. It is permeable and strong allowing inside what needs to pass through and defending against that which doesn’t. Our contest was the skin and vessel that contained blood – passion, muscle – people power, and skeleton – foundational guidelines. We had a full body and an amazing contest!

Excitement and nervousness are two ends of the same spectrum. I have learned from chairing a speech contest so much about myself and others and it was worth facing the fear. Someone asked me why I was taking on this role, and I said because communication and leadership are keys to being able to provide excellent body work. Understanding how things work is a part of what we, as bodyworkers, do every day. I suggest we all apply our hands-on approach to other areas to help bring them to life!