BY Eileen Z. Fuentes (@TheSpeachGal)
So this past weekend, I flew south for the winter from our neck of the woods to the hot and sunny Miami Beach, Florida. The temperature ranged from the upper 70’s to the low 80’s the entire trip. I could not believe that people were on the beach tanning, while New York City looked like the North Pole! The reason for my trip was to attend a conference for holistic health coaches organized by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) for students and graduates of their program. There were leaders in the fields of holistic nutrition, fitness classes, business coaching, a financial planning workshop and even a show-stopping performance by a Lady Gaga impersonator. The first night ended with an intimate rooftop party where I was able to be up close and personal with the IIN staff, including the Founder and Director of the school, Joshua Rosenthal. I was quite surprised when I got to the hotel, opened up my laptop and saw an invitation from Mr. Rosenthal himself asking me to stand before the more than 2000 students from all over the world including countries like South Africa, Mexico, Jamaica, Korea, Japan, Turkey, Portugal, Belgium, Finland, Iceland and EGYPT and tell my story of where I was a little over 2 years ago and where I am today? The jitters were in full effect and the voices in my head were saying, “Is he for real…me?”
I seriously questioned how this girl born and raised in Washington Heights, mother of three, and now young cancer survivor could stand out amongst this diverse and intelligent group of amazing individuals. His e-mail to me was short and to the point, it said, “inspire, ok”. “Umm ok, Mr. Rosenthal” I thought to myself! So the next day at my designated time slot, I was handed a microphone, told to walk onto the stage of the Miami Convention Center with gigantic screens behind me, and one of the most inspirational educators I’ve ever met beside me, and talk. I looked around and tried to take in the magnitude of what was occurring. As my voice initially cracked, I talked a little about me, my transition from healthcare professional to patient, the benefits my family and friends have received as a result of my diagnosis but most importantly about the my newfound passion and living a life of purpose. I spoke about the beautiful women I serve in our community, the positive transformation they have received as result of what I have taught them, the love and support that Columbia University Medical Center’s, Department of Surgery has shown me, and the work that I am able to share with my hometown and beyond through my contributions to the Uptown Collective. As I looked around the room I saw the expressions on the sea of faces, and heard one person shout “Go Eileen!” I stared to believe that I accomplished the task at hand. I was in awe that Joshua Rosenthal introduced me as one of his favorite people and as I tried to exit the convention center to run to the airport, women and men of all ages and demographics, many of whom were in tears offered to help me accomplish my goals, asked me to help their loved ones and simply came by to share a hug. Even on the plane ride home, a fellow passenger asked me for my contact information and upon arriving to home base, a woman looked at me and whispered the word “powerful” as ran I to the car to avoid the bitter cold again. My head is still spinning from the entire experience!
So I ask you this…how do YOU give back to YOUR community? We all have challenges, but what can YOU do to turn it around? What can YOU teach others by the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons learned? Do you think in this lifetime, you can perhaps INSPIRE others? Stop being a perfectionist and get moving TODAY. It was the single-most important take home message I learned because you never know how you could change the world!
For more information on any of the programs mentioned, please contact me directly at [email protected].
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
To see more of Eileen’s work click: Here