“The strength and impact of RCMA comes, in part, from the potential for us to inspire each other.”

I spoke with my sister Jenelle last Friday morning. She was filled with enthusiasm because she had begun physical therapy sessions that week that had given her a new sense of energy and resolve. Jenelle was diagnosed seven years ago with a tumor on her brain stem. Radiation treatments reduced the tumor's size and eliminated its symptoms. Since then, she has had periodic checkups to monitor the tumor.

For six years, the checkups diagnosed no problems. By the time Jenelle went in for her exam last fall, good news regarding her condition had become routine. So when the exam showed the tumor was active again and the doctors believed it was stronger than ever, we were shocked. This time the treatment was chemotherapy.

It has been eight months since Jenelle received the stunning news. Her body has accepted the chemotherapy well. She had bought a wig, anticipating that her hair would fall out, but it never did. The tumor is slightly smaller, but her treatments continue. Nobody, including the doctors, knows her long-term prognosis. She lives in the moment, and says that she has turned her fears and worries over to God.

Last Friday, Jenelle told me about her physical therapy goals: She wants to improve her balance and endurance so she can resume her daily 2-mile walks.

That struck me as such a poignant goal: She wants to be able to go for a daily walk. I contrasted that with my current physical goal: I want to improve my marathon time by one hour, from 4:57 to 3:59. Without knowing the context of our goals, it would appear that my challenge is more demanding, perhaps more inspiring. Of course, that conclusion would be entirely wrong.

A lesson can be learned here for all of us in RCMA, which is comprised of people facing goals and challenges of all sizes and kinds. The strength and impact of RCMA comes, in part, from our potential to inspire each other. When we hear the enthusiasm of a new meeting planner putting together her first event, even if it is a small meeting, it inspires the veteran who plans dozens of large, national events every year. When we hear how a meeting helped to change the life of an individual or an organization, it renews our efforts and reminds us of why we do what we do.

I encourage you to continue to reach out to your fellow meeting planners. Did you meet an enthusiastic, new RCMA member last winter in Milwaukee, one who was filled with questions and curiosity? If you haven't been in contact with that person since then, send that person an e-mail or give that person a call. Let them know you enjoyed your time together and that you often wonder how their year is going.

Did you meet a longtime planner whose willingness to share his experiences encouraged you? If so, let him know how his advice has helped you in the past few months and call him for thoughts on current challenges.

This type of interaction boosts all our efforts and gives us the encouragement to walk, or run, our paths each day.