The last time I stepped foot in a conference room for a workshop prior to this month was during Q1 of 2020. I remember it like it was yesterday because I was adamant about finding masks for my flight. I was travelling to Las Vegas to facilitate a workshop during Black Enterprise’s Women of Power Conference which was literally a career dream that came true! At that point, I’d heard rumblings of a virus but the preparer in me wasn’t taking any chances. A couple of girlfriends actually laughed at me stating “Only people with the virus need to wear masks” – this was March 11th. Upon my return from Vegas (March 13th), I received a notification that someone tested positive for COVID-19 at the conference and shortly thereafter – everything changed. I MEAN EVERYTHING CHANGED!!

Here we are, 18 months later and deciding to hop on a plane, attend an in-person event or simply have dinner around the holidays isn’t as simple as it used to be. While I’m “vaxxed and masked” in these pandemic streets, I recognize that not everyone is. I thought long and hard before attending this month’s in-person workshop. Top of mind was I couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity; but I also had to consider my safety as well as the safety of others. Here’s the strategy I leveraged to make the most of what truly was a successful event:

  • Seating preference – I wore my mask and maintained distance. As much as I prefer a front-row seat, I knew other attendees do as well. I chose a seat mid-room (actually closer to the back) near an outlet (to charge my laptop and phone), at the end of a row (which meant one person sat next to me vs both sides)
  • Sanitizer – I packed Trader Joe’s lavender spray with moisturizing aloe for my hands and wipes for surfaces
  • Socializing – Lunch was provided in a smaller room but yours truly found a cute, red chair outside of the room. I was unwilling to risk being unmasked in a small space with at least 25 strangers attempting to build connection during the break.

Speaking of “connection”, I actually met 2 people and we’re planning a Zoom meeting to discuss needs, progress, etc. in upcoming weeks. I was comfortable connecting – in my mask and they were, too!

I led with safety, incorporated strategy and was willing to switch things up in the moment if need be to honor my “pandemic preferences”. I know people who refuse to get vaccinated; some have contracted the virus and others haven’t. I know people who are vaccinated who wear masks as well as those who are vaccinated and do not wear masks. As we continue to navigate the variants associated with this virus, I encourage you to do what works best for you, your health and for those you love.

Jennifer Aniston recently decided against attending the Emmys citing personal safety. The article posted on Today’s Facebook page has comments including:

 “The delicate flower might get some germs from another person. Stay home and hide. Your choice.”

“Fear is a powerful emotion. The spirit of fear is not from God.”

Say what?!?! Safety is a personal choice as is wearing a mask or getting vaccinated. A PERSONAL choice.

Just know that people don’t agree with Jesus, they clearly don’t agree with Jennifer and they may not agree with you or I. With that being said, perhaps the same thought process that guided my decisions before, during and after the workshop will help as you return to the office and/or balance work-life events that include groups of people:

  • control what you can control
  • make the best, safest decision you can based on the information you have
  • incorporate boundaries for those who increase your risk for catching the virus.

Until next time – play bigger, be safe and make PowHer Moves!