Help when you need it most

I wasn't feeling entirely comfortable as I rode up to Birmingham that day. It was only my second stint at conference moderation - and the first had been in Hungary - an altogether different kettle of fish - and I had had a co-moderator to fall back on. Though I felt quite clearly that this type of work was increasingly 'on my path', I still felt well out of my comfort zone.What made it worse was that I had been given very little information on the speakers I was to introduce - and on what they were talking about. Now, I like to be prepared. Perhaps even over-prepared, if I'm honest. And I wasn't being given the chance here to do either. The universe seemed to be presenting me with an opportunity to do something differently, ie, to 'wing it'! It felt a bit like going naked on stage!In the event, however, I did have some help from other sources! While preparing for the event some time earlier, I had happened upon the title of one of the sessions: it was called 'Transformation in the middle office'. It struck me at the time that, though I knew nothing of what the speaker was referring to (and Google didn't, either), 'the middle office' sounded vaguely reminiscent of the 'Middle Earth' of Tolkein fame. I resolved then and there, if I had the opportunity 'in the moment', to make a joke of it, asking the speaker whether his 'middle office' had anything in common with the setting of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.As it happened, when I arrived at my hotel room in central Birmingham later that day (and feeling more nervous by the minute), I felt clearly directed to pick up a book on Birmingham that had been left on my bedside table by the hotel hosts. Now I had no interest in Birmingham per se (I went to university there... and it just didn't interest me much any more - if it ever had). Anyway, I opened the book and, tada!! - there was a whole section on Tolkien and Middle Earth. Apparently he'd been brought up in Birmingham as a child, and all the sites of Middle Earth were inspired by buildings and sights around the city and its environs. There was even a 'Tolkien Trail'. Of course I brought all this into my introduction the next day - and brought the house down (there were lots of Rings fans in the audience). I relaxed into it a bit more, knowing that I was being helped (when I most needed it). All was as it needed to be...

GeneralTonya