You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here.
I told my co-chair that it was time to get things going. We still had an official vote to cast, an exit survey to fill out, and a flower activity to do. When people turned their exit survey back in to us, we gave them a flower. Then asked them to exchange flowers with people who they wanted to express appreciation to. They could keep exchanging flowers and were to always only have one flower. (This worked really well by the way- it was the brainchild of my awesome co-chair.)
Oh yeah, give a person a flower and a compliment and they will start to soften. I had no expectations, and was surprised to hear people say that I bring a loving energy into the room, and am kind, friendly, (and praise worthy and of good report. ;) (It's like they saw through my gruff beer swilling exterior to the big teddy bear inside.) Then we announced that our unapposed candidate for co-chair was unanimously voted in and she gave a speech. My co-chair and I promptly sat down. "We're done!" she whispered to me. I felt a little like we had perpetrated a scam on the incoming leaders. "We get to sit down now!"
Then the new co-chair gave my co-chair and I big bouquets of flowers, count on her to do something thoughtful like that. She also handed us cards that everyone signed! That surprised me. "We should thank our steering committee" I said starting to feel slightly generous. My co-chair thanked our committee, thanked everyone for coming, and invited everyone to return to socializing.
"Wait," an older woman said, "I have something to say." "Oh hear it comes." I thought. This woman had complained by email before and was to me the most irksome type of complainer: the non participating complainer. I held the air in my chest. "I just want to say," she said "as someone who isn't involved in the nitty gritty of the group and just occasionally comes for the showy stuff, that you people make it really easy to come here. No matter how long I have been away, you always make me feel loved and welcomed. Thank you." A space opened up. Some unknown tightness melted and my beer swilling, gruff doppleganger faded away. I took a deep breath.
A couple more people thanked us publicly and then people went back to talking. I was relaxed and talking to people with out the tension of defense.
The last person I gave a flower to while we were doing the flower activity was my co-chair. I looked in her eyes and we both started to cry. "You taught me about serving rather than taking." I told her. "I'm so glad you asked me to be your co-chair. I wouldn't have said yes to anyone but you. I've learned so much from you." "I've learned so much from you!" she said. She told me that I was so kind and was really a good person in a deep way. I was surprised she could see my kindness. I'd been feeling so gruff. "You are so kind and yet you are so opinionated!" She said. I laughed, "I am so opinionated!" I think we both had open suprise in our eyes, amazed that maybe the other person admired us as much as we had been admiring the other.
I drove home from the party with deep breaths of air circulating through my lungs, feeling like a weight had been lifted off of me, feeling deeply relieved, lightly bewildered, and happy.