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Reports from the “I Can Do It Conference”

by Lindsay Kyte

The “I Can Do It” conference held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre April 21­23 was set to inspire, help you believe in yourself and other slogans you find on refrigerator magnets at the Dollarama. It featured such self-help heavyweights as Dr. Wayne Dyer, psychic Sylvia Brown and Dr. Masaru Emoto (the guy who pastes words on jars of water to see if emotions effect water crystals), among others. You could also browse booths scattered about offering the chance to “photograph your aura” (looked more like when you accidentally take a picture in the mirror) or attend “transformational art college.” I wondered if you could learn to transform people into zoo animals by signing up.

The first session featured Dr. Wayne Dyer in all of his “give yourself a spiritual pizza” glory. Attendees were not the anticipated “amulet-and-scarf” set, but more of a “laptop-and-latte” female crowd. And some men. Very few men.

The black swaddled stage had a gazillion coloured lights and a table with a big arrangement of flowers on it. “Oh please let him leap out like the Tom Cruise motivational speaker from Magnolia,” I prayed to whatever gods attend these conferences. Alas, there were no dimples and pyrotechnics. Dr. Dyer looked more like one of my Dad’s golf buddies when he wandered onstage after a gushing intro. Actually, Dad’s golf buddies might be livelier after beer and golf carts all day.

Dr. Wayne spoke slowly and started by telling stories about his friend, Ram Dass. Forty-five minutes later, he was still telling stories about his friend, Ram Dass and how they swim together. By then, I had noticed that he makes sounds like he’s chewing a mushy banana and that the lady next to me was composing her “To Do” list in the free sparkly conference journal. I was not inspired, I had no insight into my soul and I started to doubt the wisdom of refrigerator magnets.

Things changed when he told the story of Immaculée Ilibagiza, who survived the 1994 genocide in Rwanda by hiding in a bathroom with seven other women for 91 days. When she walked onstage, there was a sense of being in the presence of someone incredible. As she spoke, without slogans, about forgiving the people who hurt you, she who had lost all of her family and everything she owned, we all stood and applauded. And after that, Dr. Wayne was on fire. He talked yoga, opening a door inward into your soul, how you attract events to teach yourself and even told a few funny stories, one involving a condom. Slow start, incredible middle and winding it all up with a condom. That was Dr. Wayne Dyer.

Robin Sharma, author of the book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, is a Cape Bretoner who looks remarkably like a white Montel Williams. During his talk, I made my first hug buddy (a lovely lady named Carmen) during a mandatory hug break. There were also massage breaks and dance breaks. Bust a move for your authentic self.

I also had to say the pledge, “I, Lindsay Kyte, will take Absolute Personal Responsibility for my choices” or “APR” as it’s known in the self-help world. I felt like a fraud, as sometimes I choose to do really dumb things, like the time I thought it was a good idea to boil milk in the kettle. I prefer to blame that one on my pizza-ordering mother.

Other than that, the lecture was pretty standard. He made reference to the expected worldly philanthropists: Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Princess Di. And, of course, quoted Oprah, causing several of her disciples to nod their heads and give a quick, “Amen!!”

His philosophies were simple, like a check-up for your chicken-poxed soul. Be nice to people. Create a space for your creativity and brilliance to shine. All around me, I saw shiny happy people writing that one down. It was the grown-ups’ version of Sesame Street. I emerged from the conference happy, well-hugged and with a pamphlet for transformational art college. I always wanted to be a giraffe.

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