Face the Moose- What I Learned at NLC

Written by: Janae Momchilovich

Janae is D2 and is our ADPAC associate on our Legislative Committee.


Face the moose. When I sat down in the massive hall in Chicago at NLC this past fall, the last thing I thought was that those three words were going to drastically impact my life.

Life coach Valerie Burton’s experience and poise commanded the attention of hundreds of attendees. She spoke about leadership and personal growth, her personal experiences, and perspective. The analogy that connected the dots for me was about a moose. It went something like this:

Burton was on a mountain trip with her grandmother as a child. As they drove up the side of the mountain, Burton – just as any other child on a road trip – had to use the restroom. Well, the restrooms were few and far between on this mountain, so first sight of a Port-a-Potty was about as sweet a sight as ice cream on a scorching summer’s day. Young Burton sprinted out, but to her surprise, the Port-a-Potty was guarded by an enormous moose. Both startled and frightened, Burton ran back to the car. When Grandma recognized that Burton had not been gone long enough, she asked what had happened. Immediately, Grandma walked Burton straight back out and began scolding the moose – ‘SHOO. BE GONE NOW.’ Potentially a seemingly comical act, but the moose moved, and Burton was amazed.

Burton continued by explaining that our fears, just like the moose she encountered that day, are unavoidable. It is therefore not the fears we encounter, but how we choose to deal with those fears that is most important. We must focus on personal growth, what brings us joy, and what we can GIVE (not take) to become a better version of ourselves. Facing fears is something we must deal with constantly, and she asserted that we must look at these situations as an “I get to”, and not an “I have to”. When we actively choose an optimistic perspective, we alter our thought process to generate positive and impactful reactions.

The day on the mountain gave Burton a new perspective. She saw her grandmother facing a fear in its face – quite literally. Burton now can look back and smile at this story; together Burton and her grandmother found joy in their journey. She suggested to the audience to take a moment and identify our happiness triggers. These are the things that change the “haves” to “gets”. After some personal reflection, I am confident there are significantly more “gets” in my life than there were previously. Dealing with my fears will never be easy, nor do I wish fear upon myself. But I do know that when it inevitably arrives, I simply will face the moose.