Well, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

Today I give my first keynote speech – a goal that I set a year or so ago when I started public speaking and leading workshops on storytelling.

Over the past six months, I’ve searched for opportunities by responding to different calls for speakers as well as deepening my already-existing relationships with conference leaders.

But one day a few months ago, just as I had added the “Speaking/Workshops” tab on my website, I got a random email — from my website! It was a man named Cole from the National Association of Realtors and he said the number one thing people wanted to hear about at their Communication Director’s Institute was digital storytelling!

What. A. Coincidence. That’s just what my website says that I do.

I mean, I know this is how it’s supposed to work, but I didn’t know it would actually work!

I was — I am — beyond excited.

There’s just one problem.

Normally, for special occasions like this I would wear my dad’s ring. It was a black onyx ring with a diamond in the middle that I loved since I was a child. I wore it at his funeral. I wore it at the Emmy Awards. I wore it at the first speech I gave at a conference.

It helped me feel connected to him. It helped me feel invincible.

But last January, my house was robbed — and the ring with it.

To be honest, it happened so fast that I didn’t have time to mourn the loss of it. I was forced to accept it was gone and I took it pretty well, considering I’m extremely sentimental about things that I’ve attached to people.

But in the 12 years since my dad died, I’ve lost a lot of things that represent him and this time I told myself the same thing I always did: “This reminded you of Dad, but it wasn’t Dad.”

Admittedly, this one was a little bit harder to swallow. I just tried to move past it.

When I was packing Monday for Kansas City, it came back to mind. It wasn’t there for me to slide into my bag and I felt something was lacking. I had felt so good about this speech leading up to it and now I was starting to doubt myself. That insecure feeling was starting to creep into my mind.

As I was looking around the room, something caught my eye that immediately brought a smile to my face.

Over Father’s Day weekend, Maya had given me a ridiculous pair socks with our daughter’s head plastered all over them. They are my favorite present maybe ever.

They make me feel good. They make me feel love and feel loved. They make me feel connected to my family by being connected to my skin.

So they went in the bag, and I’ll be wearing them today instead.

What I realized is that it’s definitely not about the physical items, it’s about the feelings they bring. And those feelings can be found in whatever items we place them in.

One day the socks will have holes in them and have to be thrown away. And on that day those feelings I have will be reincarnated into something else. And so on and so on.

It’s about being connected to our people and connected to what brings us joy. And if we can find those connections through our collections of things, then we should be grateful.

Because it gives us access to our love.

(PS. I did find one of my dad’s old belts, so I’ll be wearing that, too.)

Rain Bennett is a two-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, writer, and competitive storyteller with over a decade of experience producing documentary films that focus on health and wellness. His mission is simple: to make the world happier and healthier by sharing stories of change.

You can read the rest of “Right as Rain” here, and check back every Wednesday on Chapelboro for a new column!