I hate public speaking. It makes me sweat. So what did I decide to do? Stand up in front of, oh, 500 people and share a poem I had just written 20 minutes before.
It’s hard to explain how this happened. It was rather surreal, but I’ll do my best. Toward the end of day 2 of the Writing From Your Soul workshop (you can read about Day 1 of the workshop), Nancy Levin, brilliant poet and event director of Hay House Publishing, led a series of writing exercises. The first was called I Remember. That was the starting point for each line of whatever it was that we were each writing. This was followed by Most Memorable Kiss, Fire or Water, and What I Absolutely Can’t Write About. Besides the second exercise, all of these I ended up relating back to my hyperhidrosis. I was astounded that all of these exercises were coming full circle to exactly what it is that I have been writing about publicly for nearly 2 years on this blog. This is not coincidence. This is synchronicity. Synchronicity is alignment with Source.
So there I am, fleshing out these writing exercises and pulling my shirt sleeve down over the side of my palm to keep my notebook dry. The words are flowing, and each time Nancy says the 5 minutes are up, it seems like I’ve just started to write things down. We complete the exercises and then there is time for 3 people to share what they’ve written. The first 3 to make it to the microphone are the ones who get to be heard. I feel myself jump out of my seat and make a mad dash for the mike stand. Alas, I am not fast enough amidst the skinny aisle, ballroom chairs, and bodies crammed into the small space. I walk back to my seat, dejected and wondering what in the heck I was thinking anyway.
But then, they decide they have time for more people to get up and share. I get right back up and literally run toward the microphone. This time, there are about 8 people in front of me. I am the last one standing in line. I decide to stay there and see what happens. So I assume my “absorbing sweat” pose: arms crossed over my notebook, palms grasping my sleeves. Then begins the uncomfortable inner monologue: Oh, sweet Lord. I am standing up in front of all these people. Like, 500 of them plus 3 big video cameras and God knows how many people who are streaming this webcast and watching me in their pajamas. What am I doing?!
I can feel my heart thumping out of my chest. I wonder how high my blood pressure is because I can feel my pulse in every ounce of my being. I am fully in fight or flight mode. Slowly, slowly, the line gets smaller. There is a brief set of words spoken followed by applause, and I hear everyone share his or her piece willingly. Thump, thump, drip, drip. It’s a good thing I covered my notebook in clear Contact paper a few weeks ago, otherwise the front and back cover would be shredded by now. My hands are sopping wet, and so are my feet. Breathe in, breathe out. You are well, I tell myself. You are okay in this moment.
Suddenly, I am front and center at the microphone. A lovely gentleman on staff at Hay House comes and adjusts the height of the microphone for me. I look on stage and up into the warm and pretty face of Nancy Levin. She is wearing a sleeveless black dress and some killer black heels that she totally rocks. I take a deep breath and say my name. I can hear my voice reverberating back at me in the microphone. I’m really doing it. I am speaking what needs to be spoken. I am standing on the shoulders of the writers whom have come before me from all centuries of this life, whose work I look up to and from which I gain strength. I take another deep breath and read my poem loud and clear. I speak with truth, with light, without apologies.
Here is the poem I shared with the world only 20 short minutes after I wrote it, having no idea I’d be doing so.
I remember once having dry hands
I remember them getting wet
I remember my condition used to not have a name
I remember when I found its name
Excessive sweating. Hyperhidrosis.
I remember being seen
I remember being validated
I remember being loosed from my shame
I remember being touched for the first time with understanding
I remember reaching out to others so they are not alone
I remember saying I AM.
I remember launching my blog, My Life as a Puddle
I remember creating hope and awareness one drop at a time
I remember being changed by my circumstances,
but certainly not reduced by them*
I remember that water is the Source of all life
I remember that I am enough exactly as I AM
I remember to love myself through it.
I remember hearing the audience chuckle when I got to the line where I said my blog name. After all, it is kind of catchy, isn’t it? After I read the last line, I looked up at Nancy, and she had her hands over her heart when she thanked me for reading. I walked back to my seat amidst the applause of 500 people. I felt like I was on top of the world. I was also shaking like a leaf. A LEAF, people. As I sat down, the woman sitting next to me reached into her bag and pulled something out and handed it to me. It was a piece of matted artwork. She said she felt led to gift this to me after hearing my poem. I took it from her in awe, my hands now dry as a bone as I held it up to look at it. That’s when I almost lost it. My eyes teared up and almost spilled over in gratitude. Gratitude for her artwork and what it said, gratitude for this once-in-a-lifetime event, gratitude for having the courage to get up and speak my truth.
Here is my new piece of art by MaryLou Falstreau. I also met her husband Alan Falstreau, who co-creates with her. Thank you MaryLou. I will forever treasure your work and the memory now associated with it.
Since I’m feeling especially daring today, I stopped to visit one of my tree pals on the way home from the workshop to record my very first blog video. So, here’s a spoken version of my I Remember poem. You can’t see my eyes in this one; my future’s so bright, I need shades!
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
*This line is adapted from a quote by my favorite poet, Dr. Maya Angelou.