|Seaweed and round rocks are slippery; barnacles are sharp, like teeth. Walking on this surface is a bit like ice-skating, requiring strength and flexibility at the same time.|
The air was salty and warm. Steam rose from the sand and seaweed as the sun shone down from the mid-day sky. There were sea gulls, a heron, anemones, clams and moon snails all around, and silence.
This walk was a good metaphor for my life, right now. In the silence, I found time, space and fresh air to do some writing (in my head). I haven't been writing here regularly since the end of 2012, and there is a reason for that: I was attacked (in writing) by people I trusted deeply, people I considered dear friends. In a matter of a few weeks, a treasured relationship of many years' standing was destroyed by their vicious, groundless claims. While I know that there are two sides to every story, this blog is my place, and it will reflect my truth (a truth which, in this case, is informed, corroborated and supported by expert legal counsel).
|Landslides on the beach are due to clay in the cliff; clay is an unstable foundation. I've made the mistake of building on unreliable foundations before; the result feels something like this looks.|
I've been a student in the National Speakers Association's Northwest Academy for six months. We meet once a month, are instructed by professional speakers, and do homework in between class meetings. The presenters come from all walks of life: sales, television, comedy, business consulting, image consulting, drama, etc. Each one has unique gifts, methods and lessons to teach us; I have learned more than I dreamed possible from the Academy, and I would recommend NSA to anyone who wants to develop their business and presentation skills. The fellowship is stimulating, and the leadership is top-notch and supportive.
We had two excellent instructors in the Academy last week: Candace BelAir and Max Dixon. Both of them gave us valuable, useful, immediately-applicable tools - Candace focused on construction of a presentation, and Max dealt with physical presence and delivery.
Something unusual happened when Max was teaching. He asked if anyone of us was ever told we spoke too quietly. As a young person, I sometimes got into trouble for talking too much or laughing too loudly. Nowadays, I'm often told to speak up, so I raised my hand. Max invited me to join him in the front of the room, and instructed me to speak some lines. He proceeded to coach me until I projected as needed in order to be heard at the back of the room. It took several tries, but I finally did it.
The unusual thing happened right before I sat down again. Max was a professor at the University of Washington; he is an expert on acting, movement, diction, and presence, among other things. He understands, teaches and illustrates what enables us to move freely in this life - not just on stage. He looked directly at me, and said words to this effect: "You deserve to take up more space. You have a good brain, and you need to stop apologizing for yourself." It stopped me in my tracks, and shook me, because I've heard it before.
Where have I heard it? Katie said it, shortly before she died. She said, "Mom, you have got to stop apologizing."
When Max said practically the same thing, I listened. And that's why I am standing my ground here, now. If others want to tell a different version of the story - or if people want to listen to that version, without hearing my perspective, so be it. I wish them well.
I have lost so much that, when I think deeply about it, there is not much left of which to be afraid. By telling the truth here, I am claiming my space, and refusing to apologize - for a wrong I did not commit, for someone else's mistakes, mistaken impressions, or willful misunderstanding and misrepresentation of me.
I don't know what the end will be for my video; I don't know if I will be a public speaker, or not. Though I have made mistakes, I know who I am: a child of God, a writer, advocate, wife and mother; a person of integrity who does her best to serve and bless out of a good, generous, loving heart; one who loves God and His creation, who seeks to serve with gratitude.
Candace reminded us last week that Oscar Wilde said, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken" - what a great quote! It is enough to be myself. I am going to do my best to take the space I deserve, stand up for myself, write what is in my heart and stop apologizing - because my daughter said so, and she (and Max) have given me a powerful message.
"Goodness is the only investment which never fails." - Henry David Thoreau