Friday, December 6, 2013

Trembling Buns of Stage Fright

yesterday's sunrise. the hanging silverware is part of wind-chime
"In the inner wine cellar 
I drank of my Beloved, and, 
when I went abroad 
Through all this valley 
I no longer knew anything, 
And lost the herd which I was following...
I no longer tend the herd
Nor have I any other work
Now that my every act is love." 

 - St. John of the Cross, on the Journey of the Soul to God by Contemplation, from The Spiritual Canticle

What a beautiful way to see our life's journey! 
"I lost the herd which I was every act is love." 
How I would love to live that way! 

The final National Speakers Association Northwest Academy's class presentation went well. I was one of the last in the queue to present, so I got lots of practice in "the art of being present" under pressure. Since my topic was The Art of Healing Presence, that was appropriate!

Have I mentioned that I really do not enjoy public speaking? 
One of the reasons I enrolled in this Academy is that I am increasingly uncomfortable at the podium. Having given speeches to benefit The Moyer Foundation, Seattle Children's Hospital and Camp Goodtimes West (now The Goodtimes Project) in front of hundreds of people, I find it is not getting easier; it is getting more difficult. I thought that studying with professional speakers would help me to get over that.

That's not what happened. I learned that even professional speakers get stage fright, but they learn to manage it - and to manage many of the things which give rise to fear about taking the stage, such as mechanical glitches, unexpected problems with venue, etc. 

My greatest fear is that I might go completely blank, mentally, forgetting what I mean to say in the midst of saying it. I have to use notes. This is one of the reasons I went to the effort of creating a video a while ago. My topic is very dear to my heart, and it contains painful elements; the story is emotional, which makes it hard to repeat in speech after speech. 

Since the video is unusable in its current form (too long, & without a navigable menu), and my relationship with the videographer/editor fell apart a year ago, I found myself with an important message and a broken vehicle. I decided to get out of that vehicle (imagine the video was a car, in a ditch) and get on a bicycle (the bicycle is public speaking). It's far more labor-intensive in every way than showing a video, but I wanted to give it a try, to see if I could grow, improve my skills and share the message in another way.

There is a great deal to learn about the business of public speaking; it's larger and more complex than I imagined. I learned that I am better suited to lead an interactive workshop than I am to give a keynote speech - at least, that's where I am now. I prefer feedback and dialogue to having the entire spotlight on me.

Here's the funny part of the final exam: over the past six years, when I have been invited to speak, I have experienced various symptoms of stage fright. I've had "butterflies" of nervousness, shaking legs and knees, felt like I might faint or be sick - all of which were managed, and, fortunately, not noticeable to the audiences. On Wednesday evening, I experienced a brand-new symptom of stage nerves: my buns trembled uncontrollably. That's right: for the first time ever, I had a shivering derriere

It would have been hilarious, if I hadn't been so busy concentrating on my speech, and hoping that no one could see my behind shaking in fear, from the semi-circular seating arrangement in the auditorium. I could certainly feel it! I stood at a table with a lectern on it, so the lectern blocked that part of me; no one noticed, by grace. Here's hoping that the video-camera didn't pick it up!

I gained a great deal from attending the Academy, but (obviously) still have stage fright.

Here is a photo of our group that night, courtesy of facebook:
Our wonderful Dean, Jan McLaughlin, is the one wearing orange. If you ever need customer service training for your business, see Jan at
When I got up the next morning, God was showing His artistic flair. The sunrise progressed from the photo above, to this
to this (these photos were not retouched):
What a gift! The beauty of nature lifts the heart; thanks be to God for the glory of His creation! 

I have recently been in touch with some professors who have invited me to speak to their medical students, and am so looking forward to the opportunity to share with them what I've learned because of Katie (and from my classes in the Academy). I pray to go forth from here, now a bit better equipped to serve, so that "my every act is love"...even if I go with trembling buns.


Robin said...

Congrats again! So happy these opportunities are coming your way.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, that's hilarious! Shaking buns or a shaking bum! I get the knees and the hands and the quavery voice, but I've never had my bum shake (which is probably a good thing as it would be earthquake-sized!). I find it so interesting that it's gotten harder for you and wonder if that has to do, partly, with adrenaline in full gear when you first did it and then having more awareness and less adrenaline as it became familiar. I'm so proud of you, anyway, for doing this, Karen, and I just know you'll be a wonder and a blessed voice wherever you go to speak.

Kim Andersen said...

I am in awe of your perseverance! I'm sure that one day this experience will make it into one of your presentations - shaking buns and all - as a word of encouragement to other quivering quaking people with a passion to share their heart. What a wonderful story :)

Busy Bee Suz said...

Well, this is a new one for me. I've had trembling knees and hands….but my buns aren't as talented as your! Congrats on getting through this and YOUR perseverance is SO darn inspiring!!!! I love that you are moving forward to get out your important messages!!!
YOU rock!

Carrie Link said...

We have a mutual friend, Elizabeth Aquino. She urged me to make contact with you. I'm just now getting into public speaking myself, so this post is the perfect first one of yours for me to read!

I've ordered your book and look forward to reading it.

Karen said...

You need to run to your nearest garage sale and buy the home workout "Buns of Steel". It might help you solve your problem! Loved this, and your courage in tackling the world of public speaking. You are undoubtedly better than you know.