alskuefhaih
asoiefh

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I was the cornstalk!

-
-


My name is Ruth, and this is my testimonial.

After exposing my fears to you yesterday, you gathered around me like midwives around a woman in labor. My presentation this morning was short, more like 15 minutes than the allotted 5. (They told me to take all the time I needed.) It was not an important presentation in the grand scheme. It was an update, just informational, not meant to be inspirational or profound. But it weighed on me, and so I told you about it. Here are the things I have to say to you:

I was the cornstalk. What I mean is, I visualized the stillness of the broom corn in yesterday's photo as I went in and hung up my coat and laid out my handouts. I didn't take coffee or fruit until after I was done. (I got to present first, isn't that great! I got it over with and then could relax.) Being the cornstalk, I was still and didn't rush. This is the most important lesson I learned from the broom corn: DON'T RUSH. 

What strikes me now, and did as I left the meeting, walked to my car with my box of handouts, buckled my seatbelt and drove across campus to my office, is that this here blog world is real and precious. I went from an anxious, jittery woman yesterday (and many days previously) to a Zen cat, like my Bishop in the photo here. See how she observes and takes in the world. She squirms around in leaves. She stalks her prey and takes her sweet time. She lies under the broom corn and lets me take her picture. You all helped me get there, you commenters and well wishers. I took up the fibers of your offerings and wrapped myself in them, like a mantle.

I was relaxed. I made them laugh. I covered everything (without notes!). And here's the other thing I thought of about the people in the audience I was to address, while getting ready this morning at home: Like them, love them, believe in them. I did, and I think they felt it. I know I did.

Thank you. I feel incredibly moved at how I was transformed, with your help. I will not forget this the next time I am afraid or anxious.
-
-

51 comments:

George said...

I knew you would do well, and just look at how much you learned. Notwithstanding its bad reputation, fear remains a good teacher. I hope you have a nice day, perfectly poised like at Zen cornstalk.

Bonnie said...

You were your own peaceful cornstalk and a calm cloud floating over an inner 'deep, mysterious and turbulent sea'.

Amazing how it always works - acknowledging what is (e.g. your fear) and it diminishes and moves on to something else. Simple ... but not easy.

Isn't it wonderful to have such immediate support available in this blogging arena? What a wonderful world.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

So glad it went well and so touched by the connections you draw between your last 24 hours and the real possibilities of blogs and blog friendships. And we didn't have to torch the barn ...

rauf said...

There was no element of fear here Ruth. i know you don't panic. Women have less fear than men actually. And it is women who have the courage to take risks and women are not afraid of pain. its women who make horror movie makers rich. They make such movies for women. Have my niece and sisters at home who love horror movies.

The Solitary Walker said...

Ah, that's pleasing! But it's also important to remember that, even if you considered you hadn't done 'well', it would still have been ok. You would have learned from it. In the grand scheme of things a small - but significant - step. Well done!

Oliag said...

I am so glad...but not really surprised...that your presentation went so well. How wonderful you must feel right now:)

Friko said...

Congratulations on a task well executed.
I sincerely hope that, when the fear left you, you began to enjoy the event and allow yourself a feeling of satisfaction at having overcome any lingering doubts with flying colours!

Char said...

congratulations!! I always get nervous and suddenly I have a little girl voice. UGH

I'm so glad you did a great job.

Nancy said...

Ruth, alas I've been too busy to stay caught up on the blog world, and missed my opportunity to add a supportive and encouraging word yesterday. I used to be enormously fearful of any public speaking, but years of having to address very large audiences has cured me. Or rather, I cured myself in just the way you centered yourself and moved through your fears. Well done! I think the older I get, perhaps the less I know -- but what I do know is that understanding connection(s)is perhaps most important of all!

Vagabonde said...

I think that by acknowledging your fears they were already dissipating. You had already baked the cake, we only gave you the frosting that you needed to make it shine. You are sweet.

deb said...

ah... isn't it wonderful that life still gives us "who knew" moments.

that we don't always have to find the things that transcend out there,

but inside of us.

and as these things go... you have strengthened me. it's all ripples sometimes, even in the blog world. who knew.

dirt clustit said...

where ever the feeling comes from, whether it stems from coffee with a friend or virtual places connected to each other by a loving web, it is always a perfect experience to hear or see new rooms in person's reality being born.

thank you for sharing with us your experience Ruthi

Shari Sunday said...

I'm sorry I got busy and didn't offer my support when it would have mattered. You know that I admire you very much and I had no doubt that your presentation would be successful. What you said reminded me of a quote that says more people are afraid of public speaking then of death so, therefore, they would be more afraid to make a speech at the funeral than to be in the coffin. Well, the original quote was kind of funny. My paraphrase sounded kind of morbid. By the way, your pictures, especially the first one from yesterday, are wonderful.

Terresa said...

Ruth, I'm way behind on blog reading, this past month was a flurry of 7+ family birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Halloween, etc. I'm getting around now to my blog friends, again (gratefully!) and glad your presentation went well. Someone once suggested I join Toastmasters, to get over my fear of speaking in public. Over the years, I've improved, but still shake in my boots (or heels!) behind whatever podium I speak at, at any occasion.

I will remember your cornstalk and cat, and channel both next time I'm called on to speak in public!

PS: Isn't the blog world grand, full of well wishers, wise souls (you), and so many lovely offerings of friendship.

J.G. said...

Hooray! It must have been liberating to feel it going so well, and now you have that success to reflect upon. Next time (?) it will be easier!

Ms. Bishop could give lessons to all of us, eh?

Ruth said...

George, there was something of great value in the confidence you and others here expressed to me after that last post. It was like I needed someone else to tell me I could do it. That is also something I want to pay attention to, because I thought I had more confidence than that within myself. But from what I'm hearing, what I felt is pretty common.

Thank you again, my dear friend, for so readily coming to my support. I love knowing I can count on you.

Ruth said...

Bonnie, this has really been a great experience for me. I actually felt a little buzzed after the talk yesterday and thought I might come back here and offer my services to anyone who needed a guest speaker. :) I think if I did it more often, I would actually enjoy it. There is something rather heady about seeing people's faces all lit up, eager to hear what you have to say! I can see how performers would become addicted to their adoring crowds. OK, now I'm getting carried away. It wasn't that good. :)

But this here, you, my blog friends, this has been a tremendous comfort to me.

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, thank you so much for your support in my little event/big fear. It would make a cute book to collect all these anecdotes from you guys, and from famous performers who encountered pre-stage jitters.

Yes, the barn is preserved for now. Phew.

Ruth said...

rauf, you have a lot of faith in women, which I admire a lot, as you know. But I'm telling you, I was afraid. But as a couple people said in response to the last post, courage is going forward anyway. I did agree to do the talk, and so I did have courage.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Robert, your point is excellent. It might have taken me a while to stop beating myself up if I'd fallen on my face in my presentation, and I might have become a legend on campus for someone never to ask speak. But would that matter, for who I am? I would like to get to the place where it doesn't matter so much.

I so appreciate your encouragement surrounding this experience.

Ruth said...

Oliag, thank you for that. Yes, I felt and feel very good. Mostly it's relief that it's over, and that I didn't embarrass myself. But I also feel pretty darn good about actually being comfortable enough in the setting to be myself and not just "read from the script".

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Friko. I did enjoy the rest, after settling down and relaxing. It felt good, very good. I really appreciate your encouragement and support.

freefalling said...

I've been thinking of you today and wondering how you got on.
I think it's funny that you didn't have any fruit before you presented (??!!)
I am very shy meeting new people but strangely enough I really enjoy speaking in front of groups of people. Weird, hey?

I was so surprised when you said you had a fear of public speaking - coz I think of you as quietly assured - unflappable.
Good on you for diving in head first and having a good old crack.
You could have got up there and mumbled and stumbled your way through the 5 minutes but it sounds like you grabbed it by the horns with both of your cornstalky hands.
Yay, Ruth!

Ruth said...

Char, I'm really sorry, but that just makes me giggle. :|

Thank you for being happy for me!

Ruth said...

Nancy, your comment is touching. First, it's tremendous that you got through your public speaking fears by centering within yourself. I find this just so profound. It isn't some Norman Vincent Peale self talk, but going inside and feeling our own strength. (Actually I shouldn't say a thing against NVP, because I haven't looked at his stuff in years and may remember it wrong.) That last statement of yours too is very meaningful. I agree completely that my own knowledge seems to shrink as I age, but what you say about understanding connection as being the basic thing to remember . . . that's it! Thank you for that observation.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, and you put candles on the cake. Thank you. :)

Ruth said...

Deb, it is wonderful that life still gives these surprises. I read somewhere a while back that when women get to their forties they turn inside. I don't know how the process goes for men. But this was true of me. And now that I'm in my fifties, I feel that many, many things have drifted away, out of my caring zone. I feel pretty content. Then I face a challenge again, like this, and feeling vulnerable is strange to face again, yet at the same time, I know I've got more strength within me to get through it.

Thanks so much, I'm glad you felt these ripples too.

Susan said...

I knew you would rock it, girlfriend! See previous post's comments. :)

Ruth said...

Dusti, what a beautiful, simple way you said that. I like knowing you, and one reason is that you are open to those new rooms, which are just the most amazing things, no matter how old I am growing. Every day like a newborn, I say!

Thank you, my friend.

Ruth said...

Shari, oh, my friend, you know what? I always feel your strength and support, even if your words don't appear in this box. Wow. That quote is extraordinary to contemplate! To put it in terms of the coffin and the elegy, and which people would prefer to find themselves in, really makes it graphic.

I'm glad you like the pictures. As I've mentioned, the light was brilliant, that light that only comes in autumn. And Bishop is such a pal when I go out there in it. (And sometimes she doesn't let me shoot because she squirms all over me.) Thank you for your kindness, always.

M said...

I feel your pain regarding public speaking most acutely. I'd always rather write than talk to more than one person at a time, just as you say. Even though I script my words when making presentations, I can't seem to escape all of the emotions you describe. What amazes me is that it has never gotten better over time. Come on, almost everything else has! I'm less strident, more mellow, less intense, more compassionate, etc. than I used to be...and yet feeling any measure of confidence or comfort in such moments still eludes me. I think it logically should be a perk of aging! Sigh.

Mary

dutchbaby said...

I never had a doubt, Cornstalk-Sama!

Babs-beetle said...

Of course you were a success. I expected nothing less :)

I only ever spoke in public once (to the 80+ congregation at our church), and it wasn't an official thing. When I said something funny, their laughter was so sudden and loud that it made me jump.
I love to make people laugh, but it's usually one or two people at a time. So much laughter was a new experience, and one that a person could get used to :)

I can understand that you felt good after your talk.

Jeanie said...

OK, I've been home sick for days, then back at work and running to stay in place, so I've not seen a blog. And I think I missed something very important, which I'll read next.

What I can say is yes! Good! I'm so glad your presentation went well, that you were calm, focused, loving. And I'm glad you found the support you needed here. I always seem to also. It's an odd and wonderful thing. Congratulations.

Margaret Bednar said...

So sorry I missed the opportunity to be supportive. My advice would have been to let your warm and caring personality shine through. Pick a select few and look into their eyes for a few seconds while you speak - you like talking on a personal level- maybe that would have helped unnerve you. :) The photo of the barn, tree and clouds - wow!

Montag said...

I am surprised at the Zen use of corn. I suppose I shouldn't be. I read this after responding to your comment in re: corn and then making a post this morning... and it seems that corn has an intermediary role where we end up letting loose our fears ( which in my case is disguised as a cranky attitude.)

Peter said...

I'm happy it all went well! (I just read your second last post about your fear; sorry I was too late to be of any help. I wonder if you would have needed it anyhow!)

Ruth said...

Thank you, Terresa. It strikes me reading your good comment that no one, including me, has mentioned poetry readings, and if I've done those, why would I be nervous? But it's different reading from a piece of paper, and I don't get nervous then. It's the freefall of talking and having to remember the pertinent points I have to cover.

Also I think of my dad, the minister, who got up three times a week in front of a large congregation to speak. I wonder if he got nervous.

Yes, I love this blog world, and your part in it looms large for me. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Hi, J.G., I've been thinking next time might be easier . . . bring it on! And then I start to wonder if many months go by, will I revert back to my trembling self? I hope not.

Sweet Ms. Bishop is indeed a wise teacher. Thanks, J.G.

Ruth said...

Letty!

Oh you know, about the fruit. Don't want anything to knock up against the butterflies flitting around in my tummy. :)

I do feel pretty confident when I write, so I can see why you would think that. But being up front I don't have the same control.

Thanks for your enthusiastic corn gallery cheer!

Ruth said...

Susie, it's pretty great having you believe in me. Yay!

Ruth said...

Mary, exactly. Exactly!

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby . . . . :D

Ruth said...

Babs, ah, you made me laugh out loud, and I wasn't even in that congregation! Have you noticed that certain people are just funny, and everyone knows they're funny, so when they get up to say something, anything, people are pre-disposed to laugh? Don is like that. I'm guessing you're like that too.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, it's so good that you are back in the land of the somewhat healthy as you get back to your normal self and routine. You were laid pretty low!

Thank you for your dear and kind encouragement, always. Truly, through this strange and wonderful blog medium, we are not alone.

Don't overwork, and I'm glad the public radio pledge drive is behind you! Maybe that's what wore you down . . .

Ruth said...

Margaret, thank you very much for your "retroactive" encouragement and words of advice. What you say is what occurred to me the morning of the event, at home, and it really helped. So you're spot on.

I'm glad you like the photos. They are example of the light being perfect, and you just have to grab it when you can.

Ruth said...

Montag, yes, I thought of the connection between your corn gods and my Zen corn when I saw your beautiful start to a poem. I think you've really got something there in that poem. Keep plugging, my poet friend.

Ruth said...

Bonjour and hej, Peter! Thank you for your kind thoughts. The truth is, it's a boon to have you say so even after the fact. Bon week-end!

Gwei Mui said...

So glad that it went well. It was never not going to be "successful". As you are a generous, accomplished and versatile blogger you have been able to extend that to your speaking - was there any ever doubt!

ds said...

Yippee! I knew you would do it. And very well, too. Congratulations!

Ginnie said...

I love this, Ruth, even though I wasn't in on it while it was happening. The cloud of witnesses went before you. How wonderful!