As you know, I'm with The Angel Company (TAC) and last week, we had our Winter Retreat (Escape 2009) here in San Antonio, TX, at the Menger Hotel (by the Alamo).
It was a fantastically fun event! The only part that was causing me great stress was the part where I had to give a 45-minute speech to the group!
And, I'm talking about STRESS--lots of STRESS!!!! So much stress that I wanted to throw up kind of stress.
I would go to sleep, thinking about my speech. I would wake up, thinking about my speech. I practiced my speech everyday for weeks. I would work myself into such a tizzy that sometimes I couldn't eat. My husband makes breakfast for me nearly every morning! Some mornings, I would just sit there and TRY so hard to eat this delicious breakfast but I couldn't.
All I wanted to do was throw up!
You can say that it's "self-imposed" stress. I would have to agree with you. What is there to be afraid of? But, do you really think that by knowing this, it reduces my stress level? NO!!!!!!
On the day I found out that I would have to give a speech at Escape, I was already a basket case! It was very hard to think about anything else.
At first, I was busy WRITING my speech. Took me weeks to get it "just right." After I wrote it, I then had to practice it. It didn't matter what I was doing because in my mind, I was saying my speech. I would sit at my desk in my stamproom and practice saying my speech to the TV and my bucket of stipple brushes. They would just stare back at me, never laughing, never reacting, never doing anything but just sitting there.
Did my speech suck? Was it interesting? Was I saying anything that anybody would want to listen to? Oh the doubts! The stress inside me was building and I was ready to:
2. just kill myself and end the torture!
I had 51 pages of "speech." I used a scientific method in laying out my speech on paper! Well, it's a scientific method also known as "Yuki's lame attempts to appear calm and in control while giving a speech."
I am basically a very very shy person. Being shy is not easy to overcome. I have struggled with it all my life. . . still am. And I HATE having to get up in front of people and talk.
I got through my junior and senior high school years by "hiding" behind my camera. I'm a different person when I'm behind my camera! I was the yearbook photographer for 2 years and my camera was my shield from the other students. Back then, without my camera, I was this lame example of a semi-stable person.
I remember when Zip and I were taking a college course (yes, together), Child Growth and Development, and we were told that we had to give a speech, which would count "for a grade." Oh my gosh, my heart stopped. I was a wreck from then on. Not only did I have to give a speech in front of people but I had to do it in front of Zip.
For the speech, we had to work in pairs and could pick any subject dealing with child growth and development. And, yes, no brainer--Zip and I were partners!!!
We did some research and decided to speak about Thalidomide babies. If you have never heard of Thalidomide babies, these are babies whose mothers took the drug Thalidomide to reduce morning sickness. It was taken off the market in 1962 due to the numerous birth defects it caused. We divided the speech into two parts--the part Zip would do and the part I would do.
The day came when we had to give our speech and I was still among the living. . . so you know what that meant? It meant I had to give my part of the speech.
Zip had been telling me to just take index cards and write "words" so I would know what I had to say. I tried that but it wasn't working for me.
I ended up writing exactly what I had to say! I had a "ream" of paper (my speech) with me; Zip had nothing. No notes, no papers, no index cards--nothing.
He gave his part first. He walked around the classroom like he was in charge or something. He said his part of the speech--with no notes! He was GREAT. He was AMAZING. I was in awe of my husband. He didn't need the podium to keep himself from falling down. How in the world can he do that?
He basically ad-libbed his entire speech!!!!!!!!
When it was my turn to give the second part of the speech, I had my entire speech--word for word--with me. I walked very very slowly up to the podium, wishing with all my might that my prayers would be answered and that a bolt of lightning would strike me dead in front of everybody!
But, it didn't happen! I was stuck. I had to give my part of the speech. I couldn't let Zip down. Our grade depended on his part of the speech and my part of the speech.
I held on to the podium for dear life. My hands were trembling and I was scared sh*tless.
I said my part of the speech. I lived through it and we got an A for our efforts. If you were to ask me what I said or what I did during my speech, I would have to ask you, "what speech?" because I can't remember a thing I did or said up there.
I was on remote control! And, no, I didn't READ my speech either. I had it memorized. I DID make eye contact with the group. Zip said I did great and that's all I really cared about.
I aged about 5 years though! I'm sure I stressed out my poor little heart to the max, and I KNOW my blood pressure was off the charts that evening!!!!
Okay, so let's get back to my speech at Escape! Can you feel me now? I am a wreck!
I am the mother of all wrecks!!! I am the ultimate wreck. I am a wreck to end all wrecks.
I have 45 minutes to give a speech. I have 51 pages of a speech that I wrote. I have every word that I'm going to say down on my paper! I now have to memorize my speech!
Using my scientific method, I have to have visual landmarks for my eyes to land on while giving my speech. When I look at these printed landmarks, I have to be so familiar with them and know what they mean with just a glance that it's like second nature to me--hence, the weeks of practicing my speech in front of my TV in the stamproom and my bucket of stipple brushes.
My page breaks must also be at a natural pause during the delivery of my speech. Different thoughts on one page must look different. I used underscoring, bolding, italics, different size fonts, etc, to make them look different.
I have to make sure my eye catches where I have to "emphasize" something in my speech. I practiced--making my voice go down. Making it go up. Saying my lines with no deviations.
You see where science is involved here?
When the day came that I had to give my speech at Escape, I was really sick to my stomach.
It was hard to hear any of the introduction by Mischelle because my heart was pounding so hard. I went up there and you know how they say--to pretend everybody is naked. Well, I pretended they were all stipple brushes. The TV was waaay in the back (just like in my stamproom) so I would look at the TV, then back to the stipple brushes, back to the TV. . . then stipple brushes. . . back and forth.
But this time when I said my speech, the TV and stipple brushes reacted to what I said. It was the weirdest thing! Some of the stipple brushes even giggled at some of the things I said during my speech.
I think I rendered my best "practice" that day at Escape. I hit my "printed landmarks" dead-on and said all my words in the correct order! I even interjected a few "ad-lib" comments here and there and I didn't get all confused as a result. I was able to maintain my focus.
Did I have fun up there? Heck no! Did I look like I was having fun? Probably not!
But, I did it. I think had Zip been there, he would have been proud of me!
The words in my speech came from my heart and how can you go wrong when you speak from your heart? I was also glad that my heart was still beating after my speech!