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Goals & Growth

Public Speaking

As most introverts can testify, public speaking can be a terrifying experience.

One month after my husband and I were married, we packed up everything and moved from Pennsylvania to Florida.  I did not have any family, friends or support network of any kind.  It took Brian less than 4 days before he had found a job.  I on the other hand, had not.

One day a commercial came on the radio for a bartending school in Tampa.  I had just turned 19, and did not know anything about making drinks.  But something inside me said it would be a great way to get over my anxiety with talking to people in crowds.  Hair of the dog that bit you, I guess.  I signed up for the course, and when I told Brian what I had done he looked at me funny.  Then he said “What are you thinking?!  You hate people!”  I countered with my reasoning and said “If I can’t get over myself and get better at talking to people, I won’t make any money.  I’ll either learn, or starve.”  I landed a job pretty quickly, and as I expected, I was forced to grow.

For months I would sit in my car pre shift and try to psych myself up to go inside.  I would have to calm my anxiety with slow breathing and remind myself over and over that the customers didn’t need to know I was scared.  I would fake it until I made it.  I would pretend to be bubbly and outgoing.

Bartending was like a mini performance each shift until it became normal.  At a certain point it became my “on” personality.  A side of me that I could summon when I had to go to a party or event where I didn’t know anyone.  Even though it served me well, it was still in small groups at a time.

About 5 years into bartending I became a Licensed Massage Therapist, started my own practice, and left my slinging drinks days behind me.

As I added years and experience to my massage career, I knew I wanted to teach classes at some point in the future. I was scared to think of getting up in front of a class where all eyes, all attention were on me.  Back when I struggled with anxiety and suffered with panic attacks, one of my triggers was to walk into a room first where it felt like all eyes were on me, judging me.  The thought of intentionally putting myself in a situation where the goal was to capture and hold a room full of peoples attention was daunting.  But once I realized it was a fear, I decided to take on the challenge.

I used to attend FSMTA meetings each month, and at one particular meeting the Chapter President was announcing that he had served long enough and the chapter needed to step up and take over.    The chapter needed new fresh ideas and direction.  It felt like he was looking right at me when he said “If someone doesn’t step up the chapter will dissolve.”  At his time I was pregnant with my son, had a busy massage practice, and my daughter was almost 6 years old.

It did not make any sense at all for me to step up and say I would serve.  I had zero experience holding a volunteer position on a board, much less leading an entire chapter.  I barley had any time as it was, let alone take on a volunteering position of this nature.  But my father is an obsessive volunteer and this was yet another way for me to emulate him in some way.  Not to mention there was a little voice in my head that knew this would be the most excellent way to get over my fear of public speaking.  And just like bartending, ready or not, I jumped in.

It forced me to get in front of a group of people, anywhere from 20 – 60 people, and speak for at least 20 minutes each month.  For the most part they were a kind forgiving group that encouraged me and didn’t flinch if I stuttered, stammered or forgot what I was saying.  I held that position for 2 years and it was an amazing experience of growth through fear.  I still get butterflies when I am about to speak, but it never stops me.

 

How do you feel about public speaking?  Are you afraid of it or exhilarated by it?  How did you get started, or what is your biggest fear you want to get past?  Please leave me a comment or short story below!

 

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Goals & Growth

Synchronicity and Salutations (part one)

Many years ago, when I was still a very young adult, I was a bartender at a Roadhouse Gill in Bradenton, FL. My husband and I had been married for about two years and he wanted to start a family. At this time I was around the age of 21 or 22 and had not yet found my “path”, and I knew that if we started our family while I was a bartender, that was all I would ever be. I knew I had more to give this life than just slinging drinks. I told Brian I needed to find my path before I was ready to think about starting our family. I was also terrified of becoming a mother.

It was around this time that Oprah was gaining great momentum with the focus of her talk show being about bringing about your best life. Her show happened to come on at the predictably slow time in restaurants- after the lunch rush and before happy hour, so I would frequently turn on her show while I was restocking the bar and cleaning before the next rush. This was the earliest recollection of hearing about synchronicity and The Celestine Prophecy. On my next day off I went to the local bookstore in search of the book. What I picked up by mistake was the “Experiential Guide to the Celestine Prophecy” – a companion book meant for book clubs or self exploration, not the original book. While I was still there I found a reference book of sorts for Alternative and Complementary health career education / schools. My original plan, for the majority of my teen years, was to become a Chiropractor like my father. Somewhere around my senior year of high school I started questioning if I really wanted to be a Chiropractor, or if I really just wanted to be like my Dad. Were there other ways I could emulate him? I also loved writing, especially poetry and short stories, and wanted to become a writer. I could not envision myself going to Iowa to Palmer College of Chiropractic, even though that was the only place I had ever considered going to college. I decided to take the first year to “find my way” and in that time, I met Brian. To this day I believe the reason I could not “see” myself moving away was because if I had, I would not have met him.

But I am getting off track again … so I digress…

Back to the bookstore – I picked up this reference book out of curiosity to see if there was a Chiropractic College in Florida. By happen chance I flipped to the wrong page and stumbled upon Equine Sports Massage Therapy, and found a 13 day course in Ocala for $1800.  I thought this was the coolest thing as I grew up with horses and worked on farms and racetracks as a teen.  I took the course (I will blog about that experience some other time…about the student in the course that approached me the first day and told me to be careful if I was not ready for a baby, because there was a little girl that was waiting for me.)  I found myself wanting to know more, to learn more about anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, as I felt unprepared with only 13 days of training… So I enrolled in Massage Therapy School without any intention of working on people.  It did not take long before I fell madly in love with massage for humans. I had found my calling, and knew that this was who I was. The book in the store led me to the wrong page, which led me to a course that would be a stepping stone to my life career. One month into school we were surprised to find out we were pregnant! (link to another blog post about finding out I was pregnant)

It was as  if the stars said  “Hello there.  Welcome to your path.”

Do you believe in coincidences, or fate, or synchronicity?  What were some of the signs that lead you to where you were supposed to be?  Leave me a comment with your favorite one!

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Welcome to the Acorn Room

I am a tenaciously patient person.  For most things.  Except food… I am tenaciously impatient when I am hangry.  But I digress.

When I was a brand new adult at the age 18 years and 21 days, I went on a big girl vacation with my boyfriend Brian and his sister Deb and her life mate Steven, to Siesta Key, Florida.  At the time of this trip, Brian and I had known each other for 4 months, and really only became a “relationship” days before we went on this road trip from PA to FL.  This may seem like a whirlwind to most people.  And in a way it was.  However I knew the minute I saw him for the first time that he was meant for me.

I had started a new job as a bank teller at First Valley Bank in South Hampton, PA my senior year of High School, and I kept the job after I graduated.  I had recently broken up with my high school boyfriend that tormented my heart and trust for the 2 years we dated, leaving my self esteem low, and my confidence even lower.

One day in early September, Brian walked in to the bank.  That was the moment I knew.  It was as if my soul recognized him and started jumping up and down, inside my stomach.  You might know that feeling as “butterflies”.  But I’m convinced that feeling is my soul doing somersaults.

Brian is a coy extrovert that loves attention, in a charming, confident way.  He smiled and talked to everyone in the bank, and all the ladies loved him.  I seemed to be the only one who did not know who he was.  After watching him for a few moments I leaned over to one of the other tellers and asked who he was.  Her snarky reply was “Don’t waste your time.  He is too old for you and you are not his type.”

Thanks for the tip, Betty.

It is a very strange sensation when your self esteem is low yet your soul is on fire…

Brian seemed to have a mutual interest in me, as he made small talk at the window, held my gaze a little longer than he should have, and paused to say goodbye before he left.  From that day on, he made regular trips to the bank, waiting patiently in line to get my window.  One day he would withdrawal money from his savings account and put it into his checking account.  A couple days later he would withdrawal money from his checking to put it back in to his savings account.  Brian would make up reasons to linger longer at my window, saying he forgot his account and would ask me to look it up for him, or print out statements or any number of tasks to keep him longer.  It was adorable.

It didn’t take long before we were going out to lunch frequently to get to know each other.  We met each others parents and family and friends. In fact I had even gone with him to visit his grandmother in her Nursing Home.  As Granny gave us a tour, she stopped in front of the activity room and announced “This is The Acorn Room.  We have DANCES here!”  and her face lit up with a great big smile.  It was a simple, sweet moment.

Brian had a road trip to Florida planned for the first week in January, and he asked me to go.  My first response was that my parents would never let me go … only to be told that he had already asked my parents if it was ok … and they said yes.  It was an exciting trip with beach adventures, mopeds and a little tiny bit of underage drinking (for me – he was 25 years old).  We were standing in the parking lot of The Quay in Sarasota, in the very late or very early hours, and I looked up at him and said “Some day I want to dance with you in the Acorn Room.”  It was the moment of recognition that I wanted to spend the rest of my life, and grow old with, this man.

Fast forward …

We have been married since 1994.  Depending on when you are reading this, you can do the math.  How did I know at such a young age, and with minimal time together, that he was the one I would spend the rest of my life with?  How much is destiny and fate?  How much is commitment to the big picture?  My belief is that it is equally split.

And so begins my story of long term goals and growth.  The kind of goals that start out as a little acorn.  The kind of goals that you water and nurture and sing to.  The kind of growth that sometimes needs support, and prayers and pruning in order for them to go from seed to full grown trees.

Welcome to The Acorn Room.