Thank You for the Victory, April Blake!

Every so often I have a post-aneurysm victory that deserves more than a line in my monthly non-scale victory list, and tonight was one of those victories. I voluntary appeared on a panel discussion about blogging at the Richland Library.

It was all part of the Library’s “Blog Week,” which I first read about on April Blake’s Facebook page. She’d been invited to participate, but had a conflict. Being the wonderful woman that she is, she volunteered to find someone else. She posted a call out to her blogging friends, and knowing how much I need practice with this sexy new voice and newfound uncertainty with public speaking, I knew what I had to do it.

My newfound uncertainty came with my return to work in September. I was scheduled to do an interview with the City’s Channel Two, and when it came time for me to do my thing, I choked. I just couldn’t think or talk fast enough. Thank GOD I had enough sense to bring our recycling coordinator, Samantha,with me, and she jumped right in, saving the day.

When I got back to the car that day, I contacted an old media friend and in sheer panic, exclaimed, “The aneurysm has taken away my ability to be a spokesperson.” And from that day on, that was my story. I’m not sure if I was out of practice, uncomfortable with my “new voice” (or lack thereof), still not back to 100% or perhaps all three, but I knew I wasn’t as good as I used to be, and I was crushed.

Of course, January 24 came with lightening speed. The panel was informal, so there was really no way to “practice.”  I did make some notes beforehand, and I had them with me at the table, just in case. And that was the very part that scared me the most, that I wouldn’t be able to think fast enough or that things were still perhaps a little slow.

The discussion started with a bang, literally. The moderator  introduced us and asked the first question. As I started answering, CRASH – part of the lighting fell down and scared us to death. (Thankfully, Sister got video!) It got better from there. I feel good about the panel discussion, especially since the entire program was  involved thinking on my feet. Everything seemed to click, and I feel like I’ve recovered part of my identity that I thought I’d lost. I’m glad I pushed myself to do it.

This month,  22 months since the rupture and 15 months since I experienced the problem with spokesperson duties, I’ve done an interview for City Channel Two, a regular media interview with WLTX and this, a panel discussion. Later this week, I’m moderating a panel discussion, too. There were times I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do any of this again, and the confidence boost has been fabulous.

This achievement didn’t happen overnight, but occurred in small steps: working on my voice a little at a time, going to Toastmasters and forcing myself to do a Table Topic, speaking up when I didn’t feel my best, reading aloud at church and putting myself in challenging situations, like I did tonight. It was also a great illustration of one of my new manatras: It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. (I have it on an Alex and Ani bracelet Sister gave me when I went to the Shepherd Center for rehab.)