There I Was—Back at My Father’s Childhood Church

I’m pretty amazed at my life.  I never know where the next door leads. I just keep going through doors that present, trusting…even if, at times, I hesitate. sspeterandpaul

A perfect example is what I’m embarked upon now—guest-speaking.

You see, I’d never have believed guest-speaking would become something I love. I just had too great a mountain of panic to overcome. It all started when I was a junior in high school, in Mr. Al D’Andrea’s class:

To this day, I can conjure up the fear…the anxiety.

Our eleventh grade “Problems in American Democracy” class held 30 seats and mine was the back seat in the second row, in from the door. Near the big plate glass windows. Where a cold draft blew in, in winter.

I often sat back there, quaking nervously.

I feared Mr. D’Andrea’s walking about the room, gradebook in hand, containing the roster of students in our class. On this day, his eyes swept along the column and then he called out: “Miss Kelly.”

I froze in my seat.

Slowly, I got up and walked to the front of the class, to stand at the podium,  awaiting questions which would come, rat-a-tat-tat-style,  of a rifle.

I felt the class’s eyes on me, examining my every fault and imperfection.

He asked:  “Miss Kelly, tell me what you know of the Dred Scott case.”

I said nothing.

Now, it’s important to note that at times such as this, all moisture disappeared in my Sahara Desert of a mouth. My tongue became cemented to the roof of my mouth.

He asked again.

Again, I said nothing.

After 5 punishingly-long minutes, he dismissed me.

I wanted to scream out:  “Yes, I know the Dred Scott case, and frankly, there’s nothing I dread more than being exposed before my class and you, my adored teacher….due to my fear of public-speaking.”

Instead, I slunk back to my seat.

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Where am I today in all this? As a 71-year-old guest-speaker,   I love my audiences and have great fun with the people.  But I share my original fear of public-speaking as a hurdle I needed to overcome in my journey to become the person I am today. I encourage others to go forth–to conquer their own fears.

This past week, I enjoyed a wonderful night, speaking before 25 ladies (and one priest) of SS. Peter & Paul church on Highland Street, in Phenix (West Warwick, RI).

Soon, I will go before 150 women in East Greenwich, a Leisure Living group who, I’m told, will have ‘lots of questions.’

Baby steps….baby steps….