"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

***A Quote From The Velveteen Rabbit


Recovery and Going Public....Live and In the Flesh

ORIGINALLY POSTED:   Sunday, February 07, 2010      


Friday, February 05th, 2010 marked the date of the Shakti Rising Friday Night Salon, a very important once monthly event which allows the community (including but not limited to future volunteers, donors, apprentices, etc) to come be a part of Shakti Rising for the evening. Guests experience first hand how the program works, and what it's like to be a part of the Shakti Community, from the standpoint of the Apprentices, Volunteers and Staff Members as they are given a tour of the grounds. A meal is also served, during which Guests are encouraged to converse with each other, Shakti Staff and Volunteers, and even the Apprentices. Friday Night Salons are a huge part of what sustains Shakti Rising, as this is a very real way for financial supporters to see how their contributions help create social change. Friday Night Salons are probably the most important event we host, please click HERE if you would like more information.
This month's Salon was particularly special to me, as I had my first experience speaking publicly about my recovery. Please click play on the YouTube video above to listen to my speech. You see, prior to the tour I spoke of earlier, there is a presentation explaining a little bit more about Shakti Rising and it's history.  And in the spirit of Valentine's Day, myself, being in early recovery, and another woman who's a mid-level apprentice, were to speak for 2-3 minutes each about what Shakti Rising's Mission Statement, The Heart of Shakti, means to us, and how it has resonated in the different stages of our recovery.

So, to rewind a little bit...Earlier in the day, I was fine tuning my speech, and ended up tearing it up and throwing it away. This is not an uncommon thing for me to do when I'm trying to put the finishing touches on almost anything, I become obsessive about my work being perfect and almost compulsively review it over and over, picking it apart in the smallest ways, until at some point I read it....And it ceases to make sense to me anymore. At which point I have to trash it, HAVE TO, because it's such a disappointment to me to ruin something I've put so much work into by simply trying to make it perfect. Ridiculous, right? Well, it happened. And of course, at this point, my concentration was shot. Of course, I wasn't happy about what I had done, but by this point, I couldn't figure out what was worse...Destroying my work or writing a speech that just didn't feel right with the intention of reading it to others. So, in defeat, I reached a state of acceptance and was able to avoid being overcome with anxiety. I'd figure it out one way or another.

So I got ready and went to Shakti, thinking that maybe a change in environment would help me focus. Try as I might, though, the best I could come up with was some notes, and embarrassingly, they were the most basic of reminders. "Hi, my name is...." "...I grew up in the HeartLand..." "I did a college project about Shakti...." Etc. I basically ended up with 6 sentences written down on the back of my copy of The Heart of Shakti, and I struggled to come up with that much. At this point, I started to feel the twinges of anxiety creeping into my body. But nothing else was coming to me, so I decided my words would have to simply come from the heart. As the time was drawing near, I did a practice run with one of the Shakti staff members. She said it was great, and to just go with it. That it's ok to be nervous, and to just take my time. Not long after that, and only minutes before it was time to get the show on the road, we got the news that I would be speaking alone...

Of course, at that point I got even more nervous, like, REALLY nervous..The other woman that was suppose to speak with me is incredibly amazing at public speaking. So I'd kind of comforted myself with the thought that even if I messed up really badly, it would be ok, because no one would remember what I'd said anyways, good OR bad, after hearing her speak. So now all I had to rely on was myself, and thankfully, I didn't have a lot of space to process that fact, or play out my vision of what could happen and every possible ending/fatal, irrecoverable mistake over and over again in my head, because there just wasn't enough time for that.  And before I knew it, we had moved from the entry way of the Butterfly House into the living room, and I was being introduced to a very energetic group of probably 30-40 people, mostly strangers.

I began to speak as soon as I was introduced, but even before my introduction, as I was listening to Christianne talk about important details like the location of the bathroom, etc, I started to get that funny feeling in my throat, and my eyes started to feel moist. I was about to start crying, before saying even 1 word. It took all of my willpower to NOT let that happen. And when I did begin my speech, I could hear it in my voice, the wavering sound of someone who is about to start crying. But I didn't cry, I started speaking and didn't stop until I felt as though I'd made the point of my speech clear. My nose even started to run a little, like it does when I cry, and I started to feel very hot and a little sticky a few sentences into what I had to say, but I focused all of my attention on making sure that my story came from the heart, and touched on everything that I wanted to say.

When I was done and had exited the room, I immediately started getting a lot of excited feedback. So many people said that I was great, that my story was very moving and beautiful, and a few people even told me that I had succeeded in making Mallory (one of the directors of Shakti Rising) cry. A lot of people told me that I didn't seem nervous at all, and that I certainly didn't seem like this was the first time I had done something like this. So I guess those 2 things can be our secret! But above all of these things, and all of the other nice, encouraging things people had to say to me throughout the rest of the evening in regard to my speech, the thing that has stuck with me the most is a feeling of accomplishment, and even deeper than that, a more developed sense of self confidence and a deeper trust and belief in myself. I was real, I was only who I am, I came straight from the heart with honesty and passion. And it worked out perfectly. What I have to say and who I am does matter....And I CAN do it!



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