Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Cure for Stage Fright: Facing the New Year with Courage and Equanimity

Night for All Souls, Mountainview Cemetery

It’s the second day of 2017, and I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the work I’ve got on my plate this year. I’m checking out all my friends’ and colleagues’ positive gung ho messages on social media and thinking “Why don’t I share that positive ‘can do’ attitude?” Truth is, I’m feeling fear and anxiety. I’m more Grumpy Cat than Kimmy Schmidt. These negative vibes came home to me as I chatted to my friend Catherine. She had taken her granddaughter to a live theatre production of Mary Poppins. Audrey got dressed in her new vest that Catherine made for her, and one of her best dresses.  The night before the show Audrey whispered, “Grandma, I have stage fright.” Catherine explained that they weren’t going on the stage so there was really nothing to be afraid of. Nonetheless, the little girl was feeling nervous, so she brought along her favorite stuffy cat.
They arrived at the theatre. When Audrey saw a load of other kids in their best clothes toting stuffies alongside their grandmas, she was calmed. She absolutely loved the production, spending it on the edge of her seat clutching her kitty. “How do they fly grandma?” she asked. “Well, you can ask the stage manager after the show,” Catherine whispered. Catherine’s friend Caren is the stage manager of the show. Not only did Audrey get to go back stage to see all the rigging and see the mechanics of the production, she got to meet Mary Poppins herself and try on her hat. It was a little girl’s dream come true.
Tidy Tips and Coreopsis

I found this story deeply touching. And it helped me to realize that I have been suffering from a kind of stage fright myself. Last year was a very public time for me, having launched my book and doing lots of traveling and teaching.  It was very satisfying for the extrovert part of myself, but very tiring for my introverted self. Then I was hit by a big whammy: one of my very best friends died suddenly on August 24, 2016. The next three months passed in a blur as I finished my teaching and speaking engagements for the rest of the year while in tremendous distress. I was able to take some time to grieve in between gigs, but it was difficult. My heart was raw. I felt so lost and bereft. She was one of those people that really knew me-- all my dark and vulnerable corners. I went to the local cemetery and spent time with the wildflowers and bees. I donated some wildflower seeds, which one of the gardeners has generously planted in Donna’s honor.
It still seems like a short time since I lost Donna, and I still wake to the wonder that she is no longer here in body, even though I still feel her spirit every day. As the time comes for me to do my first speaking engagement of the year, I feel I do have stage fright. I really want to keep quietly hibernating, researching and grieving.  But as my dad is fond of saying, “There’s no rest for the wicked.” So I’ve got to get back on that stage and smile and sing and raise hell for the bees. I’ve got to get that fire burning in my belly, so the cold fear burns away. I’m going to need your help too, because some of the things I’m going to tackle this year are going to piss people off. There’s going to be more fire and brimstone in my personal brand of “beevangelism”. No more Mrs. Nice Bee!
So Audrey dear, I’m gonna take a big breath, dress in my finest clothes and I’m really going to try to make my words fly. I might need to bring my stuffy along with me. I hope there’s some kind and supportive people in the audience. I hope to see you there. And I hope some of you can join me at my first gig, which is at Saanich Seedy Saturday at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific on January 14. I’m so excited!!!!

Tips for Melting New Year’s Stage Fright.

Take your vitamin D. It’s winter, DUH.
Start the day with morning pages and intentions and end the day with a warm gratitude list of things you accomplished.
Reach out to friends with simple e-mail check-ins, dates, and just taking the time to think nice warm thoughts about them.
Make a Plan B if things don’t work out—make several plans and back those up with backup plans.
Plan ahead. Be prepared. Nuff said.
Make a list of your happy places and go there in your mind or real time.
Slow down. Embrace the inner tortoise. She is beautiful and wise.
Embrace the people, thought patterns, and situations that give you the buzz of their intrinsic (solar) energy.
Jettison any thought patterns, people, and situations that are your personal kryptonite. Let go of that sh_t.


  1. Hi Lori!

    Thank you for sharing your stage fright post with me and your whole blog really...what a gift. It's encouraging and heartening to read about others' struggles and humbling to see that, even after years of experience, we still have so much to grow, let go of and keep learning/opening to. Thank you for the reminder and authentic vulnerability. Also, may your dear friend rest in peace.

    Reading through the post, I 'heard' two strings of messages, closely intertwined...one of being overwhelmed and needing more reflective and gentle self-time to strengthen heart, body, mind and spirit, while the other spoke of abundance, creative work engagements, new people to meet and emboldened purpose...beevangelism haha, how great :].

    Thanks again, I really look forward to exploring Fear and the Decision Making Process at one of the future IS Group meetings. Happy I had the chance to meet you at the last one.

    ~ Warmth

  2. Thanks Ileana,

    I look forward to spending time with you in gardens. I loved the story about your father bringing a bee back to life!