IMPROG: Stage (n.) is the word

IMPROG: Stage is the word

Today as I pulled STAGE out of Susan’s envelope, I could envision what she wanted me to write about. The reason I knew was because she told me to use it that way:

STAGE (n.)

That, or she was trying to send me a message and I am supposed to figure out the key. She has done that before, so I wouldn’t put it past her! Hopefully she wasn’t trying to tell me she was trapped under something heavy and needed help, and she really wanted me to improg about a stage. The kind you stand and perform on.

Most of you who know me know me to be loud, obnoxious (in a really great way), funny, loud, and the center of attention. While this is true, I am also deathly afraid of public speaking.

The only way I can explain it is that if most people are listening to me in a room I can handle it. When all people are sitting down and staring at me waiting for me to say something brilliant (or stupid, or funny), I begin to freak out. My knees lock. My palms sweat. My fingernails dig into my palms. My eyelids sweat. 

Oh wait, I seem to be also describing one of my beloved hot flashes. 

In my childhood, I can remember doing group activities on the stage (choir, volleyball), but when it came time to do a play at church, I was the first one to say that I would help with makeup and do the lights. This was right up my alley. I can still boss people around and be involved, but nobody is going to judge me.

Isn’t that what it is all about? Having people judge you. Worrying about what other people think about you.

When I was asked last year to participate in a show benefitting breast cancer (Sapphire Moon’s Ascending) I immediately said yes. Of course. Anything for the cause. I figured I would help write the acting parts, maybe help with makeup, lights, marketing, my usual stuff. I met with the director and the next thing I knew, I was not only writing, but acting in 3 numbers. I was in a daze and wondered how the hell that happened.

It was months of rehearsing and getting to know the parts (I have a different respect for performers after this). Then it was time to get up on stage. At first, during practice, it was people who were also on stage (mostly dancing) and had gotten to know me a bit, so there was some sort of familiarity. Then something happened. Stepping onto that stage, I wasn’t afraid. Nervous, yes, freaked out and scared, no.

It wasn’t about ME! There were 6 other women up there who were doing the same thing I was: delivering a message, performing, and helping the cause. One gal said it best when she said, “It’s all about the boobies.”

It was a sudden transformation, an inner make-over if you will. It didn’t matter what people thought about me. It didn’t even matter if I screwed up. They weren’t there to judge me harshly, or wonder what the hell I was doing on stage. They were there to support me and the cast, to be entertained and to raise money for breast cancer research.

And honestly, what is the worst that could happen? It’s not like I was going to be bald in front of people (the chemo already did that). It’s not like the people were going to wonder why I had gained weight (the steroids and the lack of estrogen in my body did that). It’s not like it was going to give me cancer (I already kicked breast cancer’s ass).

It was what alcoholics refer to as “a moment of clarity.”

It didn’t matter. We were all there for the same reason. To raise money for breast cancer research. Of course it also helps that when you are on a stage - the lights are blinding and you can’t tell if there is one person in the audience, or 100.

And now???? I applied to be the spokesperson for 2007 Susan Komen 3Day Events (of course, I didn’t get it, otherwise you would know about it). I will apply again if the opportunity comes up. I have just been asked to speak at the opening ceremonies for American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in May. I even know what I am going to speak about.

The moral of the story???

The world is your stage. 

Dance as though no one is watching. 
Love as though you've never been hurt. 
Sing as though no one can hear you. 
Live as though heaven is on earth. 


Susan said...

Phew! I'm so glad you figured out the secret message. I thought I'd be trapped here forever.

Lisa K said...

So proud of you, Hayley! What a great thing for you to think about doing! Feel free to drop by any of my lectures in case it helps you get over some of that stage fright!

Take care! Lis