Leaving you in the DARK . . .

Not sure why it’s so hard for me to share the darkest moments of my story?

As I write or speak, I think of it as a tour I take you on . . . and for some reason in the moments that I am leading you through the dark (the sad and difficult moments) I find myself rushed to get you through those moments, quickly, and back to light and positivity.

I’ve written about this challenge before. Finding the courage to “sit” in those dark moments as a story-teller. Understanding that those dark moments are as important to my story as the light that emerges too.

A few weeks ago I did a talk at the Ban Righ Centre at Queen’s University, here in Kingston. I worked hard on my talk – especially since it was to be the longest talk I’ve given so far. And a talk where I could not rely on PowerPoint to keep my audience stimulated (or me on track with visuals cues). This talk was going to rest solely on my story and my story-telling ability. Including relying on my memory – or lack thereof.

I worked with the help of two BFFs to get the talk to where I felt good about it. I practiced it “on my feet” for days before the date – in order to calm my anxiety about memory issues. I made cue cards as added reassurance.

The talk itself followed a pattern of looking at my health and then looking at how I embraced life, despite my health, at that particular period in time. Using an aid from Kenn, I fashioned the talk like a song with chorus-like and verse-like sections. Health snap-shots and then “embracing life” snapshots in a succession. He suggested that it would keep an audience entertained for a talk that long. It also helped me structure things in a way that was manageable for me.

The most powerful moment of the talk was the light and breakthrough after sharing my darkest health moments of my life so far. I talked about how hard it is to keep up my dialysis schedule. How hard it is to do dialysis without a care-partner. How in my darkest moments I imagined stopping dialysis, even knowing that stopping dialysis, without a new kidney, would mean death.

But then emerged my breakthrough.

The moment in my talk where I discussed the practices that keep me grounded and at peace with life with these health challenges. Light at the end of the tunnel. Details of the transformation that keep me strong enough to maintain the pace I’m currently at.

I finished my talk feeling proud and like I’d accomplished something. I felt like I offered people some hope and a glimpse into my perspective from an honest place.

I felt like I’d gotten through sharing the darkest part of my journey unscathed. They enjoyed the triumph and had endured the sadness and gut-honesty.

I think that’s where I’m afraid I’ll lose my audience – in the darkness. I’m afraid that people will worry about me. Or pity me for what I go through . . . and that terrifies me. I want to share how difficult things can be but I don’t want anyone to get stuck on that. The “overcoming” has to trump the sadness and the low or else I don’t believe my story is worth sharing.

So, the next week I went back to the Ban Righ Centre to pick up the video of my talk. My goal was for me to share it here on my blog and on my social media. I was looking forward to sharing something so personal and honest – something that was a bit of a stretch for me.

The centres’ coordinator downloaded the file on to my external hard-drive and I went home to watch.

I immediately noticed that the file was 30 minutes long but my talk was closer to 45 minutes. I didn’t panic immediately as I wondered if I had misjudged how long I’d spoken.

At the 28-minute mark I finished talking about the darkness I was experiencing with my health. The sadness. I heard the discomfort in my voice. I listened to myself laugh uncomfortably at times.

And at 30 minutes – before I could share the good that redeemed it all – the video ended.

Somehow the camera had stopped recording.

That was it.

* sad expression*

At first I was really sad. All of my hard work to share my experience cut before the good and redeeming part could be told.

I had a moment that I often have when I’m tired and disappointed. I was frustrated.

And then I decided I just had to let it go . . . because, frankly, there was nothing I could do.

The video of my talk ends before I can lead you out of the darkness.

The exact place that I have difficulty exploring as a story-teller was where I had to leave the people who would view my talk by video only.

That is not a coincidence.

It is not a coincidence that the video record of my talk ends before I can redeem myself and bring light to the story.

It is definitely uncomfortable for me. (So much so that its a few weeks later and I am only now sharing the video. And even still with some anxiety.)

Of course I wanted to share the talk in its entirety. Of course I want the happy ending. No risk of anyone feeling sorry for me. That is not the case though.

Please enjoy what is available of my talk at the Ban Righ Centre.


Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 12.20.05 PM

It is possible, in the future, that I may re-record this talk in its entirety for my reference and as a reference for people considering hiring me as a speaker.

Or not . . .

Lesson appreciated. Point made.


Here’s a photo when I was answering questions after the talk. I must have been having a good laugh!!


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