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A pioneer spirit and dispiriting fear

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

It’s the end of June. Usually, I’m making strawberry jam, but this year, it didn’t happen. Going for blackberry season instead. I am far from adept at this, and frankly, boiling jam freaks me out a little as I make it. But I always feel so productive, as well as very Ma Ingalls. My inner pioneer is fully fulfilled with a dozen or so jars, and I revert to the modern world pretty quickly! For a quick minute, however, I do enjoy revisiting my childhood dream of living in a little house on the prairie. The Laura Ingalls Wilder series was a favorite set I revisited often, and I loved the TV series. There is one episode, however, that I never finished watching. Despite that, it had a lasting impact on my childhood.

Episode 305, “The Monster of Walnut Grove,” in which Laura, while out soaping windows with Mary for Halloween hi-jinks, sees what she believes to be a beheading. That was it. That’s all I saw. And for the next several years(decades), I slept with blankets pulled all the way up to my chin so it would look like I’d already lost my head, and the monster would move along. Broken AC? Blankets to the chin. Bunk bed in an un-air-conditioned cabin on Seabrook Island in the heat and humidity of a SC coastal summer? To the chin. College dorm loft? To the chin. You get the picture. Regardless of how uncomfortable I was, I could not sleep without the covers pulled all the way up because of my ridiculous fear. I’ve since learned it was Mr. Oleson playing a joke---not funny, but I probably could have saved myself years of hot, uncomfortable nights had I sucked it up and gotten through the episode. It was not NEARLY as bad as I imagined.

And the same can be said for public speaking. I’ve also been there/done that in terms of knee-shaking, teeth chattering, voice trembling terror on the stage (with a few waves of nausea thrown in for good measure). I’ve coached any number of clients who have experienced the same, and in a few cases, worse. Can you get over that mind-numbing fear? YES! The tips below are first steps that work. If you are truly glossophobic, the mere thought of speaking in public creates panic—call me. I can help.

Here are a few tips to help:

1. Know your environment—take the time to check out the space where you’ll be speaking.

2. Know your subject matter—that familiarity will come to your rescue if you start to panic.

3. Focus on your message.

4. Understand that audiences are generally a friendly lot. In addition to being glad they are not the ones on the stage, they genuinely want you to succeed.

5. Breathe. Panic is typically a response to lack of oxygen. Take deep yoga style breaths before you take the stage. Use pauses to take a deep breath while you are speaking. I’ll have another blog post in a week or so about the importance of breath, so keep an eye out for it.



I’ve been reading more Louise Penny. But I’ve come to a hard stop because I have only four left in the series until she writes another. WWII level rationing of her books until then. If you have any recommendations for similar series or individual books, I’d welcome them! I also read A Sunlit Weapon by Jaqueline Winspear, the latest in her Maisie Dobbs series. I’ve enjoyed the entire series, and I’m always looking forward to the next. In business books, I’m starting Who Not How by Dan Sullivan on the advice of Tim Joiner, who….


just happens to be who I’m listening to right now. His podcast, Grow With Tim, is fairly new, but each of the 10 episodes currently available is a keeper. Great take-aways for business and life, and co-host Jeremiah Dew, aka JDew, is an additional highlight! Topics range from communication (personal favorite!) to high octane entrepreneurs to shoes to navigating blind spots.


I’ve just finished The Lincoln Lawyer, which I enjoyed. Probably not in my top 10, but interesting and entertaining. In my top 10, however, is Hell On Wheels. It ended several years ago, but I’m gearing up for a re-watch. 10/10, highly recommend! Set during the post-Civil War railroad expansion, it is powerful (warning--very violent throughout), and an unexpected theme of redemption over the course of the series.




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