Monday, April 28, 2008

No Need to be Nervous After All

I really opened myself up.
I was concerned; not sure how I would be received.
Not sure if I would come under fire or be praised.

Yesterday, I conducted a Sunday service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark, my spiritual home. Our minister is on sabbatical so we are having lay-led services for the next few months. Yesterday was my opportunity to be minister/Buddha-for-a-day. I shared the story of my quest to compile a personal book of my beliefs. The title was Creating a personal, UU 'bible.'

This has been an on-going exercise, one which I started back in 2002-ish. I spoke about my journey, my own beliefs, and read some of my essays. I brought props and sort of choreographed the lecture so that I wouldn’t stumble (my cane was hiding under the lectern). I was worried that opening up so much would be opening up to criticism. Fortunately, the service was well received. I reached most of the people, inspired some, and gave them all much to think about. A gentleman from another church asked if I would present this service at their church in the future. A few people asked if I would conduct a workshop on the topic.

Last Thursday, my memoir "A Short in the Cord: Essays on Living with Multiple Sclerosis" was read at the MS Support group meeting in Wilmington. They all have MS, so why would they be interested in yet another story, I wondered? So I was surprised at how much the audience enjoyed hearing my story. Some people asked for copies, and one woman asked me to come to her group to share my story with them.

PHEW! I really put myself out there. Twice in one week. Two opportunities to share my deepest personal thoughts and private experiences with the public and two opportunities for who-knows-what to go wrong. But both were positive experiences.

Unfortunately, it’s gonna take me two weeks to recover.



  1. I find myself in the same boat with you. I put "myself" out there, as a one time thing, and end up with a following. Unfortunately my voice doesn't hold out, so I resort to recording portions.

    Way to go, Joan!!

    However, like you, it always takes a long time to recover, no matter how little time I am actually invested.

    Take care, Anne

  2. I'm not so much a talker as I am a 'do-er'. Live life as an example. Fortunately, most of my examples are for the 5-6 yr olds in my sunday school classes when we do 'simon says'.

  3. I am so proud of you for putting yourself out there. Are your spiritual essays and thoughts also included in your book about MS? It would be so nice if you could share some of your thoughts about this topic. And you were worried people would think you were lazy staying at home on disability!

  4. Way to go! Our most powerful teachers are Life's serious students...those who HAVE a story to tell because they have learned something.

    Sounds like what you have "learned" has been very useful to others this week...

    Linda D. in Seattle

  5. No, Harkoo, my spiritual writings are not included in my MS story.

  6. Maybe when you are writing your essays on your spiritual thoughts, you might want to let us read them from time to time. Maybe, however, you might want to keep them private. It is nice you have another invitation to go to another church to speak. Joyce

  7. You were born an "old soul" & have (mostly) demonstrated great wisdom throughout your life! I wish I could have been there to hear your service...Congratulations on a job well done! I'm sure all appreciated that you spoke from your heart!
    Love & Blessings...