Posts Tagged With: fear of public speaking

Day 446: Criticism is easy. Good is hard.

Have people heard this death-bed quote, allegedly said by Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his time, in the 19th century?


Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.*

I use the word “allegedly” in that introductory sentence because:

  1. I have trouble believing that anybody, on their way out, would have the presence of mind to say something that pithy, witty, and ageless.
  2. I have some skepticism about people’s ability to hear, remember, and quote accurately what other people say, especially for moments of high emotion, and
  3. References to that quote —  like here and here — raise doubts about the truth of that story, as well as who said it. Other pithy and witty dying suspects, regarding that quote, include Edmund Gwenn (who, by the way, played one of my favorite fathers in literature, Mr. Bennet** from Pride and Prejudice):


As often happens when I’m writing a weekend post, every move I make brings me further away from my original intent, which was to write about how difficult it is to tell good stories well.

To try to get us back on track, let me tell you this:  Last week, several times, I  quoted something I heard, in the 1980s, at a Film Criticism writing class.

It’s a lot easier to write well about a bad movie, than about a good movie.

My memory is failing me, regarding what the instructor,  Nat Segaloff, actually said, in that film school class. But I can picture Mr. Segaloff, standing in front of us, saying something similar, as he gave us this very memorable assignment: Write an interesting, well-written review for a great movie you really like.

Or, to cast that film-school writing assignment in the light of a dying actor’s witty quote:

Criticism is easy. Good is hard.

And that WAS the most difficult piece to write well, for many of us.

Yes, dear readers, it is difficult for me to write or speak effectively, about the good. I find it much easier to be interesting — to tell a “good” story —  about things that are going wrong and about things I don’t like, than about things that are going well.

This issue came up for me, several times this past week, when I tried to communicate well about these stories:

  • My intern, who is leaving in five weeks, is doing a wonderful job in her training as a therapist.
  • Many people I work with, as their therapist,  have been telling me they’re feeling markedly better.

This past week, I struggled, several times, with telling good stories about the good. In each case, I was neither pithy nor witty. Instead, I said … almost nothing. I gave up, because it felt too hard.

It helps me to remember, today, that I got a great grade on that film school writing assignment.

Thanks to Edmund Kean, Edmund Gwenn, and other dead or witty actors named “Edmund;” to Jane Austen; to Nat Segaloff;  to funny fathers;  to those who have names difficult to spell; to people who struggle with telling good stories for whatever reason; and to you — of course! — for reading this story, today.

* You very well may have heard this quote, especially because of a recent celebrity feud between Shia LaBeouf and Jim Carrey, after Jim Carrey used the quote at the Golden Globe Awards, in January:

Neither Shia LaBeouf nor Jim Carrey were on my mind, when I started writing this post. Thanks to HollyscoopTV, for posting that interesting story on YouTube.

* Another reason that “Comedy is hard” quote has been on my mind: my son has been performing stand-up comedy, lately, at Open Mic nights.

** I looked high and low for a good list of Mr. Bennet quotes, from Pride and Prejudice.  That IMDb link to 1995 and 2007 productions was the best I could do, for now.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 338: The joy of doing what scares you

Okay, I had NO idea THAT would be the title of today’s blog post.  But there it was, flowing from the tips of my fingers, unexpectedly.

I had lots of other possible titles in mind, as I typed the title of today’s post, but that one just appeared, like magic.

I’ll tell you what I DID know, about today’s blog post. I knew it would relate to what I’m doing today: giving a presentation about my therapy groups to people I don’t know.

Last week, to help myself prepare for today’s presentation,  I wrote this here post, about saying “SHUT UP!” to unhelpful, self-critical thoughts. Unhelpful, self-critical thoughts tend to rush in when I’m doing something new, when I’m taking a risk, when I’m doing something that scares me.  Am I alone in that?  (I know I’m not.)

So why the title of today’s post? Because I’ve definitely known the joy of facing and doing something that scares me, including these experiences:

  • Living away from home, for the first time, when I went away to college.
  • Traveling across the U.S. by bus, and seeing my country for the first time.
  • Leaving my country for the first time, to spend two weeks in Mexico.
  • Teaching a course, in Communications, to a bunch of college freshmen.
  • Giving a lecture, about my love of movies, to a giant room of people.
  • Performing my own stand-up comedy routine, at an Open Mic night.
  • Planning and giving myself a 60th birthday party.

For each of those, joy was there, but so was fear. And part of the preparation, for everything on that list, included negative self-talk — doubts about myself and my capabilities.

When I’ve done presentations before about my therapy groups — and I’ve done several over the past two years — joy, fear, and negative self-talk have all been there, too.

As I’ve said to my boyfriend Michael, I seem to always include an “I SUCK!” step, when preparing for things that scare me.  I’ve said, “I wish I could skip that step! But maybe I can’t.  Maybe I believe that step helps me prepare.”

You know what?  I skipped that step entirely, this week, thanks to my own SHUT UP! blog post.

Part of me still believes the “I SUCK!” step is a necessary part of preparing and giving a good presentation.  But I’m not listening to that, either. The movie-quoted SHUT UPs, from last week’s post, are still ringing in my ears.

Here they are again, just in case anybody needs them today:

But what about the possibility that my old belief is correct: that I HAVE to go through the “I SUCK!” step, in order to do a good job?

TIme will tell, my dear readers, and very soon.

Let’s see if I can find an image, quickly, to end this post, so I can prepare for my presentation.

Here are the two most recent photos on my iPhone:



Those are meals Michael prepared for me and my son, this week, and they included things he had never done before.

I sure hope he skipped the “I SUCK!” step.  Because those meals were DELICIOUS.

Thanks to (again, for the video), to Michael, and to all my readers, who definitely do NOT suck, even when doing something new or scary.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 250: Things Not To Fear (I’m Still Here)

Thing Not To Fear #1:  If you make a mistake in the midst of doing a really great job, the mistake is the only thing that will linger.

One Reason Not to Fear THAT:  Everybody makes mistakes.  Mistakes make you human, resulting in other humans connecting with you even more.

Thing Not to Fear #2:  Public speaking.

One Reason Not to Fear THAT: Most humans are anxious about public speaking, so if you are at all anxious about that, they will join with you about that, too.

Thing Not to Fear #3:  That you will die today.

One Reason Not to Fear THAT: Looking at all the data, it’s extremely unlikely (even if it would make a good story). *

Thing Not to Fear #4: If you share a song with people — even if you recently shared another song by the same composer — they will get annoyed with you.

Reason Not to Fear THAT: The vast majority of people will NOT get annoyed by something like that.

Another Reason Not to Fear THAT: If anybody does get annoyed, that will pass, very soon.

To conclude, this song is in honor of me, doing the Heart Walk today, raisin’ money and celebrating my 50 years of living with cardiac pacemakers. (It’s also in honor of two people who have helped me get through many things: Carol Burnett and Stephen Sondheim.) **


Many thanks to everybody!

  • Or, at least, a very ironic story.

** Who are both still here, on September 7, 2013.  Thank goodness for that.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 248: Random thoughts on fun.

This post is dedicated to my father, who was lots of fun.

I like having fun.

Fun is …..

Hey!  It’s time for a google definition.




1.  enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.
“the children were having fun in the play area”
synonyms: enjoyment, entertainment, amusement, pleasure
antonyms: boredom, misery

2.  playful behavior or good humor.
“she’s full of fun”
behavior or an activity that is intended purely for amusement and should not be interpreted as having serious or malicious purposes.
“it was nothing serious; they just enjoyed having some harmless fun”
(of a place or event) providing entertainment or leisure activities for children.
“a 33-acre movie-themed fun park”

amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable.

“it was a fun evening”
synonyms: enjoyable, entertaining, amusing, diverting, pleasurable, pleasing, agreeable, interesting More


joke or tease.

“no need to get sore—I was only funning”

How about Google Images for “fun”?

Most of the images that come up, at least on the first page, are about the band Fun:


The name of that Fun song reminds me of London.

We saw lots of these t-shirts in London:


Lots and lots of t-shirts like those.  And variations,  too:


More variations:





My original Google Images search, this morning, was on the word “fun.” Here’s another image that came up for that search:


That image reminds me of the wonderful blog, toemail, self-described as “PICTURES OF TOES, PICTURES OF FEET, MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE, ONE FOOT AT A TIME.”

Which reminds me of this other image, which came up for “fun”:


I can easily get distracted when I’m having fun.

I guess that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

One more image, that came up for “fun”:


I wanted to end with this image, because my original thought, when choosing this topic today, was about having fun tomorrow, Friday, when I give a presentation at work.

Because I think I can!

Thanks for reading, everybody.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 244: Positive Energy

In therapy, I talk to people about the importance of doing more of what helps and less of what doesn’t help.

When we talk about what helps and what doesn’t help, we’re including thoughts, behaviors, and other people.

Yesterday, I got to spend some quality time with a person who is very helpful to me, and whom I haven’t seen for a while.


I don’t have a photo of her, right now. So  I can’t show you her beautiful, kind face.  And a picture, sometimes, IS worth a thousand words.

So how can I describe her?

I can tell you a fact, or two, about Diane.

She’s the sister-in-law of my ex-husband.

She used to live nearby but now she lives far away, so I don’t get to see her as much.

So much for the facts.

How do I feel when I talk to Diane?

I feel heard, seen, understood, and appreciated.

It’s like being warmed by the sun.


(Thanks to The Canadian Expat — another blogger I just discovered! — for that photo.) (Click on the photo to see the full glory.)

Yesterday, I saw Diane in the middle of a day when I was Freaking Out (as I mentioned, here).

One of the reasons I am anxious, right now, is I have yet another “big” presentation to give about my groups at work, next Friday.  I tend to Freak Out about such things (especially if I tell myself that a presentation — or anything else — is “big”, important, critical-for-surival-blah-blah-blah).

When I spoke to Diane yesterday, we talked about my presentation, among many other things.

Here are some of the things Diane and I spoke about:

  1. How very neat and fastidious parents can sometimes cause a naturally messy child to feel insecure and apologetic.
  2. Eating in a way that’s right for you (especially if you’re not rigid about it) can give you lots of energy.
  3. If you follow your passion and speak from your heart, you will get through to people.
  4. This quote from the Talmud: “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

I wanted to end this post, today, with something Diane wrote me, last night, in an e-mail:

“Good luck with your presentation.  I’ll send positive energy your way.”

That’s what Diane does. She sends positive energy.

It helps!

Many thanks to Diane, to expats (Canadian and otherwise), to parents and children who are doing their best, to kind people everywhere, and to you, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day 241: No worries

I like that phrase, “no worries.”

I’ve heard and read that several times, recently. I’ve started saying it, too.

I believe that worry does not help us.

It does not spur us to action.

It does not solve problems.

It’s the mental equivalent of this:


Last night, at dinner, I said to my boyfriend Michael, “I have a lot of things coming up SOON that tend to make me anxious: a presentation at work, the beginning of a new school year, blah blah blah.*

“I would like to make this commitment  to you.  And to all these other witnesses.” (I gestured to the soy sauce and the other inhabitants of the dinner table.)

“I want to Not Feel Anxious for the next 10 days.”

Michael asked me how I was going to do that.  I said, “I don’t know.  Just NOT do it.  Notice it and put it aside.  Say to myself, ‘Sorry!  That’s not allowed!'”

Michael and I talked about I’ve used this assignment at work: “Scheduling worry.” That is,  I tell people to schedule a time, each week, for worrying (Thursday at 6 PM, say). Then, when worry comes up during other times, they say to themselves, “Nope!  This isn’t the time for that. I’ve got that scheduled for Thursday, at 6 PM.” (Then, when Thursday at 6 comes along, the assignment is to “worry as hard as you possibly can.”)

However, I don’t want to schedule worry.

I just want a break for 10 days.

Michael said he would like to join me in this.  (The soy sauce was noncommittal.)

Would you like to join me, too?

Thanks to small animals who are doing their best to get somewhere, condiments everywhere,  worriers, warriors, and to you, too, for reading today.


*I actually said, “blah blah blah.”  I like that phrase, too.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

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