Poles Apart

Those who have read my book A Journey of Creative Healing know that I put a great deal of value on listening to my intuition.

A couple of years ago I committed to write 75 days of a daily intuitive FB post. Today I got that inner nudge again to write as the muse or intuition directed. I found a quiet spot in the winter sun to quietly ask for guidance – ‘what do you want me to write?’

‘Intuition is perception via the unconscious that brings forth ideas, images, new possibilities and ways out of blocked situations.’    Carl Jung

My intuition gave me  a vision of a large pole stuck mid center of a space and the words ‘going round and round the pole.’ Vexing to say the least. But I did visualise myself doing exactly that — going around and around the pole.  ‘So what am I supposed to learn from this,’ I ask?
87706685The pole is seemingly immoveable, too tall to jump, too solid to push aside and there is only one way that I can get past it – is by going round it. I see it as something ugly —  a pale concrete column dominating a space while understanding this is an essential part of a building’s construction. I am irritated with my muse as she has set me a thankless task. I mentally tell her so. ‘Poles are poles,’ I say ’nothing more than holding up a roof, so what is the point of this exercise?’
My vision of the concrete column morphs from a pillar to a totem pole, carved exquisitely with its story of lineage, cultural beliefs and important events. I am intrigued with its significance. It seems that each figure on the totem pole represents a part of a story.A-Corbis-42-24133246_nlilf7
Carved from the cedar tree, totem poles are monumental sculptures that recall the characteristics of the clan or an historical event.
My perspective is changed —  here is the comfort of quality, tradition, art and lofty ideals embedded in my ‘pole’ vision.
An idiom springs to mind like ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover.’ My moralistic little pest of intuition has set me on my heels again. But she is not finished with me yet – ‘what is obvious about this Mary?’
‘Well,’ I answer smugly, ‘ it is obviously the way we look at things, we can either see it as an obstacle or an opportunity.’
‘Yes it is Mary —  but reflect again,’

‘The pole or obstacle is you.’

You can make a choice to embrace it and make it an intrinsic and artistic expression of yourself,’

‘Or you can simply go through life trying to go round it.’

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Rehearsing a Speech for Success

Winston Churchill 1941
Winston Churchill 1941

Winston Churchill’s war time speeches inspired a nation to overcome what appeared to be insurmountable odds. But few knew that  Churchill suffered from a speech impediment, he had trouble with the letter ‘s’ which he pronounced as ‘sh.’ After consulting the finest specialist of the day he was advised that there was nothing clinically wrong with him and that all that was needed was ‘perseverance and practice.’  Which he did.  It is documented that he spent up to eight hours rehearsing a speech.

When I first started speaking in public I rehearsed endlessly.  It  became a repetitious mind numbing recitation. I thought of it as a necessary exercise to safeguard to myself from the effects of stage fright which froze my brain and tightened my breathing. I determined that if I mastered the rhythm and flow, the pace, the pause, the open stance of body image and practiced putting the oomph into the delivery then no matter what amount of flight or fight adrenalin my system pumped into my body, I too like Winston would over come and let people see the real lectern me.

It took years before I realised that beyond the first few fresh run-throughs my endless rehearsals were simply reinforcing my fears. What were my feelings and thoughts as I rehearsed over and over? My thorough and diligent practice focused on stage fright, being terrified at the lectern and the humiliation of being swamped by nerves.

When you rehearse with an underlying structure of fear that is what you will create at the lectern. You’re telling your subconscious that you expect to forget your words, to have a dry mouth, to shake, to have stomach churns, to increase your heart beat and tighten your breathing.  Grinding  your fears so resolutely into your psyche that you may even emotionally throw the ‘towel in’ halfway through an oration.

Stage fright is a constant for some people, it is for me. It’s a taken. You acknowledge it and allow it to be, knowing that the flight and fright syndrome will always power you. When you don’t fight it – it loses its fearful intensity.

My enlightened rule of thumb for rehearsing was stumbled upon by accident when I was driving to take part in yet another speech contest.  I was sick with nerves.  I stopped the car and  there on the side of the road I decided that if I could not have fun at the lectern then public speaking was not for me.   What is the saying – when you need it the teacher will appear? I remembered vaguely an article on the power of visualisation and the rest is history. Oh and the bonus was I started to win speech contests! Now this is what I teach others about rehearsing a speech –

Always set your intention, before you speak out loud your speech, to visualise yourself at a lectern, you are smiling, the audience is returning that joyful energy twofold, intent on your words, connecting with you at an authentic level. Run through the speech a few times until the words flow organically, replacing any trip-up words or phrases with your language that is comfortable to you.

On the day, just  before you give your speech take a quiet moment – acknowledge your fears tell them its okay, then visualise an image of yourself walking to the platform, you are looking relaxed, you see yourself at the lectern and smile. As you speak you have sense a knowing that you are truly connecting with your audience and they are loving it. Hear the applause, you are having feeling good, receiving the affirmation with delight.

Then go sock it to them.