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To My Single Mom, Here’s What I Want To Tell You For So Long

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To My Single Mom, Here’s What I Want To Tell You For So Long

Dear Mom,

This is my last winter break at home before I go back to school for my final semester. Things are going to change a lot next year. I will have a real that will most likely be out of town, and I won’t be coming home for all of the breaks.

Both of our lives are going to change. For one thing, your finances are going to improve. Also, I will be much more on my own, unless you keep sending me those “care” packages you have for all of my college years.

I’ve had some time over this break to really think about all of my growing years, and I want to tell you about some things you may have totally forgotten, but things that have stuck in my mind all of these years.

They say more about who you are than your career success, degrees, or leadership of that food pantry you have made so successful. They speak to your unfailing courage, your stamina, and your commitment for setting priorities and always making me a part of those priorities. I know being a single mom was tough. So here it goes.

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Do you remember?

When I was six, I was invited to Lillian’s house for a sleepover.

This was one of many sleepovers, of course, but here’s why this one stands out for me. At about 5 p.m., you were getting my bag ready. I was really upset because my favorite pajamas were in the dirty clothes. You stopped everything, took those pajamas, and put them in the wash.

Some might think this was spoiling me, but you got it right, mom. You knew that I was nervous about leaving home overnight and you wanted me to have every bit of comfort possible. Having those pajamas was important in that moment.

When the divorce was final, we had to move.

Even though it was only a few blocks over from the house I grew up in, you knew that it was like the other side of the planet for me. You walked me back and forth from our former house to our apartment and back again, over and over, until I understood that it was not so far away. On top of that, and I don’t know how you did this, you found that same wallpaper and re-created the same bedroom I had at the old house. It might have been a small thing to you at the time, but it was one of the most important things in my little selfish world.

I never understood that you were exhausted most of the time.

You went to work every day. You came home and cooked my favorite meals. You sat with me while I did my homework. You packed my lunches and through all of that, you found time to go back to school, so you could get your Master’s and make a better life for me. You scheduled your classes on nights I was at dad’s, so you wouldn’t take away time from “us.” I want you to know that I understand this now, though I did not then.

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You always made bedtime special.

That story was never skipped, and I still did not understand how much you had to do after I went to bed – studying, laundry, cleaning. You were just amazing, and this little girl didn’t have a clue.

I went to dads every other weekend. I can only imagine what you did during that time.

I know that I always came home to a spotless house, all of my clothes washed, my favorite foods in the pantry, and I never figured out how things got that way.

As I grew older, I was able to do more for myself, but the demands on you didn’t lighten up – they just changed.

You were my chauffeur, in charge of entertainment for my friends who always seemed to gather at our apartment, and always the mom who said “yes” when we wanted a ride to the mall or to go to the skating rink. You always said “yes” when I wanted 2-3 friends for a sleepover. You made the popcorn and the pizzas. You made sure there was plenty of soda, you were up and cooking breakfast for all of us. At the same time, I never felt like there was too much parental control and you allowed me to decide what to do and when to do it.

You were the mom who drove us to that concert 40 miles away.

Do you remember that evening? We piled out of the car, as you pointed out exactly where you would pick us up in 3 hours. What you did for 3 hours we never even considered. But when we did get picked up, you had a CD in the player of the band we had just gone to see. That’s when Cheri leaned over and told me, “You have the coolest mom ever.” I don’t think I ever told you that.

Not all times were great.

We had our differences and our squabbles, like the time I came home to find Familoop parental control has been installed on all of the devices in the house. I screamed and yelled about my privacy and freedom. You just remained calm, and I knew that battle was lost. How you could stay so calm always amazed me.

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Remember when I joined the swimming team and decided to quit after three weeks? You put your foot down big time then.

And you made the stakes pretty high. If I quit the team, I could expect no chauffeuring that summer to anywhere else. No concerts, no nothing.

The truth is, other moms were not willing to drive us around like you. Other moms didn’t sing in the car with us. Other moms didn’t listen to our gripes and moans about teachers and “first loves” and give us words of wisdom. I stuck it out with the swim team and was actually pretty proud of the blue ribbon I took in the 100-yard butterfly. You obviously were too, because there you were in the bleachers, cheering and whistling.

Here’s the thing, mom. You were never a quitter, not even once.

When money was tight, you always found a way. When you probably couldn’t go one step further, you took that step anyway. And you taught me these same things.

Living with me as a teenager couldn’t have been much fun at times. When things were bad at school or with a boyfriend, I always managed to take it out on you.

And there you were, knowing that you were not the reason for my anger. Always, your response was, “Why don’t you tell me about your day?”

You knew if I got it out, things would be better. And do you remember the two phrases you said to me always? I do. “This, too, shall pass away,” and “If it will matter 5 years from now, then it is something you should get upset about.” I will take those two phrases to my grave after I have used them on my own kids.

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Have I ever told you what a good listener you have been?

I don’t think so, but I need to tell you that now. Without your listening ear, life would have been so much harder.

Do you remember when I got my first speeding ticket? You had to go to court with me. I remember the judge asking you, “Does Dianna realize the seriousness of speeding?” And I remember you saying, “She understands that I will pull her license long before you do.” The judge chuckled, but your words stuck. I knew you meant what you said and that you would follow through. I knew that because, in all of our years, when you said you would do something – get the treats for the school party, take my friends and me to that movie, save up for a big blast vacation to the beach when I graduated from high school – you did it. Not once have you ever let me down, mom, though I have let you down many times.

One of my best memories, though it wasn’t at the time, was when you found pot stuffed in my underwear drawer. You didn’t say anything – you just took it. Of course I was panicked looking for it – tearing my drawer apart. After all, I was going to a party that night. You just sat on the deck, calmly looking out over the yard, enjoying my distress. When I came out onto the deck, probably looking very unhappy, you told me that you had taken my pot for a little experiment. You had heard that birds sang much prettier when they ate it, so you put it all in the bird feeder and mixed it up with the seeds already in there. You were waiting to see if that were true. It is on moments like these that I look back and realize what a great parental control example you were for me.

You always had the best way of letting me know I had been caught – no screaming or yelling, just taking action and then explaining to me what would happen if I repeated that mistake.

So, now we’ve made it. You have a successful career, and I will soon have that degree. You have been my teacher, my confidante, my biggest cheerleader, and my hero.

You have taught me by example, even when those lessons were hard to learn. You pushed me. You said “no” when you had to and “yes” whenever you could; you did and did and did for me. But most of all you have loved me more than anything else in this world. I am safe, confident, and ready to meet any challenge this world may throw at me because of you, mom. You did good!

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From the daughter who doesn’t say thank you and I love you enough,

Dianna

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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