Learning to Speak Out Loud

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As an author, book signings come with the territory. You have to do them.

They’re part of the process.

They’re another step in the journey.

Unfortunately, for an introvert like me, a book signing is a little bit like torture. Even the nice, simple ones require a lot of effort on my part.

Recently, I participated in my first real book signing and as expected I was nervous. Really nervous.

As I was ruminating on my obscenely annoying basket of nerves, it struck me as curious that I never felt like this when I lived in NYC. Somehow, in one of the world’s busiest places, I felt less nervous, not more.

That’s when I found myself in the middle of a vivid memory. Suddenly I was back in NY and I saw clearly exactly how this introvert functioned in the city that never sleeps.

Just as I did in my book, I thought it might be fun to put this new memory into a movie scene.

OPEN
EXTERIOR/NEW YORK CITY/CORNER DELI

YOUNG WOMAN enters through deli door. MAN behind register acknowledges her entrance with a nod. YOUNG WOMAN nods in return.

YOUNG WOMAN continues down narrow aisle to bagel station in back of store. 

MAN #2 behind counter greets YOUNG WOMAN with quick, short nod (really just a slight lift of the nose with an even slighter extension of the chin).

MAN #2
(with broken, urban Spanish/English)
…plain bagel, cream cheese?

YOUNG WOMAN
Nods “Yes.”

It’s obvious the YOUNG WOMAN and the man behind the counter have an established rapport. This is not her first visit to the deli.

The bagel order is complete in a matter of seconds. The bagel is wrapped and tossed to the YOUNG WOMAN like a baseball. She catches it easily and makes her way back to the register. 

MAN behind register has her total ready before she gets there. She has the money in her hand, ready to pay. MAN takes money, throws it into register and nods again to YOUNG WOMAN. His nod means both “thank you” and “see you tomorrow.” YOUNG WOMAN nods the same in return.

YOUNG WOMAN exits deli.

FADE TO BLACK

Ahhhhhh… so that’s the difference. I used to function in NYC by using a nod as my go-to form of communication. I used to speak without having to speak. I used to be able to go entire days without ever uttering a word.

If you think about it, it makes sense. After all, there are millions of people living in NYC. They come from different places and often speak multiple languages. In that type of situation, sometimes it’s not only easier but better to rely on body language to communicate. You can cross a lot of barriers simply by understanding the importance of a well-placed nod.

If I think about it, it makes sense why I find it so hard to use my words. Words are sometimes hard to form. Words can cause feelings and emotions to get jumbled. Words can cause misunderstanding. I don’t know why speaking audibly makes a difference, but it does. Unfortunately, to me, the sound of my own voice is exhausting.

My book signing was a success. I got lucky. Only truly supportive people showed up. I was showered with nothing but love. Albeit stressful, it ended up being a pleasant experience. The fact that I took a two-hour nap after it was over had nothing to do with anything negative.  That’s just what an introvert like me needs in order to recharge. Sometimes a nap is also part of the journey.

This morning I heard someone say this…

“You can choose to be comfortable or you can choose to be courageous, but you can’t choose to be both.”

Forcing myself to do something I would normally be terrified to do is ultimately a good thing. It has been life changing for me to leave the comfort of my cozy cocoon full of nods and step out into the world. It has been necessary to speak out loud my heart and my voice.

Writing a memoir has been a little terrifying. The thought of my next book signing makes my hands shake. But keeping myself hidden away, just because it’s comfortable, would definitely be worse. Even when it feels like torture, it’s better to lay my cards on the table than continue to hold them in my hand.

Nod.

©2016 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.

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Read more of Betts Keating’s story in her memoir, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available for purchase at amazon.com.

Click the FOLLOW button to follow this blog.

•photo by Lisa Calloway

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Learning to Let Go and Rest

I was featured in a Blog Post… check it out. Thank you, Stephanie Haynes!

What Happens When You Don’t Let Go and Rest

(as originally posted on Stephanie Haynes.net

Nobody likes to feel alone. I’m at the top of the list. I want sisterhood in my struggle. I want company in my misery. I want someone to break through my walls, look past my mask, and weed through the… weeds… to get to my heart. But I want the other person to do all the work so I don’t have to explain or discuss any of the feeling or thoughts that I may or may not be having. In fact, I would prefer not to share anything at all.

That’s why it’s so weird that I recently wrote a book, a memoir no less. Not just any memoir, but a memoir that sounds like fiction novel interrupted by movie scenes. A weird “disjointed” storytelling adventure about a very private person told in a most un-private kind of way. And it’s over 300 pages long. Yikes.

It’s overwhelmingly frightening to be out in the open, vulnerable and exposed. Since my book release, I’ve been having daily moments of “yes, I did it!” quickly followed by anxiety ridden trips to the bathroom. It’s never easy to put it all out there. It’s scary, like that dream where you show up to gym class totally naked kind of scary.

What’s the book about? Good question. I think the best way to sum it up is to say that it’s the story of an overly private, independent, over-achieving former athlete who learned that life is too hard to do alone. It’s better to ask for help.

It all started when a doctor confirmed that my new-found inability to move my feet… or sit up… or roll over… or do anything really… was the result of a separated pelvis. Yes, you heard me. I had a separated pelvis. Ouch. It was particularly painful since that very same separated pelvis was the final blow of an already difficult pregnancy and an excessively exhausting labor and delivery. The hard part was supposed to be over, but instead it was just beginning.

How was I, a stubborn, overachieving independent, former athlete going to recover from this kind of permanent injury that was going to change my life forever? Not very well I’m afraid. I stayed strong, I persevered, but I forgot one very important thing. I forgot how to let go and rest.

Here’s a “scene” from my movie/book that shows exactly how much I wanted to rush the healing process. I had microscopically begun to recover from my separated pelvis. Did I give my self the space I needed to continue my recovery? No. I did not. Instead I did this…

OPEN: Black Screen

TITLE: Never mess with a New Yorker, no matter what age she is.

FADE TO: EXTERIOR NEW YORK CITY/UPPER WEST SIDE – EARLY EVENING

CAMERA HOLDS on view of city street on Upper West Side of NYC. The lights of the city have just come on. The soft sounds of people sitting outside at the recently opened sidewalk cafés rise up to the sky mingling with the soft spring breeze. The traffic noise is light, muffled, almost nonexistent. The sidewalks are damp from a recent rain.

MOMMY is walking…. slowly… painfully along on the sidewalk. You can tell by her face she thinks she is walking perfectly. In her imagination she is walking in a way that no one can actually tell she is injured. She thinks she is flying down the street. We switch back and forth from reality to her imagination several times to establish the humor of her delusional thought process.

MOMMY notices an elderly woman walking about a half a block ahead. Elderly woman is hunched over, almost into the shape of the letter “C.”

FROM MOMMY’s POV: camera zooms in on the older woman with the laser intensity of a warrior.

TARGET SCOPE focuses on the back of the older woman.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

ROBOTIC VOICE
Target acquired

And so the race was on.

MUSIC: Inspirational running music (perhaps something like Chariots of Fire)

Sidewalk morphs into running track with a looming finish line.
PEOPLE at sidewalk cafés become spectators.

CAMERA toggles back and forth from elderly lady to MOMMY who are both now “running” in slow motion as if sprinting in an epic race.

CUT TO: real-time to show elderly lady walking down the street with the café patrons ignoring her and everyone on the city sidewalk going about business as usual.

CUT BACK TO: MOMMY who is still sprinting on track with café patrons cheering her on from the “stands” which are really just the sidewalk café barriers. You can even see the names of some of the restaurants as she “runs” by.

Exaggerate both are moving at same slow-motion speed even though MOMMY’s imagination makes it seem like they are both sprinting.

Suddenly MOMMY doubles over in pain and is forced to stop. In her imagination it’s like she blew out a hamstring just like a world-class sprinter might. She grimaces in pain, tries to keep going but can’t and falls onto “track.” She crashes to the ground with a face of defeat and agony.

Elderly woman sprints across the finish line while the crowd at the tables cheers wildly. The spectators pour onto the sidewalk to congratulate elderly woman encircling her with crazy celebration. They lift her up on their shoulders. She pumps her fist in victory.

Scene morphs back to reality. MUSIC stops. Sounds of city return. Elderly woman walks calmly down city street.

MOMMY stands in the middle of the sidewalk as the city goes on around her. She is doubled over and breathing deeply with sweat running down her face.

VOICE-OVER/MOMMY
Owwwwwuchhhhhh. Ouch. Ouch.

FADE TO BLACK

Why couldn’t I just let it go? Why couldn’t I just be satisfied with the place of healing I was already in? Why did I feel the need to turn a walk into a race?

Because I wanted to better before I was truly ready to be better.

Being left in dust by that old lady was just the beginning for me. That scene in my book took place in Chapter Eight. I had nineteen chapters to go before I made my turn toward healing. But, in every chapter, the lesson I needed to learn remained the same.

Sit down.

I don’t want to!

Sit down.

There’s so much left to do!

Sit down.

It’ll never get done unless I do it!

Sit down.

I can’t! I have to keep fighting!

Rest.

I have a race I need to finish…

Be still.

Okay, but just for a moment…

And then, of course, I hop back up. I try to grab it all back. I try to take control again.

I should have learned this lesson quickly. Losing a race to an unsuspecting, 80-year-old New Yorker should have been enough to remind me. Even with everything I have learned to surrender, there is still more to this lesson that I need to embrace.

Sit down. Be still. Rest.

©2016 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.

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Read more of Betts Keating’s story in her memoir, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available for purchase at amazon.com.

Click the FOLLOW button to follow this blog.