we're safe. My dad is terrific and is NOT driving me crazy at all. He did wonderful on the flight. I am the one who has issues! I am having such a good time being with him and talking to him. We are of course still dealing with some jet lag, so we are generally wide awake between 2:00 and 5:00 in the morning. So we turn on the light, watch CNN (for news of IKE) and talk.
South Africa is a phenomenal place. It's so good to be back among these kind, generous people and especially to be the guests again of these warm, talented scrapbookers. Yesterday was the first day of the convention and while I enjoyed being here, it was NOT a good day for me as a teacher/presenter. Basically, I SUCKED and I don't even like to use that word. I had some AV/Computer issues the first session which shook my confidence and I just never fully recovered. Please know this had NOTHING to do with all the people who were helping me throughout the day. Glenda (the event coordinator) is fantastic. Her son Kyle was a dream. This was ALL about me, fighting to "get my game one." In spite of my best efforts to pull it together for my big presentation/keynote address last night (to 500 people) I was NOT in a good place. It was for me, like a bad dream being played out in real time. From slide #3 I was LOST. Nothing flowed and I was simply shaken. Suffice it to say that I will NEVER be giving that speech again. I NEVER want to see those slides again. I'm sure people will comment and say "Oh Stacy, you are too hard on yourself" and that may be true, and I'm sure it's also true that most of the audience didn't know I was struggling so much — but those things are hard to put into perspective right now, when all I can do is replay the whole stupid thing over and over in my head.
I'm sharing all this with you for a selfish reason. I want to be able to come back and read this and remember how I'm feeling right now, so I can hopefully learn from this. I think after a sleepless night what is emerging for me is the knowledge that I have become far to dependent on "technology" — what I do cannot be about my presentation and how my slides look and transition and all of that. I have got to focus rather on speaking from my heart and I have got to focus my preparation on my audience and what I really want to share with them rather than on my notes and my stories —- if you haven't ever presented to a large group of people this may not make sense. I need to step back before an event like this and really think about where I am and what the purpose of my presentation should be. Not only was I NOT in my groove last night, I gave the wrong presentation altogether — last night was supposed to be a gala — a celebration. It was supposed to be FUN and light hearted. Instead of having music and being entertaining, I gave a "class" and shared information that should have been given in the setting of smaller, classroom where the goal is learning. I need to remember this. Less focus on WHAT I WANT to teach and more focus on WHY I am there and WHAT I want the audience to come away with — that is it. That is my nugget of wisdom that I have been trying to get out. Phew.
So, I have to go back and teach three more sessions. I have to find my confidence and then forget myself. I will go take a shower and pray and make it happen.
On our tour of Soweto (Friday) we stopped at a catholic cathedral, historic for the role it played as a gathering place for ANC leaders in their struggle to fight Apartheid. There was a group of beautiful school children, waiting for a memorial service for one of their teachers. At first we just watched them as our guide spoke to us about the church itself and some of the significant art and events that had taken place there. We were all eager to mingle with these children, but weren't sure if that would be acceptable.
Then my awesome dad approached one of the teachers and told him how well behaved the children were. The man jumped right up and started talking and sharing and from that point it was so comfortable. The thing that struck me is how universal the joy of children is — once they knew it was OK, they began to just be children, smiling and being silly and laughing and wanting their pictures taken. It was amazing to see the others in our group mingling and connecting with these kids.
Look at how beautiful this boy is.
and I love this image.
and I will leave you with this message. It is scrawled among thousands of others in the upstairs portion of the church where we enjoyed a display of gallery of photos documenting some of the history of this great township. This is so very true.