–or pre-book tour, you might say.
I had my first paid speaking engagement this past Thursday–and I say “paid” not because I’m in this for the money (*all of us authors/artists laugh*), but because it feels more official.
I was asked to speak.
I arrived at the Women’s City Club two hours before my presentation to practice one last time with public speaking coach JoeAnne Peterson. JoeAnne was not only a phenomenal coach, but also a friendly, kind, encouraging, and very knowledgeable. She gave me suggestions I had never thought about before when presenting, and reminded me that I’m speaking because I love it and because I’m excited about what I have to say. If I want to speak into people, I can do it not only with my writing, but also with my voice–and especially with a whole 45 minutes reserved for me to speak. And like writing, public speaking can be enhanced by emphasizing my words, packing a punch in my phrases, and getting deep into the souls of the listeners through emotion.
The presentation itself went very well. I read two excerpts from my book, and used those excerpts to elaborate on the stigma and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders. Because I know that one of the most difficult parts of dealing with my eating disorder was finding the courage to speak up, partly because of how eating disorders are often perceived in society (many people think it’s based on appearance, a discipline issue, or about vanity). I had also felt alone, ashamed, and embarrassed, because I thought my experience wasn’t “bad” enough to be heard–and I never want anyone to feel that way.
Afterward, many Women City Club members (who were in the older age bracket) approached me not only to congratulate me on a job well-done, but also to tell me about their own experiences dealing with addiction, eating disorders, or dieting (whether it had to do with themselves or someone they knew). Even though I know many women have been dieting for years, it was a new experience for me to talk to women who had experienced dieting in the 50’s and 60’s. Many people who came emphasized that I must continue to speak about this, and suggested I take this presentation to colleges and high schools. This has been my plan from the beginning, but their encouragement fueled my urgency to do so.
I’m feeling more confident in what I have to say, more eager to share everything I’ve been preparing these past few weeks, and I’m excited to get this book out to the public. So far I’ve sold a few pre-order copies (hooray!) and I got together with my good friend and photographer Bri Goodyear Luginbill of The People Picture Company to recreate a selfie I had done in the summer of 2013 (haha–see below).
Everything is coming together.