“Helen Rivas-Rose will talk about her new book Brave at the Kennebunk Library on September 24th.”
It was the most incredibly amazing moment in my life but I didn’t see it that way it for days.
For weeks I organized the material and when my talk was written I read it aloud daily for a week. I weighed answers again and again for possible questions, such as what is shyness, what most helped me to overcome it and what do I recommend to parents and teachers to help children. And why did I call my memoir Brave.
On the afternoon of the talk I had a massage and a relaxing bath. Joy – my son Anthony’s wife – was visiting from London and together we prepared baked salmon, haddock and Mother Hubbard squash for dinner. My other son Conrad, his wife and my two little grandsons were joining us along with three friends including the Diane of my book who was introducing me. Even being surrounded by people who loved me, by four-thirty I started to shake like a tree in a nor’easter. I didn’t stop until Diane finished introducing me and then I realized that this was it. This was my big opportunity to introduce my labor of nine years. No way could I allow nervousness to detract from the presentation! Rising from my chair, I became at one with the audience of thirty-five; I saw them as listeners and gave them my full attention.
I read excerpts from my university years that described being elated in the first year and later being deflated in the final year. I then read from the last half of Brave to tell how I felt doing acts of “bravery,” where I set myself challenges to help overcome shyness.
The audience asked about twenty diverse questions, some about my personal struggle and others about the nature of shyness in general. Two questions caused me to pause more than others, one about how shyness had affected my parenting and one if having some talents had helped me. To the first I answered that being conflicted with my own inner pain caused by shyness, I was less able to devote attention to my children’s needs than I might otherwise have been able and to the second question which I had not thought about before, I explained that being able to sing, to teach and to play bridge well didn’t really help me overcome shyness; for that I needed to be able to talk with peers and also have them as friends; having a talent was no substitute.
Two weeks later at the York Library, I spoke to ten people, nine of whom appeared to have personal concerns with shyness. I felt people had a genuine interest in the topic and could see people felt relieved to be able to talk about it….people were wanting to face shyness!!!!
Between the two talks I met with a class of grade 4-5 students at Kennebunkport Consolidated school and the children were interested equally both in shyness and how I got published. When I said I didn’t talk with anyone outside my family for ten years one little girl asked if I talked with my friends. She looked pained when I told her I had none.
It wasn’t until the day after the York talk, while driving home after seeing a doctor when I realized a metamorphic change. I saw just how immensely important it was for me to be able to have a public voice to help others overcome shyness. I could talk about it and console people. The nine years of hard writing was going to be useful for others! This realization kind of stunned me in a beautiful way.
I want to do more talks on shyness but I’m recuperating from a nasty yet miraculous dense-dose of chemotherapy and radiation and have to pace my activities. Publicity and energy will be topics for my next blog.
At the moment I am preparing to go to my home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the winter.
Thanks for reading this and please write. I’ll be writing you from Mexico.