Today, a sleeping giant woke up following a 3-year hiatus. Not to devour what's on her path...Not to harm anyone (she's not made for that)...But to re-live the life she forgot.
I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up -- to voraciously write about anything: poetry, songs, news, features, publicity stories, misalettes (yes), speeches (uh-huh) and at one point I started a young love novel (Not Shakespearean at all, only meant for paperbacks) written manually on sheets of recycled paper. As of this writing, this manuscript is now a tummy-filler for a colony of termies living inside our house. Either that or blown away through an open window.
Simple enough. NOT!!!
Fast forward to making presentations to my internal team, my gamut of clients and sometimes, in classes of teaching buddies. For someone who's an introvert, there was nothing to it. Practice makes perfect, er near perfect is more like it.
Then came a series of misfortunes: finding out that a series of migraines, vertigo and passing out resulted in a brain tumour that had to be taken out, at least almost. A thin layer could not be forcibly taken out for safety issues. So I had an annual mri that seemed to sleep on its own: no growth, no progression, deadma. After the 4th MRI, some other issue stole centerstage: aneurysm.
A new what?!?!
What was surreal just went berserk! This only happens in teleseryes! WT-!
Faster forward to end of July three years ago. It was an ordinary soccer weekend. My son and his team is playing for a festival at the Blue Pitch. Being a turf, the heat was magnified ten times more. Early morning started out scorching hot. And then broke out into non-stop torrents and escalated into an all out flooding to the shin. Of course the games were cancelled and we all went home. Now I have more time to get ready for a party. And I did not get to do my hair and my make up. I took a quick shower, felt unusual, threw up and slept from the first of August, and woke up in the recovery room of the hospital days after. I lost 4 days of my life, in spite of claims that I was up and about and bitched about everything. But there's nothing to remember. By this time, another hole was stiched up on my head-- apparently the new-rism popped ever so slowly that gave my boys enough time to bring me to 2 hospitals and in the able hands of the surgeon that touched my head (not Belo).
And the week I stayed there recovering, I went from "As I was saying" to Kuya Cesar slurring talk: slow and incomprehensible. I think it was better to write!
And a thought dawned on me...if I can't talk properly after this month-long speech therapy, what happens to my career?!?!
At this point I got super scared. It was like an early retirement. What to do indeed...?
Still I was blessed. It brought me to another company (and another) that was fun for a while. But opted to nurse my disability so as not to go through the same ordeal: work, eat stress, pray, repeat. It wasn't worth it.
After today, the old me is still in me, intact and buried deep inside. I was still scared and practices like crazy before speaking in front of a large audience (done a thousand so this should be a breeze). I had my loyal and supportive fans in tow: my best friend to take photos and my husband as my personal tech guy. How can they not bring out the energised in me? One was grinning like looney and the other one was sending me heart signals from the audience.
To further boost the diva in me, I had a chance to talk to other fellow speakers who spoke before me. One gave me a warning: you'll laugh at being nervous because as soon as you get the microphone, you might not want give it back. And so it goes, as soon as I got on stage I owned it, with a few funny adlibs while getting technical glitches. I went to every corner of the stage, giving my videographer a hard time getting me on cam, looking at both the live and oncam versions... #whereintheworldisgrasha
And one final but of advise that I took to heart is from another friend for life--that to begin my talk, I should start with sheer honesty...that it's best to admit to what I find frightening, not to set expectations, but to declare and claim the victory of doing whatbi thought was not possible since winning over aneurysm (again, a new whut?!?).
With utmost sincerity and honesty, I did feel blessed to be with them that day. Scared, but bestowed with the opportunity to speak again in a big crowd from surviving what most never come out triumphant--a life-threatening stroke. I was brimming with tears that wouldn't fall down (sayang ang make up). What floored me was a round of clapping from the audience and it felt like an ovation. My voice seemed louder in the hour that followed, and while it was the last portion of Day 1 of the conference, the gracious people listened and participated in my interactive talk. I was on top of the world! I reckon the giant in me Will have a hard time sleeping tonight.
When they gave me the certificate of appreciation, my inner diva wanted to give back the mic i was holding, singing (more like shouting) to Keala Seattle's This is Me:
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me!
I am Grace, and I am grateful.