Photo: Porsche Brosseau
According to national studies, people are more afraid of speaking in public than they are of death. Would you agree? Maybe it’s easy for you (consider yourself lucky!) but for most of us, getting up in front of an audience and talking can feel like some of the longest, slowest-passing minutes of our lives.
You see, it wasn’t all that long ago when public speaking was something that completely unnerved me. But somewhere in the process of being thrown out of my comfort zone, I noticed something: the things that I didn’t like doing - those things that really challenged me - were actually becoming so much easier than I had ever imagined them being. And in some cases, those things actually started to become things that I really enjoyed.
Crazy I know, but it's a great reminder of what can happen when you 'Outlive Yourself'.
From Fear to Excitement
I feel so honored by the opportunity that God has given my husband Todd and I to share our family’s story, but doing so in front of groups wasn't always something I was eager to do. The journey we’ve embarked on these last several years has not been easy, nor has it been what any of us would have asked for, but having the opportunity to get outside of my comfort zone and speak has greatly impacted my life. I believe that it is through this journey that I've not only learned how to 'outlive myself' in new ways, but I've also come to understand that it’s not about what’s happening “to me".
Earlier this year, I received a request to speak to a mothers group at a local church. I really love connecting with women’s groups, especially moms. A few days before the speaking engagement, I began to prepare what I would say. It was only my second time to speak without Todd, so of course I was a bit nervous. Thoughts of "What do I want them to remember? How do I share my story and heart and make a connection to women that I’ve never met before?" flooded my mind. I knew that I wanted to leave these women feeling inspired and hopeful, but I wanted to give them something that they could take with them. I decided to use the quote from Todd’s grandfather, “It’s not what happens to you that matters, it is how you react to it that does”. It's a quote that has God has given us great encouragement through, one that helped us build Taylor’s Gift Foundation, and something that we use often when speaking together.
From there, writing my notes began to flow and I was able to prepare a presentation that would hopefully help the audience connect to the message I was sharing. (Thank goodness I had Todd's help preparing a presentation with slides, videos, and photos... I am NOT a computer person!) Everything was starting to come together and I was feeling feelings of excitement. There I was, getting excited for the very thing that used to terrify me.
Photo: pol siftr
Encouragement from the Audience
The day of the speaking engagement came quickly, and before I knew it, it was time to face my fear. As I was being introduced at the front of the room, my heart started to pound. Having spoken at several speaking engagements with Todd in the last few years, I’d mostly grown out of the nervousness that comes with speaking in front of people, but I seemed to always get the jitters right before starting.
Soon enough, the words began to flow comfortably and I found my groove. As I shared Taylor’s story, how the foundation was established, the ‘Outlive Yourself’ spirit, and some common myths and facts associated with organ donation, I could see the teary eyed group of moms nodding their heads - they seemed to be with me on every word... I was connecting with the audience!
Seeing this teary eyed response never gets old. It is often accompanied by feelings of gratitude and the thought, “Wow... I’ve come so far in my journey and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share the story God is writing in our lives.” I never would have imagined our journey taking this turn, but sharing our story that God is giving us brings me great joy!
Making a Connection
Following the presentation, many of the women came up to me to thank and hug me, really just wanting to connect. There are usually at least a few listeners that have been personally touched by organ donation (usually through a family member or close friend), and it is always so encouraging to hear how Taylor’s story impacts and inspires them. It was so sweet to hear all the women discuss how they too would share the ‘Outlive Yourself’ spirit and the hope of organ donation with their own families and friends.
I absolutely loved speaking to these women and I am humbled to inspire other moms with a message of inspiration. Never in a million years would I have guessed that all of this would become something that brings me joy, but God has been faithful to sustain us in the midst of our circumstances. As challenging as it was at first - and even is to this day - this is my attempt to live out “how you react to it that matters”, trying my best to portray an 'Outlive Yourself' spirit in my own life. It is my hope that you will find the courage to face your fears, find joy in doing so, and 'Outlive Yourself' in the midst of all of life's circumstances.
Help Share the Message
Help loved ones understand organ donation by sharing our Facts & Myths one-sheet with family and friends.
Learn more about having Tara and Todd share their message of hope and inspiration at your next event.