Manifesting practice amongst a friendly crowd
Maybe it’s the algorithm, but it feels like I can’t get away from Manifestation videos these days.
Is that just a thing now? It’s hard to know whether I am being served this kind of content simply because I’ve started to watch it—or whether it’s been there all along, waiting for me to be ready to receive it.
I can feel my inner skeptic rise up defensively when someone announces themself as a “manifestation coach” or starts talking about “quantum timeline jumps”. And yet, I also have come to believe in the power of the stars at the beginning of the journey; the power of forgiving myself at the end.
I’ve got complicated feelings about the whole thing; the idea that we have some sort of absolute power if only we can appropriately tap into the energy of the universe is…unnerving. It veers too closely to “Just stay positive!” as the panacea nobody wants to hear when they are facing very possible death and feeling absolutely miserable at the same time, not even someone as optimistic as me.
It feels safer for me to stay one level lower—to assert that what we do control is our mindset, that we can decide to approach our journey with the intent to learn from it, thereby emerging victorious no matter how it ends. (I’ll let people decide on their own how they feel about the stars.)
That’s one of the lessons I shared at my first public speaking event a few weeks ago—a twenty-minute TED-style talk delivered at a CIMA cocktail party. I’ve had opportunities to speak before—as a patient advocate for Amgen, and as the Director of Working with Cancer to encourage companies to join the pledge. But this was my first experience focused on sharing my story. And the invitation to speak came just two days after I finally admitted to myself—in the last session of our Cancer Healing Spaces cohort—that what I really wanted to do was some public speaking.
That the CIMA event itself was literally created by a friend just hours after my pronouncement made the whole thing feel that much more manifest-y.
The idea of speaking itself felt very ego-driven, and I’m sure that’s why I felt uncomfortable saying that I’d like to do it in the first place. Across the course of a week, I went from a draft I wrote for myself to a draft intended for an audience, tightening the script to eliminate anything that didn’t directly serve the three lessons I was hoping people might take away.
Reading an early draft to our pre-teen twins was an exercise in humility. Jack pretended to fall sleep; “How long is this? Who cares??”
Delaney closed her eyes, but I could almost feel her energy change when my words resonated with her. She’s been having a few rough weeks—at just twelve-years-old, she is already afraid she’s disappointing the world—and I could feel the heft of my points shift as she took them in.
I couldn’t shake the weight I felt in the wake of this bedtime reading, and hours after I tried to sleep, I headed downstairs with a Sharpie to correct my draft.
I crossed out anything that didn’t feel in service of the points I was making—and added some new material about Evelyn, whose hard time was a big part of our journey, and who would be there that evening; and about Delaney, who is already struggling with the pressure most of us do to live up to expectations we haven’t necessarily set for ourselves.
Leaving the event, I was happy with the way the talk went—despite losing my place once or twice, I felt connected with those in the room in the moment. I was struck by how powerful it was to speak with individuals who were ready to share their own stories—and who approached me with open hearts and fervent desire to help others after their own journeys.
Watching the speech back on video, on the other hand, was excruciating— and I was cringing within the first few frames (“Make it stop!”). As good as I felt in the room, a recording of this particular performance is not going to launch a speaking career. Still, one person who hadn’t been able to attend asked me to share it with her, and she persuaded me to post it, despite my feelings about it. You can find it here, if you’re dying to listen; but ideally not for long, as I’m hopeful to be able to replace it with something far better soon.
Even while speaking I was conscious of things I should have approached differently, making mental notes of correction throughout. Rather than beat myself up, I’m trying hard to remind myself that I’ve learned about the power of persistence and patience; that sometimes the best things develop over long periods; that once and done cannot hold a candle to showing up again and again—always with curiosity and a willingness to improve.
The idea of speaking may yet be ego-driven; but I’m finding that the process of becoming good at it is anything but.
I guess it’s time to shift my focus: from practicing manifesting, to manifesting practice!