Big Daddy

Big Daddy

A Story by Carole

public speaking mic

When you conquer your worst fear, something of monumental significance happens.  A change is born.  And, it’s a much deeper change than any of us can really fathom.  All of our smaller less significant fears begin to come tumbling down one at a time.  A chain reaction is set in motion.  Once you remove Big Daddy, babies are all that remain.  And compared to your greatest fear, the babies are just...well,... CAKE!


For me, it all started at Toastmaster’s Club # 6504.  Toastmasters’ is an internationally known speaking club where individuals face the nation’s number one fear:  The Big Daddy-Public Speaking.


You see, I wasn’t given to a teeny tiny little menial type of fear when it came to Public Speaking.  I was given to an earth-shaking-quaking, knee knocking, heart palpitating, palm sweating, gut wrenching, fear entrenching nausea that brought on another Big Daddy:  A full-blown panic attack.


I’ve met people that supposedly feared public speaking, but they were able to control their nervousness to the point that it wasn’t noticeable.  It’s very hard to hide symptoms like the above.  How many of you know that if someone starts hyperventilating and having a full-blown panic attack, it is a bit hard to ignore?  You either have to calm their fears immediately or you darn sure better have a paper bag they can breathe into.  Not a pretty picture!


I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt I needed to call the Toastmaster’s Club in my city to inquire about it.  It was no secret that I needed to face the big guy and do battle, but every time I thought about it, I had to reach for the brown paper bag.  It was like some kind of vicious cycle that I was in, and I wasn’t getting any relief doing the same thing I had done in the past...Cowering!  At this point, the blasted phone started giving me anxiety.  When I walked by it and caught a glimpse of it in my peripheral vision, hyperventilating was the order of the day.  “Don’t look at the phone Carole, just don’t do it,” I muttered as I walked by it with my hands protectively shielding my vision.


One morning, I felt compelled to get up and type out a two-page prayer to help pave the way for this anxiety producing mania to fall.  I prayed this prayer over myself not one, not two, not three, not four or five, but six solid months.  Many days I prayed the prayer 3- 4 times a day. Eventually, I began to believe I just might be able to pick up that phone.  Can somebody say “crippling fear?”  Does the word “paralyzation” mean anything to you?  I’m not mincing words here!


Finally, I felt strong enough to pick up the phone without the brown paper bag.  (Miracle # 1)!  Charles was a nice enough guy.  He started the Club to rid himself of Big Daddy and he put me right at ease.  I couldn’t help but think, this guy acts like he knows how people feel about this public speaking thingCharles was just about as encouraging, kind and understanding as anyone could be and he didn’t make me feel like some kind of fear-crazed lunatic.  He assured me Toastmasters’ was the place for me.  By the time he and I were done talking, he had convinced me to come to the following Monday night meeting.


Well, I went alright, minus the bells on my toes!  I wasn’t totally convinced I was going to like this thing.  After all, Big Daddy and me, we had a thing going.  He ruled the roost in my life.  He called all the shots.  If he said “jump,” I asked, “How high?” If he said, shake-I shook like mad.  If he said, have a panic attack, I started searching for the brown paper bag!  He and I both knew it wouldn’t be easy street for me, but some how-some way-I managed.  The some way for me, was a loving and caring God who desperately wanted me to face this fear.


The first meeting was very encouraging.  I found the club members to be very friendly and accommodating.  Besides that, we all shared a common goal:  To perfect our public speaking skills.  Several meetings into this endeavor, I was encouraged by some of the club members to give my first speech.  I’m not going to lie to you.  I was kicking and screaming all the way.  I had grown a little comfortable watching every one else and wasn’t overly anxious to leave my comfort zone.  They kept dropping subtle hints, and I conveniently kept ignoring them.  Finally through gritted teeth and them prying my fingers off of my favorite chair with a crow bar—very darn near the Jaws of Life—I gave in.  “Okay, Okay, I’ll do it!” I promised. 


After a trip to my family doctor to get meds for stage fright, I was good to go.  All was calm, all was bright and the time had finally arrived to do the dastardly deed—to spill my guts, in front of both the male and female counter parts of Club # 6504. 


The Toastmaster of the evening introduced me.  I had been sitting amongst my fellow club members tapping my acrylic nails on the table in a rhythmatic fashion in a cloudy daze when my heart palpitations slowed down enough to hear what was being said.


After a brief introduction, he quickly quipped, “Fellow Toastmasters, please help me welcome our first speaker tonight, Carole McDuffee.”  I gently scooted my chair out and stood up, and then carefully made my way out around the end of the tables and began the long laborious trek to the front of the room where the podium was.  Why it seemed like a mile, I will never know.  I do know this, eternity—had just been redefined.


When I finally reached the front, I extended my hand to the Toastmaster to shake his, took a deep breath and turned to face the other sixteen club members.


Picture them naked Carole!  Picture them naked came flooding back to me from a book I had read.  (This is an exercise they recommend to relieve intimidation and bring the audience down to the speakers level).  Before I could visualize a thing, I had magically opened my mouth and began to speak.


I had five short minutes to tell them about the easiest subject matter for a first time speech giver:  ME!  (Miracle # 2)—the words began to flow.  “I’m Carole McDuffee and…” 


And, the rest was history.  Two and a half years wrought me 17 first place ribbons, a boat load of confidence, and a whole slew of secondary fears that seemed to crumble by the way side.  (Miracle # 3)  Like I said, once you annihilate Big Daddy, the rest is just




© 2009 Carole

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Oh yeah....this is it. Exactly what May 5th will be for me this year. A Performance piece in front of who knows who'll be in the audience. My last "stage show" was a one-liner in a 1st grade play. hehe....jump right in why don't I?? Yes...because as you so elegantly written for us....our fears are made to be faced and concurred, so they don't rule us anymore. I'll be "breathing in love and breathing out fear" I am right now.....every time I mention my show I get anxious! lol Except on stage last night with my coach. She knows how to open me. Well....gotta run...get my weekend on!! Excellent, excellent write, and congratulations to you.....I'm in awe.

Posted 16 Years Ago

4 of 4 people found this review constructive.


Great story telling. This did justice in the realm of getting the message across. Great message. There's lot of times where a story can have a great message to aim for, and have a lot of under lining things but then no one gets it, and if no one gets it, then the point has failed. But in my opinion this did well to get the message across. You made it clear, which is why I think it's good. Keep up the good work. What was also great was that I could imagine the story as I read it, and that is also a strong point of stories. The ability to have the reader imagine it because after all we're reading not watching it, but it was as if I was there as I read this, and that is great. Good job once again.

Posted 8 Years Ago

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Posted 15 Years Ago

Yay!! I love to hear about people overcoming their fears. I used to have a terrible anxiety disorder. It wasn't stage fright (I've always had a natural bent towards being center stage) it was other things that brought the panic attacks on - but I know exactly what you're talking about and I know how wonderful it is when you overcome!

Your writing brought a smile and was a joy to read!

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I guess we all have that Big Daddy of a fear - and we all face fear differently. kudos to you for conquering yours! so true that if we can eliminate that one - the one that is in our nightmares - the rest are so easily trompled down as well. thanks for sharing this journey with us - showing us all that fear does not need to have such a hold on us - no matter what it may be that we fear :-)



Posted 15 Years Ago

You certainly had a case of stage fright, huh? And isn't it something that you apparently had a knack for public speaking, yet feared it so. "Fear of the unknown," right? I guess it goes without saying that you didn't like doing those oral book reports in high school. Those were my first opportunities to shake and mumble before an audience. Anyway, I'm glad you got over it, and thanks for the entertaining tale! Sam

Posted 15 Years Ago

Another funny, funny story! I had to in front of my fifth grade class once. It was so devastating I never got over it, until (35 years later)I had a mandatory speech class in college four years ago. I was like you, terrified. But then something happened....all of the sudden I was telling a story not just giving a speech and I was hooked! I come from a family of story tellers.

Posted 15 Years Ago

I am quite shy and could not see myself addressing a crowd of people. A Very well written piece. Thank you for sharing. Debileah

Posted 15 Years Ago

Big Daddy gets his come up pence. Wonderful work. I would like to see this as part of a book published. Wonderful write.

Posted 16 Years Ago

Well here is a toast to big daddy and his down fall. We have heard your words and are better because of them. Bravo my friend.
Hugs Debby

Posted 16 Years Ago

God bless you! Public Speaking is the Big Daddy, alright! I've always said, do one thing every day that intimidates or frightens you, even if just a bit. It will make you stronger! You took it to the max! Having just testified in a courtroom I can say that public speaking is intimidating, but once you start talking about your subject, it just HAPPENS.
Panic attacks are NO FUN. (Veteran here) but I have overcome them. GREAT STORY!

Posted 16 Years Ago

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25 Reviews
Shelved in 3 Libraries
Added on April 24, 2008
Last Updated on February 8, 2009



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