I should have known that Jeff Pulver introducing me would yank my heart out before I even stepped out on stage. My beautiful friend could not have honoured me more with his introduction, I felt like he was introducing me to a friend, not a room full of people and an internet full of strangers. Warmth, love, heart radiated, sounding like a proud big brother he said;
"Who's here from Canada? Not that I pick favorite speakers, ever, but when I was in Kitchener-Waterloo, KW, the reason I came back to KW again and again was for the next speaker. There's something amazing about this woman who is just so real. Whose story is hard but she makes a difference in what she does, and she matters, a lot. And I'm really happy to be able to call Jodi a friend of mine, and I'm even more happy that she's going to come on stage and share something very special."
I was floored. Not even on stage and already floored. I believe my "welcome to the stage hug" included me whispering "how am I supposed to live up to that?". I didn't have time to think before it was just me and a spotlight. The air was heavy in my lungs, the floor was hard under my feet, the people were watching and waiting...
"Hi, my name is Jodi, and I don't know who I am."
The air changed. I could feel the curiosity in the room. I had their attention.
To be honest, I dont remember what I said. I know my message got across, I know I cracked some jokes, I know there was real emotion from me and I know real emotion came back from the audience. I remember holding out my hand to the people and watching it shake uncontrollably. I remember telling myself "this is your chance" and stripping down the fronts to tell it like it is. I told the world I wasn't perfect, I was far from it. I told them I was a mental health thriver. That I was ok with it. I was more than ok with it. I am not ashamed of my mental illness and that no one should be. I remember talking about my tattoo and what it meant to me. That "Let It Be" wasn't just a lyric from a Beatles song. It was a way of life.
I remember doing something I've dreamt of doing my whole life.
Terrified and shaking... I sang.
Anyone who knows me knows my two dreams. To advocate for those of us with mental illness and to sing. Jeff had given me a platform to do both and maybe start a life based on these two passions.
Grateful, humbled, amazed, in shock, I watched the audience get to their feet.
It didn't register at first. This standing ovation was for me.
The standing ovation was for me.
To be continued...
Previously recorded by my friend Greg Bisch and I (On an iPhone lol) - Let It Be
**As soon as the individual videos are posted I will post my talk here**