I’m a story teller at heart, and I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than with a great story.  A true story.  One that happened recently.

Laura stood in front of the group.  Her hands were trembling, and her infectious smile had been replaced with a face of anxiety.  It was her turn to teach the photography lesson she had prepared.  Holding the paper in front of her, so I could barely see her face, she started to read the lesson straight off the paper.  When you aren’t used to speaking in front of groups, it’s easy to start here.  I assumed this was just her way of breaking the ice, eventually she would have to drop the paper and sink into teaching.  But she never did.  The timer went off before she was done reading.  The video camera was paused.  The group was silent.  Everyone was waiting for me and Brian to give her our critiques.

The night before, the teachers in training had a group exercise.  They were asked to bring a self portrait that symbolized this specific season in their life.  Laura had shared with her small group why she took a picture of a parrot.

“This bird doesn’t realize he can fly,” she said.  “He has spent his whole life in a large cage.  He sits on a pedestal in the antique store and never flies.  He assumes that his wings have been clipped.”

Teaching women photography was something that Laura wasn’t certain she could do.  She had a past career in being a nurse.  She is a grandma.  In fact, she is the only grandma in the group.  Photography was a new passion in the last five years.  She knew there was only one way to find out … to jump.  Laura said, “Teaching photography workshops is a lot like flying is for this bird.  He was made to fly.  I am made to teach.  But I have to spread my wings and just do it…no matter how scared I am.  It’s in me and I have to try.”

Instead of giving Laura my oral critique, I asked Brian to reset the timer.

Follow this link to read what happened next with Laura.

May this story give your New Year wings of courage!

Happy New Year!