Went to breakfast this morning at the local country restaurant three miles from our house. My husband and I both prefer going out for breakfast to dinner, so we get to do this pretty frequently. We get there in time for the early bird special and we split one of their plate-size pancakes. The people who work there are just lovely and we are beginning to get to know many locals who make a Sunday ritual of breakfast as well. I've brought the Fear Chair there three times now.
So before she took our order, our regular waitress leaned over the table and said, "I have to tell you, people are wondering about 'the chair.' They're all like 'what's with the chair?' But they ask ME. I mean it's no problem, I tell them about what you said but I just think it's funny they ask me not you. Don't you think so?" We laughed. I told her yesterday was the first time in a long time that I purposefully observed people's reactions to me walking into a coffeeshop with the chair and the responses were on their faces but no one approached me about it. We laughed again. I told her to tell them to ask me. I also told her I am planning to make business cards with the link to my blog so she can just give those to them.
She took our order then leaned over again, "actually last week one of the cooks caught me as I was really busy and said she had something to talk to me about. I told her I was busy. Later she said, 'now?' I said I was still busy. Later on in the day it was quiet and I went back there and said, 'ok, what do you need to talk about?' (The cook) said, 'what's with the chair?'" We laughed. She looked at the counter, "actually, when you just came in now, one of the waitresses said, "so, what's with the chair?" I told her to send the woman over to ask me.
So my husband and I talked and waited for our breakfasts. Pretty soon, we looked up and the other waitress was standing across from us. Neither of us had seen her approach, it was kind of like a dream, suddenly she was just there, looking at me with a calm but somewhat cautious expression. "So, um, will you tell me about the chair?" "Sure," I answered and smiled at her. "About a month ago I learned of a woman who carried a burdensom anger and so got a chair and painted 'anger' on it. She carried it around everywhere she went. I thought about it and realized that Fear is the root emotion that has kept me sitting out on life the most, it is my greatest burden. So, the chair is my Fear metaphor and I carry it everywhere I go and will until Fear is no longer a burden to me." She nodded thoughtfully. "That's cool." "Thanks, and thanks for asking me about it."
Our food came. We had a lovely time, interrupted only for refills on our coffee and to talk with the two sisters who'd been sitting across from us. As they got up, they noticed our pancake and one said, "we wondered when we got our mini-pancakes why 6 inch pancakes are mini; but seeing that, we understand!" Then the other sister said, "and by the way what's with the chair? I mean it's beautifull, but there must be a story." I told them my story, adding a bit about that it had to be colored and bright because visibility is one of my fears. One of the sisters physically seemed to shift a bit at this part as we looked into eachother's eyes. The other said, "I may do that but not with a chair." I told her I've heard others have done this with things like backpacks; but it had to be a chair for me. My husband said it's strengthened me physically and I suggested she check the weight of it if she liked. She did lift it. I laughed, said, "My Fear has strengthened me." We didn't get into any further discussion, they were on a road trip to see their dad. I imagine the chair might perhaps be discussed a bit, perhaps even Fear will be.
After we'd finished eating, the couple behind us, who'd also just finished, turned around, "Excuse me, we're very curious about your chair..."
It was the most I've ever talked with people about the FCP in one place. I left feeling happy, grateful and very visible. Had to do some healthy self-talk but not very much. Perhaps I am learning something about visibility. Perhaps we all are FAR more visible than we realize ALL the time. People watch us and make judgements or formulate questions about us but rarely come forward about their reactions. Yet, in the end, people really only see what they are able to see, whether they take a chance to learn more or not. They are busy in their own lives, in their own heads.
Later, as we got up, our waitress came over to us, she admitted, "you know, I don't even know your name." "Ohhhh," I said, "it's Anya" She gave me a big hug. Such a brave thing she did. We've been going there for a couple years nearly every Sunday but she has SO many people she meets. Yet, I know from having worked customer service in a small city before that you feel that you should remember everyone's name who remembers yours. What a sweet moment. As we left, she called out, "Be courageous! and remember the business cards!" I turned from the door, "yes! Hold me accountable!" We laughed. I turned and thought, for which one?