Confidence

It was bound to be a special night.
Marjorie Hudson, stellar author/teacher/cook, came to Greensboro on June 14 so that we could reprise the call and response" readings we had created from our 2012 books - my novel Blood Clay and her short story collection Accidental Birds of the Carolinas. We had had a blast on our original book tour, reading selections that spoke to mutual themes of strangers in the South, religion, race, the natural world, sex and love, so I was anticipating another night of this writerly dialog.
Before we set out for Scuppernong Books, however, Marjorie had a surprise.
She presented me with a jade-colored medallion and said it was part of her new focus on confidence building for herself and other women.
It did go beautifully with my dress - but its value lay in how with each breath I got a gentle reminder, a tactile moment like fingers moving along a string of prayer beads.
Like many women, I have suffered from what an Atlantic article calls The Confidence Gap - the reticence or humility or fear or whatever you want to call it that holds women back. Marjorie also brought a copy of that article, and we talked about it at length later that night. How do we find the balance that lets us move gracefully through the world while pursuing our dreams?
The reading went well, attended by friends and luminaries who braved the clogged streets of downtown Greensboro during a street festival and performance by The Wailers. We enjoyed "putting on a show," and equally enjoyed cooking and dining with Sue Farlow, sharing the tranquil "white garden" at Fred and Susan Chappell's house, and then waking up to cook and talk some more.
The green pendant I wore that night has entered a rotation: Tibetan turquoise beads to remind me to avoid negativity, green-and-white veined marble from Iona that takes me back to the incredible skies and spiritual lift of St. Columba's island, and a steel link necklace - unusual then and now - that my father gave my late mother 60 years ago.
No magic. Just reminders, tapping against my breastbone.

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