Continuing along with my “evolution” as a speechwriter and speaker, my 4th speech in the CC manual is the first one that I really had fun with.  I mean, I had a blast writing and delivering it.  The difference was, this was my first STORY.

Before that I was doling out information.  BOOOOOOOOR-ING!!!!!  I discovered the power of a good story here and I was hooked.

The object of this speech was “How To Say It”.  I had to select the right words and sentence structure to communicate my ideas clearly and vividly, adding punch to my speech.   I had to use rhetorical devices to enhance and emphasize ideas and eliminate jargon and unnecessary words, using correct grammar.

I remember laughing as I wrote this speech because I was having so much fun.  I think this is where I really discovered my voice for the first time as a speaker.

Delivered on March 23, 2009 here is:

Speech # 4      Cold Turkey

 I smoked my first cigarette in the summer of 1981, my 13th year.  I bought a pack of Du Maurier Special Milds because I liked the shiny silver package.  The stores sold to anyone back in those days.  You just had to say that you were buying them for your mom.

 I casually brought my new pack of instant adulthood to the back of the school where a gaggle of us hung out all day listening to Rush.  Sitting on a shady step, I flipped open the package of cancer sticks and looked at them sitting there neatly in a row.  Cool white cylinders, beckoning to me.  I heeded their call.

 And so very easily began my 21 year love affair with cigarettes.   You see, I wasn’t one of those tortured smokers trying to quit every other day.  I looooved smoking!  And I loved the entire ritual that went along with it.  I loved taking the wrapper off a new package and crumpling up the squeaky plastic.  It was like opening a present every day!  I loved sliding the first crisp cigarette out of the package and feeling the coolness against my fingers.  I loved the acidic smell of sulphur as the tiny match exploded in front of my face.  And I loved the first inhalation with the signal that arrived in my brain even before the nicotine had a chance to enter my body.   The signal that soon, no matter what, everything was going to be juuust fine. 

 Now of course I knew about the dangers of smoking, and I had a vague plan that I would quit one day.  I occasionally ran across health articles that said women over 35 who smoked rapidly increased their chances of stroke and heart disease.  And that number hovered in my brain for many years but it was still a long way off and I still had a lot of partying to do.

 Fast forward a few decades.  Alcohol and cigarettes, once the Dynamic Duo, had become my Masters.  My body and soul were exhausted from the enslavement and I had no practical means of escape.  My 35th birthday was approaching like a bullet train and  I knew that soon I would have to take action.  It was still only a foggy thought though.  I had no plan.  Fortunately for me, I was about to make some influential friends in very high places. 
Enter the supernatural.  Enter the Messiah.  I became a Jesus Freak.  Strange things began to happen to me.  All of a sudden, my tongue wanted to clean itself up.  No more swearing.  No more alcohol.  No more…. cigarettes ?????? 

 It was a beautiful sunny day late in June and my parents had come out to Vancouver to visit my little brother Keith and I.  He had, strangely, also become a Jesus Freak mere months after I had, though completely independent of me.  My folks wanted to meet Lloyd the new man in my life but they especially wanted to make sure my brother and I hadn’t lost our minds and joined some crazy coastal cult. 

 It was my parents’ last full day of their visit.  We had soaked in a meaningful service at my brother’s church, had lunch with his pastor, and now were enjoying the many other beautiful things Vancouver had to offer.

 As the end of the long day approached, someone suggested we stop for a coffee.  We scanned Oak Street for somewhere to revive ourselves, spotted a café with a book store and piled inside. 

A thought excited my brain as we entered.  I knew my brother didn’t have a bible yet.  What an honour it would be to buy him his first!  I spent some time looking and found a bible that I thought would work for him.  I laid it ceremoniously on the coffee table. 

 But before I could finish that act, my body started to cry out for its regular dose of nicotine so I quickly excused myself.  Heading next door, I bought my last pack of cigarettes although I didn’t know it at the time. 

 As I sat back down in the café next to my Dad he said to me for the umpteenth time “So, why don’t you make that your last pack of cigarettes Paula?” 

 And for once, my immediate thought wasn’t “And why don’t you stuff a sock in it, Dad?”  It was more along the lines of “Yes, why don’t I?” 

 Other thoughts raced through my mind.  My 35th birthday was only two days away.  I was a new creation.  Why didn’t I make it my last pack? 

 I voiced my thoughts aloud to my father’s ever widening eyes and said “I will.  I think I will make this my last pack of cigarettes.” 

 That’s when my little brother grabbed his brand new bible off the coffee table, shoved it under my nose and with a devious look in his eyes said “Swear!  Swear on the bible then!” 

 I burst out laughing.  What a ridiculously perfect opportunity!  Here were the people I loved most in the world.  Here was the book that I revered.  Here was my obnoxious little brother challenging me.  I knew that if I swore on that bible at that moment, I could never go back on my word and that was the selling point for me.  I couldn’t have orchestrated the situation any better. 

 I stood up straight and put my hand on the bible looking Keith straight in the eyes. 

  “All right then.  I swear.  I swear on this bible that this is my last pack of cigarettes.  Ever.” 

 And the terrific look of shock on my brother’s face was worth every withdrawl pain. 

 

 

TRUE STORY and one of my favourites.  BTW, I’ve been nicotine free since then, July 1 2003.  Mind you I still have yet to drop the 20 pounds that came with it!!!!!!!!!

See you tomorrow!

 

 

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