“If I were still reading astrological charts, I’m sure there would be some kind of massive conjunction of planets happening right about now.”  I said to Lloyd today.

“There always is.”  he said.  “It just depends on your perspective.”

My husband is pretty brilliant.  I’m glad I married him.

Yes, it has been pretty active, pretty jumpy in my life as of late and I’m kind of looking forward to things being ‘normal’ again.   This weekend was one of inspiration for me in many ways but there comes a time to put all that inspiration into daily life; the truly challenging part.

I didn’t know what to expect going in but it was ever so worth it to go to the Toastmasters conference.  I got to know some friends on a much deeper level, something that gives me a great deal of happiness.  I feel so privileged when people trust me with the stories of their life.  I really connected with some new friends and loved affirming the positives that I saw everywhere.

I enjoyed people recognizing me from the past 2 contests and the platform that gave me.  I worked hard to be positive, honest and appreciative from that platform.   It made me  have to think intentionally, something beneficial for anyone who has a tendency to shoot their mouth off.

I didn’t get an opportunity to perform “Jaws-the Speech” but I will be giving it at a benefit at the end of the month so I will tape it and post it for you all to enjoy

Cover of "Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition)...

then.

I feel such a strong bond with these people.  If you ask me, Toastmasters’ structure has a lot in common with the structure of the Catholic church.  Could be why it’s so strong.  See, no matter where you go in the world, like Mass,  a Toastmasters meeting is essentially the same.  Oh sure, there’ll be some cultural differences and not everything is exact, but you know what’s going on and can follow along and feel like you’re at home.

But now I AM at home and have to deal with things of home.  Like today.

I took our 17 year old cat Patchy in to the vet because she’s been drooling and keeping her mouth open all the time.  Well, it wasn’t 5 minutes into the visit when Dr. Smalley said “It’s cancer.  It’s all in her mouth and jaw.  We’d have to amputate her entire jaw but that’s not an option.”

His recommendation was for us to put her to sleep in the next day or two.  “Don’t put it off.  She’s in a lot of pain.”  So tomorrow at 3:00, Patchy will take her last breath.  I hate to think of it.

God, it was a hard day with Meg.  To explain this to her was so difficult.  She has known Patchy her whole life.  To explain euthanasia was particularly hard.   She always asks a lot of questions.  Like her mum, she needs to know the WHY of everything.   The vet’s office gave us a book to read which was lovely…about how pets wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge until we arrive with them and we all go to heaven together.

We talked a lot.  We spent a lot of time with Patch.  We cried a lot.

Tonight the local fire department put on a fireworks display over the harbour to make up for the hallow’een rain cancellation.  Meaghan felt like she didn’t want to go but she loves fireworks more than candy for crying out loud so I cajoled her, bugged her, commanded her.   I’m so glad I took her and gave her something beautiful to behold and forget her sadness for a while.  I told her “This is our celebration of Patchy’s life honey. This is how God feels about Patchy and how much we love her.”    She liked that thought.

English: Fireworks Display Stanford Hall

We all prayed tonight as a family.  Thanked God for Patchy’s life and for giving her to us for as long as we had her.  She’s been such a great cat.  I will miss the clicking of her nails on the floor, the way she always greeted me with a meow or two and her sweet company.  I will miss her a lot.

And less than an hour after the vet visit, I got a call from Margaret Page asking me to MC the “Ryan Avery comes to Vancouver” event which will be going on in February.  “You’re ready.”  she said.  I’m honoured.  I’m excited.

SO much life.

I got the whiteboard cut.  Or rather, Lloyd did.  It’s still sitting in giant pieces in my bedroom, uninstalled.  I have been doing crazy things like life.  I don’t feel guilty that I am not watching all the old World Champ DVDs or anything Toastmaster related.  I have to make sure Meg’s home schooling needs are being served.  I need to take the next few weeks to make sure that’s happening.

We have a new reality around here and it’s one we’d better get used to.  There is, all of a sudden, thanks to our new home, $250 more in expenses every month and no new money to match that.  It’s also our slowest landscaping time.  So we need to make some adjustments.

One adjustment that I have made that was sad but necessary was to bow out of my Advanced Toastmasters Humorous Club.  It only meets once a month but I really enjoyed the people in the club immensely and it really widened my TM horizons.  I had to be honest about whether it was worth it for me to continue though.  The entire day it took to get to Vancouver and back, the parking, the gas, the food, the sitter costs, etc.  Too much of a luxury and not enough of a benefit.  I’d benefit more by joining the second local club here, which you never know, might happen in the spring when the money makes an appearance again and I go into wacko contest mode again.

Oddly, to immediately counter this, I have been asked by my church to be a Lector,  a a reader of Scripture.  It will be approximately once a month.  Funny eh?  Except I don’t have to travel for 4.5 hours to get there.  And it’s slightly more nerve wracking.  Which is good.

I have no TM meeting again until Nov. 7 since we are taking Hallow’een off because of our trick or treaters.  Nice to have a breather.

Next weekend is the Toastmasters Fall Conference.  First one I’ve been to in over a year where I’m not competing.  It will be odd to just be able to enjoy it.  Hmmm.  this sounds a lot like down time, doesn’t it?

 

Tomorrow I want to install the giant whiteboard.  I will either need to harrass the husband to help OR learn how to use the power saw by myself.  Hey, I’m not afraid of power tools, in fact I quite enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that using them gives me but contrary to popular belief, I’m no idiot!  I know that some things should be taught, rather than learned by trial and error.  Especially if error means losing a digit or two.

If anybody reading this blog lives near me and has tomorrow afternoon free, come on over and show me how to cut this stuff to fit my wall.  It’s big.  It’s beautiful.  It’s the biggest sheet of paper I’ve ever had.

There truly is nothing more appealing (and daunting) to a writer than a blank page.  Although most writing is done on the computer these days, I’m old enough to remember writing long hand and the thrill I got from opening a fresh package of paper or a new journal.  The heart throbs with possibilities and promise.

Another creation that I am just beginning is my CCC.  (No, not the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but good guess!  lol) The CCC is  (drum roll please, with cymbal crash)

The Cincinnatti Championship Collage!

It’s what some call a vision board but I’ve been doing collage since I was 12 and that’s what I call it.  I’ve made collages for family and friends in the past…mostly for people I know well because the details make the difference there, but the last collage I made for myself was about 9.5 years ago, not long after my spiritual shakeup.  Yeah,  I guess it’s time for a new vision, isn’t it?  I am really excited about the things I’m going to find in the next little while.  This process has always been so enjoyable for me and it’s been far too long!

Moving on, I had a Toastmasters meeting tonight and everyone forgot to show up.  We were a grand total of SIX.  We’re doing some serious adjusting this year and it has been challenging.  The core, the awesome core, is doing most of the work; you know how it is, it’s like that everywhere really, and we’re getting a little burnt out.  How long can you ask a few volunteers to shoulder the entire load?  What if some of them aren’t having all that much fun anymore?

I know I’ve been pretty occupied with contests but I have not neglected my role as club President.  I take it pretty seriously and I want to help steer this club in the right direction.  I want folks to really take advantage of what we have here.  But I can’t do it all.  I don’t even WANT to do it all.  And I won’t.  I’ve seen what happens when someone tries to do everything.  All I can do is show up, encourage, throw out ideas and of course threaten violence.

We’ve advertised, we’ve done flyers, posters, word of mouth, Facebook, you name it.  Trial and error.  Some work, some don’t.  I suggested to our Area Governor that we have a Coast-wide screening of “Speak” the documentary movie about Toastmasters early next year.

http://speakthemovie.com/

All three clubs have decided to work together on it and share costs and manpower .   Awesome.   We’ve decided to work together more in general which I think is about bloody time.   We will all benefit from it.  It will increase camraderie across the coast instead of this big divide of us and them.

 

I had a really great chat with one of the members tonight after the ‘meeting’.  This particular member is a 3 year vet of TM but is not able to come as regularly because of work.  I poured it all out on him tonight and he was surprised to hear what was going on.  He was concerned, which was a relief for me.   And he is ready to do something about it too which is another relief for me.

I hesitate to tell folks because really, it’s another burden for them, but friends are supposed to help shoulder burdens as well as joy, right?  What’s that saying?  when you share a burden with a friend, it is cut in half and when you share joy with a friend, it multiplies.

Anyway friends, our club needs to shit or get off the pot so to speak.   We all would appreciate prayers and energy sent our way so that our awesome little club becomes more fun for people again, more challenging and more satisfying.  Many thanks.  Trial and error, eh?

 

I got 5 hours sleep, had words with my husband and drove 7 hours total for him.  Was it worth it?

Let me answer in this way:  It wasn’t really about Ed Tate.  Ed is a great speaker and yes I learned a few new things, and it was veeeery good to sit directly behind him (thanks Other The Man!) and soak in that World Champion vibe.   But………

It was really about making sure that I got back up.  Despite the fact that I fared fairly well emotionally after the contest, I was still and AM still disappointed that I don’t get to give “JAWS-The Speech” to the B.C. District audience.  As I rode home after the contest, exhausted on the ferry on Saturday night I thought “There’s absolutely NO WAY I want to do this again in less than 48 hours.  I am NOT going to see Ed Tate on Monday night!  I’m wiped out emotionally and physically.  I’m going to see him for the whole conference in 2 weeks anyway, we just bought a house, I shouldn’t be throwing $ away on things that aren’t necessary, I’m sick of driving a for three hours at a time and I just wanna STAY HOME and eat a big bag of chips.”

The words that I got from “The Other The Man” AFTER the contest, the man who back in the spring publicly claimed me as a future world champion were instrumental.  They were pivotal.  Having people who believe in me is everything.  People who believe in me validate my belief in me.  I was the one who had the idea in the first place.  But it’s only an idea until you take the next step and make it a process.  And when others believe in you, it makes taking that first step not only easier, not only possible,  but giddily joyful.

I’ve always had a troublesome ego that aspired to big things.  Problem is, I never used it to aspire to anything worthwhile.  I just shot my mouth off and let it lead me through general idiocy with impressive looking falls and fireworks.  I never really had much to back it up with.  As I slowly began to grow up, (and this was less than a decade ago mind you so I still have a lot of maturing to do) I began to realize just how much I didn’t know and just how very little I had contributed to the world.  My ego was finally confronted with reality sans alcohol.

I was confronted with my nothingness.

And so for the past ten years, my heart and mind have been healing, slowly repairing the synapses in my brain, struggling to break out of patterns that have previously buried me.

And I lived in this teeny tiny town for 9 years.  Staring at the stark snow-capped mountains, next to the vast waters of the peaceful Pacific, reminded always that I was just a very small part of it all.

Isolated from the world at large, slowly, slowly, ever so slowly,  I have learned who God is and who I am and what I can do about it.

God has been masterful in his slow revelation of the world to me.  Placing me on the outskirts of isolated little Egmont, population 150, while the initial gaping wounds began to heal for a year and a half.  Then slowly, he moved me into the little town with slightly more interaction, and church.  He gave me a best friend, a woman who was my friend AND my mentor, who helped guide me through the new world, the ‘normal’ world.  What we experienced was extraordinary and to this day I have not had a friendship match the miraculousness that was us.

Then finally Lloyd and I married and having Meaghan expanded my circle outside of the church and our little town.    But the loss of our second child and accompanying near death experience changed my life completely.  It was the kick in the ass I’ve talked about previously, that ever so effective tool of waking me up.  It forced me to acknowledge the truth in my life and brought me to a wider spiritual circle in the Catholic Church and beyond it.  And then, my dearest friend moved away, leaving me in my own space again, very lonely, but more whole than before I knew her.

By ‘fluke’ he next brought me Toastmasters, an organization I had NEVER heard of but my husband instinctively knew would be good for me- “You’re good at talking and you need the intellectual stimulation” he said.

It was my introduction into the public world again, albeit slowly and delicately.   The prodding of my mind and heart with every speech gave me a public voice again and made me discern what was truly important to me and what exactly I wanted to spend my time and energy on.

And then after a year of Toastmasters and seeing Darren LaCroix and the other greats, the secret desire in my heart of seeking the World Championships, thinking it was 99.99% pie in the sky.

Each one of these events was a ripple in the pond, getter bigger as it got farther away from that initial drop in Egmont.  Winning contests and moving up a level each year, meeting Toastmasters from Vancouver and the rest of BC, beginning to feel like I could pull off fitting in, and sometimes, actually even fitting.

The latest growing ripple was this past year, an actual physical move to a new home, half an hour closer to everything, making travel easier, making networking more frequent.  And then, making B.C. District finals twice and having people like Jamie MacDonald and Darren LaCroix in my life, encouraging me- telling me things I only dreamed about before.   Giving me the chutzpah to say something like “I’m going for the World Championships” and really mean it.

Through it all though, even in my revelation of nothingness there was always still that little spark of ego that Lloyd would see and close friends would see but for the most part, I muted because I wasn’t aware there could even BE an alternative for me, though my dreams told me differently.  It was the WORDS that made it all possible.  The validation of my beliefs.

It’s miraculous, isn’t it?  And if you look at your life, you will see the same thing, the miraculousness of it.  The perfect way things happen, difficult things and wonderful things, scary things and curious things, the marks they leave on your life, the signs pointing to the places you’re meant to go or at least meant to walk towards.

There’s this quote I like. It goes something like “You don’t have to have the will to win, everyone’s got that.  You have to have the will to do what it takes to PREPARE to win.”  That’s what going to Ed Tate was about, although it didn’t start that way.  For me I think this entire battle is going to be with myself.  Against those voices in my head that doubt me and say “WTF?  What do YOU think you’re doing girl?”

And so YES.  It was worth the time and energy and effort and money and words with my husband to go and see Ed Tate, the 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking.  It was worth it to hear those words, “One day, you’ll be the World Champion.”  and know that they were said with sincerity.   And to once again, in a time of vulnerability, validate my belief.

One of these days, I’ll give you the short answer.  Promise.   🙂