Paula Howley

awesome ideas look like this in my head

I’ve had a revelation.  I guess you could just call it an idea but it feels pretty revelatory to me.  I’m pretty damned excited about it because it involves things I love doing:  speaking, working with kids, contributing to the community and making money.

(I am not writing the memoir yet though I plan to start in July once Meg and I have finished the bulk of our academic year. (We won’t be taking the summer completely off- we will still do math 3 times a week to keep it fresh, reading daily and a few fun science experiments) Yes, the memoir writing is something I very much want to do but I am taking care of school business first.)

In the meantime, I am seriously thinking about teaching a course for 11-17 year olds to learn the basics of public speaking.  I even have ideas for second year plans- a leadership based course and an advanced speaking course.

I have always loved teaching the Toastmasters Youth Leadership course and this year was no exception.  It is immensely satisfying helping kids to find their talents and help them get excited about expressing themselves with confidence.  And I love how the parents are blown away by it.  (This week at our year end homeschool campout/meeting, parents told me over and over that they felt the TM program was one of the best components of the entire year.  I was SO proud to hear that and it was wonderful to feel so valued.  The problems is, it is fairly time consuming to take on one of these courses.

A few of the kids’ parents from earlier this year have since been asking continually for some kind of kids speaking club but I knew that such an endeavour might be unlikely here because of the sheer amount of time involved in it.  I didn’t see an already overtaxed TM volunteer base taking on a few more hours every week of volunteer work- myself especially.

However, I thought to myself and was reminded by my husband, why does it have to be volunteer?  I believe I am qualified to bring the knowledge I have to kids.  I’ve been a Toastmaster for 5 years.  I have had a great deal of success with it, making it twice into the top 10 Toastmasters in BC and coming in 3rd once.  I have taught 3 Youth Leadership programs so far and done private coaching for kids.  I’ve MC’d large and small events.  I’ve judged contests at 3 different levels.  I’ve been on the exec of TM for 4 years including President this year.  I’ve been coached by Darren LaCroix and Rich Hopkins, 2 internationally known top speakers.  I have read a ton of books and seen dozens of videos about speaking.  I even have a background with kids, having coached gymnastics for a couple of years with the proper certification.

Obviously I couldn’t use the Toastmasters’ model but I know I can put something together and already have the skeleton of the formula in my mind.  There is a demand for it and I can meet that need.  It’s something I love doing and is something I’m good at.  MAN!  Do you know how much this excites me?  I am seriously psyched.  I am 99% convinced that I am going to do this.  I am 100% convinced that I CAN do this.

I just can’t let this blog float around in cyberspace with no one to care for it.  I feel like I’m orphaning a child for crying out loud.  The original goal to document my journey to the World Championships is obviously not what’s going to happen but this blog is called A YEAR in the Life of a Toastmaster, not Nine Months in the Life of a Toastmaster.  And we have already established that the goal is not the goal.  So, I feel like I need to finish the year because that’s what I promised.  But, what is my focus now, Toastmasters or what Toastmasters has been leading to?

Well part of what Toastmasters has led to so far is more personal development.

My life coaching continues, though we are very close to finished.  Just two weeks to go.  I can’t rave enough about what I have learned and experienced through Micaela Pennell so far.  It has been an extraordinarily helpful journey and I am so grateful to God for bringing her into my life.  She has given me tools to continue tackling things that need tackling and I honestly feel like I am a very different person from 100 days ago.  My perspective is different, my attitude is different, my understanding is different.  I also have an amazing friend out of it.  If you have issues, and who doesn’t, and you are serious- I mean SERIOUS about tackling them, she’s your girl.

 

I’ve come to the realization that I have not been taking care of myself because I have been so busy trying to take care of everyone else.  Hoping that if I keep giving and giving and giving that my needs will eventually be met.

And because of that, because I am continually disappointed when people turn out to be like themselves instead of who I WISH they were and because I am soooooo bloody depleted and tired from doing everything, I have been very angry.   I have been allowing situations that TAKE from me, rather than situations that are enhancing my life.  My family has suffered.  I have suffered and even the people that I’ve been trying to take care of have suffered because they haven’t been given the chance to do things on their own.

The sorry truth is that I have not been meeting my own needs in almost ANY capacity for my entire life!!!!  No wonder I’ve been so pissed!

So.

That ends today.

Life is too bloody short.

It was back in the fall of 2009 when I saw my first Toastmasters World Champion Darren LaCroix, that the actual thought of perhaps becoming a World Champion crossed my mind.  I knew I was a thousand years from it but something in me vaguely knew I could make it to that level of speaker.

In the fall of 2011, I made it to the BC finals, the District 21 Speech finals for the first time, placing third in the humorous speech contest.  That’s when Jamie MacDonald (Jamie has been to the World Stage twice) approached me and told me he thought I could make it to the top.  That’s when the dream crystallized into something real.

In the spring of 2012 I made District finals again and knew that I had an actual shot at going to the World Championship.  That was the first time I met Darren LaCroix and realized how much more work I needed to do to be as good as I wanted to be.  I did not make it but I launched myself into another echelon deliberately, knowing that I had to.   That was when the crystallized dream began to take shape.

It wasn’t until Ryan Avery won the Worlds in the summer of 2012 that I actually vocalized my goal of becoming the 2013 World Champion of Public Speaking.  I did so because I knew that announcing it would put pressure on me to do what I needed to reach that goal.

When Ryan won, I contacted him and told him about my goal.  He was encouraging and realistic.  He asked me “Why do you want to win the World Championship?”  and I gave him a whole bunch of reasons.  At the time, I thought the dream looked like a trophy and a title.

It wasn’t until November of 2012 while working with women’s life educator Micaela Pennell that I really examined my reasons for wanting to win.  Knowing why you want to win is really as important as the win itself because there is always a reason behind the desire.  The reason, I have found, is what the trophy represents to me, what it means to me.   As Micaela always says, the goal is not the goal.

So let’s look at the reasons that I came up with back in November, 5 months ago.

Paula Howley, why do you want to win the World Championship of Public Speaking?

quick!  what's the answer??????

quick! what’s the answer?????

What  would you feel about  yourself?

i.     I would feel worthy

ii.     I would feel amazing

iii.     I would feel proud of myself

iv.     I would feel satisfied with myself

About others towards you?

i.     I would feel that people are proud of me.

ii.     I would feel that people are happy for me.

iii.     I would feel that people admire me.

About your attitude towards life?

i.     I would feel that I would leave a mark with my life.

ii.     I would feel that I can get on with the real stuff in my life.

About your relationship with God?

My  attitude towards God – no change

What would you believe?

  1. About yourself?

i.     I would believe that I am capable of the discipline necessary to achieve something difficult.

ii.     I would believe that I am very good at something of worth.

About others?

i.     Others would believe I am a good speaker.

ii.     They would believe I am someone worth listening to and hearing.

iii.     They would notice me and take note of me.

iv.     They would admire me.

v.     They would believe that I am a person known for talking the talk and walking the walk.

About life?

i.     I would believe that if I set goals for myself, I can achieve them.                                                                  ii.     I would believe that I can become someone more evolved through a learning process.

iii.      I would believe that even the things I thought were out of reach were not necessarily out of reach if I leaarn how to reach for them.

About God?

i.     I would expand my relationship with God

Expression of your talent – what are you naturally good at?

I  would see that I entertain people.

I would see that I impart messages of value while entertaining.

Development of skills:

I would develop my Writing skills

I would develop my Thinking skill

I would develop my Disciplinary skills

I would develop my Communication skills

I would develop my Interpersonal skills

Meaning

  1. I would know that I can do the hard stuff.
  2. I would know that my voice matters.

So, those are THE reasons that I discovered about me wanting to win the World Championship.  There are others, more concrete, things like wanting to make up for all the lost years and screw ups of the past, but they all filter down into these somehow.

So, let’s see if anything has happened in my mind and in my heart since November, a hundred thousand lifetimes ago.

  1. What      would you feel?
    1. About       yourself?
    2.   i.     I would feel worthy

This is an interesting statement.  I would feel worthy.  Worthy of what I wonder?  Worthy of life?  Of happiness?   Aren’t we all?  But I guess maybe I thought worthy of the title.  It’s a title that commands respect imo and one should be worthy of it.

  1.                                                   ii.     I would feel amazing

Well duh.  I feel pretty good right now I must say.  I am not devastated by my loss.

  1.                                                  iii.     I would feel proud of myself

I feel proud of myself now.  I feel proud of the insane amount of work I put into this process and how much I have learned.  I feel proud that I reached  for the TOP.  I feel proud that I asked for help from the best.  I feel proud that I took chances and grew tremendously.

  1.                                                  iv.     I would feel satisfied with myself

Without question, I feel satisfied with my efforts.  I must say in honesty, I am not satisfied with my performance at the contest but I am satisfied that I can improve exponentially.

    1. About  others toward you?
  1.                                                     i.     I would feel that people are proud of me.

This might be the coolest part.  I do feel that people are proud of me.  I know my dad is and that means the world to me.  My husband is particularly proud of me.  So is my daughter and I know the awesome people in my club and area are too.  Jamie MacDonald is proud of me and so is Rich Hopkins, my coach, a world class speaker.  And so many others who have spoken to me and written to me.   It feels pretty amazing.  Hey!  I guess I got the “I feel amazing” part after all!

  1.                                                   ii.     I would feel that people are happy for me.

I do feel that people are definitely happy for me even in their disappointment FOR me.  They are happy that I am pursuing my dreams and trying to become more than I am.  There are some people who are pretty regular readers and even good friends who understand on a very deep level what has happened for me on this journey and they are thrilled for me and the miracles that have come about from this process.

  1.                                                  iii.     I would feel that people admire me.

I find it both humbling and hilarious to find that this has become true.  Now of course, I’m not fool enough to think that this is universal, in fact, I’ll bet my daughter’s allowance that I annoy the shit out of many.   The crazy fact is though, that some  people have actually TOLD me that they admire me so either it’s true or they are liars.  My optimism demands I believe that at least some of those people are telling the truth.  At the same time, it makes me uncomfortable because I know who I am but it inspires me to try harder to be better.

    1. About my attitude toward life?
  1.                                                     i.     I would feel that I would leave a mark with my life.

I always thought that the best marks, the most important marks, were the BIG ones.  I love drama, I love flair, I love the BIG stuff so it makes sense.  I am finding however, that small marks are what impact people.  For example, I REALLY dig doing the Youth Leadership Program with Toastmasters.   The kids I work with are so grateful for the help, the parents are so grateful and enthusiastic and it really MEANS something to me.  It really MEANS something to them too.  It’s not a big thing but really, it IS.  Lives are changed when kids get this kind of confidence.  And the most important mark I’m leaving with my life is with my daughter, who deserves so much more than I can give her.  But this whole process of learning who I am because of Toastmasters, because of my faith and because of my friends is helping me to even be a human being.  That’s the most important mark of all.

  1.                                                   ii.     I would feel that I can get on with the real stuff in my life.

In the words of Barack Hussein Obama, “Yes I can.”   I am very excited about doing what I have been talking about for a VERY VERY VERY long time now and that is WRITING MY BOOK.   I know I have the discipline to do it now and I know I have the talent.  I know that I can find help when I need it.  And I know that I’m not too stupid to admit when I need help.  Lol  I’m also looking forward to having a fun summer with my little girl and making sure I have AT LEAST a monthly date with my awesome  husband.  What else?  My keynote.  The message that I am here on this planet to give.  I am excited to be walking in the direction I’m supposed to be going.  I am excited to say  “Come To Me”  to the rest of my  life,  in the words of Jamie MacDonald.

    1. My attitude towards God ?– no change

Interesting, isn`t this?  I thought that winning the World Championship would not change my attitude towards God.  I think I am happiest about that.  If anything though, my faith needs deepening.  If anything else, this process has helped me through a challenging spiritual time.

What  would you believe?

About yourself?

i.     I would believe that I am capable of the discipline necessary to achieve something difficult.

This has been  one of the best parts of this.  I have discovered  that I can be a workhorse.  I’ve always had a good work ethic; even when I was a stripper I busted my ass if you’ll pardon the pun, but living this kind of discipline has been a great blessing.  It sets me free to do other great things.

  1.                                                   ii.     I would believe that I am very good at something of worth.

I don’t think I’m great yet but I believe I WILL be.  I believe I will be at my best when I can deliver the message of ME that God has given me and that will require more than a 7 minute speech.  I believe that when I begin to really give myself away  for the benefit of others, I will be the communicator and the woman I want to be.  It’s coming.  I feel it in my very bones.  I’ve sort of been on auto pilot for a while as I learned how to gear up but that is all about to change.

    1. About others?
  1.                                                     i.     Others would believe I am a good speaker.

Others do believe this.  Some more than others.  Some less than others.  Some are probably and rightfully wondering what the big fucking deal is.

  1.                                                   ii.     They would believe I am someone worth listening to and hearing.

Another great blessing.  This blog might be more responsible for that than anything.  The response I have received has been encouraging to say the least.  Especially with the revelation of my past as a sex worker for the first time.  To see the number of people who actually READ this blog is stunning.  It makes me want to give something really worth reading.  I value the time of my readers so very much and am SO grateful for your support.  I have learned that others DO think I am someone worth listening to and hearing.   I cannot adequately express what a gift of freedom this is to me.  People like me are normally laughed at and dismissed as unimportant and even ridiculous but I have been told here that what I have to say has meaning and is important.  Wow.

iii. They would notice me and take note of me.

Two different things I believe.  Anyone can be noticed, you just have to be loud, as I have been for much of my life.  People taking note of you…that can happen because of volume too but I find that people take note of you when you begin to display a measure of substance.    Perhaps I am beginning to do that, finally.

  1.                                                  iii.     They would admire me.

This one must be important since I’ve got it down twice.  Lol  Kind of embarrassing.  The truth is, it matters to me.  A lot.  Probably too much.  Truth is, I’m frequently an asshole in real life.  Just ask the people who know me and love me best.

  1.                                                  iv.     They would believe that I am a person known for talking the talk and walking the walk.

YES.  This one is important to me.  I HATE it when people don’t walk the walk.  As I always say to my daughter “Talk is cheap.  Anyone can talk.  You have to back it up with your actions for it to mean anything.”  I have walked the walk in this case and I am proud to own that.

About  life?

i.     I would believe that if I set goals for myself, I can achieve them.

Even though I did not achieve my goal per se, I have achieved many,  if not most, of these.  This process opened up (again!) another realm  for me, another realm of thinking and believing.  I have other goals that are important to me that I fully believe that I will achieve.   I am happy and excited to begin the next chapter.

  1.                                                   ii.     I would believe that I can become someone more evolved through a learning process.

Without question.  Holy mackerel.  Rich Hopkins was a brutal son of a gun who made me cry on more than one occasion (not out of cruelty but by pushing me farther into the truth than I thought I could go) .  I learned to respect this process by giving it everything I have.  I learned how to respect my audience by giving them everything I have.  I learned  how to jump through the biggest hoop of fear, I learned how to ask for what I want, I learned more than I can possibly write here.  I am still learning with myself and God and my family and Micaela and my Toastmasters family and know that this process, thankfully, will never end.

  1.                                                  iii.      I would believe that even the things I thought were out of reach were not necessarily out of reach if I learn how to reach for them.

I love this one.  It’s dramatically  liberating to discover that you have oodles more potential than you thought.  In fact, it’s almost scary because there really aren’t an excuses anymore.  Lol  Knowing that people are always there with their hands extended in friendship gives me courage.  I know to go to the best and that they are not the scary arrogant people I may have feared that they were.  I have been genuinely rewarded for asking people to show me how to reach.

    1. God?
  1.                                                     i.     I would expand my relationship with God

I hope this one happens always no matter what.  We tend to dive in when things are not going well and it’s important to remember to go deep with God when things ARE going well too.

  1. Expression of my talent – what are you naturally good at?
    1. I entertain people.

For sure I know this is true.  This is something I’ve always liked doing but having the stage of Toastmasters has given me the opportunity to hone this skill.  MCing the Ryan Avery event this winter was a big boost to my confidence.  It was my first opportunity to steer a large ship with important passengers and I know I nailed it because I genuinely had fun and felt everyone else having fun too.

    1. I impart messages of value while entertaining.

Yes!  Learning to.   As Sharookh would say “What is the take home?”  lol  As Margaret Page would say “What’s in it for me?”  As I am learning to say “ What can I give to my audience?”  When people give you their undivided attention, they deserve the best you can give them.  My last message was of tremendous value IMO.

  1. Development of skills
    1. I would develop my Writing skills

YES!  Absolutely!  Not just speech writing skills (because I wrote 3 versions of the 1st speech and then 2 versions of the 2nd speech and then about 18 versions of “I Love You” with endless tweaks and revisions), but my writing skills period because of this blog which I have come to love so much.   I have fallen in love with writing again and that makes me ever so happy!

    1. I  would develop my Thinking skills

Not my strongest skill I think (ha ha) but I have certainly pushed  myself for ideas and new thoughts.  It has been exciting exercising a muscle that needs exercise.  It is thrilling coming up with an idea that FITS in just the right place at the right time.

    1. I  would develop my Disciplinary skills

In one way, I failed tremendously because I have NOT kept up my new year’s resolution of going to bed by 11:30.  This is not what I’d call discipline.  I am so much healthier and happier when I do but it is SO difficult breaking a 40 year long habit.  In another sense, I made myself work on this project constantly- almost every day for hours a day,   not sure I’d call this discipline.  I think I still have a long way to go for that.

    1. I would develop my Communication skills

This is a no brainer.  A lot of this is happening through my work with Micaela.  I am still learning to ask for the things I need which I find difficult to do (as I’m  sure it is with many women or moms).

    1. I would develop my Interpersonal skills

Not as much as I mostly worked on my own through this project.  This is something that still needs work and attention.

  1. Meaning
    1. I would know that I can do the hard stuff.

I CAN do the hard stuff but I’d like more opportunity to do harder stuff.  And more fun stuff.  I feel like I’m made of the right stuff.

    1. I would know that my voice matters.

I am discovering something that I had always suspected and had always hoped.  I am just a Voice of One who’s Greater than this…but I am still a Sacred Voice, I will not be dismissed.

I’ve taken 2 days and a night off of the speech.  Kind of.  I had a life coaching session with Micaela Pennell today and everything we are working on is all relevant to the speech and my life.  It is such a tremendous gift to have the additional perspective on what I am trying to accomplish and why.   I took the night off to watch a movie and give myself some room to see better.  Tomorrow I will make the changes this speech needs knowing what my own heart needs to make sure it is truth spoken with tremendous love.  I feel like the gel wants to set now.

I have had to start a separate journal to write about how everything, my spiritual journey, my emotional healing, friendship, speaking, and family is being woven together so beautifully and miraculously by our Creator.  When I step back and look at it I am in complete awe at the complex beauty yet utter simplicity of this tapestry.  There are some days more than others that you can truly appreciate the handiwork of God and today was one of those days.

Micaela’s words resonated like a bell and when I heard my husband repeating them, not having known what she had said, and then going an extra mile giving me a suggestion that could alter my life, the speech, and the way I look at and feel about things, well, let me just say that if this stuff were happening to you and you weren’t sure about a higher power….   this stuff might change your mind.  God’s hand is all over this and it gives me SUCH comfort to let Him guide me with the sweet and quiet confidence of knowing that I am loved by Him and that He is taking me Somewhere.

When this year is over, I’m going to bring it all together, to write about all of this, all that’s going on.  I’m saving it all and I know it will prove to be a fascinating read because it’s the work of God, not me.

I feel very excited and happy today.  I feel hopeful.  I feel loved.   I feel protected even in my emotional nakedness.  What a tremendous relief!  I thank God for all of these things.  And I thank Him for the hard stuff too, the stuff that has hurt like hell because He has used that as well and will continue to do so.

I have one more very big step to take to make myself certain that I am doing the right thing.  I need to ask one very important person for their blessing about this speech.  If they can give me this blessing, I will be truly free to make the biggest leap I have ever taken.  If they can’t, I will have to take the leap anyway.  And pray for wings.

my favourite and most rare mode of travel

my favourite and most rare mode of travel

We’re almost half way there, time-wise, to the World Championship.  How are things stacking up?  HALF

I have become a better speech writer in the past month than in the entire previous 4 years.   Crazy eh?  “Jaws-The Speech”,  my humorous entry from last fall was alright, but hindsight is SO 20/20, isn’t it?  This past month, with the crunch on, it’s been pouring out of me.  Knowing I can produce like this is like leaven.  I have bits and pieces of ‘pretty damned good’ here and there in my old speeches but speeches of this calibre have to be ALL damned good.  So I am giving it my all, working every WORD, every pause, every look, but most of all, keeping it REAL, while making sure that my family does not suffer.  I have been able to balance fairly well so far mostly because of my adherance to my daily prayer, 11:30 bedtime rule.  Now the entire past WEEK has been an exception to that bedtime rule and I can feel it catching up to me so it is time to return to sanity.  (Easy to say that now- wait till the next great idea pops into my head at midnight)

No matter what happens with this contest, I am also seriously psyched to get to work on my keynote(s) and I feel encouraged, and able like I never have before.  I feel sureness in my bones.  I am not afraid.  My entire attitude is different these days and it is thanks to many people.  Those of you who read this blog mean so much to me.  That people take time out of their day to check on me once in a while makes me feel like a million bucks.  The comments and encouragement I have received are like manna.   There are people who read this blog who are fully expecting me to raise that trophy in Cincinnatti on August 24.  That’s just freaking amazing!!!

There are people who have stepped out of the woodwork to give me their gifts and help me smash the old shell that I have grown out of.  They have helped me  into a new bigger shell, and also to look down that beautiful pebble beach in my mind and see that the beach is littered with even bigger and more beautiful shells I can wear as my spirit grows.  It is SO much bigger than this contest.  As my friend Micaela says “The goal is never the goal.  It’s what keeps you moving forward.”  And oh I am learning that.

Yes, I recognize God’s work when I see it and I am eternally grateful for the lessons I am receiving.

Now, shall we talk about the speech?  After all, it is a speech contest, isn’t it?

The club contest is on March 18, a month from today.

There is good news and bad news.  The good news is that unless I go over time, I will win my club speech contest because it is likely that I am our only competitor in our tiny club.  My stiffest competition, and believe me folks, she is very stiff- remember she kicked my ass in the Area humorous contest last fall- cannot compete.  She has 2 art shows to prepare for and so her greatness will not be challenging me.  THAT is the bad news.

The area competition is on April 13 and Division is a week after that on April 20.

Two weeks after that,  May 4,  hail the District finals in Nanaimo.  I haven’t even bought tickets for it due to a massive economic crunch right now.   If I get to District finals, we will make the money appear magically from our credit card.  (I’m also missing my yearly spiritual retreat as well –  I got Rich Hopkins instead.  My spiritual director will not be impressed but I will promise to go in the fall.)

So, I have to win all of those contests to make it to the World Semi-finals on August 22.  And come up with the most magnificent piece of work I have produced since my daughter to win the big prize on the 24th.

I’ve been studying the winners for almost a year now.  I’m waiting for my dvd to arrive of the top 3 from 2006-2010 so I can see what separated the best from the rest most recently.  I’ve studied nearly every relevant program that LaCroix has ever made, including his excellent work with Craig Valentine, I joined World Champions Edge and downloaded all their best talks, I’ve studied Avery and his speech technology, I’ve hired Rich Hopkins,  the best man for the job to coach me.  I am doing everything I can think to become the best speaker I can be.  I’ve even become a lector at my church and am delving into the deepest spiritual issues of my life with my life coach and dear friend Micaela Pennell.   If there are some things that YOU can think of that I am not, I am grateful for your advice.  In the end, I am going to be a different woman than the one who began this journey and I am going to be a hell of a lot better than I was.  The fact is, I already am.  Hard work is freaking AWESOME.

The most important thing about this process right now?  I am having FUN.    Woo hoo!

Back to work.  🙂

I’m absolutely and utterly exhausted.  It’s partly because of 2 late nights and early mornings in a row but it’s partly because of my hard core x-ray coaching session with Rich Hopkins.   He is very good at his job.  He asked questions that pulled answers out of me that I didn’t even know I had.  It was intense and even a little scary as we danced around some places that hurt and even stepped a foot inside a few times.   It moved my soul and blew my mind.  At the same time, he was easy to talk to, funny and incredibly insightful.  I feel totally in sync with him.  I feel like he GETS me.  I feel like we are skiing on the same page.  Whatever that means.

We are wiping the speech slate clean and starting from scratch.  Is that a little daunting?  Only when I think about it!!!  So I need to think again about the other lessons that I would like my daughter most to learn.  That is a hard one because there are many things I want her to know.  I’m gonna sleep on this one and pray for God to pull the right thing out of my brain.

Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind at how incredibly deliberate God is in how He heals us.  Tomorrow I have my life coaching session with Micaela Pennell, another incredibly insightful, funny and gifted person.  I almost feel like I was prepped for it tonight with Rich.  I welcome it.  Life lessons learned in scary, funny exhilarating adventures.  How blessed, how fortunate I am that God gifted me with honesty and a measure of courage so I can overcome my own CRAP.  I feel so so SO terrifically sorry for people who don`t dare to walk into their dreams.