I had to upload some video of speeches to send to Rich last week so I think I’ll share one of my old favourites with you.

I’ve learned a TON since giving this speech a year and a half ago and there’s a lot I’d do differently but boy was it a fun speech to give.  This one took 3rd place in the District 21 (all of BC) Humorous Speech Contest in 2011.  Enjoy “Mad Maureen and the Monarch of Mercy”.




I had a good night’s sleep and woke up feeling good.  Beatrice was out already so I had her place to myself.  I made some tea, lit my big blue candle from the Fatima shrine and spent 40 minutes in prayer.

I was present and I was grateful for many things.  My gratitude brought me to tears on more than one occassion.  I prayed that all people competing would give their best speech possible and that the people in the audience would receive the messages they needed accordingly.   I felt such joy when I prayed this!

Beatrice came home literally a minute after I finished my prayer and asked if I could do my speech for her before she had to leave again.  I regaled her and it was wonderful.  She laughed through the entire thing- never missed a beat.  She truly appreciated it.  Her energy was amazing.  She said “Paula, that is a beautiful speech.  It is SO funny but that part about friendship is so true and people need to hear this message.”

The energy she gave me just boosted me even more.

I had a small breakfast- my stomach was already playing the “hey!  it’s contest day!” game.

Got to the venue in plenty of time, and the stage area was already set up.  In a less than optimal fashion.  There was opportunity for it to be set up as a wide stage with less rows but they opted for a narrower stage and more rows which made it harder for people at the back to see and hear, and limited movement for speakers.  The narrow rows also made it impossible for the seats to be placed in theatre style so anyone with a big head in front of them was out of luck.

It was strange that they chose that since the past 3 contests at that venue were the wider way and done quite successfully.

Anyway, I was still comfortable with the stage area and knew I had enough room and I felt it out a little bit.  No worries mate.

I was able to chat with lots of people beforehand and see some old friends.  SUCH a lift knowing that people are there to support you and believe in you!

So we picked numbers for our speaking order, I got the second last spot which I thought pretty much kicked ass since I figured the crowd would be really warmed up by the time I got to them.

Another unusual thing.  They chose to do the humorous speech BEFORE the Table Topics which I found odd as usually the opening act is TT.  But, whatever, you play your hand, right?  That’s all part of the game!

So, the first guy gets up and he is effin FUNNY.  I mean, I really liked him.  He had a stand-up feel about him and his speech was PACKED with funny.  The problem was, the crowd didn’t get the memo.  And the day continued that way.  funny people, funny speeches, not so funny crowd.  It was really unfortunate that the energy was that way because everyone deserved better.  There were 7 humorous speeches and the calibre was high.  I honestly enjoyed them and gave them all of my positive energy.

I felt nervous but ready and happy when I began.  Took my time, looked folks in the eye, FELT it, ENJOYED it.  Relaxed, was even able to change the ending AT the ending.  No panic, total ease.  I had fun giving it.  It was a real drag that the energy didn’t come back to me but I did all I could so I was happy with my performance.  I also was not freaked about winning or not winning.  I was just “whatever God.:)”

So, in the end, I did not win.  In fact, I did not even place and I have to say that I was pretty surprised about that but that’s part of being in a competition where you get judged.  You just never know.  It’s not nice and clear like putting a puck in a net and whoever gets the most goals is the winner.  It’s subjective, no matter what anyone says and anyone can win on any given day.  Geez, I could be here a WHILE.  lol

So I hopped in my car, wondering what I could have done to improve.  I wish we could get evaluations on these, most important of our speeches.

I put countless hours into this speech.  To say I put 100 hours into this process would not be an exaggeration and might be a significant understatement.  I went to the best for help.  I dug deeper.  I cried and laughed, I found new depths in myself.  I created what I think is a really great speech.  In the end, 3 funny stories beat out my funny speech with a message.  I don’t, however,  regret not going with that initial funny story.  I am proud of what I accomplished with much help from people who care about me.   People have prayed for me, given me advice, spent time on the phone, in person and on skype with me.  Others have made offers of a place for me to stay while I’m in town, offers to introduce me to people who can help, offers to speak, offers to help me with The Big Speech, which is the next big project.  People still Believe in me.  That’s good.  I do too.

It’s been a good run.

It’s REALLY hard to stop playing with a speech.  Really hard.  You keep thinking you’re done but you’re not.  I tweaked the ending one more time and I like it more.  I’m not touching it again until after Division H finals on Saturday.

Rehearsed about 5 times, rehearsed the end module about 20 times.  I have to say I’m still pretty tired and I’m looking forward to going to the big city early on Friday to do not much of anything.  (Except pick up my white board material for covering my entire bedroom wall, open a new TM bank account, take the Pres out for dinner and go to my TM meeting.  Easy.)

The Man got back to me and we’re going to chat tomorrow but he sent me the most amazing email today that made me fly for a while.  He said I’m terrific!  (wow!)  but I’m nowhere near the speaker I’m GOING to be and that he would help me mine that gold.  Exciting scary stuff.

Yes, I AM thinking about the international competition…not a lot specifically, but generally, yes.  I am not sure what I am going to talk about because I’m not sure what’s appropriate.  I guess my big story is where I’ve come from, where I am now and how I got there.  It may not be the best story though.  I really want help with that part.  I’d like to have a brainstorming session with 3 or 4 experienced Toastmasters that I trust and connect with and see what we come up with.  This is all in the future though and I don’t want to give it too much energy right now.  I still have a contest to compete in this Saturday.  My stomach is doing dips already when I think about it.

I have to remember though.  This is a freebie.  I shouldn’t even BE here so I want to make the most of it.   I want to have FUN!  I want to showcase this speech.  And the truth is, I REALLY want to compete at the B.C. District finals.  I love this speech and I relish the thought of giving it on that big stage to all my friends.  I want to do the entire process justice, and that means making sure I am in the right frame of mind on Saturday.

Luckily, the friend’s house that I’m staying at on Friday night lives next to one of my favourite churches anywhere.  It is a beautiful old wooden church, over 100 years old, which is rare for a new city like Vancouver.  It smells of incense and it is enveloping and projecting at the same time.  I can go there for Mass on Saturday morning and that makes me so happy.

Tonight, I brought a young friend, a 17 year old young lady, to our club.  She and I have had a connection for a while and she has asked me to help her.  I am excited about giving to her what others have given to me.  I look so forward to showing this young lady what is already inside of her, waiting to come out.  I was so happy that she reached out.  I feel so privileged that God is giving us this opportunity to grow together.  It’s an opportunity to do for her what I wish someone had done for me at the same age.  Thank you God.

And there’s one last thing that happened today.  Something pretty……well, something pretty incredible.  Something I was never sure would ever happen.  Something that God made happen for our family in the gentlest, most unsuspecting of ways.  Today we signed the papers.  It has taken a few months to get it all done, but we are officially owners of our first home.

When we left Egmont last September after 8.5 years of living in this tiny, (population 150) oceanside village, it was a difficult transition.  Especially for Meaghan who moved away from her best friend across the street and her beloved backyard beach.  She CRIED.  A lot.  And I just found out recently that she had been FAKING an allergy (making herself sneeze!) FOR A YEAR so that we would move back to Egmont.   Geez, talk about tenacious.

But the opportunity presented itself to us this year.   And we just prayed that if God wanted us to have this place, He would help us get it.  So here we are, in one of the most outrageously priced markets in the world, proud owners of a 950 square foot 2 bedroom house on a third of an acre.   Very happy to be here.  Could life get any better?

Well, yeah.  It could.  I’m going to see 2000 World Champion Ed Tate next Monday night in Vancouver give his presentation “You too, can be a World Champion!”  An amazing person reserved a seat for me.  An amazing person with a lot of faith in me.

What have I done to deserve all this?????

This is exciting.  An idea showed up and then another knocked on the door and then they gelled and became “The End”.

It didn’t happen all at once.  A microscopic idea came this afternoon after we lost our power.  I muscled it into the speech’s end.  It made it slightly better which is better than not better at all.

I took a break and watched a bunch of the World Championship videos for inspiration.

I watched Lance Miller’s “the Ultimate Question”  and really relished his style.  Funny and charming,  confident but humble at the same time.  Great smile.  One of the best lines ever delivered in a World Championship speech:  “You know what’s wrong with me?  You know what’s wrong with you?  You know what’s wrong with the world?…………………………………………..WHO CARES??????    It takes no special talent to find things that are wrong with people!”  It took people a couple of seconds to CATCH that line but when they did, they LOVED it.  It was applauded.

I watched Ed Tate’s “One of Those Days”, maybe my favourite story ever told.  It’s not a ‘classic’ speech and I like that about it.  Told with such a style and wit, such a satisfying end, so much laughter.  Hilarious really!

I watched Darren LaCroix’s “Ouch!”  for, no kidding, maybe the 25th time.  An all around work of genius. with one BUT.  It is over time.  there was a glitch with his timing lights, unbeknownst to him at the time so he was not penalized and his speech was almost EIGHT magnificent minutes long.

I watched Craig Valentine’s “A Key To Fulfillment” and I found that I REALLY liked the FAST way he spoke.  I didn’t have any trouble understanding him and it added so much to his style.  I could identify with that as I really enjoy that kind of playing with words and speed.  I also forgot how funny he was.  He’s also got this “I’m pretty damned handsome, don’t you think?”  thing going on.  It’s hilarious.

I watched Brett Rutledge’s “My Little World” and HE just PACKED the laughs in man.  He was flippin’ hilarious.  He may have had the most laughs per word of any of them.  Brilliant craftsmanship and mimicry.

Anyway, I felt great after watching them all and then the power came back on so I was forced to feed my family.  lol

I played UNO with Meaghan after supper and when she went to the bathroom once, I totally stacked the deck and gave myself all wild cards and +4’s.  I gave her all yellow cards and one blue.  The game was over in 3 minutes.  LOL!  I of course, came clean but I did it to see if she would notice and suspect anything about the incredibly spectacular hand I had.  It’s nice to know she’s so innocent that it wouldn’t even occur to her.  Or that she WAS so innocent anyway.  ahem.

So, the family’s in bed, I’m up WAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY too late again but sheesh, what are you gonna do eh?  I can’t sleep anyway when ideas are all bouncing around in my head .  It’s SO hard to shut the brain off.

BUT!!!!    But that microscopic idea from this afternoon met a good idea from tonight and they MATED and produced EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR.  The END PUNCH was delivered by my deliverer 🙂 .

It tied in with the theme, it added a laugh AND a philosophical statement (that’s not too heavy) and it lifted the FEEL of the entire end.  It was getting too damned heavy.  After all , it IS the humorous speech contest isn’t it?

So I puzzled it all together, and I tried it all out loud and then I SQUEALED WITH JOY when I finished!  It fit!!  It fit!!!!!!  It FIT!!!!!!!    I danced and spun around the living room and scared the claws off my cats.

I practiced so much I’m losing my voice.  It’s time for bed and I’m pretty sure I’ll sleep tonight.  There might be nothing LEFT in my brain.  lol

I am SO excited.  I just want to remember how fun this is right now and never forget it.

Thanks for praying for me my friends.

Glory to God in the Highest!

Lands End Sunrise

Lands End Sunrise (Photo credit: Camerons Personal Page)

(What a roller coaster eh?  Welcome to my husband’s world!)


Yes, I AM the walking dead.  Got to sleep about 2:30 am last night and was up at 7:30.  As far as Speech goes, I reviewed recordings of the Area contest and Powell River to see what works better and what does not.  I’d like another shot at another club- maybe Morningstars in Gibsons can accomodate me but it unfortunately won’t be until next Wednesday.

Sent both recordings to The Man and am waiting on feedback from him.  I was toying with the idea of finishing with a bigger laugh but P.R. TM really seemed to dig the meaningful ending.  I’m too tired to do anything of any value right now but sleep.  so that’s what I’ll do.

Can I just start by saying how absolutely EXHAUSTED I am right now?  I could sleep for 3 days straight and I might just try for one anyway.

I started this day feeling truly wonderful.  I went for a run for half an hour in the sunshine and stopped to thank God for the beautiful mountain and inlet view just down the road from me.  Had some prayer time, a good breakfast, did the speech a couple of times and felt pretty solid about remembering the new ending.  (It is VERY exciting to get to a point where you are aware enough of yourself to know you can make a change that you WANT to make.)

Picked up my 2 fellow contestants from my club, (it was an hour away from my place) who looked fabulous and we went on to Gibsons to do our thing.

We 3 went outside in the sun to do an improv exercise to get the wiggles out but we were interrupted and told it was briefing time so we didn’t get to finish it.  I had to judge the other contest too so I had to stay for the briefing.  We picked our numbers and I picked 2.  I was feeling tense then, not relaxed.  I was not freaked out but I was losing the “I can’t wait to do this speech” feeling and I’m not sure why. 

Our Division Governor was there which was really great.  She went to about 6 area contests this week.  It’s a lot of work.  She had to catch a ferry to come to this one.  She told me something that I thought was…well, I don’t know….unexpected.   She told me that people in our Division were talking about me all week.   She said “they were like groupies or something”.   It was kind of confusing, kind of exciting and very scary at the same time.  What was going on?  Am I creating a monster??????  AM I a monster already?????

A lot of my friends came to watch me too.   It was so beautiful.  There were people from my homeschool group and from church.  Eleven people! They had to pull more chairs out for them all!  I have to tell you too, that it was a BEAUTIFUL sunny day outside and they decided to spend 2 hours of it indoors to support me.  It’s pretty incredible to have people like that in your life.  Was I feeling pressure because of their presence?  I don’t know.  They have ALL seen me speak before though so it shouldn’t have been an issue.

I had my “connect card” out to read before I was to go on, the one with the 4 questions that DarrenLaCroix says you should ask EVERY time you speak:

1. What is my intent?
2. Am I present?
3. Will I have fun?
4. How would I give this presentation if I knew it was my last one ever?

I was reading it…but I was not even connecting with my connect card!!!!! LOL!

I lost sight of these 4 things and only regained ONE of them with about a minute to go in the speech.  I lost sight of my intent………I wasn’t present……… I didn’t have FUN (and this is the toughest one to take too because if I’m not having fun, what the HELL is the point?)  ……….and it was more PERFORMANCE than speech.  It’s a speech, and a good one at that, but I performed it.

I did not connect with the people there, I did not appreciate the humanity of each and every one of them; I did not honour their time the way it deserved to be.  I looked at them, but I wasn’t really seeing them.  I did not take the time that I should have taken to get their vibe and be prepared to return love to them.  It was just paper.  It was a paper performance.  I really feel like I let a lot of people down.

On the other hand, let me tell you about my friend and competitor Ann.  I only say her name here publicly in this post because this contest is public record now.  Ann and I joined Toastmasters at the same time and she is one of my favourite storytellers.  She gave her speech today and was TOTALLY present.  She was having fun and it showed.  She didn’t step on a single laugh and there were a LOT to step on!  It was magic, truly.  I was very happy for her…I knew it was the best speech she had ever given and I felt such pride in her.  She pulled it off beautifully….and WHEN IT COUNTED.  I wish you could have seen her.

I was pretty sure that she was going to win when she finished.  I had the same feeling I did when I watched Carol Carter last spring when she won District.  You just know.

There were some troubling errors that happened.  During the first contestant’s speech, someone’s phone went off for a lonnnnng time, and then about a minute later, a latecomer came in the door and was ALLOWED in, in the middle of the speech.  The latecomer walked RIGHT in front of the contestant and down the middle aisle.  A huge distraction that took everyone’s focus off the speaker for a good 20-30 seconds.  I felt awful for the speaker.  To his credit, he held it together pretty well.

So let me tell you where my mind was going just before the results were announced.  It was funny because last night in my journal I wrote “what will you do if you don’t win?”  and I wrote “who knows?”  Go on with life of course, and start on the international speech a hell of a lot earlier.  lol  but it really wasn’t something that I even CONSIDERED and not because I didn’t think anyone could beat me, oh no, I knew Ann was fully capable of that, but I just didn’t consider that as an option!  Truly!

Is this delusional thinking?

So I was sitting in the back by myself waiting and thinking “well, I won’t have to go into Vancouver now for the Division finals on the 20th so I won’t even go to my humorous club the night before.”  Because I was planning on staying overnight at a friend’s.  And then I was thinking “I don’t even want to go to the conference anymore.”  I’m not proud of these thoughts but I’m sharing them because this is where my head went.

They called my name for 2nd place, and I grimaced, turned it into as gracious a smile as I could pull off, shook everyone’s hand and sat down.

When they called Ann’s name for 1st place, I whooped and hollered because she bloody well deserved it and despite how I felt about myself, I was very happy for her.

A former Sunshine Toastmaster won Table Topics and our other friend Margaret F. came in 2nd so it was pretty much a sweep for our club.   I have to point out with some pride as our club President that Sunshine Toastmasters has sent the representative to Division in every contest but one since 2009.  We also are the home club to the District Governor Margaret Page, so we are small but mighty.

Well after the contest, I introduced some of the homeschool kids and parents to Margaret F. who will be facilitating the Youth Leadership Program for our home school group in Jan and Feb.  I will be assisting her.  I wanted them all to meet and just get a face in their minds.

It was time to go then and I thanked my friends for coming and wanted to apologize to them all.  I felt like such a loser.  And NOT because of my 2nd place finish, but for the performance I gave.  I wish I’d had the presence of mind to do better for them.

I felt like I wanted to have a drink.

And then Ann said to me “Paula, I can’t go to Division finals.  I have a family reunion that day that has been in the works for years and family comes first.”

I asked her if she could do the speech and then go to the reunion, asked where it was.  It’s far away.  On an island.  She can’t go.  She deserves to go.  She worked her ASS off- she AVERY DRILLED, she got feedback from our club, she used some Lance Miller techniques, she put together the speech of her life.


So God’s giving me another shot.  And I am VERY grateful, because I want to figure out what I am doing wrong so I can fix it.  Better lucky than good sometimes, eh?

I got home and showed the speech to Lloyd.  I taped it.  He could tell it wasn’t me being me, but me trying to be someone who I guess I think I should be.

Lloyd thinks I am putting too much pressure on myself.  He says other people are putting pressure on me and I am letting the FUN get squeezed out.  He says “you have lots of time Paula, you don’t have to win it all THIS YEAR.”

No, I don’t. But every year I home school requires more of my time…. each year will add an hour extra every day, at least until Meg is old enough to be directed and can and will do research on her own.  That is at least 4 years away.    I guess that IS pressure then, isn’t it?

So the REAL question is……why are you doing this Paula?  What’s the point?  Ryan Avery asked you these questions…are the answers true?

These are the actual answers I gave him:

I want to make my father proud of me.  I have an ugly past and I want to redeem those years for the people I hurt and shamed.
I want to show people trapped in the world I left that anything is possible with God.  I want to help them.
I want to do it to see if I can DO it.  I need to see if I can do it.  If I don’t try my hardest for this, I’ll have ants in my pants for the rest of my life.

I want to set an example for my daughter.
I want to help my husband support this family because he is an aging landscaper whose knees are starting to go.
I want to bring the trophy home to District 21, the people who have transformed my life and inspired me to reach for things I never thought possible.
I want to show everyone how Toastmasters can change ANYONE.


Those are my reasons for wanting to win the World Championship.  I think those are good reasons.

And what would I do with it?  I don’t really know.  Do I have to know?  I’m a home schooling mom, for crying out loud.  Does everyone have to be a friggin’ life coach?  I have some vague fuzzy ideas but is it dishonouring the process to say “I want to win the world championships because I used to be an idiot alcoholic stripper for 15 years and even though I wasted a decade and a half of my precious life, can’t I accomplish one truly worthy magnificent thing, one thing of which I can be truly proud??????”  Do I have to have an AGENDA TOO?????

Is it even ok for someone like ME to reach for such a thing?  Would it be of any value anyway?  Would it be wasted on me?  Would I be an embarrassment?  Am I a fake?  Am I manufactured?  Should I even TRY?????  What, truly, in God’s name, do I have to share that is of any value?

I’m not building a business here.  I don’t have a message that IS my life that I am trying to get out there.  I am someone who is shocked that others believe in me for some reason.  I don’t know why.  I’m not who they think I am.  This is who I am:

I’m just a homeschooling mom with a tremendously fucked up past, the gift of gab and enough humility to keep me alive.  I have a man who took a chance on me and a daughter who deserves better than me.  I am lucky to have those things.  Who am I to reach for something so magnificent without having a DAMNED GOOD REASON????

Good God, this isn’t a speech contest, it’s a fucking existential crisis.  I must be PMSing.

Existential crisis

Existential crisis (Photo credit: quinn.anya)


English: My own work. Created using "Inks...

English: My own work. Created using “Inkscape” software right from the scratch. Intented for counting the words (like edit count) of user contributions in personal pages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Word count.  Haven’t talked about that much but I remember Darren LaCroix saying when he was working on his World speech, every day he would send his speech to his coach who insisted he whittle the word count down every day.

I have taken a good (but unnecessary ) laugh line out  of The Speech for time.  I’m assuming it would get a laugh because my husband and I think it’s funny but it was a late addition to The Speech.  So we’ll never know.

I whittled some more and today I went from 736 words, to 725 words, to 718 words!  WOW!  An 18 word reduction is a lot.  It can mean NOT going over time which means GAME OVER, no matter HOW good the speech may be.

I need to record it NOW and get some feedback so I can spend this week drilling the speech until my neighbours can repeat it.