I am epically exhausted.  Going to post this and go to BED.

Poor Meaghan has been sick with a seal barking cough for the past 3 days and has not slept well.  As a result, neither have I.  Last night was much better but typically, as on most contest eves, I had a hard time sleeping anyway.  Got about 5 hours which isn’t too bad when you think about it.  New mothers get less.   You hope to have a great night’s sleep so as to be optimal but there have to be some things we can’t control I guess.

I’ve had this killer knot in my neck all week from STRESS and haven’t even been able to turn my head all the way to the right.  GOD I need a massage.  So when I woke up I was feeling not so hot and kind of annoyed that I’d had such a crappy sleep.  It took me a while to get it together.  Had my morning prayer but it felt almost rote.   Ate a banana and started to get ready.  An awesome friend took Meg for the day.

I practiced 3 more times in the morning, fully dressed in contest garb and felt WAY better.  I felt so connected to the speech that my body was almost not my own.  My arms were tingling the way they do when I’m having a rare spiritual breakthrough or acupuncture.  I was actually a little concerned about fainting!

I hopped in the car to drive the hour to the contest and sang along with the awesome tunes that were coming on the radio.  I felt happy but nervous.  Thoughts I didn’t want to have entered my mind every so often and I told them to get lost.  I did not want to entertain anything but positive.  I picked my friend Ann up half way and appreciated her company as she made me laugh and took my mind off of things until we got there.

Not an exceptionally big audience- I’d say 20 people but excellent energy thanks to the enthusiastic contest chair, Bill and timer Sharon who ramped it up for everyone.

The Evaluation contest was first and the Test Speaker’s speech was excellent.  I could only suggest a couple of things for improvement.  I recently read a book about evaluations by Rodney Denno and his suggestions were gold.  I crafted my opening and closing right away, and sandwiched my praise and suggestions for her in between.  I felt refreshingly confident afterwards.  They declared the winner right after the contest as one of the contestants had to leave and I was surprised to hear my name.

It was good, as always, to have this contest first and have a little time to get the jitters out.  Great interview questions by the contest chair entertained everyone and endeared the contestants to the crowd.  A short break later and we began the big event.

I picked going 3rd out of the 4 contestants.  I was familiar with all 3 and knew that these folks were speakers to be reckoned with.  In particular, Katherine Scott, about whom I have written before because of the power of the truth and beauty of her writing.  https://ayearinthelifeofatoastmaster.com/2012/11/29/day-97-telling-our-stories/

She was on her game and her speech’s content was interesting, beautiful and meaningful.  Her delivery was strong, purposeful, confident and genuine.  I was moved by her once again and felt grateful to hear what she said.

During the minute of silence before my speech during which the judges marked their ballots, I set up my camera to tape my speech, and then assumed my power pose to get the testosterone pumping.  I dismissed the thought in my mind that attempted to tell me that I looked cocky standing with my hands on my hips.  I only had a minute to do this instead of the recommended 2 but what are you gonna do?

I loved giving my speech.  I loved looking into the eyes of the people there, seeing them, giving them the opportunity to see ME.  I loved the flow, the give and take.  I didn’t get as many laughs as I had hoped but I think that was due to crowd size and that they were sitting all over the place instead of together in one spot.  Interestingly, I got laughs in places where I hadn’t expected them.  Still, I felt them feeling me, I saw it in their eyes and my heart burst with gratitude.  I was in the moment, aware that I was, and grateful for the awareness!

My timing was fantastic.  I kept it under 7 minutes.  I couldn’t have been happier.

There was one last contestant and she was the friend who’d been to District finals before.  She had told me that her speech had a very similar theme as mine as well.  Her speech was very heartfelt and meaningful too.  I was proud of her.

As the time for announcing the winners neared, my anxiety grew but I knew I had done everything I could and would have peace of mind because of that.  When they called Katherine Scott’s name as second place I felt some relief that I might have won.  And when they called my name as the winner, I almost cried with relief.


Incidentally, I THOUGHT I pushed the record button on my camera but I pushed the OFF button so I have no record of it.  Got some feedback from fellow Toastmasters on the way home though and will be giving the speech on Monday for my club for further insight.

Next Saturday is the Vancouver finals- the Division H contest.  Two down, four to go.

Me and Bill and Roses

Me and Bill and Roses



spring break   Yeah, that’s what’s been going on I guess; it’s spring, the weather has been spectacular for about 8 straight days and I’ve done sweet diddly squat with my beloved speech in about 5 days.  Does that sound like the dedication of a future World Champ?  Yeah, I know.  PA-thetic.

Saturday and Sunday were consumed in Easter, Monday was just getting back into school and our landscaping business and Tuesday had me completely emotionally WIPED OUT from my life coaching session with Micaela Pennell.  I’d say we had a fairly major breakthrough.  We went almost 2.5 hours- non speech related now.  Life related.  I am hopeful.  It is the kind of stuff that can change a life.  Lots of work yet to do.

Today I had to take my girl Meaghan into the big smoke.  It’s an all day affair as we have an hour’s drive to the ferry, then the ferry ride itself and then the actual drive into Vancouver.  And back again.  We were up at 6:00 am and got home at 9:30 tonight.  Wiped again.

If you’ve been following me for a while you might remember that Meg has been suffering with a medical condition since about Oct/Nov.  Multiple doctor visits and various time consuming and not very fun treatments costing hundreds of dollars did nothing.  We didn’t even have a diagnosis to work with.  They referred us to a specialist so those of us who are Canadian know what THAT means.  It means you get in maybe a year later, maybe six months later.  Who knows?  And the whole time you wonder if your paperwork has been lost and should you call them?  And if you call will they resent your impatience, assume you think they are incompetent and get ticked at you and put you at the bottom of the list?

Well Meg has still been suffering but has been “sucking it up” so I haven’t been hearing about it as much from her but it has never gone away.  Yesterday as she was crying in frustration, I called the specialist’s office and to my horror, left a message where I started crying in frustration .

The power of tears.  They trump everything.  I didn’t do it on purpose, it just happened, but the office called me back about 15 minutes later and set up an appoitment for THE NEXT DAY.  Awesome.  And it looks like we have a game plan for Meaghan, even more exciting.  She was so happy to know that she wasn’t going nuts and that there really was something going on- something that we can do something about.  Boy, is this the most VAGUE blog in history or WHAT????

So anyway, I did a little bit of Avery Drilling on the ferry tonight and also to my HORROR, realized that I was blanking.  But I’m ok with this.  I think it’s been good to have a break.    I can see my delivery with a different perspective.  Um, also so I can have a LIFE.  Geez I still have to get my bloody TAXES done and I am DREADING it.  I have a little 5 foot German lady for an accountant and she is the only person in the entire world who can make me JUMP and tell me how high.  She TERRIFIES me but she’s a magician with our money so I am happy to bow to her every whim with sugar on top.  Last year she told me to get things in to her earlier this year and I am NOT EVEN CLOSE.  Bugger.  I should write a speech about her one day.

So I need to get it goin’ on again this weekend.  Spring break is so OVER.


This was a freakily scary and very exciting day.  Only 4 people have experienced this speech so far.  Rich, my husband and daughter and a dear Texas Toastmaster friend.  🙂  I sent Micaela the youtube link and she watched the speech for the first time not knowing what to expect.  It was SO helpful to have the feedback of another Toastmaster who is seriously dedicated to making herself the best she can.  She watched purely as an audience member and WOW,  I discovered a possible gaping hole in the speech through her.  We hashed it out and found an exciting idea that shifted the paradigm of the speech to one of HOPE.   This was the direction Rich was encouraging me to go in earlier but I couldn’t seem to do it then.  I guess I had to find the way organically and in my own time.   You can’t pull the petals of a flower open, you have to wait for the sun to hit them and they’ll do it on their own.  Damn, he’s good.  Micaela and I finished the call around 11:30 this morning.

Then, I had to freak out and figure out.  How the heck was I going to make these major changes happen IN A TIMELY FASHION so I could drill it enough to shoot the filmed speech to Rich so WE could then make any MORE changes and then still have time to DRILL it this weekend??????

Well, I absolutely had to clean my nasty looking house to some degree because I couldn’t find Meaghan in it and these people I live with keep insisting on eating at least 3 times a day so I had to get groceries as well but other than that, it was the SPEECH all day and night.  I thanked Meaghan for being so understanding and helping mummy out and promised her we’d hike the Skookumchuk Trail the day after the contest.

Thank you God.

I’m SO SO SO SO tired.  Drilled the speech in thirds because it changed quite a bit from yesterday.  Focused on the middle and last thirds.  Drilled the whole thing probably, I don’t know, 10-15 times?  who knows.

I recorded it in high resolution which means you can see my expressions properly but it also takes 2 hours to upload an 8 minute recording to youtube which is why I’M STILL UP RIGHT NOW at 2:24 a.m.

Ok, I know I’ve said this before (several times!- do I sound like the boy who cried wolf yet?) but I think we’ve GOT it.  I even found a call back ending!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I need this to be it for now because I really must put sleep back into my life or things are just going to get UGLY.


I need some sleep

I need some sleep


So I thought I had it.  (I’ve said this a few times already, haven’t I?)  I thought I did but Rich gave me an example of a re-structuring that really grabbed me.   I have to figure out how to make it happen in my speech.  I’ve been staring at this speech for 2 nights waiting for it to re-write itself.

Tomorrow I’m giving up something very important to take the entire afternoon off and into the night if need be (with time for Meaghan chess or Lego in there- I haven’t forgotten Star Wars folks).

I need a breakthrough here because I’m feeling very frustrated.  I need my subconscious to come through for me…or I need God to give me one of His Very Awesome Ideas. 

I need something.   I need to finish this puppy because I feel I need a week to internalize it and feel confident about it.  The club contest is in 10 days.

I know it will happen.

Pretty please?

I mentioned in my last post that I started to lose my voice a little while I was rehearsing for the Avery event.  Well, now I know why.  That was the beginning of the head cold from hell.  By Sunday afternoon, it was upon me and for the next 3 days I couldn’t think straight, my head was pounding and so full of snot.  Today I feel human again although it lingers.

I worked not a lick on my Speech all week except for a couple of hours last night.  I currently have 3 small stories in the speech tied together by similarity.  I love the stories and I like the spin I’ve put on them but they need to be tied together more intimately.  There is no more room to add so I must edit.  I’ll tell you, I was cursing Rich Hopkins’ name last night.  I almost feel like I am starting all over again.

But I have bigger fish to fry.

Today Meaghan asked me to watch Star Wars with her and I did.  But she wanted me to watch ALL

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

THREE movies.  After movie 1, I got my computer out and she was very upset with me.  I’ve been barely there for the past 4 days because of the cold and I was pretty eager to get started on the speech again.  I mean, I took this bloody week off of home schooling so I could do that very thing and of course, look what happens.  I get sick.

So when Meg told me in a very angry and hurt voice that I have not been spending any time with her I couldn’t get angry back because it was true.  Even though I’m with her all day when we home school, it is a different being together.  It is not something we are doing just for pleasure because we enjoy each other.  In fact, and I have to be honest here, it seems like we hardly ever do anything just for pleasure and to enjoy each other these days.  I mean, I only have one kid, how hard can it be, right?

I felt her sadness today and I was so sorry for it.  She is taking a back seat to my other things so that means I’m driving the wrong car.  Ok, I read to her every night before bed, I try and play chess with her a few times a week but I know that my attitude has been hurried.  Come on, let’s get it done, mum’s got work to do.  She hears  and the actions say “work that is more important than you”.

I need to think about the message I’m sending Meaghan and the message I want to send in my speech and make sure I’m not being a damned hypocrite.

I watched 3 Star Wars movies today.


I’ve decided to take March Break early.  Instead of taking 3 weeks in March off from home schooling, we’re taking next week off and then 2 in March.  Why?  So I can work on my speech, of course!  DUH!  What else IS there?

I worked with Rich again this week- Thursday afternoon to be precise and it’s frustrating to watch him pick things up in seconds that I could not see at all after looking at it for HOURS.   When will I be able to see things like that?  I know some of it is outside perspective but damn…..

And here I thought I was pretty much done.  Oh you silly little girl you.  I couldn’t figure out what else could be done with it and I thought it was pretty good too!  (hangs head in shame) Two or 3 questions and observations later, BOOM.  We are re-structuring the whole thing.  I don’t know how the hell I’m going to do it, but I’ll tell ya, when I figure it out, it’s going to kick ASS.

In the meantime I’ve totally blown my bedtime routine for the past 2 weeks over speech-a-mania.  I refuse to keep blowing it.  It’s too important to my family’s well being and for my well being for me to continue to indulge myself.  Everybody pays when mom doesn’t sleep enough.  Especially at PMS time.  I’m tellin’ ya, it ain’t pretty folks.  I’ve noticed a huge difference in my peace of mind when I get to bed early and have my morning prayer.  Nothing is worth losing that over.

However, I know I need some big chunks of time to sit down and give this Speech what I want to to make it the best I can.

Well DUH!  THIS is why we home school, genius!!!!!!!!!!  For the flexibility!!!!! 

So yeah, last night I made my decision.  My goal is to have FINISHED writing this speech by March 4, two weeks before the club contest so I can drill it into my DNA.   I’m seriously chomping at the bit to start Avery Drilling again- remember Avery Drilling?   That’s saying your speech in as many UNCOMFORTABLE places as possible.  It is scary as hell and addictive.  I highly recommend it.

And speaking of  Averys………….(what a segue!  Someone should give this chick an MC gig!)

Of course today, (now that it’s past midnight) is the Big Avery Event.  Yes, Ryan and Chelsea Avery are in Vancouver RIGHT NOW as we speak!  Ahhh!!!!!   I can’t wait to meet them!  It’s so cool because I almost feel like I already know Chelsea from her blogging.  There are only 3 blogs I read regularly and theirs is one of them.  I came because of the Champ.  I stayed because of the Lady.  She is freakin’ hilarious.  And Ryan’s got a few insights too so you know….   lol

look at these two perfect looking people! Don't they make you absolutely SICK?

look at these two perfect looking people! Don’t they make you absolutely SICK?

They are VERY very cool and I wish more young adults would take a lead like theirs to get a jump on life.

I really want them to have fun in town and get treated like royalty and I hope that we don’t overwork them!  I want them to love Vancouver so much that they come back soon.

I’ve been going over my introductions to make sure I make everyone look as good as possible.  I can’t wait to bring my energy to this awesome event.  This is a BIG DEAL.  I’m totally psyched!!!!!!

So I sent the speech from my last post to coach Rich and he was able to see things that I could not.  Namely that although the 2 stories in my speech had the same message, the 1st story was a fun anecdote and the 2nd story, while being humorous was rather tragic.  They were “mismatched” he said.  And I could see it as soon as I read that but without his perspective, not sure I would have seen it at all or at least in time.

He said that either of those stories could stand alone so that’s what I did.  I took story one and made it a speech on it’s own.  I have to tell you, I LOVED, I mean absolutely LOVED it.  So much so that I will probably enter it in the humorous speech contest this fall.  It has a message but I felt it was a little light for International.  I mean, let’s get real here:

Last year’s winner Carol was battling cancer in her story.

The year before, Mustapha’s father was abandoning him in Sierra Leone.

My little story, though well written, couldn’t compare.

Rich felt that my instincts were correct and encouraged me to write the 2nd story to see what would happen.  That was my intent tonight but it didn’t happen.  I am so absolutely wiped I didn’t even get much needed groceries tonight so Meaghan and I had a somewhat strange supper of pork chops, bananas and garlic bread with cheese.

So I’m going to get a good night’s sleep and spend tomorrow on the speech.  I feel pretty prolific these days.  Pounding out speeches like there’s no tomorrow!  And I also have to say how much I enjoyed writing that speech last night.  I laughed out loud and really relished the process.  Man, this is what it’s all about eh?  Doin’ what you love.  This has SUCH a different feel from last fall.  Or ever, really.