The World Champion of Public Speaking 2013 is Presiyan Vasilev of Bulgaria and he was truly masterful.   I actually got goosebumps from his message.

(“To learn more about Pres Vasilev’s keynotes, training, and coaching, visit”)

I watched 2 of the semi-finals yesterday and what a joy it was seeing so many great speakers.  So much talent and wisdom.  I was also somewhat surprised that everyone wasn’t amazing.

I judged alongside the judges and in semi-final 4 I was totally of the mark about the winners but in semi 5 I nailed number 1 and 2.   It just goes to show that you never know and what might be great to me might be crap to you.  lol

So today I had some Toastmasters friends over and we watched the World Championship finals together.  It was so much fun being together and sitting there dissecting everyone’s speeches apart like we were experts.  lol  Also, as a bonus, one of the people signed up as a new member!  woo-hoo!

Presiyan was the clear winner.  But I loved Kingi Biddle in second place too.  What a character!  Must have been a rugby player at some point.   I also thought the hometown Cincy boy Chris Nactrab should have nailed third though.

I also thought contest chair Mohammed Murad was charming, highly entertaining and kind of adorable.  More of him please.

Also, I have to say I am shocked that Las Vegas is getting another World Championship in 2015.  Seems kind of incredibly stupid to me.  They just had one there 2 years ago.  Aren’t there a zillion other places that can do this? And want this?  Like Vancouver for instance?

I mean, personally, I don’t mind.  It will be seriously less expensive for me to go to Las Vegas than England or China or wherever else they could have had it but I thought TM was supposed to be going global here and they come back to a town they were JUST AT????  Makes no sense to me.


So, I guess this is it folks.  This is where we part ways.  Sniff.

Thanks for hanging out with me for 365 days.  You have been awesome.

Writing this blog has been such an incredible journey.  a life-changing journey.  I really can’t put into words what has changed because of this- you’ll have to read the whole damned thing and see for yourself.  I’m a very different woman than I was on August 24 2012.  And I have to say I like me way better now.  I’m ever so grateful for the lessons which have been imparted to me through so many different avenues.  My world is so very very different.

I have met so many new friends because of this blog, friends from Texas, Australia, New York, Ontario and California.  Even people just from Vancouver.

I’ve changed the way I thought and lived and worked because of the extraordinary people I have met through the ambitious goals of this blog.  I have seen miracles and I have been the recipient of much wisdom and love.  I have been abundantly blessed.

So, have you learned anything?

Yes, the relevant question is – what have I learned?

Well, I have learned how very attractive humility is and how I much I benefit from about 50 CC’s a day of it.

I have learned that you can reach out to people you thought might never give you the time of day and turn out to become friends with them.

I have learned that jealously has no place in friendship.  Except for maybe admitting it.

I’ve learned that everyone has a story worth listening to.

I have learned that I’m not as good as I thought I was and I have learned that I am better than I thought I was.  lol

I have learned that I have unlimited potential and I am just beginning to tap that mine.

I have learned how much my family supports me.

I have learned how hard I can work on a project I care about.

I have learned how to listen better.

I have learned how to write better.

I have learned how many people in my District support me.

I have learned how to say “I love you” to someone even when I’m scared to do it.

I have learned that my daddy really loves me and is proud of me.  That was probably the best thing of all.  That was the diamond in this mine.

I have learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Malaysia 2014?

I’m not sayin’ I’m goin’ for Malaysia in 2014.  I’m not sayin’ I’m not.  Whatever happens happens and all I can do is listen to my heart, listen to God and do my best.  The rest is out of my hands.   That’s something else I learned too.

I was holding on for a long time, and very tightly to something I thought I wanted.  But when I asked myself what my desires truly were, I saw that most of them HAD been met through this journey, even though the original goal of becoming the 2013 World Champion of Public Speaking had not been met or even come reasonably close to being met.

When I opened my hand to let go of that dream, God put something entirely different in my hand.  Something that is exciting and scary and satisfying intellectually, socially, and in the deepest part of my heart.

As I watched Presiyan speaking today, I felt not a tinge of jealousy or sadness. I just felt joy that he had crafted such an incredible work of art.  I was so happy and so proud of my fellow Toastmaster whom I’ve never met.  I felt so grateful to have been given the gift of his message.  Reach out.  Ironically, I’ve never reached out as much in my life as I have in this past year and so I can attest to the beautiful validity of his message. 

The Weird and Wonderful World of Toastmasters

What a remarkable group we are, Toastmasters.  I think we’re all a little bit strange and kind of on the fringe and I LOVE that about us.  I love that we’re all so different and that all we have in common is that we want to be better and help each other be better and that we love hanging out with each other.  And I love our awesome potlucks.

I love that no matter where you go in the world, you can find a family in Toastmasters, no brag, just fact.  I love that you can go as a guest to any club and you will be embraced and feel like you’ve met a long lost cousin.

I love that my life has been utterly and completely changed for the better by this organization and the people in it.  I love that I had NO idea that would happen when I joined.

I love that there is SO much more joyful work to do and so many more people yet to discover who they can become.

Thanks are not enough.

And so, my deepest gratitude goes to good ol’ Ralph Smedley who started this shindig 89 years ago.  He must have had an inkling of the magnificence to follow.

And my deepest gratitude goes to my fellow Toastmasters, my brothers and sisters around the corner and around the world who dare to reach inside and bravely give so much of themselves – their very hearts- to help their fellow humans be the best they can.  What a truly remarkable gift.

What a remarkable group we are.  Toastmasters.

I love you all.

Toastmasters International

Weird and brilliant and beautiful. What more could you ask for?


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


  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.

Wow.  What a DAY!!!!  I’d been anticipating this day for 3 months.  I don’t even know where to start.  How about here- My back is killing me!  I threw my back out carrying my laptop computer yesterday.  How pathetic is that?  That means I’m OLD.  And I need to get my sorry ass back into shape.  This week off of schooling- Meg and I are going to take an hour’s walk every day, just to get going again.  MUST HAPPEN.  Will not enjoy World Championship of Public Speaking if dead.

I made it to bed last night by 11:10-miraculous considering all the stuff that happened to me.  AND I discovered that Chelsea Avery’s keeping tabs on me now and I know what a slave driver SHE is so I’m not giving her any wiggle room.

So seeing as this was billed as an EPIC event, I am going to give you an EPIC review of said event.

In the beginning, Meaghan had her first ever sleepover and it was good.  It was a Friday night, the night before the Big Avery EPIC Event and though it was exciting, Meaghan’s friend was not feeling well so I ended up driving her home at 11:30 at night.  Meg was heartbroken that her friend had to leave so I slept with her (which is nice actually, I love sleeping with my girl) but of course it made for a very short sleeping night.  So I woke up feeling like I might not be as prepared for this EPIC Avery gig as I wanted to be and spent the morning rehearsing my intro’s.   At one point I realized that I needed to stop rehearsing or I was going to lose my voice for the actual event.

I dropped Meaghan off at her godmother’s and off I went to the EPIC event.

I got there super early and was able to rehearse in the room for a good half hour before anyone showed up and it was good.  It was an acoustically beautiful room and it was very good.  A big mouth like mine had no problem carrying up to the top row.  People started to show up then and I started to feel a little jittery.  And then Gene Vickers showed up (he organized the whole shebang) and I realized that I WAS actually going to DO this EPIC thing.

Then the little voices showed up:  Was I out of my league?  Did Margaret Page jump the gun by asking me to do this?   Did she just do it because she has a soft spot for me as my TM mentor?  Is everyone in the room going to wonder how in the world THIS chick got the gig?

Then, the EPIC Averys themselves showed up and I totally forgot about ALL that stuff .

Now, I’ve really been looking forward to meeting Ryan and watching the World Champ do his thing in person.  He has been very much an inspiration to me.  When I say that, it’s not just words, I mean that his actions have inspired some of MY actions and changed my daily life.  I am a better speaker because of him.

That being said, I have to tell you that I was really looking forward to meeting Chelsea!   Seriously.  I was so excited to meet her because I felt like we were already friends.  She and I are totally on the same wavelength.  I love her writing on their blog – she always makes me laugh.  Do check them out:

Avery Today

Well, we gelled in non-cyber life too and it was awesome.  And it was even more awesome when she said she’d been excited to meet me too!  I think that pretty much made my night and folks, I had an amazing night.  Interesting the things that affect us eh?

My daughter also drew  the coolest picture for Ryan and Chelsea and they absolutely gushed over it.  They have both watched Meaghan’s speech on youtube.  How cool is that?

So Ryan packed the house in the Paetzold Theatre at Vancouver General Hospital and it was good.  Yes, you heard me correctly, the venue was a teaching theatre at the hospital.  Hey, we have a BUDGET people.  It’s a great room though and it  holds 250, so EXCELLENT crowd.  And what was even better was the amount of non-Toastmasters that showed up.  We had to have had at least 60 or 70 non TM’s.  Maybe more.  Lives will be changed because of it and THAT is good.

It was a big room with no mike, and it’s not too often you’re encouraged to shout at the top of your lungs but that happens to be one thing I excel at so I was in my element.

Now, I had all these amazing, talented speakers to introduce so all I had to do was reel off their credentials and folks were already impressed.  But the crowd got a great show from everyone.  I was SO proud of them all.  Truly.  And I had an absolute BLAST.  Man it was fun.   I could just do that ALL. DAY. LONG.

My transitions felt good and I got some funny lines in there.  I kept us on time, connected with the crowd, and I felt like I gave the champ the energy he deserved.

We heard Ryan’s EPIC message of re-defining failure and it was good.  I totally took it to heart because there was a time earlier in this year where as my club’s president, I REALLY felt like I was failing.  Big time.  And I have to tell you, that failure did indeed inspire me because I HATE being a loser.  Lol   Just ask my daughter every time we play chess.  (Why else would I play chess with a 6 year old?) (I should add that she beats me about a third of the time.  Ahem.)

One thing that I do wish I had done better was I wish I had plugged Ryan’s product more.  That is a cardinal sin and you can actually go to speaker hell for that.

And can I tell you how much I enjoyed folks letting me know how much they enjoyed the job I did?  My favourite comment was that I “owned the stage”.    And I loved the total stranger older Chinese-Canadian lady who said “You should be next World Champion!  You go for it!”

Lots of World Champ banter being tossed around between Carol Carter and I and it was good.   Carol and I talked a lot about the lack of women at the upper echelon in the speaking world.  We also agreed that this must be remedied immediately.  But that’s a subject for another day.  And one that deserves a lot of ink.

I had to leave earlier than I wanted to and it was not good but I still got like 3 more hugs from Chelsea and a couple more from Ryan and all of my other beloved Toastmasters about whom I was feeling incredibly warm and gushy.  I headed off to my car and discovered to my horror that I had left my interior light on and thought that I was probably going to have to find someone to give me a boost.  Like that’s easy to do at night in Vancouver.  Yes, I blew the no swearing rule there but not as bad as I might have in the past.  I was too happy.

Then I realized I couldn’t find my KEYS and it was NOT GOOD!   I pulled everything out of my purse.  Three times.  A few more swears.  I thought I must have locked them in the trunk and called Margaret Page hoping she was still in the room to see if she could find someone with CAA so I could get in my car.  But instead she said some Honda keys were left in the room and I was off like a SHOT!

I ran two blocks at top speed with my purse, two bags and my laptop banging against my hip, thanking God that when I had my heart attack at least I was already at the hospital.  I ran all the way back to the room to discover…..nothing.  Nobody.  It was not good.  Couple more swears.  I was about to start looking around the massive building when out of the blue I get a text from Vivien Ip!

“Sorry to bug you but I’m paranoid.  Did you leave your car keys behind?”

And the angels sang:


Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Well Viv met up with me and came with me to the lost and found where my keys were even though she didn’t have to.  Nobody had known who the keys belonged to but Viv had seen me put some things down to get my camera out for pictures and deduced that the keys MIGHT be mine.  She checked Facebook to ask me but I just have a regular phone without wifi BUT she found my cell number there, texted me and IT WAS GOOD.  Vivien needs to get herself a job as a detective.

So meeting Chelsea WAS going to be my favourite part of the EPIC night but not having to WALK HOME pretty much rocked too.

Knowing I did the job and did it well fills my heart with confidence.  I am so happy about how it all turned out.

I took a big step forward last night and it was very very good.

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!!!!!!

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.  🙂

Yesterday I spent a couple hours mentoring a not-really-so-new-anymore Toastmaster.  This lady spends her life on the edge, her health so precarious she never knows what is going to happen next.  She probably lives in the moment better than anyone I know right now.

She is exciting to work with as a mentee because she has exciting goals.  She wants to go public with her health issues to help others avoid the same traps she fell into and she wants to help people live their most fulfilling lives.

She is a fascinating combination of insecure fear, bold knowledge and self-deprecating humour.  A gifted writer, she has also learned very quickly how to engage people in public speaking.  She is wickedly funny and in turn, inspiring.  I think we are becoming friends too.  It’s pretty awesome.

We managed to edit a minute and a half from her next speech.  Editing is the BOMB.  I never realized how brutal and how beneficial it really could be until this year.  It really makes you think about WHAT your message is.

I have actually considered asking her to help coach me to the World’s this year because the idea keeps popping into my head.  I like her style, her honesty, and her company.  I know she is new but Ryan Avery’s wife coached him to the 2012 Championship and she wasn’t even a Toastmaster!  So ya never know.

It’s an idea that’s resonating with me but still needs more contemplative prayer.  It’s a pretty heavy duty commitment to ask for.  She’s already got a significant other.  She may not WANT another.

So I’m reading a Facebook post by Rich Hopkins today and he says something like “Hey everybody!  It’s almost contest time!  Time to get into the groove and start that International Speech!  Message me for details on coaching!”

(Rich Hopkins is a several time finalist at the World Championships and was a main focus of the documentary “Speak”.)

So what was my FIRST reaction?  “I wonder how much he charges?”

My second reaction?  “Now?  I have to start NOW?”

He writes “Preparing for the World Stage is serious business.”  Duh.

2012 World Champ Ryan Avery started prepping in January this year.  My plan is to start in December during our Christmas break.  Meg and I are going to take 3 weeks off of (most) schooling in December so I am looking forward to doing that GUILT FREE.

Man, I did a lot of strange and not necessarily beneficial thinking today.  Like I said yesterday, PMS.  Emotionally charged, guilty thinking.   ….I wonder if I am cheating my daughter by doing this.  I wonder if I should be taking all the energy that I am putting into this dream of mine and pouring it into my daughter to make her the most amazing human possible.  Isn’t that the guilt of the typical working mother?  Except I’m not working outside of the home and I assuage my guilt by telling myself that I homeschool my daughter and we are together 24/7 for crying out loud.

But I know the truth.  I know I could be a better mother and I am a selfish person.

Today I was thinking a lot about this poem I wrote when I was 26.  It was called “A Life I May See”.  In the poem I describe having a husband who loves me and a child that we love together.   I describe watching my husband toss our girl high into the sky and hearing her laugh.

At 26, I was really getting good at drinking.   I was also relishing my new found freedom after an abusive marriage by dating every other guy in town.   I worked at one of the most dangerous strip clubs in the city and was being threatened by the owner for trying to start a union.  Life was tumultuous and unreal.

In the daytime, I attended an adult learning centre to get my high school degree and that gave me the sliver of grounding I had during this time.  It was during this sliver of grounding that I wrote this little poem, a life I may see, something I wasn’t sure I would EVER see, and it was my dream.

Now I have the dream, although it’s nothing like I dreamed it would be.  Dreams rarely are.  Sometimes it’s intensely difficult and other times, I feel surrounded by more love than I thought possible.  Mostly it’s just trying to remember to be aware of life and of God.  Now that I have that dream, why, I ask myself, do I want more?  Do I have the right to ask my family to give more of themselves and to get less of me so I can chase a dream?

Tomorrow I will participate in a clarity session and I don’t think the timing could be any better.

Yes.  Some clarity would be excellent.