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



Rosanne Rosanna Danna

With Rosanne Rosanna Danna!  Hey!  I haven’t posted in 6 days!  Too busy!  Lloyd’s birthday was this week AND we had a party!  And THEN, we had people over for dinner another night!  And then, one more night,  I had a televised Toastmasters meeting to participate in an hour away!!!!  AND it’s Holy Week!  And I’m prepping my daughter for her first Holy Communion AND we have an entire YEAR’s worth of catechism to catch up!   Yeah! Whatever! Who’s NOT busy eh???

So, 2 weeks tomorrow till the Area contest and my drilling is going well.  I’m feeling pretty flowy with the speech now – it feels much more organically delivered than a couple weeks ago.  I am having FUN delivering it.  Not EXACTLY where I would like it yet but getting close.  I have also found an ending that I feel is solid, warm, catchy and restates the premise.

I practiced it 12 times today and set up a different camera with my computer so I could easily watch it afterwards every time.  There’s nothing like watching yourself because only YOU know how you want to give the speech and you can really see what to change and what works well. I HIGHLY recommend this technique if you want to improve.  I wish I had used it more frequently from the get-go.

The Area contest is not going to be a cakewalk by any means.  There is a former District finalist up against me as well as 2 other competitors.  I am taking nothing for granted.  My main concern is that I feel comfortable enough so that my priority is connecting with my audience.  I want to tell my story as naturally as I can.  If I am connected to them, I can ask for nothing more.

I had a chance to give the speech to a group of 10 people this week at Lloyd’s birthday party.  It was a great opportunity to have a chance to connect with people while giving the speech.  I’d like more opportunities to do specifically that so I am putting that energy out there.   I might have a chance tomorrow at an Easter gathering.  Next week I’m visiting a Gavel club at a high school in Vancouver and will be doing the speech there too.  Will be Avery Drilling as much as possible too.  Man, this contest feels WAY too far away.


Did my first Avery Drill with the speech today- it was a beautiful day so I took Meg to the park so she could play and I could practice.  Remembering Avery Drilling from the fall contest?  It’s where you go out to a public place and give your speech.  It’s to make you uncomfortable and still have to say the speech.  There are constant distractions, the hardest actually being YOUR OWN BRAIN.

Because your brain keeps jumping in and saying “Hello!  You look like an idiot!  Everyone here thinks you are a lunatic.”  I named it after 2012 World Champ Ryan Avery since that’s where I heard the idea.  He went all over to give his speech too, in the malls, saunas, prison, you name it and the whole idea really excited me because I KNEW it would push me hard out of my comfort zone.  That’s something I need.  I need to be ready for anything.

Hardly anyone at the park on a rare sunny day.  WEIRD.  Anyway, I drilled it about 10 times and felt pretty flustered because that’s the point of Avery Drilling.   I don’t just sit down and say the speech.  I stand up, give it and act the whole thing out.   A few times I used the soccer goal posts as my stage area and I had my black gloves on because although it was sunny, it WAS cold.  Some guy thought I was the goalie and said “Hey, did your team stand you up?”  Other than that, uneventful.  Probably good to start slow.

The club contest is tomorrow and as I’ve said, I am likely our only contestant.  We had another but he forgot he was going to be in San Francisco so unless someone volunteers at the last minute, it’s just me.  Against myself.  I hope I win.  Of course there IS the clock which is everyone’s mortal enemy.  Must stay under 7:30 or all is lost.  I wasn’t at ALL worried about that because when I was drilling outside today I was at 6:46 with lonnnnnnnng pauses.  Wasn’t worried at all until tonight.

Rich and I made more changes yesterday that sliced a good TWENTY beautiful unnecessary seconds off the speech.  Making changes so often lately I’m getting mixed up.  Tonight while I was practicing I totally blanked on my next line twice and I believe it is because I am past the point of exhaustion.  I’m so tired I feel physically like crap.  I am going to sleep now and I will get up when I WAKE UP.

This is it folks.  Here we go.  Wish me luck, or better yet, pray.  🙂