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?


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.


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


Today I feel good.  Yesterday, I did NOT feel good at all.

Yesterday I drilled my speech about 10 times, recorded it 3 times.  Then I watched it for the first time and almost threw up my dinner.

Is this the cutest little guy to ever throw up or what?

Is this the cutest little guy to ever throw up or what?

Blech.  I HATED it.  Yes I did.  I couldn’t stand pretty much 2/3 of it and the other third was breathtakingly mediocre.  How incredibly disappointing.

It wasn’t how I pictured it while I was writing it.  It wasn’t as FUN!!!!!!  I was having FUN when I was writing the damned thing!   And for those of you who have been following along since the beginning, what was the golden rule?  IF YOU’RE NOT HAVING FUN, WHAT’S THE POINT????  

Well, I wasn’t having FUN because I was trying EVER so hard to be earnest and deep and relevant instead of being MYSELF and delivering a speech I love.  BLECH.  DisGUSting.  Boring.  Yuck.

So enter the coach.  God, I love having a coach!  God I love having Rich Freakin Hopkins as my coach.  Thank you God.  Not sure I thanked YOU yet.  lol

Anyway.  We watched the video over the phone together.  He says “We’re going to watch this and when I see something that we need to look at, I’ll say “Stop.”.


Three words into it: ‘Stop!”

I laughed my ASS off.  “I KNEW you were going to say that!”

It is so awesome when someone GETS you.  It is so liberating when they help you be YOU.

Did I mention I love having Rich Freakin Hopkins as my coach?

We plowed through it and made a whole bunch of adjustments.  Most importantly, he gave me the confidence, the OK to be MYSELF.   I just can’t articulate how much better I feel about the ENTIRE thing now.  Thank GOD I can have fun.

Rich has helped give me what Cathie Roy gave me the night I gave my Icebreaker when she told me, a person who wasn’t sure she had much to contribute to a room full of professionals, that I belonged where I was.  He’s giving me what Jamie MacDonald gave me when he told me he thought I could go to the Worlds.  It’s irreplacable.  It’s golden.  Confidence in myself and my abilities.  Confidence to be exactly who I am.

Did I mention I love having Rich Freakin Hopkins as my coach?

The Big Speech is written.  For now.  I have 8 days till the club contest.  I know we will be making more adjustments as we see what it looks like on video.  Starting tomorrow that’s the next step.

Finding a rythym, moving on purpose, remembering what you were trying to SAY when you wrote the words, remembering how you  FELT when the story actually happened.  Conveying that.  Trying to just BE in that moment and give this gift to the audience in the most genuine way possible.  When it happens that way, it is magical.  It’s like a beautiful dance where everyone knows the steps.

BE-ing in that moment can be a challenge because re-living things over and over again while you rehearse can be exhausting.  And you don’t want to desensitize yourself to the truth so that you don’t feel it anymore.

This stage is where you see that some things weren’t as great as you might have thought they were on paper and that some things were better than you thought.  This is where it really starts to feel REAL.

God, I’m scared right now.  Excited, but scared.  I’m putting myself out there like I never have before.  And I’ve been doing THIS whole thing too.  I hope I don’t make a complete fool of myself.  But wait, that reminds me of an old post of mine- something about me being willing to make a fool of myself to reach for that goal of World Champion.  About being willing to be the Biggest Fool In The World, if I recall correctly.

super foolWow, that seems like a hundred years ago.  How can I have changed and not changed as much as I have and haven’t in those short 6 months?

Today’s Scripture?  One that God loves to give me repeatedly:  He who exalts himself with be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.    Well, I guess we’ll see what happens, eh?

Hey guess what?  It’s two o clock in the freaking morning!!!!!  I’ve just sent draft um, TWELVE I think, to Rich.   Yes, I’m a Toastmaster and I WROTE “UM”.  Come after me Grammarian, I dare ya.  I’m dangerous right now.  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?