Who am I?  QUICK!!!!!!

Who am I? QUICK!!!!!!

I had what I think is a very good humorous speech put together for this fall’s contest season.  It was one of the drafts I wrote and discarded last spring while being coached by Rich Hopkins.  I loved the speech;  just didn’t think it had enough BITE for the International Speech contest, but I relished the thought of using it as a humorous speech with a message.  ( I may be re-thinking that now after hearing Vasilev’s “Changed By A Tire” speech.

In August, I sent the speech to Lance Miller, 2005 World Champ of Public Speaking for a critique and he gave me some ideas I loved and some I didn’t like at all.  He also showed me how to build a scene better – a skill I’m VERY grateful for and look forward to producing  again.  It will help me in ALL my writing.

After working on it for several weeks, I sent it to my friend and mentor, Jamie MacDonald who is an editing genius.  He pared it down so much  it actually lost some of it’s muscle so I fleshed it out to Paula Howley standards (or my bare minimum anyway) until I was happy with it – so long as I could stay under time.   I was really hoping to give it at the District finals in November.   I thought I had a better shot than previously because our Division H  is half the size it was last year, therefore, I only had half the competitors at that level which would have made  making District distinctly easier.

So I had the speech and I did some Avery Drilling in parks and on the ferry , but not as much as last go-around.  (Avery drilling, named after 2012 World Champ of public speaking Ryan Avery, is when you practice your speech  in public places to raise your discomfort level and to learn to deal with distractions.  I only Miller drilled once though.  (Miller drilling, named after 2005 World Champ Lance Miller) is when you…say…each…. word….of…..your….speech…. with a very brief pause between each word and with NO emotional inflection.  This helps drill the speech into your memory.

I also didn’t record and watch myself many times either.  The truth is, I didn’t feel the urgency with this speech that I have with the last 3.  And it was relieving to not have that feeling.

Now, further setting the scene, I have been struggling with my faith for some time now, I’d say well over a year, and this summer was particularly bad.  This summer found me questioning everything and all the existential torture THAT brings.   As a result, I was craving the drink like I hadn’t in 10 years.  I went so far as to open a bottle of rum and deeply inhale the aroma.  “You could probably have a glass of wine” – thoughts like that spun around my head.  Thin ice I tell you.

This being British Columbia, I smelled a lot of pot around me this summer too and there was a day on our family camping trip where I said to myself “If someone at this camp ground offers to smoke a joint with me today, I will do it.”  I just wanted to feel nothing for a while…just wanted to float away on a cloud of ‘everything’s ok’.   I found myself wondering if I needed medication and if I should just go ahead and self-medicate with marijuana.   Thankfully, that never happened or I would have been swimming in guilt on top of existential angst. Oh, what the mind will do to convince the body of what it wants!!!  It was a hard and lonely summer.

Simultaneously, and stupidly, I have not been regularly active in my prayer life for  a very long time.  Since early spring I’d say.  Some sporadic prayer here and there, mostly for others, but the well has been dry, my mind has felt tortured and I have limped along with anguish and hopelessness in my heart.  I felt like I completely lost myself or maybe never even  had myself to begin with.

I was in one of those places that are hard to get out of- the whole ‘why do I exist?’  ‘Who am I?’ place, and I had a hard time talking to anyone about it.  Thank God for one friend to whom I spilled my guts in late August.  What a relief it was just to speak this crap out loud to her and not fear judgement.

With all this going on, I booked  myself an autumn Opus Dei silent retreat soon after the gut-spill.  I had the money  then and I knew I needed  it.  I hadn’t been on retreat in two years.  Instead of retreats, I’ve gone to Toastmasters conferences because they always run at the same  time.  They cost about the same amount of money too and only going to one was a financially viable choice.   My priorities had shifted from growth to glory so it was contests all the way.

It’s becoming pretty obvious to me that it was after my first big win in November 2011, 3rd place at District finals, where my ambition started eating more time than my faith.  I’ve always known that I need to sacrifice more to be more successful as a mother and a human being in general.  It seemed to be hard enough for me to do it even BEFORE  the visions of glory in my head  helped me put the important stuff to the side.  After my ego took precedence, there wasn’t a shot in hell.

I read my journals from the past 2 years this week and I can literally SEE my spiritual decline.  The private writing of my journals became less frequent, my time and energy was all about winning public speaking contests.  I’m not even sure it was to be the best speaker I could be- if it were, the aspiration of being a great speaker was likely just a by-product of wanting the big prize.  It was so obvious it would be funny if it weren’t so damned pathetic.

Anyway, I’m on a ferry right now on my way to the retreat.  Yes, there is a twinge of regret that I won’t be competing tomorrow but I know I am doing the right thing for my soul and my family and I have complete peace about it.

It is HARD WORK for an ambitious woman to set aside ego.  In fact, it’s bloody exhausting.  But I’ve discovered in the past two years that it’s even more exhausting to short change my family and myself.

I’ve still had a lot of growth in the past 2 years.  God uses even my ambition and selfishness for the greater good because….well, that’s just the way it is.  It will be interesting to re-discover who I am and who I am going to be.  I know I will be blessed with clarity through this choice.

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyirBcKaIYI

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.

Anyway.

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?

This was both a challenging and uplifting year for me as club President of Sunshine Toastmasters.  Note that statement has been disinfected for your safety.  But can we talk truth here?  It was a really freaking HARD year.  REALLY hard.  I was CRYING in January.  Was there a little pressure because the Big Cheese of the entire district is from my home club and is my personal mentor?  Not externally.  Completely INternal.  All from myself.
toastmasters president

and it’s not a pretty cry either….

January, being a typical dark and depressing month meant I couldn’t see out of the darkness.    I was feeling completely responsible for the success or failure of the club.  Not enjoying myself at ALL.  Not loving Toastmasters anymore.  Upset that it had come to that.  Ready to pack it in come June 30.

Cryin’ folks.
Why did I think that I had to save it all on my own?  And what did I think would happen if I didn’t?
Thank God for my talks with my friend Micaela that helped me see that my world wouldn’t explode if our club didn’t survive.  So I’d drive an extra half hour to go to another club.  It would be a shame for our town to lose it’s club but I realized that it wasn’t my responsibility to save it!!!!  It was insane!
That revelation shed about 50 pounds off my back.  Not caring was incredibly liberating.  Now I don’t mean I didn’t care at all, it’s just that I was ready to give it away.  And I did.  And it’s been sooooooo much better since then.  Stepping down meant that someone else had to step up.  And they did.  I took the leap and the gap was filled.  And if it wasn’t, oh well.  Not my problem anymore.  I had to make my family and my goals MY priority.  I’m psyched about doing that.
Our year started with a BANG last July.  Lost a key member right away and NOT in a good way either.  Twas not pretty.  We lost another 2 or 3 after that.  I was determined to counter it with FUN.  So we had our first Tall Tales contest ever.  It was a lot of fun.  I managed to figure out how to get free stuff from the community as prizes.  THAT was pretty fun too- let me tell you folks.  We planned joint meetings with other clubs.  They were fun.
I took members in my car over on the ferry to see Darren LaCroix and for officer training.  It WAS FUN!  In the fall, we got 4 new members right off the bat- VERY FUN!!!! and EXCITING!!!!!!  but…. they were all busy entrepreneurs and never really were able to make the meetings.  One day, two young women came in to the meeting as guests and an unseasoned member introduced them publicly like this: “the lovely and beautiful Jane  and her friend Leslie.”  Holy cow. Can you say NOT FUN????
Then winter came…. which is almost NEVER fun.  Not in the rainforest anyway.  Our VP Ed bailed on us half way through the year- not fun.   Our VP Membership put next to nothing into the role and left it to me.  Not fun.  And our Sgt at Arms never came at all so I did that role too.  Definitely not any fun whatsoever.
We were down to 6 people during meetings in the winter.  It was bleak and not at ALL what I had envisioned when I took on the job happily and excitedly last year on my birthday.  We even took a few weeks off in February because we were just so exhausted.  I didn’t see a way out.  We were just so tired and I was pretty close to not caring anymore.
In desperation, I asked Lanny, a busy entrepreneur himself, and a newlywed to boot, to be our Sgt at Arms and he immediately agreed.  I was buoyed by his support.   Ann turned on the leadership juice like never before, becoming our new VP of Education despite the fact that galleries were waiting impatiently for her work and she was helping me run the club.  Maureen came back after a 9 month hiatus and joined the executive which was a huge help.
We also asked for a coach and got the one we needed.   Sandy, Area 73’s Governor this year inspired us to visualise the future we wanted.  She helped us to see differently.  She was also FUN.  She came to almost every meeting, lightening our load and MANY of our sister club Gibsons Toastmasters came to our meetings and contests to lighten our load and let us know that we were NOT alone.  It was incredibly moving.   And it was getting to be fun again.
I can’t stress enough how it felt to know that these people cared enough to drive half an hour away to come to our meeting to help us out.  It meant SO much to us all.  The gift of time is a beautiful offering.  One that is irreplacable.  We recognized that these people, our Toastmasters ‘cousins’ so to speak, believed and cared enough to give us their time and that buoyed us tremendously. 
Despite the fact that it was becoming late in the toastmasters year, we decided to hold a Storytelling Event as a membership-seeking endeavour.  It was a big gamble because we didn’t have much money left.  We got some free pre and post event press which was a huge help and the event was a smashing success.  And man, was it ever FUN.  We even made a small profit and so far have 3 new members as a direct result.  And all the while, there was Sandy, rah-rahing, advising, listening to my bitching and my dreams for the club, helping me see “past the next meeting”.   Helping us to remember that if it ain’t fun, there’s no point.
I still feel like we’re on thinnish ice.  We’re not out of the woods yet.  But it’s better.  Waaaayyyy better.  Partly because it actually IS better but mostly because I decided to be responsible for my own happiness.  I decided to do what I want to do and no more than that.  As of today, I’m not the president anymore.  I’m just the person who stores the “stuff”.  I’m happy to give it up.  As happy as I was to get it a year ago.

paula howley toastmasters

I’m a little bit happy, yes

But tonight we made it.  TWENTY members.  Without cheating.  This was really important to us.  It was important for us to be honest in reaching our goals.  To do it without asking spouses or people who had no intention of coming to meetings to sign up to falsely inflate our numbers.  We made President’s Distinguished status this year and it is because we had an incredible team of people who never gave up even when they REALLY WANTED TO, who are creative geniuses and I am seriously NOT exaggerating when I say that, who were respectful of our values as a club and who really care about each other.  And man, do they know how to have fun.
It has been a privilege and a pain for me to serve as the President for the amazing people of my club this year.  I am, without question,  a better woman because of this experience.  It was awfully fun.  🙂
I am, without question, ready to move on to the next chapter.
Paula Howley

awesome ideas look like this in my head

I’ve had a revelation.  I guess you could just call it an idea but it feels pretty revelatory to me.  I’m pretty damned excited about it because it involves things I love doing:  speaking, working with kids, contributing to the community and making money.

(I am not writing the memoir yet though I plan to start in July once Meg and I have finished the bulk of our academic year. (We won’t be taking the summer completely off- we will still do math 3 times a week to keep it fresh, reading daily and a few fun science experiments) Yes, the memoir writing is something I very much want to do but I am taking care of school business first.)

In the meantime, I am seriously thinking about teaching a course for 11-17 year olds to learn the basics of public speaking.  I even have ideas for second year plans- a leadership based course and an advanced speaking course.

I have always loved teaching the Toastmasters Youth Leadership course and this year was no exception.  It is immensely satisfying helping kids to find their talents and help them get excited about expressing themselves with confidence.  And I love how the parents are blown away by it.  (This week at our year end homeschool campout/meeting, parents told me over and over that they felt the TM program was one of the best components of the entire year.  I was SO proud to hear that and it was wonderful to feel so valued.  The problems is, it is fairly time consuming to take on one of these courses.

A few of the kids’ parents from earlier this year have since been asking continually for some kind of kids speaking club but I knew that such an endeavour might be unlikely here because of the sheer amount of time involved in it.  I didn’t see an already overtaxed TM volunteer base taking on a few more hours every week of volunteer work- myself especially.

However, I thought to myself and was reminded by my husband, why does it have to be volunteer?  I believe I am qualified to bring the knowledge I have to kids.  I’ve been a Toastmaster for 5 years.  I have had a great deal of success with it, making it twice into the top 10 Toastmasters in BC and coming in 3rd once.  I have taught 3 Youth Leadership programs so far and done private coaching for kids.  I’ve MC’d large and small events.  I’ve judged contests at 3 different levels.  I’ve been on the exec of TM for 4 years including President this year.  I’ve been coached by Darren LaCroix and Rich Hopkins, 2 internationally known top speakers.  I have read a ton of books and seen dozens of videos about speaking.  I even have a background with kids, having coached gymnastics for a couple of years with the proper certification.

Obviously I couldn’t use the Toastmasters’ model but I know I can put something together and already have the skeleton of the formula in my mind.  There is a demand for it and I can meet that need.  It’s something I love doing and is something I’m good at.  MAN!  Do you know how much this excites me?  I am seriously psyched.  I am 99% convinced that I am going to do this.  I am 100% convinced that I CAN do this.

I have been reading William Zinsser‘s “Writing About Your Life” which is his memoir alongside his ‘how-to’ write your memoirs.  What a treasure this book has been!  Already I have an idea of the path I’m going to go down which is something I didn’t have before.

It’s overwhelming at first to try and decide what you’re going to write about and if you even have the right to think anyone will care.  But Zinsser’s practical advice has helped me REDUCE.  I know I have some great stories and there are people and places who haunt my mind that I would love to tell the world about.

I was so excited last night as ideas coalesced in my mind….I actually began to write things down, to write names down and situations.  My memory is coming back slowly AND  I have several DOZEN microcassettes with hours of stories on them too.  I have been getting to bed at a good hour for about a week now too.  Can you tell I’m getting serious?

Speaking of getting serious, in regards to making sure I manage my time better, I also sent out a notice to all my Toastmasters that I will not be carrying our little club next year.  I spelled out exactly what I would do, which is be our Sergeant at Arms next year.   That entails coming half an hour before every meeting and setting up, and taking down afterwards, making sure the club has the supplies it needs and buying the weekly snacks.  I also volunteered to do the occassional mentorship.  I will do absolutely no more than that.  This is about making sure I am not taking care of everyone else and making sure I am taking care of my needs which is why I came to Toastmasters in the first place.  It felt pretty liberating to put it out there to eveyone I’ll tell you.

Our club has been struggling mightily this year and for the most part 3 of us have carried the entire club which exhausted us.  It wasn’t much fun either.  My beloved Toastmasters wasn’t so beloved anymore.  In fact I began to become resentful about it.  A few weeks ago I was freaking out, thinking ‘what will we do if the club folds?’  But I have let it go.  I really have.  I truly hope it doesn’t happen but I am at peace with whatever happens now.  Saving Sunshine Toastmasters is not my responsibility.  I remember my mentor telling us once that we should serve for a year, and then take a year for ourselves, serve a year, take a year for ourselves.  Well, I have been serving for 4 years straight.  I am willing to continue to serve in a hugely reduced capacity IF the club can meet my needs.  If it can’t, it might be time for me to move on.  I can hardly believe I’m saying this but, as I said, I am at peace with whatever happens.

In the meantime, I’m still the President and I am still going to serve out my term with enthusiasm and with my best effort.  We are putting on an Epic Storytelling Event next Monday and we have invited people from all over the community to come and see what we are about.  We even got some pre-event press (thanks to me!).  So no, I am not giving up, but I am also not giving more than is wise.  When I see my tank on 1/4 full, I will stop to re-fuel no matter what and no matter how long it takes TO refuel.

this is the new limit

this is the new limit

I can’t deplete my personal resources for a public speaking club, no matter HOW much I love it.   Sending out the energy that others will come along and excitedly see the opportunity for growth!

I just can’t let this blog float around in cyberspace with no one to care for it.  I feel like I’m orphaning a child for crying out loud.  The original goal to document my journey to the World Championships is obviously not what’s going to happen but this blog is called A YEAR in the Life of a Toastmaster, not Nine Months in the Life of a Toastmaster.  And we have already established that the goal is not the goal.  So, I feel like I need to finish the year because that’s what I promised.  But, what is my focus now, Toastmasters or what Toastmasters has been leading to?

Well part of what Toastmasters has led to so far is more personal development.

My life coaching continues, though we are very close to finished.  Just two weeks to go.  I can’t rave enough about what I have learned and experienced through Micaela Pennell so far.  It has been an extraordinarily helpful journey and I am so grateful to God for bringing her into my life.  She has given me tools to continue tackling things that need tackling and I honestly feel like I am a very different person from 100 days ago.  My perspective is different, my attitude is different, my understanding is different.  I also have an amazing friend out of it.  If you have issues, and who doesn’t, and you are serious- I mean SERIOUS about tackling them, she’s your girl.

 

I’ve come to the realization that I have not been taking care of myself because I have been so busy trying to take care of everyone else.  Hoping that if I keep giving and giving and giving that my needs will eventually be met.

And because of that, because I am continually disappointed when people turn out to be like themselves instead of who I WISH they were and because I am soooooo bloody depleted and tired from doing everything, I have been very angry.   I have been allowing situations that TAKE from me, rather than situations that are enhancing my life.  My family has suffered.  I have suffered and even the people that I’ve been trying to take care of have suffered because they haven’t been given the chance to do things on their own.

The sorry truth is that I have not been meeting my own needs in almost ANY capacity for my entire life!!!!  No wonder I’ve been so pissed!

So.

That ends today.

Life is too bloody short.

It’s been 12 days and I have missed writing here.   I have missed writing.  Truth be told, I haven’t had a spare minute to do so and I’m not even sure I do now either but what the hell.  Live dangerously eh?

How is it that life changes so quickly these days? I’ve moved out of “going to Cincinnatti” mode rather quickly and into the “what next?” mode.

What seems to be next is making sure that I am taking care of the important things in my life, like my family.  Continuing with the paternal focus of the past few months, my dad phoned me not long after the contest, in fact it was the day after my last EPIC post, the post where I listed the rewards I have reaped through this 9 month long process.  He asked me how I was doing and how I felt about what I had done.  It was really satisfying to tell him that I was at peace with everything.  The outcome, the rewards, all of it.

And then, he started to say “Well, I went to the doctor the other day….”  and started to tell me a story that we all end up hearing.  As he was talking I thought to myself “WTF???  Dad’s telling me that something is wrong with him….”  It did not compute.  I backed up from my brain as I listened and someone in my body started to cry and then tried to STOP crying and listened to my dad tell me ever so coolly and calmly that he has asbestosis and that “I imagine it will be my demise.”  (‘How incredibly fucking BRITISH is that statement?’  I thought.  ‘How stiff upper lip is THAT?  Is that not the epitome of all that is England????’)

I couldn’t believe it and I didn’t know what to say.  I just didn’t know what to say.  They don’t know how much time he has and I was afraid to ask because it’s just such a horrible question.  He’s not set to see a specialist for 3 months though so it can’t be that acute yet, Canadian health delays and all.

His older brother died of the same thing.  Manufacturing.  My dad worked at Ford for decades.  Breathing that shit in.  Working for his family.  Hell, he left England for the opportunity to do so.  It takes decades for the disease to manifest and now it has.  And I’ve not thought about it too often yet.  It doesn’t seem like a real thing.

I was on the ferry last week and I came across this book.  It was called “Dear Dad  –  from you to me  -journal of a lifetime”.  I picked it up and looked inside of it.  It has about 150 blank pages but at the top of each page there is a question like “What were your favourite childhood games?”  and “How did you meet my Mother?”  and “What do you like best about me?”  My heart started to go faster.   I thought “I have to get this for Dad.  I need to know these things.”

I felt panicked almost and then I started to cry, right there in the ferry gift shop.  My thought finished itself even though I tried to stop it. “I need Dad to do this because one day he won’t be here.  Like I always knew would happen.  Like I thought would be a very long time from now.”

But now it’s real.

When Dad asked me what I would be doing next, I told him I felt like it was time for me to write.  “I always thought that you would write a book Paula.”  Dad said.  He has said that to me more than once.

So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m writing a book.  I haven’t started the actual writing yet for God’s sake, but I am preparing for it.  This month is insanity-level-busy with my daughter’s first communion, three field trips, our newly dead landscaping van and my new cleaning job to pay for our new van.  My efforts to revive our Toastmasters club including a storytelling event for which I am coaching four children…etc.  My level of stupidity is just staggering sometimes.  I’m not taking on another damned thing after this month because I have MORE IMPORTANT SHIT TO DO DAMMIT!!!!

So that is what’s next.  I’ll finish the book I am reading now (Parenting with love and logic) because it needs to be read and retained.

After that, I have ordered two books that are going to help me with my story.  The first book is a memoir AND a how to write a memoir called “Writing About Your Life: A Journey Into The Past”  by the great writer William Zinsser.  This will satisfy the writer in me.

Cover of "Writing About Your Life: A Jour...

Cover via Amazon

The second is “The Message of You” by Judy Carter (former comedian, now public speaker).  This is a how to turn your life story into a money making speaking career.  This will satisfy the comedian and speaker in me.

The rest I will put out there for God to take care of as He always does, even when my faith is weak as it is now.   I need to remember what to pray for.  I need to remember to pray, period.