I finished Zinsser’s how to write a memoir book hopeful and full of ideas.  I believe my first memoir is going to be about a specific time that I was in the industry- more specifically, a couple of years that I worked at a little club called GTR (Grand trunk Railroad) in the border town of Fort Erie, Ontario.  That time is really special for me as it was a time in my life where my spiritual life really began to blossom for the first time.  There are also a  lot of great stories and interesting people about which I’d like to share.

I’ve thought about writing about a few other places I worked at and I may, but I realize that there is a certain danger in doing that.  I recently looked up a couple of the owners of clubs I worked at in the past- more specifically, people who were complete idiots to their employees- me included- some good stories there, too.  One of the owners’ wives was recently killed in an explosion in her home and I’m willing to bet it wasn’t an accident.  These are nasty people with a lot of money and the clubs are only a few of their holdings.  I enjoy being alive too much.  Maybe I’ll save that stuff for “fiction” writing in the future.  lol  Therefore, for now, I’m sticking to GTR which suspiciously burned to the ground a few months after an unsuccessful renovation.

I’ve got the old tape recorder out again, listening this time to tapes from that time.  Bringing back memories that I literally STILL can’t remember!  lol

Movin on, my Toastmasters club recently held a very successful Epic Storytelling Event.  We threw this together very quickly I must say and very well.  We had 15 slated storytellers of all ages and from all backgrounds and man, did we get some great ones.  My favourite was THIS little girl who blew me away:

I missed her first line which was “Have you ever been on a roller coaster?”

Anyway, that’s my little girl Meaghan rocking the house.  The calibre of speaker was very high and everyone asked if we were going to make it an annual thing.  I think we are.  I coached three other kids for this event and I really enjoyed  it.  They were superstars- they  worked  hard on delivering a good story for the people.  I was like a proud mama four times over.  It makes me remember how much I like coaching kids.  Can’t wait for the next Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program!  That will be in the fall with a church youth group.

Speaking of feeling proud, I also finished up my DIVA life coach training with Micaela Pennell this week.  We started on February 8 and let me tell you, this was no walk in the park.

There are a lot of folks out there these days calling themselves “life coaches”  and I have to tell you , I made fun of most of them before this.  Because honestly, I’m willing to bet many of them are unqualified.  But Micaela spent years in school and taking other courses learning what she knows.  On top of it, her devotion to serving God is most important to her so  I felt like I could genuinely trust her with anything and I did.  She knows my deepest darkest folks, and I’m better for it.  What’s so great about this training is it’s not dwelling on the past.  It honours the past , yes, but you learn tools to deal with it and even change the way you relate to it, which changes everything, even your physiology!

I really can’t sing her praises enough.  I feel equipped to tackle anything now.  Between her and Rich Hopkins, I really dug deep this spring and I’m finding out what I’m  made of.  I’m also finding out that I like what I’m made of.

I’ve got one more month of being my Toastmasters club president.  I have to tell you, this was way harder than I thought it was going to be.  I had to deal with a lot of crap this year.  I’d do it again but not for a long time.  I have made my time commitment for next year and I will NOT exceed it.

SO, this last month is tying up loose ends and making sure we are set to go for September when we re-convene at some new digs.  For the summer, we are meeting at each other’s houses and having little parties.  That I can handle.  My term  is up at midnight June 30.  My birthday is July 1.  I remember last year on my birthday I was at a party and I said to someone “Today for my birthday I became my club’s president!”  And you know, I was really happy and I meant it!  This year, my birthday present is I’m NO LONGER my club’s president and I’m really happy and I mean it.  LOL

When the month is up, I begin writing the memoir.

Toastmasters Orange Rhino

he doesn’t look dangerously agressive at all, does he?

Also, beginning JUNE 3, I am participating in the Orange Rhino No Yelling Challenge.  I am going to yell less and love more, particularly with my little girl.  It’s going to be a tough first few days because we are crazily trying to get clients’ lawns done before Lloyd leaves for Nova Scotia on Wednesday.

BUT!  This is something I know I have to do and I know I CAN do.  I am psyched for the challenge and the changes and rewards our family will reap because of it.

I also took a WordPress class this weekend because more blogs are in the future and I wanted to know how to do this properly.  Meaghan and I might be doing a project together too.  That would be pretty amazing.

There’s more too, I’m sure of it but I am a hundred moons passed wiped out and I need to get my ass in bed.  Cutting lawns tomorrow before I head to Toastmasters for our first post-event meeting (expecting several guests!) and my LAST executive meeting.  HOO-RAY!!!!!


So, many of you have heard through the Toastmasters grapevine already and many of you haven’t that I placed second to Sharookh Daroowala.   Sharookh’s name was on the District Cup 13 years ago so I’m not embarrassed to have lost to him.  I also know he worked very hard on his speech and I consider him a very worthy competitor.

I’m still considering pulling a Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan on Sharoohk so he might want to watch his back for the next 2 weeks until District.

I feel pretty flat right now, flat as a pancake.   I feel like all the air has been let out of my tires.  I didn’t even want to go to church this morning but they say those are the best times to go.

Not really sure what to do with myself as I really hadn’t planned for this. I had envisioned my summer of working on this and my new speech.  I knew I was going to go to a Reds game in Cincinnatti, I knew my parents would have driven from Windsor to come and see me.  I really truly and honestly thought it was going to be my year.  Is that cocky or just stupid?

I guess I’ll give you a review of my day yesterday because it was interesting up until the losing part anyway.

I Avery Drilled on the ferry and it was really awesome.  I wasn’t freaked out or afraid.  I just enjoyed it.  And each time I went a little louder so as to challenge myself.  People walked right in front of me, some stopped to watch, some watched out of the corner of their eyes.  Some completely ignored me.  Some teenaged boys smoked some BC bud and hung out for a while and I’m pretty sure I tripped THEM out.  lol

creating the illusion of insanity

creating the illusion of insanity

I felt happy and grateful to be doing what I was doing and thought about where I was 11 years ago and how this never would have even entered my mind as a possibility of life then.

I drove to my spiritual director Bernadette’s house to have a chat with her since it’s been a VERY long time and it was wonderful to be with her.  I performed my speech for her and she was in alternating laughter and tears.  She really identified with the subject matter and told me she thought it was an important message for people to hear.  She also thought it was the best speech I’ve ever crafted and she appreciated the nuances of it.  Since I have lost my last 2 Division contests immediately after performing my speech for Bernadette, I have decided to NEVER SPEAK TO HER AGAIN.  lol

So, I got to the venue.  Nice and big.  Very big.  Probably about a 100 people there.  Greeted people, used the bathroom 50 times, found someone to record my speech.  I looked around at my competitors.  Ian Cunliffe.  He beat me last fall in the Humorous contest.  Sharoohk, limping with gout.  One of my competitors pulled me aside and said “You’re going to win.  You’re gonna go to District.”

We drew numbers for speaking order.   I was there to compete in the Evaluation contest as well as the International speech contest.  Pulled number 4 for Eval and pulled DEAD LAST for International.  Yes!  It was meant to be, see? 

My stomach was doing serious gymnastics.  Waves of nausea came and went.  A couple of times I thought I might be sick.  It was worse than any District contest I’d been in.  (and this is my idea of fun, mind you)   I was glad to get up and give my Evaluation so I’d have a chance for my nerves to dissipate a little, to project my voice and use the floor a little before my “real” speech.   (no disrespect meant for the evaluators who are the backbone of Toastmasters)

I watched my speech competitors one at a time, enjoying the speeches.  Knowing what I’d have to do to be the best.  Knowing I was capable of doing so.   The poor guy who went before me blanked on his speech and quit in the middle of it.  I felt terrible for him.  He left and never came back.   I wish I’d had the chance to talk to him.

It was my turn next and YES, I was able to power pose for a minute before beginning.  I got out there and it took me a couple of minutes to really connect.  It wasn’t my best.  It was good, but not the best I could have been.  I was not as present as I would have liked to have been.  Tell you what.  You can watch it for yourself.  I’ll post the text below it in because the volume is too low to hear in some parts.  So, for the first time ever in blogland, here is Paula Howley with her speech entitled ” I Love You”


Here is the text:

I love you!  Have you ever wanted to say those life changing words to someone?……But couldn’t get up the nerve?

If you’d been in my house while I was growing up, you would have heard conversations ending like this:

“I love you Dad!” 

“Thanks Paula”

Thanks???  You say “Thanks” when someone passes you the salt, not their heart. 

But love, in all it’s forms, isn’t always a walk in the park is it?. Sometimes it’s a terrifying trek complete with fire-breathing dragons that incinerate your heart.   Madam Contest Chair, fellow travellers, this is my dragon tale. 

My dad is 70 and he’s British too. That stiff upper lip makes saying “I love you” physically impossible.  But my dad is an emotional, expressive man who cries during Toy Story.

He says “I love you” to my mom, all the grandkids, the dog, and complete strangers after enough beer. But for some reason, that stiff upper lip still applies to me.

I love you dad.

Thanks Paula.

Heart versus fire breathing dragon.  After being burned countless times I stopped offering my heart to anyone. I wasn’t even sure I was worth offering. 

That mindset interfered with boyfriend after boyfriend…..  After boyfriend.

And it almost stopped the most important relationship I’ve ever had. 

I wish you could have been there the night I met my husband Lloyd.  So romantic.  It was a dim, smoky bar that smelled like stale beer.  We had a love at first sight experience, slightly enhanced by alcohol.  We talked for 7 hours!  It was like finding a long lost friend. Then, at the end of the night, out of nowhere, he looked at me with his beautiful bloodshot eyes and said “I love you Paula!” 

It was the craziest thing I’d ever heard.  But even crazier, I felt the same way!  I wanted to say it back!….. but I couldn’t.   Offering your heart means it might get burned. 

I spent the next few days agonizing over what might have been and realized that I was turning into my dad.  I was becoming a fire breathing dragon. 

I had to decide if Lloyd was worth fighting for. 

Actually, I had to decide if I was worth fighting for. 

So I collected my courage, took the chance of my life and offered my heart to Lloyd.  In a letter.  Hey he lived 3000 miles away. 

“You were so brave” my letter said – “And I believe that you love me….  You should know that I love you too.” 

Ten years and one amazing child later we’re the Howley family complete with fire insurance.  

When your heart gets burned it’s tender and tentative.  When your heart lets the dragons win, it’s never offered at all and that’s tragic. 

Some burns take time to heal.  I stopped telling my dad I loved him.  We’d see each other, it would be fine, and being older, I assumed that of course he loved me, but I couldn’t stand the thought of hearing one more “Thanks Paula”. 

Last year though, I started wondering if I’d get another chance. Lloyd’s father passed unexpectedly and he was the same age as MY dad.  What if?  I didn’t even want to think of it. 

Dad’s visit months later was the last straw.  At the end of his stay, Dad hugged our daughter and said “I love you”. 

Then he turned and said it to Lloyd.

Really ? I thought. Really Dad?  You can say it to Lloyd????

He was coming towards me.  What should I say? I wanted to say nothing but what if….?

“Dad, I love you.”

I know dad loves me whether he says it or not.

“Thanks Paula.”

Yes it burned.  But I still said it.  I decided that I was worth fighting for.   And so was my dad.  And so are you. 

I love you!  Have you ever wanted to say those life changing words to someone?  Do it!  You are worth fighting for!   And so are your loved ones.   I love you.  And I’m not afraid to say it anymore. 

So, I have only watched it once and that was enough for me for now but I can see why I didn’t win.  I was not the best I could have been.  HOW am I ever going to get there????

So we finished and had to sit through the agonizing interviews of the contestants wherein I realized that I don’t have much of a life outside of homeschooling my child and Toastmasters.  I need a meaningless hobby big time.  If for no other reason than I will have something ELSE to talk about.

So they called up the Eval winners, 1,2,3 and I couldn’t have cared less that I was not up there.

Then they called Third place for the speech.  Ian Cunliffe.  I took a deep breath.  Then they called my name for Second place and I may or may not have said the word “shit” under my breath but loud enough for Al Piran next to me to hear.   Smile, I thought to myself.  Don’t be a jerky loser.  They handed me a lovely piece of paper that said “You Are Not Going To Cincinnati- however the fuck you spell it”.   I wanted to take that piece of paper, ball it up and toss it over my shoulder.   But social constraints were more powerful than the urge, thank God.

So they called Sharoohk’s name and up he came, double winner.  He’d won the Evaluation contest too.  I gave him a hug and congratulated him (incidentally, I had prayed for him on 3 occassions to heal so he COULD compete as well- think I might have been regretting THAT move?  lol)  then I shook Ian’s hand and congratulated him too.  I briefly flashed back to a time a few years ago when I placed at Division for the first time (3rd) and how thrilled I was to do so then and how different it was now.

Some friends who knew what I’d been trying to do did their best to comfort me and I am grateful for them.  For their perspective and their caring.  I just wanted to leave.   I had a terrible post-contest pounding headache.

I had dinner with a couple of the ladies who’d come over from the Sunshine Coast for contest and I have to tell you, YES, I WANTED A DRINK.  No, I did not have one.  Nothing will ever be that bad.  We hashed things out a little, talked about the speeches and of course I discussed how grave the miscarriage of justice was.  lol  Hey, don’t tell me YOU haven’t done the same thing.   Truthfully, the thing is, I lost to a good speaker.  The second thing is, I could have made it so much better and now I won’t have the chance to.  That really sucks.

I didn’t want to go up on the deck on the ferry so I mostly stayed in my car on the way home.  I watched the mountains and the beautiful waterfalls and tried to care about them and thought about the people in Boston and tried to care about them but in the end, I only cared that I was a big fat loser.  I felt like “The Biggest Fool in the World”.  Hey, I’ve claimed that title somewhere earlier in this blog, haven’t I?  I guess I really get to wear it now.  HEY!  Let me have my little pity party, ok?  I’ve been KILLING myself over this damned speech.

I picked up Meg from our friend’s house and she told me the most important part of the day and that was that she had gone on the BIG KIDS’ area of the bike park.  I agreed that it was pretty awesome and probably the most important.

Came home to my awesome husband who was already talking about next time (I can’t believe he’s willing to go there again) and that I have many more great speeches to write blah blah blah.  I told him how foolish I felt having made such a fuss, having put this blog out there, announcing my big dreams to everyone and then flopping on my face.   I wish I could remember all the wise and beautiful things he said but I know he said he is proud of how hard I’ve worked on this.

And how hard have I worked on this?  Well, you all have a pretty good inkling because it’s been documented for the most part.  I wrote a letter to myself a month ago using futureme.org to read AFTER the Area contest.  I forgot about the letter until last night and reading it helped me put things into perspective.  It was actually an exercise my friend and life coach Micaela encouraged me to use.  Here it is:

Dear FutureMe,


This is after the Area Contest.  You have almost certainly put in more time and effort than anyone else Paula.  No one has outprepared you. 

This is why you have won:

A) Preparation: To reiterate: No one has out prepared you. 

1. Spiritual:  You have prepared yourself for this contest in every spiritual capacity that you can think of including the scariest one of all: facing dad and asking his blessing.  You have been working with Micaela since the end of January, you have prayed, you have written, you have talked to God and you have learned a TON about yourself.  Rich has been a part of your spiritual process too and God is using this to make you an amazing and effective speaker.  He is also teaching you so much about yourself.  You have dug very deeply.  You have asked the scariest questions you can ask yourself and you have touched the darkest parts of your heart as well as the most hopeful.  You are focusing on seeing yourself doing an amazing job and seeing yourself victorious.  You are sending energy to the right places.  You are tackling every issue you can THINK of Paula!  You have people pulling for you and PRAYING for you!  YOu are a totally different person than when you began.  Even your attitude to your life is different.  You know you have big goals to pursue when this is all over.  This is just the beginning!!!!  The goal is not the goal. 

2. Mental:  As of today, March 23, you have put in at least 100 hours of preparation JUST ON THIS SPEECH.  Since then, easily 30 more.  You have Avery Drilled all over town so you can get over any discomfort and practice connecting with people!  You have Miller Drilled.  You have dissected the speech and looked at every aspect.  You know it and feel it inside and out.  YOu started training for this at last spring’s convention when you spent a thousand dollars in LaCroix products to begin investing in your future self.  It paid off girl.  You have also gone to dad to tell him what’s going on and left the ball in his court.  You have been respectful and asked for his blessing.  YOur head is IN THE GAME.  YOu are leaving no stone unturned. 

3. Physical:  You have been eating healthy for the past 3 weeks and getting more exercise.  You have been going to bed on time and getting enough sleep.  You are strong and you care about your body being strong enough to deliver a strong message.  YOu look great and feel great. 


B) You are proud to share the content of your speech with the audience because:

It is well written. 

It is funny. 

It is tough subject matter that everyone deals with at some point. 

It is true. 

It was a scary thing that happened to me.  Dealing with my dad has always been somewhat scary and uncomfortable.  Taking that chance and saying “I love you” was VERY hard for me.  It represented a change in thinking for me.  My thinking became more outwardly focused.  Less focused on me.  I was able to overcome- literally push PAST my very tangible fear and say what I NEEDED to say to dad just in case it was the last time and to show that I COULD. 

I am proud because I have worked with one of the best speech writers in the business, Rich Hopkins, and he has helped me write my best speech so far.  He thinks it is a great speech.  He thinks I am a star.  I am proud to share it as a Work of Toastmasters.  As a work of my heart. 

I am proud to share it with my friends who are getting to know me better.  I am proud to share my failings, my successes and my process with Toastmasters of all levels. 

I am proud because I truly think this speech could spur people on to life-changing action.  Even weeks later. 

I am proud to share this content because it is meaningful and heartfelt.  Because I have lovingly combed it and shaken it for more.  I am proud to share this content with my audience because it is an important, intimate and real part of me that can help my fellow human beings.

C) This content is uplifting for my dad because it will help him think about things differently.  I know Dad is being affected by my prayers and the very ENERGY of this speech.  His blessing to give this speech is proof of that.  All the energy I am putting into understanding and loving him and forgiving him is changing the energy of who he is, who I am and who I am with him.  This speech will give dad courage to be more than he thought he could be. 

This speech is uplifting for my dad because it represents his daughter taking the greatest leap of her life, working on something truly great and I know he wants that for me.  I know he wants me to succeed.  I know he loves me.  It would be a release for him to release to me.  This speech is uplifting for my dad because it is a tribute to my love for him.  That I do love him after all is said and done.  This speech is uplifting for my dad because he will learn from it.  He will glean much.  This speech is uplifting for my dad because it can set him free. 

Let me explain a few things.  I thought I was going to Cincinnati.  My folks live nearby and I KNEW they would come.  I didn’t want my dad to be blindsided by this speech so I sent it to him and asked for his blessing.  It was SCARY AS HELL.  3 days later he sent me a message back:
“Paula, I love you more than you will ever know and you always have my blessing.”

This gesture from my father is, as far as I’m concerned, the greatest act of love he has ever shown me (though he would probably disagree and say that feeding, housing and taking care of me was his greatest act of love).  This speech displays one of my father’s shortcomings and it took humility for my dad to bless my efforts to disclose the effects of this shortcoming.   I think my dad has an inkling of how important this has all been for me and him giving me his blessing was the biggest “I love you” I’ve ever gotten from him.  It meant I was free to give this speech without fear or guilt, without reins.   This, has probably been the greatest effect of this speech.  Nothing really, could have been more important.  It’s unfortunate that I have this tunnel vision that has a tall lucite trophy at the end of it.

When I visited my spiritual director Bernadette yesterday, she talked about how prevalent this trait is among the British.  This stiff upper lip.  Where did it come from?  How many are affected by it?  She recognized the importance of overcoming it in her life too.

After giving my speech yesterday and after the awards ceremony,  a lovely, lovely man named Mike approached me.  Mike has one of the kindest faces I’ve come across in the entire world.  He is a person that one feels instantly attracted to because of the warmth emanating from him.  I don’t know him very well but I like him a lot.  Mike congratulated me and then he said:

“Paula, I’m 70 and I’m British too just like your dad.  I’ve really been thinking about what you’ve said today.  I never thought about how important it was but I am going to go home today and call my daughters and tell each of them that I love them.”

Why does it make me cry to write that?

That’s what it’s supposed to be about, isn’t it?

Someone else is going to be the World Champion of Public Speaking for 2013.

Big fat juicy cuss word.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do next.  I think for a while, I’m just going to do nothing.  Not sure if I know how to do that but I’ll figure it out.  Just gimme a second.

you are not going to Cincinatti

you are not going to Cincinatti

We all get miracles, we just don’t all consider them as such.  I get miracles.  Lots of them.  Big ones, small ones, weird ones.  I consider them as such.  Heck, waking up in the morning is a miracle.  Or at least it used to be back in my drinking days.

I’ve been breathing at half capacity waiting for my blessing, my miracle, from the one person I needed it from to give my speech.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to get it.  And I wasn’t sure I could run this speech at full capacity without it.  I was sure as hell going to TRY!  But my strongest and greatest gift according to me, my spiritual director and my old writing teacher is my ability to be completely honest, especially with myself.  So if I had not received this blessing, it would have been in the back of my mind, or maybe even in my subconscious pulling ever so slightly on the reins telling me that I was not doing the right thing.

I received that blessing, that miracle, tonight.  I sobbed with relief, I really did.  I marvelled at it.  And I thanked God for it.  I am free to be me without reservation.  What a tremendous GIFT that is!  I can step right into myself now.

Earlier today I did some Avery Drilling around town.  Went to Hackett Park first and drilled while Meaghan played.  VERY shaky.  A bunch of teenagers walked by me staring and then of course giggling when they got just past me and yes, it threw me RIGHT off.  Couldn’t remember where in the speech I was.  Drilled about 5 times there and recorded it once.

Later we went to Rotary Friendship Park and again I drilled while Meg played.  It was a beautiful sunny day yes, but windy and FREEZING on the oceanfront there.  Meg was running around with no shoes and socks, no coat, totally fine and I thought my hands were going to shatter and break off my arms.  I drilled only 3 times there in public because of the cold and retreated to the warmth of my car for a few more.  Recorded once.  It wasn`t as difficult at that park but only because there were less people there!!!!    Bok!  Bok!  Bok!!!

When Meg got to sleep I was able to do it about 7 more times- was going to record it but I`ll wait until tomorrow and send it to the coach.  I think I am in love with my speech.  Is that ok to say?

I wrote a letter to myself using futureme.org  that I will receive the day after the Area contest, a hundred freakin`years from now.  It`s actually only 3 weeks but as far as I know, many Area contests have been done already.

Anyway, the letter told myself why I was proud to share the content of my speech with my audience, why the content is uplifting for my blessing person and the reasons why I would win- spiritual, mental, and physical.  I am putting that energy out there and I am going to walk into it.  I am going to own my speech, own the stage, own my life.  The rest is up to them.  But as LaCroix says:  no one will out prepare me.  I don’t mind helping miracles along a bit.


Alright, so the official process began today and it wasn’t as horrific as it could have been.  I don’t feel suicidal or even like CRYING so that’s good!  I must be toughening up.

I’m pleased to say that I got an obscene amount of sleep last night due to sheer exhaustion and woke up near TENNISH today.  THAT is obscene.  Think we got any homeschooling done today?  Uh uh.  But I felt a hundred times better than the previous few days.   I’d actually been feeling kind of dizzy for a couple of days, particularly felt it when I was drilling since I was so focused on my mental state.  Anyway, I knew it meant I had pushed myself too far and I need to be smarter about this.

Got to the club an hour early since I’m the President too and the room needed to be set up, food put out, etc.  I was able to do the speech once in the room on my own before anyone got there and it felt GOOD that time.  I always like to be able to do that if possible.  I have to say though, in general, I did NOT feel as confident as I would have liked to about how well I knew my speech.

I vacillated about whether I should give The Speech I’ve been losing sleep over or some other speech so I wouldn’t blow the time since I was the only competitor in the International.  You can’t go over 7:30 or you’re out.  A bunch of people came to see me though so I really felt I owed it to them and I really wanted to give the speech a test drive.  I felt I need to get an audience performance out of the way.

Now about 15 minutes beforehand, I discovered that there is a woman in our club ( who has just re-joined us after a 6 month hiatus) who will be competing in the Area contest representing the Advanced club that she belongs to.  So I also was thinking that I’m giving my competition a pretty good look at what she’s competing against.  That also was a major consideration because this woman has been to District finals in the past.  She’s no slouch.  In the end I figure, if I can’t win on my own steam, I don’t deserve to go anyway so WHATEVER.

I went in the Evaluation Contest too- mainly to give the person who I thought is such a good evaluator that he had a decent shot at District, some competition.  I’m embarrassed to say that I was poorly prepared for this contest and did not respect it as I should have.  I hadn’t even read the score sheet about the Eval contest in probably 2 years so it wasn’t even fresh in my mind.

We had a good crowd.  We had over 20 people there so it was excellent to have a real room to perform to.

Our contest chair forgot to say the name of my speech so I had to remind her to say it before I came up.  Ya gotta love club contests eh?

So, I went up,  not feeling as grounded as I would have liked AND I didn’t get to POWER POSE beforehand to get my testosterone pumping.  Boooooo!!!!!!  I was really looking forward to using that technique but alas, it will have to wait until Area.

THIS is a power pose - can't you just FEEL the testosterone????

THIS is a power pose – can’t you just FEEL the testosterone????

And guess what I did right off the bat?  No, I didn’t fart.  WORSE!!!!!  I flubbed the VERY FIRST LINE!!!!  The one I know better than ANY other line in the ever-lovin’ speech!!!  The one that sets the tone for the entire speech!!!!! DUH!!!!!!!!

I was able to recover outwardly but my brain was so busy telling me how stupid I was, it took me a while to BE again.

Got some good laughs, made somebody cry too.  Saw some nodding of heads throughout so there was a definite connection with the material.  Now personally, I didn’t feel I connected with the audience until over half way through and that just breaks my heart because I wanted better for them.  I really wanted to give myself over to them but couldn’t pull it off right away.  I promise to do better next time.

I decided that I’m not that crazy about the ending and the call back I THOUGHT I had ended up being weak- could have just been my poor delivery though.  I was much too quiet which is just ODD for me.

All in all, I was glad to get it over with.  I won the Eval contest too.  A surprise to me.

After the contest was very interesting.  We had a ton of food and coffee so people stayed a long time and it was good to get feedback.  One lady who used to be in our club pulled me aside and told me what a different speaker I’ve become.  She actually cried and thanked me for having the courage to share myself so openly.  It might have been my favourite part of the night.  Another guy who has been a Toastmaster for close to a hundred years kept trying to tell me what was wrong with the speech but I couldn’t quite figure out what he was trying to say even though he drew me a flow chart and everything.  Unfortunately, he didn’t give me too much insight on how to correct it either except according to his taste.  Which is legit.  Hey, everyone’s got an opinion right?  Just like…. well, you know.

Lots of people were talking about the subject matter afterwards and yes, it appears that this is one that many people deal with and it hits home.  Several people shared quite personal stories with me afterwards and I felt really honoured that they would do so.   Opening yourself up makes people feel they can trust you I think.

I watched the video when I got home and while it sucks pretty hard, it’s not unredeemable.  It’s a start.

Also wondering if I should go to Toastmasters All-Pros Dragon’s Den meeting for kamikaze round robin speech evaluations.  My first instinct was to do it but I don’t want everyone hearing my speech right now.  I want to hold my cards closer to my chest.  Won’t stop me from going to watch THEM though!  lol  Some of the top speakers in the District will be there.  My instinct is to send my speech out to trusted people via youtube and get feedback that way.

But now, I’m very much looking forward to watching the speech with Rich for his feedback.

So, that’s that for now.  Tomorrow I am taking my daughter hiking on the Skookumchuk Trail in her beloved home village.  She is happy.  I hope the sun shines.

This day had me falling, no, more accurately I should say actively digging down as deeply into my heart and my psyche as God would let me go without losing my mind.  Not somethin’ you do every day.  Also not something I recommend as recreation either.

I am still working weekly with Micaela Pennell, my Texas Toastmaster and life coach extraordinaire, and more importantly, beautiful friend.

I mention this because I know it is all tied together- my speech, my life coaching, the things being explored: God is using these things to teach me what I need to know.  The journey has become more accelerated and pronounced this year, or maybe I’m finally developing a strand of maturity amidst the tomfoolery and becoming more aware of things happening.  It’s hard to say if that’s the case because I still screw up so often and so epicly.  Just ask my family.

I won’t go into detail because it would take hours anyway and this isn’t the place for it.  Yet.  I see though, that the speech I have constructed thus far is the top thick layer of stuff that I needed to break through to begin the slog through the mire that will free my heart and soul from the dark places they have been crouching in for decades.

This I find so encouraging, in the truest sense of the word.  It is planting courage in me for the future.  And I am so excited about what’s to come.

I wasn’t able to get much work done on the speech in the 2 days prior to today because of household stuff that had to be attended to and one really bad mood day that ensured that the whole family suffered too.  Misery normally loves company but here, it demands it.

We also got a new Pope yesterday so we were addicted to the coverage.  It.  was.  INCREDIBLE.  I really love my new Papa.

Back to the speech.  I drilled it at least 20 times today and the back half an extra 5 times.  Taped it and as I speak, it is downloading to youtube for Rich to look at in a few hours.   So I need to get my ass to bed.  2 hours ago.



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?