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?

Oh, you thought this post was gonna be about you know what, didn’t you?  Hey!  Minds out of the gutter please.  I’m not that kind of blog.

 

Have I mentioned that I am my Toastmasters club president and that this has been the toughest year we’ve had since I joined 5 years ago?  We barely made it through this winter.

We used to have this spectacular venue where our local council meets.  Beautiful room.  Good size.   Acoustically perfect.  Room for our lectern, all of our stuff.  Small kitchenette so we could make snacks.  Nice tables, LEATHER CHAIRS.  Yeah.  Politicians met there.  It was called the “community use room”.  So you’d figure that, you know, the COMMUNITY could use the room.  Especially an organization like ours that serves the community.  IN the past 3 years, our club and its members are responsible for bringing the Youth Leadership Program to over 300 kids!  Not bad eh?

Anyway, for reasons that were never really made clear to us, they wanted us OUT of the room.  The community use room.  So they kicked us out last year.  %#@*!!!!!

We looked all over for a suitable new place and had a lot of trouble finding a space that could accomodate us.  We found one eventually at a Senior’s Activity Centre but the only available room was so small we were busting out of it.  (Which is a nice problem to have, right folks?)  We couldn’t comfortably or safely  meet in that room anymore and the only option we could embrace was changing the day of the week that we met so we could have a bigger room.  Well.  What a big freakin’ mistake THAT was.  It was like almost immediately folks couldn’t make it anymore even though we had polled people.  It just fell apart.

Anyway, like I said, we barely made it through the winter.  We went to every other week for a while because the few of us who kept coming were doing all the work and were exhausted.  I had really been looking forward to serving as President but it has been much harder than I thought it would be.   We changed our day back to our old day recently and that has brought some old members back which is good.  We are also having more fun again which is awesome.  People are giving speeches more regularly and the good vibe is there again.  I feel confident that we are past the worst of it and that things are looking up again but I ned to tell you that I have put a TON of work into our club this year and we’re not even close to finished.  We’ve decided to have a big public Storytelling event since they are all the rage now.

We have a different room now but this one is not big enough.  Five more members could not be accomodated comfortably.  And I AM expecing members because we have a pretty amazing little club.    We laugh so much and we push each other to be our best.  It’s a damned good combination.  So, I am putting the energy out there NOW for more members and for an amazing space to present itself to us.  You heard it here first folks.  lol   Thanks God.  🙂

Anyway, wasn’t this blog supposed to be about winning a world championship or something like that?   Yes.

The next step is this Saturday in Vancouver.  Division H contest.  Niiiiiiice list of 8 contestants I received today.  I recognized a few names.   One was the name of someone who I had heard from an acquaintance had done “the best speech I had ever heard!”    at the last level.  Ahem.

So I need to stay focused.  Keep practicing but not let it get too stale.  I gave my speech last night at my club and it was good to give and get energy from a live audience.  Taped it tonight and sent it to Rich again.  Just need to remember to connect.  See them and let them see me.  Tell my story.  Just tell my story.

I said this was going to be a quickie didn’t I?   Yeah right.

quickie

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

 

spring break   Yeah, that’s what’s been going on I guess; it’s spring, the weather has been spectacular for about 8 straight days and I’ve done sweet diddly squat with my beloved speech in about 5 days.  Does that sound like the dedication of a future World Champ?  Yeah, I know.  PA-thetic.

Saturday and Sunday were consumed in Easter, Monday was just getting back into school and our landscaping business and Tuesday had me completely emotionally WIPED OUT from my life coaching session with Micaela Pennell.  I’d say we had a fairly major breakthrough.  We went almost 2.5 hours- non speech related now.  Life related.  I am hopeful.  It is the kind of stuff that can change a life.  Lots of work yet to do.

Today I had to take my girl Meaghan into the big smoke.  It’s an all day affair as we have an hour’s drive to the ferry, then the ferry ride itself and then the actual drive into Vancouver.  And back again.  We were up at 6:00 am and got home at 9:30 tonight.  Wiped again.

If you’ve been following me for a while you might remember that Meg has been suffering with a medical condition since about Oct/Nov.  Multiple doctor visits and various time consuming and not very fun treatments costing hundreds of dollars did nothing.  We didn’t even have a diagnosis to work with.  They referred us to a specialist so those of us who are Canadian know what THAT means.  It means you get in maybe a year later, maybe six months later.  Who knows?  And the whole time you wonder if your paperwork has been lost and should you call them?  And if you call will they resent your impatience, assume you think they are incompetent and get ticked at you and put you at the bottom of the list?

Well Meg has still been suffering but has been “sucking it up” so I haven’t been hearing about it as much from her but it has never gone away.  Yesterday as she was crying in frustration, I called the specialist’s office and to my horror, left a message where I started crying in frustration .

The power of tears.  They trump everything.  I didn’t do it on purpose, it just happened, but the office called me back about 15 minutes later and set up an appoitment for THE NEXT DAY.  Awesome.  And it looks like we have a game plan for Meaghan, even more exciting.  She was so happy to know that she wasn’t going nuts and that there really was something going on- something that we can do something about.  Boy, is this the most VAGUE blog in history or WHAT????

So anyway, I did a little bit of Avery Drilling on the ferry tonight and also to my HORROR, realized that I was blanking.  But I’m ok with this.  I think it’s been good to have a break.    I can see my delivery with a different perspective.  Um, also so I can have a LIFE.  Geez I still have to get my bloody TAXES done and I am DREADING it.  I have a little 5 foot German lady for an accountant and she is the only person in the entire world who can make me JUMP and tell me how high.  She TERRIFIES me but she’s a magician with our money so I am happy to bow to her every whim with sugar on top.  Last year she told me to get things in to her earlier this year and I am NOT EVEN CLOSE.  Bugger.  I should write a speech about her one day.

So I need to get it goin’ on again this weekend.  Spring break is so OVER.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avery Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the angels sang:

HAAAAAA LELUJAH!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

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

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

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

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

“If I were still reading astrological charts, I’m sure there would be some kind of massive conjunction of planets happening right about now.”  I said to Lloyd today.

“There always is.”  he said.  “It just depends on your perspective.”

My husband is pretty brilliant.  I’m glad I married him.

Yes, it has been pretty active, pretty jumpy in my life as of late and I’m kind of looking forward to things being ‘normal’ again.   This weekend was one of inspiration for me in many ways but there comes a time to put all that inspiration into daily life; the truly challenging part.

I didn’t know what to expect going in but it was ever so worth it to go to the Toastmasters conference.  I got to know some friends on a much deeper level, something that gives me a great deal of happiness.  I feel so privileged when people trust me with the stories of their life.  I really connected with some new friends and loved affirming the positives that I saw everywhere.

I enjoyed people recognizing me from the past 2 contests and the platform that gave me.  I worked hard to be positive, honest and appreciative from that platform.   It made me  have to think intentionally, something beneficial for anyone who has a tendency to shoot their mouth off.

I didn’t get an opportunity to perform “Jaws-the Speech” but I will be giving it at a benefit at the end of the month so I will tape it and post it for you all to enjoy

Cover of "Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition)...

then.

I feel such a strong bond with these people.  If you ask me, Toastmasters’ structure has a lot in common with the structure of the Catholic church.  Could be why it’s so strong.  See, no matter where you go in the world, like Mass,  a Toastmasters meeting is essentially the same.  Oh sure, there’ll be some cultural differences and not everything is exact, but you know what’s going on and can follow along and feel like you’re at home.

But now I AM at home and have to deal with things of home.  Like today.

I took our 17 year old cat Patchy in to the vet because she’s been drooling and keeping her mouth open all the time.  Well, it wasn’t 5 minutes into the visit when Dr. Smalley said “It’s cancer.  It’s all in her mouth and jaw.  We’d have to amputate her entire jaw but that’s not an option.”

His recommendation was for us to put her to sleep in the next day or two.  “Don’t put it off.  She’s in a lot of pain.”  So tomorrow at 3:00, Patchy will take her last breath.  I hate to think of it.

God, it was a hard day with Meg.  To explain this to her was so difficult.  She has known Patchy her whole life.  To explain euthanasia was particularly hard.   She always asks a lot of questions.  Like her mum, she needs to know the WHY of everything.   The vet’s office gave us a book to read which was lovely…about how pets wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge until we arrive with them and we all go to heaven together.

We talked a lot.  We spent a lot of time with Patch.  We cried a lot.

Tonight the local fire department put on a fireworks display over the harbour to make up for the hallow’een rain cancellation.  Meaghan felt like she didn’t want to go but she loves fireworks more than candy for crying out loud so I cajoled her, bugged her, commanded her.   I’m so glad I took her and gave her something beautiful to behold and forget her sadness for a while.  I told her “This is our celebration of Patchy’s life honey. This is how God feels about Patchy and how much we love her.”    She liked that thought.

English: Fireworks Display Stanford Hall

We all prayed tonight as a family.  Thanked God for Patchy’s life and for giving her to us for as long as we had her.  She’s been such a great cat.  I will miss the clicking of her nails on the floor, the way she always greeted me with a meow or two and her sweet company.  I will miss her a lot.

And less than an hour after the vet visit, I got a call from Margaret Page asking me to MC the “Ryan Avery comes to Vancouver” event which will be going on in February.  “You’re ready.”  she said.  I’m honoured.  I’m excited.

SO much life.

It’s REALLY hard to stop playing with a speech.  Really hard.  You keep thinking you’re done but you’re not.  I tweaked the ending one more time and I like it more.  I’m not touching it again until after Division H finals on Saturday.

Rehearsed about 5 times, rehearsed the end module about 20 times.  I have to say I’m still pretty tired and I’m looking forward to going to the big city early on Friday to do not much of anything.  (Except pick up my white board material for covering my entire bedroom wall, open a new TM bank account, take the Pres out for dinner and go to my TM meeting.  Easy.)

The Man got back to me and we’re going to chat tomorrow but he sent me the most amazing email today that made me fly for a while.  He said I’m terrific!  (wow!)  but I’m nowhere near the speaker I’m GOING to be and that he would help me mine that gold.  Exciting scary stuff.

Yes, I AM thinking about the international competition…not a lot specifically, but generally, yes.  I am not sure what I am going to talk about because I’m not sure what’s appropriate.  I guess my big story is where I’ve come from, where I am now and how I got there.  It may not be the best story though.  I really want help with that part.  I’d like to have a brainstorming session with 3 or 4 experienced Toastmasters that I trust and connect with and see what we come up with.  This is all in the future though and I don’t want to give it too much energy right now.  I still have a contest to compete in this Saturday.  My stomach is doing dips already when I think about it.

I have to remember though.  This is a freebie.  I shouldn’t even BE here so I want to make the most of it.   I want to have FUN!  I want to showcase this speech.  And the truth is, I REALLY want to compete at the B.C. District finals.  I love this speech and I relish the thought of giving it on that big stage to all my friends.  I want to do the entire process justice, and that means making sure I am in the right frame of mind on Saturday.

Luckily, the friend’s house that I’m staying at on Friday night lives next to one of my favourite churches anywhere.  It is a beautiful old wooden church, over 100 years old, which is rare for a new city like Vancouver.  It smells of incense and it is enveloping and projecting at the same time.  I can go there for Mass on Saturday morning and that makes me so happy.

Tonight, I brought a young friend, a 17 year old young lady, to our club.  She and I have had a connection for a while and she has asked me to help her.  I am excited about giving to her what others have given to me.  I look so forward to showing this young lady what is already inside of her, waiting to come out.  I was so happy that she reached out.  I feel so privileged that God is giving us this opportunity to grow together.  It’s an opportunity to do for her what I wish someone had done for me at the same age.  Thank you God.

And there’s one last thing that happened today.  Something pretty……well, something pretty incredible.  Something I was never sure would ever happen.  Something that God made happen for our family in the gentlest, most unsuspecting of ways.  Today we signed the papers.  It has taken a few months to get it all done, but we are officially owners of our first home.

When we left Egmont last September after 8.5 years of living in this tiny, (population 150) oceanside village, it was a difficult transition.  Especially for Meaghan who moved away from her best friend across the street and her beloved backyard beach.  She CRIED.  A lot.  And I just found out recently that she had been FAKING an allergy (making herself sneeze!) FOR A YEAR so that we would move back to Egmont.   Geez, talk about tenacious.

But the opportunity presented itself to us this year.   And we just prayed that if God wanted us to have this place, He would help us get it.  So here we are, in one of the most outrageously priced markets in the world, proud owners of a 950 square foot 2 bedroom house on a third of an acre.   Very happy to be here.  Could life get any better?

Well, yeah.  It could.  I’m going to see 2000 World Champion Ed Tate next Monday night in Vancouver give his presentation “You too, can be a World Champion!”  An amazing person reserved a seat for me.  An amazing person with a lot of faith in me.

What have I done to deserve all this?????