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Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Toastmaster Experience

I just recently got back from watching Fayola at the District 50 Spring Conference, it is 12:13 a.m. as I write this but I couldn't go to sleep without writing about it.  I went with both my parents, and even though my mom doesn't speak English and my dad only speaks a little they had a great time.  When we got there we got gallery seats, and patiently waited.  When I got there I was looking for Fayola with my mom,  I went to check outside a door to see if she was practicing and she was actually sitting a little to the side of that door.  I was glad I got to talk to her before she competed.

The first speaker was a young man named K.J. Johnson, he was very upbeat, and he gave a speech about how the cemetery is the wealthiest place in the world, because many new ideas, inventions, poems, and the like are buried with people.  He encouraged people to live wealthy and die poor, by wealthy he meant to just put all of yourself out there and not hold anything back so you can die saying that you gave it your all and didn't hold anything back or keep anything hidden.  The second speaker was Donisia Forrester and she startled me at first, haha, because she came knocking on a table really hard, to tell the story about her parents having to evacuate from Hurricane Katrina.  She explained how they evacuated very late, when their neighbor knocked on the door very hard and told them to GO in order to save their lives.  She spoke about warnings and how there are warnings everywhere to keep us away from more painful consequences.  Thankfully her parents survived because they were able to make it to the other side of their street in a 2 story house, and got rescue workers who saved them after 4 days of being stuck in a balcony with no food, water, toilet, or anything for that matter.  Our one and only Fayola Huffman was the 3rd speaker and she gave her amazing speech on how we are all fellow travelers with such an amazing eloquence, I noticed how the audience actually fueled her to express herself in even newer ways I hadn't seen before!  Her message about being in the here and now, using her experience as a stand-by flier is one that sticks.  Fayola used the best examples using her dad and sister as the motivation that got her on these flights where she met and witnessed many new experiences that last a lifetime.  Fayola was mesmerizing and enticing as usual, she looked very beautiful like always and the crowd loved her! David Hill was the 4th speaker, he's an older man but he was so cute because he was very funny telling his story about his dad being cremated after he passed, and the dad always had a sense of humor.  His last wish was that his ashes would be dumped in a harbor in the ocean, and Mr. Hill said funny stories about one time his grandson playing with the ashes thinking he was making a sand castle and then they had to scoop us his ashes, and when they attempted to dump the ashes another time, it was windy and it blew in their face.  He closed saying that when it came down to it, if we try to make something that may be painful for us, into something that can make us laugh, it will help to have us feel more at ease in life.  The 5th speaker was Pat Moriarty, he opened his speech singing the 2007 Cinderella song that was really popular on the radio.  He spoke about how he took his daughter to the father daughter balls since she was 4 years old until she was 12.  The daughter made a collage about all the time he took her these balls and said the last picture would be the one when she would get married.  And 14 years later when she got married, she and her dad danced to one of the songs they danced when she was young, and that was the last picture.  Mr. Moriarty brought a portrait of he and his daughter when she was 4 and one when she was at her wedding.  It was a very meaningful experience for him and his family.  The 5th speaker was Monica Dirden, she and Fayola were my favorites.  Monica was incredible with her voice, her facial expression, she was funny, confident. She opened her speech talking about when she went to take her son to Disney Land, and how she went on Space Mountain with her son, which is a roller coaster that is all dark inside.  I rode that when I went to Orlando a week and a half ago!  She said that in life we are either getting out of something, going through something, or getting into something and we just have told hold on and we'll make it through, relating her point with the rollercoaster ride.  I liked how she mentioned the lines were like 3 hours long, and there are so many people, but the joyous look on her son's face made it all worth it.  And lastly, the final speaker was Lisette Cumberland, representing the club my dad attends that is bilingual, but mainly Spanish.  She spoke about LED, standing for love, education, and discipline and how a couple was married for 40 years and the husband would never raise his voice at his wife, which is really impressive because the wife would giggle like she was a teenager with him even after 40 years, it was a story that really inspired her and the crowd.  All the competitors did a wonderful job.  Like I always think in my mind, trophies and awards is not where the meaning lies, but in truly expressing yourself with all that's in you.  And everyone certainly did that.  David got 1st place, Pat got 2nd, and K.J. got 3rd.  

I felt like going to a comedy show because it was so great, it gets you in that mood, it got me in that mood at least, haha.  After it ended we said bye to Fayola and I went over to Ryan Avery and met him.  He's the youngest guy that has won world champion at the Toastmater International convention in 2012. He's so nice, he's 27 now but he was 25 when he won.  I asked him how he felt about the experience and he said it was amazing and that I should compete to have more younger people in the game.  He was a very heart-warming personality.  I define the word "win" as pleasing the majority of the audience by something you can say or do.  I  have a couple of definitions in my mind for words that can sometimes seem vague.  Of course people like to be given massive applause and be recognized as the most captivating or pleasing of them all, but it's always very important to never lose ourselves trying to please an audience.

These are some videos of me a while ago, when I used to perform with my team when I was in karate:

I used to be very self-conscious and dependent on how others perceived me when I was younger and it hurt me, which is why I vowed to myself to never do that again.  I got into Toastmasters to express myself, that is it. Not to please majority, in fact, I may not please others with what I say sometimes, or with my mannerisms, but I just wanted an outlet for what I feel and think outside of writing which is why I got into Toastmasters.  When it comes down to it, did you please yourself by saying all that was in your heart, or do you transform yourself into a different character to win applause but that isn't really yourself?  I'd rather be myself and have no one, than be more of an actress and have many.

What I love about our club is that we are very family orienty, close knit group.  We've missed Denise Loughlin and hope she comes back soon.  We miss David Skaggs already and his friendly personality that he has, which befriends people in a record of 5 seconds or less. Helena has been such a wonderful mentor and friend to me, soon to be married June 6th, we are all so excited for her.  Fayola is always so encouraging and has a 6th sense where she can really empathize and have a sense for what people feel inside.  Mahendra is so genuine and professional at the same time.  Tia is so humble yet always in the background making everything happen.  Kim, Dan, Kiran, Narendra, Koya, Carol, Hellen, Stephen, Halbert, Nick, Rita, and the many members that are in our club showing support and encouragement can really lift people up no matter what they're going through. Jack Sun who is our DTM is always e-mailing us and showing concern for all of us, making us feel like we matter.  Toastmasters really is an incredible experience where we grow in confidence in not being afraid to be ourselves, not being afraid of ridicule, criticism, and weekly challenging ourselves to master the fear of being so worried about what others will think of us we grow timid.  My goal, is to not be afraid to speak my mind even when other disapprove, and I know inside of me when I do this and when I don't.  I know when I'm acting and when I am me.  I don't want to feel like my worth depends on how others see me, but how I see myself, and that's what I'm mainly working on.  

I was so scared today when I did Table Topics and I read a personal letter I wrote to god if he existed, I thought I would be totally rejected or shunned since I say some things in the letter that are pretty heavy and I know some people wouldn't like.  Anyways I gave it a go, and was surprised that I wasn't shunned or yelled at or reprimanded.  Thank you Toastmasters, for allowing me to be myself. I have been at the point in my life where I was getting so tired of having to adjust my words to please people, I thought the only place I could be myself was in writing.  I felt like I was done writing, and didn't know where else to go to express myself, and I am certainly glad I have found a place. Again, thank you for this opportunity. 

All the best,


1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written and well said Andrea! This was written from the heart of a true toastmaster. I loved how you captured the essence of each speakers story and reflectively gave the most meaningful points. You are a star 'sweet girl'! ~Fayola = )