Back Again

I’m tired of starting blog posts by saying, “I’m back again” and then apologizing for not posting. I have lots of excuses this time – a series of injuries that have been requiring 3+ hours of PT a day; a job that has exploded into a series of trips, early morning meetings, and late nights working; continuing attention to elderly relatives and peeling their (family) caretakers off the ceiling.

But the truth is that I sometimes wonder what I have to say. You read everyone else’s blogs and they have so much to say, so much wisdom to impart, so many great life experiences to inspire. And I found myself wondering as I wrote why I deserved to have a blog at all.

Last week I had an experience that changed all that. Last year, before I started my new job, I joined Toastmasters. I was inspired to do so by a peer in grad school who secretly took up Toastmasters with transformational results. I was feeling a little low and I remembered that and decided to get me some learnin’ by joining.

And I love it. My first speech, which I did almost right away, was the Icebreaker speech where you basically introduce yourself. I don’t like talking about myself, so I told the story of my trip to Antarctica, why I went, how I got there, what I saw there, what I felt like when I returned home. The Club President gives speaking tips and I incorporated his recommendations into my speech and it went down great. The applause and the positive feedback from the audience gave me a rush that I haven’t really felt since I left acting. The constructive feedback was straightforward and simple: I could move around the stage more and look at the audience members more.

I did my second speech a couple of months ago, incorporating one of the President’s other tips, and it also went over well. I talked about how my mother invited change into her life and how that inspired me to invite change into my life. Feedback this time: slow down a little and use strategic pauses to allow the audience to process what they were hearing. Also good, constructive feedback.

Last week, I did my third speech. It wasn’t a disaster – as one of my acting teachers used to say, “That was very nice dear, you didn’t fall off the stage.” – but it didn’t leave me with that elated feeling that a performer gets when you know you’ve knocked it out of the park. In this one I thought I should stop telling stories about myself all the time and give a real speech. So I loaded it up with factoids and newspaper articles and exhorted the audience to put down their smartphones and take back their lives.

The feedback this time changed my life and inspired me to start blogging again: Include personal stories to enable the audience to relate to you and your speech.

That sound you just heard was that hollow thwock popularized by V-8 commercials.

Reflecting on the feedback on my way home, I realized that is what I’ve been doing here.

So I’m going to keep on doing it and not worry about imparting wisdom or sharing inspiring life experiences and just do what I do: write about change (overtly or sometimes loosely).

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