Toastmasters Reclaims Motivation

How does one go from feeling overwhelmed with a mind full of chaos, to a sense of calmness with empowering motivation?  Step outside your comfort zone, play the game of life and allow Toastmasters back into your busy schedule.

My mind was feeling like a complete mess with so many work activities and commitments.  I was starting to feel like that image of the calm looking duck upon the lake… with those webbed feet madly paddling beneath.  At what point do we say enough is enough?

How many times in life do we question our direction and our choices?  We allow ourselves to be dragged along, ensuring that we do everything that we must and somehow try to saviour a little time for yourself.

I had been crossing off events from my calendar and any activity that was not work-related got scratched.  Trying to free up some space in my daily schedule.  But was I crossing out the correct choices for me?

Tonight I made that decision, without planning, stepped outside my comfort zone once again.  I had not attended a Toastmasters meeting for months.  Thinking I needed a break and I wouldn’t miss it for a while.  But what I noticed was that I was losing my confidence.  That confidence that was starting to develop when speaking to a group… had started to be lost.

Nervously I jumped into Tamworth Toastmasters again tonight and I am loving the outcome.  Feeling full of motivation with a feeling of complete support and friendship, I have realised that Toastmasters is what is missing in my life.  I am keen to work on my next speech already.

From a morning with back pain and lacking the enthusiasm to do anything more than office work… to a vibrant and interesting evening.  Have you ever felt the need to pike out and push something aside?

After nearly 12 months of no real haircuts because farming finances became far too important to be spending it upon me.  I finally went back to my hairdresser, feeling guilty that I wasn’t able to support her business when the drought had impacted farther afield.  Almost like magic, a simple haircut… no colour, no style… just a haircut, lifted my spirits.  It felt like a load off.  A fringe that had grown out.  A good tidy up, far exceeded expectations.

Then the doctor visit for the dreaded pap smear.  Ladies, I know you understand!  Say no more.  The anxiety and stress around this visit clearly subsided.  Then to review my health care plan.  NOOOO!  I have put on 2kg.  Feeling sorry for myself again about now.

Waiting at the pharmacy for medication, one brief phone call was to change my thought process and how I might react.  A lady cared enough to phone to see how I was going and to make sure everything was OK.  Truthfully no not OK, but I was reminded of what Toastmasters could do for me.

A simple phone call encouraged me to come along tonight.  Without any paperwork, no plans, no badge… I rocked up to the meeting.  Within minutes I felt almost at ease, was speaking on an impromptu task and took on the task of evaluating a speech.

It absolutely amazes me how I can be so nervous yet so calm and excited, all at the same time.  I am so very shy when it comes to speaking, but something ignites within me and I share my passion verbally.

The highlight of the Toastmasters evening for me, was being told that my impromptu speech comes straight from the heart and is spoken with complete honesty.  That is exactly what I want to be able to do when I speak to inspire people.

I think we all have more ability than what we realise.  Every time I hear somebody speak, whether it is a newcomer or a more experienced speaker… we under-estimate our own ability yet think everyone else speaks wonderfully.

Toastmasters gives you the opportunity to improve your communication skills, build confidence and leadership skills, all within a fun supportive learning environment.  We all share our experiences, share stories and help each other.  We laugh and enjoy the evening, and we listen to interesting speakers.  Some of us share knowledge and educate, some share inspiration and uplift us and some share their unique passions in life.

I would like to extend a formal invitation to you if you live in the Tamworth area to attend our next Tamworth Toastmasters meeting, as a Guest.  It will be held on 9th September at West Tamworth League Club, Phillip Street, West Tamworth, 6:45 for 7pm start.  Come and see for yourself what Toastmasters can offer you.

If you live outside this area, I invite you to seek out your closest Toastmasters club and encourage you to challenge yourself and see how your life will improve.  You will be more confident, will have better communication skills and life just becomes more interesting.

Be the best person you can be and with Toastmasters you may just discover that person hiding within.  If I can do it… so can you!

Take care, Karen.

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“The Three C’s of Life:

Choices, Chances, Changes.

You must make a Choice

to take a Chance

or your life will never Change.”

~ Zig Ziglar

Perfectionism is an Agonising Myth With Inferiority

When does our self-confidence start to become debilitated in life and we begin to doubt ourselves?  What makes us question ourselves and start to feel insignificant in other peoples eyes?  It is all a perception… yet so difficult for us all to see.

When we are little girls… we are full of confidence… nothing can phase us.  We are full of life, energetic and our strength is abundant in play.  At some point, at this very young age… we fall into a tangled web, as our peers’ question our relevance and we start to doubt our significance.  Differences are pointed out loudly and doubt sets in, upon our somewhat immature minds.

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This negatively conceived concept of perfection develops and sadly becomes the ideal for young girls to strive for… to fit in with a childhood society as a pecking order develops.  The unfortunate part is that it can take many years for these pre-conceived notions to be challenged and overcome.

As young girls develop through their teenage years and grow into young women, these perceptions are carried into adulthood and can burden our personal relationships.  Inferiority complexes have become the norm and media continues to depict the symbol of perfectionism as beauty without flaws.  Visual attractiveness becomes the image for one to endeavor to assume.  What are we teaching our young women and our young men of today?

As women are exploited on television and in magazines, our society is sending this message that perfection with our looks is the ideal.  We place unnecessary pressure on these young developing minds, that our appearance is more significant than personality, behaviour and attitude.  Those less fortunate in the beauty department are left feeling inadequate and unworthy.  Self-confidence has been lost and takes years for one to resurrect.

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Women can spend a great part of their lives, feeling inadequate and defective in some way.  They then feel accustomed with these faulty impressions and perceive that their partners will see the vulnerability beneath.  Men become confused as to what role women play in our society… beauty or brains… one to look at and one to hold.  They may fail to realise that women are far more complex than either.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… and this rings true.  But beauty is far more than being skin deep.  Beauty is a package of love, emotions, attitude, behaviour and values.  Attraction is complicated and not something to be evaluated.

Beauty is not in our appearance… real beauty is in our overall take on life and our confidence to be who we are.  It is our passion, our natural ability, our differences… those special little quirks that make you distinct and stand out in this world.  Everybody has something that makes them special, allowing them to shine with their true beauty when it is discovered.

We are who we are and why would you want to be anybody else.  Be true to yourself and own who you are.  Show the world what makes you tick… show the world that perfection is a myth and you are worthy just the way you are.

Kindness, compassion and an understanding for others are the real qualities that make us beautiful.  There is no need to strive for perfection.  Our flaws are what make us unique.  If you always look for perfection, you will never be content.  Have faith that you are perfect just the way you are.

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We can always strive for personal growth to benefit ourselves in our health, our mind and our wellbeing… but not competition or comparison.  Love the person you are.  Flabby arms, speech impairments, baldness, lack of coordination, shyness, wobbly tummy, big nose, cross-eyes or a physical limp… does not define who you are.  They are just imperfections that should be accepted and thought about no more.

Our flaws and imperfections are the beautiful attributes that make us unique.  There is an untold story beneath each and every attribute.  Claim those stories… claim your individuality.  Our behaviour is not perfect either, we are all human.  Our mistakes are our lessons in life.  Learn the lesson and move on.

Too much of our life is wasted upon how we think we should hide, disguise or shield those unimportant visual discrepancies and our misaligned conduct.  We are what we are and we must feel comfortable in our own skin.  We need to boost each other up and encourage everyone to reveal the real beauty within, rather than battle a comparison war and feelings of inadequacy.

Love yourself first and foremost… then you will attract others into your life naturally and not by any false means of advertising.  You will be happier and more content if you allow yourself to be confident and believe in yourself.  Those little things that make up who you are… is what really makes you beautiful.  Believe you are beautiful and the world will see that you truly are.

Take care, Karen

“The biggest challenge of life is to be yourself

in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.”

~ Author Unknown

 

Toastmasters Proves To Be Life-Changing

Who cringes at the mere thought of public speaking?  ME for one!  It is Toastmasters International Week.  The week to reflect upon and promote the intense personal improvements that are waiting to be unveiled for all.

Toastmasters is a self-development group of people that are aimed at helping members improve their communication and leadership skills.  Toastmasters was established in 1924 and now operates in 52 countries with more than 200,000 members in over 8,000 clubs.

Only a few months ago, I joined Toastmasters International and ever so quickly… my life has improved, in confidence and my public speaking skills are starting to emerge.  Despite feeling anxious and somewhat overwhelmed at speaking publically, Toastmasters has incredibly helped me overcome my initial fears and is helping me develop some insight into the art of speaking.

I wouldn’t say miracles have happened in this very short time, but my involvement at Toastmasters has certainly improved my confidence levels and ability to not “run away” at the mere thought of speaking to an audience.  I like the structure and opportunities presented at each meeting.  I also like the supportive members that assist and guide with their friendly natures and mutual desire for personal improvement.

Our level of confidence improves with our ability to control our nerves and overcome the fear.  Toastmasters helps you to overcome that fear, control your nerves and increase your confidence.  Leadership skills are the great underlying strength in Toastmasters with their structure, organisation and operation.  Toastmasters can help you improve your ability to think more quickly, learn meeting procedures and have an evening of fun and enjoyment.

For me, I like to speak from the heart and give an emotional authentic style of speech.  My problem is I like to write, so of course, I can prepare an engaging speech of some sort.  But presenting a speech is my struggle.  When I stand up, I lose the words, I don’t know what to say.  This is my challenge to overcome and I have enjoyed the journey to date.

I attended my first meeting to check it out and observe as a guest.  Then I joined up on the spot, despite thinking that “I am way out of my depth here”.  I believed I could never speak in front of people like this, even though it was only a small audience of about 12 people.

But I was on a recent mission to challenge myself and gain personal growth.  Nevertheless, I joined up because I knew that would make me return and I would not give up without even trying.  I am really a scrooge and money is very valuable in farming… so in my mind… if I paid the membership, I would have to return to get my money’s worth.  I know… I am a little eccentric… but it worked for me.

Toastmasters has produced a new program called Pathways that allows members to choose their own unique path, subject to their own aims and desired outcomes.  I find this very personalised and more dedicated to the individual.  I also enjoy the online opportunity of my pathway.

The new program Pathways was introduced in 2010 with 5 core competencies:

  • Public Speaking
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Management
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Confidence

There are 11 different Pathways to choose from, based on your own objectives and to develop those skills as you embark on this new experience and journey.  Through answering questions about my aims and purpose, several Pathways were suggested.  I chose “Innovative Planning” and was guided to the tasks and their purpose.

So I was keen, although nervous, at the next meeting to present my first 5-minute speech the “Ice Breaker” which is all about introducing yourself and learning the basic structure of a public speech.  I would normally have quit before I even started… because I feared public speaking so much that I would even refrain from asking questions for the lack of words.  I have recently managed to shift my mindset, so I was very nervous yet very eager to begin and get it over with.  Surprisingly under the nerves, I actually enjoyed presenting my speech and my passion in life to the small audience.

As part of my new challenge for self-improvement, I elected to take on the assignment of the “Inspiration” segment at the next meeting.  My short speech entailed Christmas and the festive season and an inspiring poem.  I also enjoyed doing this, despite the nervous energy within me.  I am still amazed by how a supportive group of people with a mutual interest in improving speaking skills can encourage me to be so involved.

At following meetings, I have continued to take on an assignment role where needed, in an attempt to make myself step outside my comfort zone.  This has lifted my confidence and improved my ability to speak and find those words somewhere within.  I do feel empowered to explore and enjoy what Toastmasters offers in developing my communication skills.

My next big speech will be in a few weeks, so I have been thinking about where to begin.  The topic can be about anything of my choosing.  I would like to talk about drought in Australia, the mental health of farmers, the empathy of strangers with drought support and the unspoken yet heartfelt gratitude of farmers.  As a farmer, this is quite an emotional topic, so I am not sure how it will come together and be presented.  I would like to try presenting a speech without having it written on paper, word for word.  But I am fearful that my true message will get lost when I forget all the words and I will feel disappointed.  I must talk to some more experienced fellow Toastmasters to get some advice.

Toastmasters really is a supportive and positive learning environment with opportunities for members to develop communication and leadership skills.  This leads to self-confidence and personal growth.

Anyone over the age of 18 can join Toastmasters… male or female… from any career or background.  I encourage you to make enquiries at your local Toastmasters Club as you will be amazed by this incredible life-changing experience that will improve all areas of your life.

Take care, Karen.

“The thing you fear most has no power.

Your fear of it is what has the power.

Facing the truth really will set you free”.

~ Oprah Winfrey

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Wanted: My Inner Mojo

Lost my mojo many years back.  After a soul-wrenching search, I have found it, hiding within.  Our life journey amongst the changes, work, partners, children… sometimes we just lose it for a while.  We just need to believe we can resurrect it and the happiness within is life transforming.

I have dedicated this year to get my health back on track.  I took control of my journey with the guidance of a few health professionals.  Dealing with a sleep disorder, a prolonged operation, chronic pain, the stress of farming during drought times and the related complications of it all… no wonder I ended up with depression and anxiety.  But through careful treatment and my inner pledge to myself, life is getting back on track.  More so, my ability to deal with life’s bumpy journey has been restored.

Inspired and optimistic today in my follow-up with the Mindset Strategist.  In just 2 appointments, her practice has helped transform my life completely.  Amazed by the results of her techniques and how quick it worked.  I recommend Katie Godden with her enthusiasm, positivity and guidance.   This modern intuitive technique of aligning our sub-conscious thoughts with real life, letting go of our emotional baggage and giving us the confidence to move forward… is so unbelievably powerful and enriching.

Like many women, I struggled with confidence and low self-esteem over the years.  My thoughts have now shifted, and I have found my inner mojo again.  That influence and personal charisma that we all have inside of us and the confidence to let it shine.  Quietly but proudly, I like the “new” ME that I have found and so excited to take on life by the horns.

Remember, believe in yourself because that’s where the magic begins.

You are worth it!

Take care, Karen.

P.S. Please watch this video, it is just beautiful and sums up all our lives.

Video Credit: CIMORELLI ~ YouTube