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What I Stand For

Hello world!

Tomorrow evening I am scheduled to deliver a 3-min business pitch titled “What I stand for“. When I ask myself the question “What do I stand for?“, there are so many answers depending on the context. However, if I am forced to pick the most important and the most general one, I think I will pick “love“. So in the following sections, let me explain why and how so.

It has been about 9 months since I started asking the big questions of life and finding their answers one after the other. Examples of big questions I asked were “What is my full potential?“, “What is energy?“, “How can we attain inner peace?” and “Who is genius?” etc. Also besides the answers to my big questions, I learnt so much about the Universe and my place in it. So to enlist the most important findings of my exploration:

First of all, I found out that everything in the Universe is energy. That is, the material objects that we see as well as the invisible things such as our thoughts, feelings, smell, sound, etc are all energy. And the only difference between the different forms of energy is the frequency at which they are vibrating.

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Then I learnt that in the Universe, energy attracts other forms of energy that are vibrating at the same frequency and it is known as “The Law of Attraction“. And being a universal law, just like “The Law of Gravity“, “The Law of Attraction” works whether we consciously know about it or not.

And further I found out that our thoughts and feelings determine the frequencies at which we vibrate, and we attract to our experiences those things, people, events and circumstances that are of the same frequencies as our dominant thoughts and feeings. So in essence, nothing in our life is an accident, but one of our own creation.

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And once I knew that, being able to control and choose my thoughts became of a paramount importance. Our thoughts determine our feelings, therefore, being able to consciously think good thoughts is the key.

Then I found out that meditation is the most effective tool to learn to control our thoughts. So I practiced it twice daily for 15 minutes each session. First trying not to think anything was almost impossible, but after 4 months, now I have gotten pretty good at being in control of my thoughts, hence my feelings also.

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And going yet deeper, I learnt that the feelings of love and gratitude are of the highest frequencies in the Universe, and when we maintain those feelings, we naturally tap into the infinite potential of the Universe; hence our own potential becomes infinite.

So how do we maintain the feelings of love and gratitude? The feeling of love is best achieved by exposing ourselves to the things and people that we naturally love. And the feeling of gratitude is best attained by appreciating the things and people that we have in our life.

So how does it all relate to business?

It relates to business when it comes to what we do. Do you remember that almost all successful people encourage us to do what we love? Do you remember Steve Jobs‘ quote:

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So because doing what we love increases our potential to greatness and ultimately infinite, I stand for love at Toastmasters and outside Toastmasters. And I suggest that you consider it as well! 🙂

Feel wonderful! 

Bella

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D95 Division F Club Officers’ Tango 2016

Hello fellow Toastmasters and the World! flag_german_2

Last Saturday on the 23rd of July, 2016, Toastmasters’ Division F within District 95 had its Club Officer Training for the new officers of 2016-2017 term and the training took place in Stuttgart, Germany. To share some facts, our Division F covers areas between Frankfurt and Freiburg and as of this writing, there are 26 Toastmasters clubs within the division and 22 clubs were represented at this training.

Our Division Director‘s name is Mirja Iannuccelli and here is how happy she was to see us all under one roof. 1

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As the top leader of the Division, Mirja hosted and led the whole event and here is how the setting looked on that day. 2

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To share my personal views on Mirja, she is a ball of positive energy and vibrant optimism. When my fellow Toastmasters exhibit such energy, I call them Sunshine. So being the biggest exhibitor of such vibrant positive energy, Mirja must be the Sun among us!

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Also when I look at Mirja, I truly wonder what gets her going… If I need to reach out to her, she is always available almost at an instant… And when I see her at Toastmasters’ meetings, events and contents, the music inside her seems to be always playing powerfully!

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So I think that she must be seeing and feeling something invigorating and valuable that many Toastmasters, including myself, are yet to discover… Otherwise, how else would her steps and greetings turn into Tango moves when she is on stage at Toastmasters! (Referring to the header photo as you could guess. 😉 )

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Coming to the agenda of the event, when I walked in a little bit late, Mirja was just about to start with the introduction of our new Area Directors. Normally, I don’t come to events and meeting late, but that morning our train was struck by lightning on the road… In any case, we made it right before the Area Directors‘ introduction started.

There are 5 areas within our division and here are the happy leaders waving at us. 1

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The first person on the left-hand side is Darryl Heron, the Area Director of Area F3. Next to Darryl is Kai-Jürgen Lietz, the Area Director of Area F4. Then you see Mirja. Next to Mirja is Anke Humpert, the Area Director of Area F5. On the right-hand side of Anke is Oliver Hauss, the Area Director of Area F2. And finally, the man on the very right-hand side of the picture is Sascha Friedmann, the Area Director of Area F1.

Throughout the event, I saw the six leaders gathering up frequently during the breaks to discuss various matters and make decisions. 2

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One of the decisions that our leaders made for the event was to recognize those who have been generous with their support and initiatives during the past year and helped make Toastmasters experience a pleasant one for all within the Division. According to Mirja, leadership comes in different flavours–there is the officer position flavour and also there are the people, who are committed and take responsibilities in the community.  

And the following are the five people, who extended their leadership to the community time and again, and were recognized by the Division Council with an official Toastmasters’ certficiate.

Ortwin Walz, the President of the Verdi Rhetorikklub in Stuttgart. Recognized for his creativity in organizing events and bringing people together. 1

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Susanne Rode,  the Immediate Past Area Director F1 and the member of the Verdi Rhetorikklub in Stuttgart. Recognized for her reliability and committment 2

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Naile Yildiz, the Vice President Membership of the Famous Toastmasters Wiesbaden. Recognized for her big heart, her helpfulness, her way of running the registration always in a smooth and professional manner 3

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Pascal Lehmacher, the officer of Rhetorik-Club Frankfurt. Recognized for his courage 1

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Martin Hennegriff, the officer of Karlsruhe Toastmasters Club. Recognized because he takes action when others are still talking. He is a Doer!  2

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After the introduction and recognition ceremony, the group divided into two streams. One stream focused on education and club Presidents, Vice Presidents Education, Treasurers and Sergeant at Arms attended it. And the other stream concentrated on membership and marketing matters and Vice Presidents Membership, Vice Presidents PR and Secretaries participated in the workshop.

Being the Vice President Membership with the Business Club Frankfurt Toastmasters, I attended the latter workshop and this is how the workshop looked from my angle of the room. 2

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In the picture, Darryl Heron, the Area Director of Area F3, was giving workshop on membership and marketing aspects of clubs and the majority of his discussion focused on effective social media usage.

Being rather new (5 months) to Toastmasters, I found the information and links that Darryl provided very useful. So I took the picture of every Powerpoint slide that he turned and the following are some of the links that you might find useful as well:

During the workshop, one of the things that our officers liked very much was the Guest Packet that our club Treasurer Craig had brought along to show me and here is how it looks. 2

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To find out more about the Guest Packet, click here to access the Shop page on Toastmasters International (TI).

Also while reading the “Club Leadership Handbook” the night before the training, I found out that the following useful tool called “Guest Information Card and Badge” exists. 1

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So in case you’re curious about this card and badge, click here to access the Shop at TI.

Also when it came to sharing the best practices implemented throughout the clubs, I talked about our club YouTube channel, which I set up myself. On the channel, I have been uploading the meeting speech recordings (certainly the ones with the speakers’ permissions) and also created playlists of useful resources for public speakers. To visit our club YouTube channel, click here.

And after the 2-hour workshop, we had a lunch and networking break and here are the panoramas:

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Then after the nice lunch break, we worked on our Club Success Plans with our Area Directors’ support. To hear about what a Club Success Plan is, play below short video of Kai-Jürgen:

To be honest, having not read the relevant manual below, it wasn’t very easy for us to come up with the points for the plan.

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Luckily the workshop was only to get the ball rolling and later we could complete the plan together with our other officers. And by the way, that’s an agenda item for our next club officers’ meeting, where we agreed to come prepared by reading the above manual. And in case you as a club officer hasn’t read it, click here to download your free PDF version.

Following that workshop, Amy Hamilton explaind the changes in the Contest Rulebook and as there are a number of important changes in the Contest Rulebook, I think it’s a good idea to listen to Amy‘s original explanations in below recording.

To download the PDF version of the new Speech Contest Rulebook, click here.

Then in the last part of the training, we again divided into two streams. One stream was for those who are interested in the subject “Navigate through TMI : Where to find helpful material and resources” and the other was on the subject “Building new clubs“. I was interested in how new clubs get founded, therefore I attended the latter group. And here is my take-away for us–the snapshot of the key items required for building a new club. 2

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With that workshop, the Club Officer Training ended.

And in case you’ve been wondering, who has written this report, here is my identity. 2

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And the person appearing in below two pictures is me. 1

In the first picture, I am standing with our Area Director Kai-Jürgen and our club Treasurer Craig.

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In the second picture, I am together with the gentlemen from the Rhetorik-Club Frankfurt Toastmasters. Pascal on my left side, Rocky on my right side and I don’t remember the 3rd gentleman’s name. t1202

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So overall, the Club Officer Training was a great orientation for me as a new officer and I got to know many fellow Toastmasters from other clubs. So it was a great experience and I look forward to the next one, where perhaps all of us will Tango together since we know one another now!

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Feel wonderful! 

Bella (My media name 😉 )

PS: If you wish to read my other posts on Toastmasters, click here.

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My next speech: Science & Spirituality Marriage

You know, ever since I became a Toastmaster and heard several fellow Toastmasters‘ speeches, one thing became crystal clear in my mind and that is “I don’t want to talk about myself over and over again!” Even at contest speeches, most Toastmasters spoke about themselves, their families or their work. And as much as I was interested in getting to know them, I secretly wished to hear something beyond the day-to-day life.

But when I gave my first speech, I had no choice because ice-breaker speech has to be about who we are and what we have been up to. So I delivered that, and after that I could set my sight higher. And as I am a big-picture-oriented person, I naturally wanted to understand what this whole Toastmasters experience is all about.

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And based on what I was able to dig out from two monthly Toastmasters magazines, I found out that Toastmasters transforms those, who incorporates it into their lifestyles.  

So that was good to know, and in my 2nd speech, I called my fellow Toastmasters to live Toastmasters as a lifestyle! And if I believe in something, I don’t stop at talking about it–I take an immediate action. So I took below picture when it felt like my fellow Toastmasters seemed to be really enjoying the Toastmasters‘ lifestyle.  2

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Then I shared this and other photo on club and division Facebook groups to communicate my motto to others, who hadn’t read or heard my speech… In any case, I had a total blast in studying the topic of my 2nd speech, writing about it, and delivering the speech, etc… (Oh by the way, if you want to hear my 2nd speech titled “Charity begins at home“, click here.)

Then the morning after delivering my 2nd speech, my mind asked me “What next?” Then it answered its own question by saying, “I want to study how science marries spirituality!“. It sounded like a super interesting and worthy subject to explore and learn, so I told my mind “Go ahead!

So these days I am collecting the information for my 3rd speech, that’s why you suddenly see a lot of posts on supernatural stuff.

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Apparently, science and spirituality do marry! See below quote of Nikola Tesla2

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And I should give credit to the man, who gave me idea for the 3rd speech. It was Gregg Braden‘s below talk that got me thinking. 2

Finally, I would like to tell you that I have decided to treat my Toastmasters‘ speeches as an opportunity to explore and study interesting topics. Accordingly, the 3rd speech will summarize the findings of my research on how science marries spirituality and it will be titled “Happily Ever After“. And in my 4th speech, I want to explore 3D printing, so I chose the title “The Future of 3D Printing“.

Sounds interesting?

Then stay tuned! I am planning to deliver a speech at every other club meeting. That means almost once a month. So see you soon!

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Feel good! 

Bella

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Toastmaster Transforms!

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This is exactly the case for me right now! Tonight I am scheduled to deliver my 2nd prepared speech titled “Charity begins at home“, but there are so many things I want to talk about as outlined in the header photo and it is hard to pick a few among them. Hence I have decided to sit behind my keyboard and find out what my mind is really thinking…

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There is a popular quote of Mrs.Helen Blanchard, the first female International President of Toastmasters, that says “If you get out of Toastmasters all there is to get out of Toastmasters, you will never get out of Toastmasters!“. Reading this quote makes me think that there is so much more that I don’t know about Toastmasters because if I am asked to provide a quote on Toastmasters at this point, I could only say, “Toastmasters is the place to  have an INTELLIGENT FUN!

Yes! So far I have been having an intelligent fun hanging around intelligent people, most of whom are businessmen, consultants and coaches. Outside the club, I have been amusing myself by thinking about and writing about what happened during the club meetings and the after-event drinks at Schönhauser. But when it comes to tangible take-aways from Toastmasters, I think it is still too early for me to notice any significant change in my own development. 

However, as I read about others’ experiences in the May and June magazines, appearantly Toastmaster transforms! Throughout the magazines, there are numerous examples of then-and-now comparisons of skills development and how those polished skills helped improve business performances and achieve larger social goals, etc.

So knowing what I don’t know yet, perhaps I should use this speech as an opportunity to find out what else is out there. On the article called “9 Ways to Spot a Leader” of June Toastmasters magazine, it said, “The key question that a leader must ask is, “Why?” When she understand the Why, she can lead to the How.” So I think I should start with the “Why” first.

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I think, to put the whole Toastmasters thing into perspective, it is a safe playing ground for people to learn from repeated attempts and experiences. So far as I have read and spoken to my peers, the senior Toastmasters, who have claimed to benefit from the program, boasted strong developments in storytelling, internal-clock-building, speechwriting, coaching, leading, handling Q&A sessions and weaving humor into speeches.

To cite some examples, Raajeev Aggarwal, a businessman and a Distinguished Toastmaster from California, used Toastmasters as a bridge to build a stand-up comedy career. In his interview, he said, “I use my Toastmasters participation to try new jokes. I tell my fellow Toastmasters that I am using them as a guinea pigs to try new material.”

Katherine Scott, a Distinguished Toastmaster, used Toastmasters to transform herself from a singer to a voice coach. And she says, “Right from my Ice Breaker speech I knew the potential for transformation on a personal level. Toastmaster opened up another opportunity for me to use my voice through professional speaking. Everything I learn in Toastmasters is essential for achieving another one of my goals–to be skilled at doing online videos and podcasting.”

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And with the improved skills set, Toastmasters around the world has not only enjoyed personal satisfactions by turning their hobbies and passions into new careers, but also they have achieved substantial business growths and achieved larger social goals.

To cite those examples, Pauline A. Blachford, a Competent Communicator, tells her story, “As for becoming comfortable selling my services, the veterans in my Toastmasters club have taught me to use interesting and humorous stories from my professional experience as a way to demonstrate my expertise without feeling like I am giving a sales pitch. It’s working, as most of my clients come to me from my speaking engagements.”

Also, an article inside the June magazine says, “Toastmasters doesn’t just change people; it also affects organizations. One club was built for an association of people with learning challenges and Toastmasters gave a voice to those who had never had a voice before. One woman, a member with learning challenges, gave a speech at their fundraiser and it generated $145,000 in contributions. That’s a big-picture impact that goes far beyond counting ahs and ums!

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So that was to talk about the “Why?” of Toastmasters. Now let’s talk about the “How?“.

Talking about the “How?“, I think that Toastmasters should be a lifestyle for Toastmasters. That means, if we really believe in Toastmasters, I think, we should open up as much space for it as possible in our lives. That means, we should be engaged in it not only at the club meetings, but also outside the club meetings through social activities and online platforms. We should be the loudest cheerleaders of Toastmasters in our communities and personal and professional circles because we know that people will only benefit from it! And when we do that, the proverb “Charity begins at home” will be true for us! We can help our family and friends as a start!

And among our fellow international Toastmasters, there are many, who do that. To mention some examples, in Washington, there is a couple, who have been Toastmasters for 13-14 years. First, the husband Tom joined Toastmasters in 2002 and then the wife Dolly followed suit. Then the next year, they helped start the Monroe Vocal Project club in Monroe, Washington.

And I also remember reading a Facebook post from a wife-and-husband Toastmasters, 858946b7dadb1089cd6d4b00f44c416bwhose marriage was saved because the wife joined his husband’s Toastmasters club. And I remember commenting on that post on Facebook and the wife “liked” my comment.

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Then there is the example of Peter Kossowan, who has chartered 164 Toastmasters clubs in Canada. The magazine article says that Kossowan constantly prospects for potential clubs. When he speaks to potential “targets”, he kindly asks “Why don’t you join me at a Toastmasters meeting and see for yourself the benfits?” And it works!

And his advice for us, the fellow Toastmasters is, “Invite people with leadership ability and ask them to invite people in their network. Talk about it everywhere. Chartering a club is incredibly rewarding–it brings the greatness of Toastmasters to a world that desperately needs strong leaders and communicators. You are qualified to start a club, and you are up to the task.”

In closing, I would like to call my fellow Toastmasters to live Toastmasters as a lifestyle! Be proud of it, talk about it everywhere and ignite inspiration in others to join Toastmasters! At our Officer meeting, our new Club President David suggested to approach start-up communities and organize workshops with them. I think that’s a brilliant idea and I think we should all look out for groups and communities, who need polishing in their speaking and leadership skills!

Finally, I would like to finish my speech with a quote from Buddha:

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So that is my prepared speech for today. Hope you like it!

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Feel good! 

Bella

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An Experience of Connection

If you have seen it, Sunday evening I uploaded the above picture on my Facebook timeline and left it with a note “Out to read now. Catch up later! 😉“. Then I went to the Main River and found a cozy cafe to enjoy a glass of Baileys and read my Toastmasters magazine‘s June edition.

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Just like the May edition, the June edition was full of good stuff, and there were many great articles and tips for creating a strong connection with one’s audience as a speaker. I especially liked the connections achieved through humor. So let me focus on that and try to show you what I saw through my eyes.

The first article that touched upon audience connection was the one of Katherine Scott, a professional singer turned voice coach. And here is her story:

“As a singer I’d sung some wonderful repertoire, but when I started to write and sing my own songs I began to understand what it means to have a deep connection with an audience. Toastmasters opened up another opportunity for me to use my voice through professional speaking. My goal in working with clients is to help them intentionally create an experience of connection, every time, with their audience.

And you know what? She says that she’s not going to stop at creating connection with a physical audience only, but she plans to go beyond that. And here is how:

“Everything I learn in Toastmasters is essential for achieving another one of my goals–to be skilled at doing online videos and podcasting. Learning better communication skills for the Internet will allow me to support more change agents to connect with their own particular audience.

By the way, that is also one of my goals!

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And because she had that and many other good things to say, I put a heart-animation2 next to all the juicy parts of her speech. Do you like it? 1

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Then there was the story of Julie Kertesz, a 82-year old lady, who at 77 stepped out of her comfort zone and became a stand-up comedian.

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And this is her story:

“Sporting short white hair and well-earned wrinkles, Kertesz admists she may give off a “grandma” vibe when strolling onto a stage at the comedy clubs. But audiences learn quickly not to judge her by appearance alone. Her stand-up act includes allusive jokes about her love life and some self-depreciating humor about her age, with four-letter words sprinked in, despite her daughter’s advice. Kertesz says, “I believed for so long that I was not funny. But we develop, with time, a ‘comedian’s eyes,’ looking at all our problems and learning how to present them so others will laugh with us.”

Kertesz now incorporates elements of what she has learned onstage back at her Toastmasters clubs and has the following tip for us: “Speaking from the inside connects us to any audience. I learned to connect with a young audience as a stand-up comedian and with a middle-aged crowd as a personal storyteller.”

Besides public speaking, Kertesz has many other passions such as photography, blogging and storytelling. To look at her Flickr-famous photos, click here. To check out her public speaking blog, click here. To listen to her personal stories, click here.

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Continuing on the connecting through humor topic, in the above section called “Comedy Connection“, four professionally-funny Toastmasters offered their tips and ticks. And here are my favourite tips and tricks from each Toastmaster:

Owen Lean, London: The best way to gather an audience for a street show is to create a happy, relaxed energy at the start. So I might tell jokes and use silly humor as people approach me.

Sarah Carothers, Houston, Texas: You just have to be sincere with your audience and they’ll usually embrace you in the end.

Palmo Carpino, Calgary, Alberta: With any event, humor is absolutely the best way to get people on my side. If they are with me, they will stay with me–stay on time, stay in the room. Whether I’m presenting or hosting an event, I make it a point to meet with audience members prior to the event. I look for those friendly faces from the stage. Creating a sense of familiarity–all of us laughing at the same thing–really helps with staying in control of the event.

Raajeev Aggarwal, Burbank, California: Self-depreciating humor generally works best. Because humor is challenging and can easily upset people, I prefer that safer variety. I like to use myself as the victim so I am the one who looks stupid and not the audience. As an extension of that, I also make fun of my family…. I try to use comedy that relieves people of their misery. You are putting yourself down so that everyone in the room feels better about themselves.

By the way, from the two Toastmasters magazines I have read so far, I see that these magazines make for a great source of rich vocabulary. In this June edition, my favourite new word was “Camaraderie“, meaning “a feeling of friendliness towards people that you work or share an experience with.” Lately, I have been having a unique friendship/experience with my Facebook fan-friends and this new word summarized the whole thing into one simple word. So good to know it! 

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Finally, there was the story of Peter Kossowan, a Distinguished Toastmaster, who has sponsored 164 Toastmasters clubs’ establishment and the article said that he uses his sales-closing techniques to launch new clubs. The specific technique that he uses at the end of a demo meeting is to ask “If there are no other questions, I have a question for you. Will you complete the membership application and leave it with us today?” And his simple question works!

Furthermore, Peter encourages other Toastmasters to sponsor new clubs and has the following word for us: “Chartering a club is incredibly rewarding–it brings the greatness of Toastmasters to a world that desperately needs strong leaders and communicators. You are qualified to start a club, and you are up to the task!”

And hearing that pearl of wisdom, I thought to myself, If he can establish 164 clubs, I can easily establish ONE!” 

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Feel good! 

Bella

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Into the Hearts & Minds of Toastmasters

Last Sunday, sitting around at different locations around the Main River, I finished reading the Toastmasters’ May 2016 magazine from front cover to back cover, and if I recall it correctly, it is the only time in my life that I have digested a whole magazine.

This May 2016 issue was the first magazine that I had received since joining Toastmasters and I received the June edition about 10 days ago. So before I delve into the second magazine, I would like to share my take-aways from the first one while the impressions are still fresh in my mind and heart.

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In going about sharing the highlights of the content, I would like to present you the parts that stiked the strongest chords with me. The first one was found on the welcome page within the words of the International President Jim Kokocki, a Distinguished Toastmaster. By quoting the Toastmasters founder Mr.Smedley, Mr.Kokocki wrote “the name Toastmasters Club offers a suggestion of a pleasant, social atmosphere, free from anything like work or study.” Also he added, “Toastmasters are optimistic, enthuasistic people working on their personal development and taking an interest in the self-development of those around them.”  And as an enthuasistic Toastmaster I proudly say that both highlights have been true in my club environment!   

Moving on, on page 7, there were 5 Tips for a Successful Presentation and the points 3 and 4 were interesting to me. Point 3 was “What’s In It For Me?” And here is the suggestion word for word: “Have your antenna up for WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Tune in to what is important to your audience. Go into your presentation thinking, It’s not about me; it’s about the needs of the audience, and you will be focused and confident when speaking.” And I say, “Good to know!”

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Point 4 was “Questions are Opportunities”. This point was interesting to me because in our club environment, following prepared or impromptu speeches, there hasn’t been a time allocated for Q&A section. So when this section suggested “Look forward to questions during your presentation–they are the bridge to closing the deal”, I wondered if my club was missing something…

The next chord-striking tips were in “The Essence of Great Leadership” and there were 3 principles of more human leadership that I liked very much and they are the followings:

  • Establishing a mantra of key values–it’s the glue that holds all of us together.
  • Fighting complacency and the naysayers–Inertia is a momentum killer. So are those still desire the old ways.
  • Connecting it all to a higher purpose–Humans want to be part of a meaningful cause that’s bigger than themselves.

The reason that these principles striked chord must be to do with the fact that I have just stepped up to the leadership team, hence I need “reminders” for myself and my new team.

Turning the pages, there were many stories of current and past Toastmasters and I got a lesson from almost every one of them. The lesson I took away from Pauline A.Blachford, Competent Communicator, was, in her own words, “the key to giving a compelling presentation was to trust my material. I have the knowledge, experience and research findings to support my strategies. When I focus on the importance of the information I am providing–instead of how I am performing or how I am being perceived by the audience–my conviction shines through and my presentations are more convincing.”

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And there were many great stories about storytelling and below one titled “Storytellers who motivate” was my topmost favourite and I would like to copy the section word for word:

“Storytelling has changed my business and my life,” says Las Vegas hotel mogul Steve Wynn. Wynn believes that storytelling taps into the strongest force in the universe–self-esteem. For example, at the beginning of every shift at Wynn hotels, a supervisor asks, “Does anyone have a story about a great customer experience they’d like to share?” The stories serve to educate the rest of the team on model behaviors. More importantly, stories motivate employees because customer service heroes are recognized by their peers. Pretty soon employees compete for better stories. Recognition is a powerful motivator.” —and this lesson was my biggest take-away from the magazine! 

The last, but not the least interesting section of the magazine was the Technology part, where they shared the trends and products showcased at the Presentation Summit. And me having the hobby of designing PowerPoint slides, I thoroughly enjoyed this section. My favourite trend was that “today more presenters graphics-thumbs-220297give audiences access to their slides in the form of scrolling presentations. Speakers simply send out a link to their websites, where attendees can view the presentation by scrolling through it.” –Awesome, isn’t it?

And my favourite product is GoReact (www.goreact.com) and to quote the magazine, “This cloud-based application enables feedback, coaching and critique of videos of speeches and slide-based presentations. Recordings can be made on virtually any equipment, and coaching and feedback can be offered from anywhere with Internet access.” And the section also says that there is a recorder app of this application, which you can download from the App store. Cool isn’t it?

So this was my one-magazine-journey to get into the hearts and minds of Toastmasters around the world, and now I look forward to reading the June 2016 edition.

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Feel good! 

Bella

 

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Stars Are Born @ Toastmasters

The last club meeting started out differently, very differently because most of the senior leaders were absent and we had a few new guests present. When the senior leaders are missing, the room always feels like a family with missing parents. And if you add to those “children’s presence” a few guests from outside, the energy of the room feels a bit puzzling… at least to me.

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But as it turned out those were the moments when the proverb “Darkest hour is just before the dawn” was to be proven right and the rest of the story will show you how.

As per Toastmasters system, the Club President opens every meeting. But if the Club President is absent, then the responsibility rests with the Vice President Education. But at the last meeting, both of these senior leaders were absent…

So what did we do?

Well, Klaus, our Toastmaster of the evening, found an immediate solution and I saw Craig coming up on the stage to open the meeting. And as soon as I heard Craig speak, my mouth opened wide with “WOW”. I was “WOW” for two reasons and the first is that since he joined our club recently, Craig hadn’t had a time or chance to deliver his ice-breaker speech yet. Nevertheless, he walked up to step into the President‘s shoes and that was a big “WOW” to me.

And the second “WOW” was his voice that made everybody freeze in time and listen to his every single word with utter connection. What’s interesting was that it was the same voice that he had spoken to me/us for all this time. But the moment I heard his voice on the stage, I recognized it as Morgan Freeman‘s voice. So if you’re curious about how Craig‘s voice sounds like, quickly play below short video. 1

But the pleasure I got from listening to Craig’s voice didn’t stop there as he was invited by Oliver, who was the Table Topic Master of the evening, to give a table-topic speech later during the meeting. And when Craig spoke again, so much love came out of his being and filled up the room.

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I believe that the question Oliver posed to Craig was “What qualities/values should the young people of the new generation be taught?” or something similar, and below video presents how Craig responded with his loving words. 2

So to sum up my “WOW”s over Craig, stars must be constantly born at Toastmasters and that night I definitely saw one being born

By the way, at the next club meeting, Craig is going to be the Toastmaster of the evening. So if you want to see Young Morgan Freeman in action, come to our club meeting on the 6th of July! For more details click here.

If you have never been to a Toastmasters meeting, our meetings are highly educational as much as they are so much fun. And that night, there were two educational speeches and one humorous speech. To give you a taste of an educational speech, here is one delivered by Oliver that night. 1

As you see, his speech started with an introduction by a fellow Toastmaster (her name is Birgit) and that’s the custom for all prepared speeches. Then after the speech is delivered, the same person who made the speaker’s introduction evaluates the speech (click here to watch Birgit‘s evaluation) and provides feedback for further improvement. And that’s one of the secrets why we get better and better from one speech to the next.

As for Oliver‘s speech “Body Beats Brain”, the lesson taught was very insightful and practical to me. In short, through this speech, he gave us the tips and tricks for beating our brain with one effective technique and that is, in times of fear or stress, to recall a time when we felt most courageous or comfortable, then let the feeling permeate throughout our body. And once a feeling of courage and comfort is flooding throughout our body, the brain has no choice, but to surrender.

And another educational speech delivered by Barbara was “The Toastmaster’s promise – What is it all about?” In effect, when we join Toastmasters, we promise to keep the following promises and they essentially represent what Toastmasters‘ experience is all about. 2

Toastmasters promise

So these were the highlights of our last club meeting and I trust that you are one of the stars that are yet to be born in our club or in any other club around the world. To locate the closest club near you, click here.

Feel good! 

Bella

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3-Month Journey: Toastmasters

The next in my 3-month journey series is my journey with Toastmasters. Its has been well over 3 months since I joined the Business Club Frankfurt Toastmasters, so now it’s time to look back and assess how far I have come along and where I want to go from here.

I googled and found my club after I read below paragraph in Frank Bettger‘s best-selling book “How I Raised Myself from Failure“.

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Luckily, the club was almost just around the corner from my home and that was one of the reasons that I haven’t missed a single meeting so far. The first person I met from the club was the President Mr.Sunshine. He actually helped me open the entrance door when I was standing at the building entrance, not knowing that I was supposed to pull the door, not push it. He had a big smile on his face and steaming energy around his being. I liked him instantly, especially because he 80% resembled somebody dear to my heart.

Then we entered the meeting room and there I met other great people bursting with energy and enthusiasm, and I got hooked. Before joining my club, it had never occurred to me that public speaking was something that could be systematically trained and developed. And that is to say that the best thing I like about Toastmasters is the system, the great system that captures almost every conceivable detail around public speaking.

And those details are captured in manuals, series of manuals. I don’t know how many manuals exist in total; it seems numerous. If you want to see what those manuals look like, press here.

And the instructions in those manuals are written in such a way that they bring out the best in people. Now, on this limited space, it is hard for me to demonstrate what I mean by that. The best is for you to visit one of the 15,400 clubs in 135 countries. To find a club, click here.

Going back to the discussion of my club, there are some very bright speakers. The brightest speaker, to me personally, is my Idol Martin. Before he was not only my Public Speaking Idol, but also my Male Fashion Icon. And lately, he is becoming my Leadership Idol too. If you look at Toastmasters‘ mission, it aims to develop not only public speaking skills, but also leadership skills. And on the latter, Martin stands out to me with his Leadership through Example. See below. finger-pointing-down-animation-gif He is not afraid to expose himself out there on our YouTube channel for us to learn from him.

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So thanks Martin! You’re my Triple Idol

And just as it said on the header photo, “Every Toastmaster’s journey starts with a single speech”, my real journey started last week with my 1st speech, the ice-breaker speech. And having made my 1st speech, I wish to try to step up my game each time I deliver a prepared speech. 

By the way, do you want to know the biggest reason why I am attracted and addicted to Toastmasters

I think you do, so I will tell it. The biggest reason why I am so fascinated with Toastmasters is not the public speaking aspect, it’s not the leadership aspect; but the 3rd dimension that is revealed in below paragraph from the same book that brought me to Toastmasters.

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So to me, the 3rd dimension is the FEAR aspect. Talking about it, I am not zooming it in because I need to learn to defeat it, but quite the opposite. If being born FEARLESS is a genetic defect, I was born with one. My stories of being FEARLESS goes all the way back to my babyhood and you can read about it by clicking here.

In essence, I am interested in the FEAR aspect because I see that is what limits many people. So I want to sit there and study how people deal with and overcome FEAR. And if you want to know what I think about FEAR in general, you can click here and access my picture story.

And besides being attracted to Toastmasters as a platform to study FEAR, I am also curious to know if it can be a platform to develop CREATIVITY. And when I say CREATIVITY, I mean in the following definition described by Jasonfinger-pointing-down-animation-gif

And the reason I want to explore CREATIVITY is that I want to be happy. And by happy, I mean in the following sense. finger-pointing-down-animation-gif

8972597And what makes me the happiest is beauty. And here is Jason‘s definition of beauty, to which I take my hat off and bow down.

And in creating beauty, I wish to use technology because that’s what helps us expand our possiblities. Watch below Jason‘s explanation on that also. finger-pointing-down-animation-gif

And why should we bother to do that? Here is why. finger-pointing-down-animation-gif

And in going through such a journey, it will be great if I have a Leader to look up to. And by the type of Leader, I meant the one explained below. pointing-finger-down-animated-1

So that’s what I wish for my future journey with Toastmasters, and let’s see how it plays out!

Feel good! 

Bella

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Club YouTube Channel Up & Running

I am very happy to announce the first of the many great developments that the new Leadership Team is planning to bring to our club and that is an official YouTube channel (click here to visit and subscribe). The idea was proposed by me and accepted by several of the new Leadership Team members. Hence, the next day I rolled up my sleeves, went to work and today, after 4 days, the channel looks quite rich in content. So I thank myself and those who supported me on the idea! 

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The next in line, in terms of developments, is the channel’s Welcome Video and tomorrow Oliver and I are having a Skype call to discuss the video production as well as the campaign idea that we have for new member recruitment.

Speaking about new member recruitment, my voice started reaching out to people, and for that, many thanks go to my Sweet Blog, which lets me communicate complex information in a condensed format.

And the first person to respond to my voice and show up at our Gallus meeting facility has been Martin. Because I made a mistake in the dates first and then later corrected it in below correspondence, today on the 6th of June, he has showed up at our Gallus building and called me to say that he had arrived.

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My bad Martin, many apologies! I trust that you will come back again next Wednesday.

And there is another development that I would like to bring to the club, and that is a blog corner on the club website. If that one is up and running, it will be very easy for me to direct potential newcomers. Otherwise, currently they are running between the club website and my personal blog, and that’s not very convenient! 

And talking about me and my Sweet Blog, there is something that you need to know as a new friend, and that is, we are UNSTOPPABLE! And also, we are FAST, very FAST because we are living in the digital age! 

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Feel good! 

Bella

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The New Leaders on Board

Yesterday our new leadership team was selected for the next 12-month period and I am glad to see that many of the new leaders are actually new members to the club. Within the leadership team, there are 8 official club officers and 1 unofficial club officer. So let me introduce them to you next.

giphyThe best-posing man standing on the far right handside of above photo is our current club President Mr.Sunshine (I call him so. Otherwise, his real name is different.) At the end of June, he will be stepping down together with the other current leadership team members. But Mr.Sunshine will continue on the new leadership team as the Immediate Past President and will keep on leading the club.

Next to him is Radu. Radu is one of the most dedicated members in the club and that quality is exactly what is required by the person, who holds the positionanimated-surfing-image-0009 of Sergeant at Arms, to which he confidently stepped up. So I am so happy to have him on board!

Then the man next to Radu is Craig. Craig is the Treasurer and 5pssw4y8he will control the treasure chest of the club. As a member, he is quite new to the club. However, even from day one, he proved his dedication by signing up on the spot. So we are certain that, in his hand, our treasure chest will stay safe & sound.

Then next to Craig is Andy. Andy is an experienced toastmaster and he is joining us as the Vice President Education. In his adam_fisherman_big_one_md_clrprevious club, he has held the same position. So he is the right person to lead us by the hand and help us learn to fish more effectively.

Then the person right in the middle is me and I am the Vice President Membership. In this position, my role is tolittle-mermaid-glitter3-24926 target potential members, attract their attention by any means possible and bring them to our club. Once they’re in our club, there will be no going back for them because our club is just so addictingly cool!

animated-magician-image-0020And the man on my right is David, the new President of the club. His role is to mastermind the whole plans and programs of the club and in case of roadblocks or threats, he will rescue us with his magic stick.

Then the tallest man is Oliver, the new Vice President Public Relations. His responsibility is to go out andcolumb02 get the word spreading about our great club. And again he is the perfect candidate for the position as he is so eloquent and we need eloquency in our PR.

Next to Oliver is Ben. In a previous term, Ben has been the President of the club; in the current leadership team, he is the Vice President Education and in the new leadership team, he white_man_teacher_rea_a_hawill be the Secretary. So it’s great to have him with us as he possesses wealth of experience and knowledge to pass unto the team.

Then the closest person on the picture is Andreicomputer_wizard and he is the Webmaster. For instance, if you click here, you will access the website of our club; and if you submit a message on the website, Andrei will be sitting at the other end to receive it.

And one unofficial club officer, who didn’t make it on the above picture is Leonardo. His position is the Party Officer. He is unofficial because he was elected after the Annual General Meeting. I proposed the position and he seconded it. So together we elected him. And Leonardo is the man who is doing the catwalk in below picture. 2

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Finally, I wrote this post for my targeted potential new members. So if you receive this post from me, consider yourself a target. 🙂 And if you are a man and thinking that it is a highly competitive and boring club with one woman only, that’s a prejudgment! You need to come over and check out the beautiful ladies, who are hiding behind my camera. Once you’re here, they will check you out!

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And for the ladies, I should say that it is a pretty flattering club with many nice gallant gentlemen, who treat us ladies well! 

Feel good! 

Bella

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Wanna Speak Like Jim Carrey

Earlier I promoted Jim Carrey‘s below speech as the best video to watch before going to sleep. And in case you didn’t figure it out, that was my version of nominating him for the Golden Globe and awarded him with one. And today, I would like to nominate him for the 2nd Golden Globe for the “Entertaining & Inspiring Speech” category. pointing-finger-down-animated-1

When you watched this speech of his, maybe you didn’t notice it; but here is the beauty I see in his speech:

Foremost of all, he smiles throughout the whole speech and that means he feels really good about standing there and speaking to the audience. So his smiles and positive energy naturally draw the audience towards him.

Then he makes the audience laugh with every single sentence and offers them long enough pauses to digest the information and pleasure that is coming from his direction. And when he is funny, he is funny with the obvious and the simple, and because of that, everyone in the audience easily relates to him and stays engaged to his speech.

And last, but not least, his underlying message is inspiring and I trust that the audience got the lesson he wanted to teach with this short, but sharp speech of his. And I think that lesson is the importance of dreaming big and visualizing its actualization over and over again when in a relaxed state.

And having watched that brilliant speech, now let’s come to my speech. moving-animated-eyes-finger-pointing-down

Well, it’s my 3rd impromptu speech since I joined my Toastmasters club and I see that the last two impromptu speeches that I have given feel very similar in energy. What was different about the 1st impromptu speech is that I sounded enthusiastic and smiled a lot throughout the whole speech (I think) because I talked about our Sweet Blog, which I love so much.

But after the 2nd speech, I got the feedback that I needed to bring more life to my speech and I thought that Mirja was so spot on that. When you give an improptu speech, things happen so fast that you don’t have time to plan and calculate anything. So in each improptu speech, I sound like how I feel about that topic at that point in life, I think.

In this speech that you may have just listened to, I talk about becoming a dancer if I were a type of sport. Normally, talking about dance excites me a lot like receiving a gift. But this time I couldn’t sound excited because I was feeling a little resistant to the subject due to my ongoing friction with my dance instructor.

The friction started when our personal rules stepped over one another. And when we sat down to iron out our differences, we decided that we’ll give the relationship one more chance. Since then, my motivation for my dance class fell sharply, bringing down my motivation for other dance styles I was so into.

But now I am working on cleaning up the negative energy and thoughts around the issue, and last night at the end of the dance session, I felt that my feeling towards him and his class started picking up again. So I look forward to the next dance class.

And coming to my challenges in the dance class, I have realized that I find memorizing the choreography steps difficult mainly because the movements are so ABSTRACT. If I can attach meanings or definite shapes or objects to the movements, I know I can memorize them fast. But I haven’t figured out how yet, so I keep struggling a bit…

And also I have realized that you have to be really in-the-moment and tuned into the instructor every single second to be able to keep up with the choreography. And you know what? That is really really hard. Meditation 2It’s like trying to meditate. Your thoughts keep wandering and your mind follows the wandering thoughts everywhere, and before you know it, you have missed the steps…

But I am practicing meditation every night for 15mins, so I hope that will discipline my mind and help me stay tuned-in!

Feel good! 

Bella

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Tonight is the Night!

I have been really really waiting for this day for the last one week. The closer it got, the more excited I became. And now THE DAY is here and when I woke up this morning, I just jumped out of my bed with excitement. You know why this day is going to be so special for me?

th12724qqne7l3eh0Because tonight is my Toastmasters club meeting night!

The reason for this one being so special is that at the last club meeting, two of my topmost favourite people were missing. Martin was away on a holiday and Oliver had a presentation elsewhere. So before I went to the last club meeting two weeks ago, I couldn’t imagine how I was going to go through the whole meeting with huge emptiness in the crowd… 

But to my delight, there were other people who filled in my void. First of all, after being away for a month, our Club President Moritz had returned. He is a real sunshine, so I was so happy to see him again! Then there were our sweet ladies like Mirja, Barbara and Birgit to kiss and hug (with one of them in spirit!). And Leonardo, with whom I had gotten very impressed with the previoius time, became a permanent member and gave an awesome impromptu speech. And better yet, he had brought along an impressive friend of his and the friend blew us with an awesome impromptu speech too. So at the end of the club meeting, I advised these two Newcomers that they didn’t need Toastmasters because they were already great speakers. 🙂

And what else?… Oh yeah, at the after-event drink and dinner, I was lucky to be seated next to Geoffrey, who was a sweet candy to talk to. After talking for a bit, we felt that we could hang out together more often, so we caught up for a drink the same week. And the Canadian girl, who visits our club every now and then, sat on the other side of me, and I was happy about the chance to chat with her ’cause thanks to a Facebook picture, I had discovered that we had a mutual acquaintance.

And Isabelle sat opposite to me, but because of the bar noise, it was difficult to hear every word she was saying. Nevertheless, I got to hear every word of what I wanted to hear and that is the role of Vice President of Membership. Currently, she carries out this role, and if anyone doesn’t mind, I would like to promote myself for this role in the officer election next month and take over the responsibilities. And I would like to do that because it looks so natural for me to carry it out (to be more specific because I am a big-mouthed Toastmasters paparazzi, who doesn’t mind promoting my club openly and arouse interests).

And lastly, last week Melinda became a member of a Toastmasters club in the USA, and already in her first meeting, she went determined to sign up for membership and give an impromptu speech. And she did both of that, so I am very proud of her! And Melinda‘s club meetings are every week on Thursdays, so I am sure tomorrow she will be the one to get out of bed excited and explode her excitement in my direction.

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So this was a post written in my pijama and now I am off to get up and get kicking.

Feel good! 

Bella