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If you could go back….

If you could go back in time and change one event in history, what would it be? That question – or something similar – is the basis for countless movies, television shows, philosophical discussions, and theories about the space-time continuum. It was also the question at an online Table Topics contest I recently attended. In a Toastmasters Table Topics competition, contestants are asked a question – generally an open-ended, there’s-no-wrong-answer question. They have to respond immediately, and speak for one to two minutes on the [...]

By |September 26th, 2020|Accountability, Columns, Toastmasters, Values|2 Comments

A Front Row Seat

This is the week of the Toastmasters Annual International Convention. It was originally supposed to be in Paris, France, but instead it’s taking place in my home office. And in kitchens, living rooms, lofts, studies, and wherever people around the world have their computers set up. For the first time ever, the Convention and all its activities – including the competition to determine the World Champion of Public Speaking – are taking place online. I’ve been to a number of International Conventions, in locations from [...]

By |August 28th, 2020|Columns, Toastmasters, Travel|0 Comments

Lessons Learned

I visited a club in Barbados last night, after meeting a woman from Barbados a few weeks ago in North Carolina. I was in North Carolina at the invitation of someone I met in Saskatchewan the week before that. He and I were the only ones who showed up at the meeting – apparently the Saskatchewans knew something we didn’t – so we chatted for half an hour and exchanged contact information before calling it a night. These meetings were all virtual, of course. I [...]

By |August 21st, 2020|Columns, Toastmasters, Travel, Values|0 Comments

An Unusual Way to End the Day

“We’ll be starting the meeting with a brief yoga session.” These are not words I expected to hear prior to a meeting I recently attended via Zoom. Especially since the meeting had nothing to do with exercise, meditation, or health and well-being. Still, I was game, so I put my exercise mat in front of the computer, put on a pair of stretchy, comfortable pants – not yoga pants, officially, but they would do – and got ready for the session. The meeting was a [...]

By |August 2nd, 2020|Columns, Health and Well-being, Toastmasters|0 Comments

Old and New Views

“How do you come up with things to write about week after week? Where do you go to find your ideas?” Those are questions people often asked when I was writing my newspaper column, and my answer was always the same. It still is, even after the newspaper column morphed into a weekly blog: I never go looking for ideas. I just keep my radar turned on at all times, so I stay open to things I see and hear in the world around me. [...]

By |July 18th, 2020|Columns, Toastmasters, Travel, Writing|0 Comments

Zooming Around the World

I know my blog usually comes out on Friday, but it was a long day – starting with an early-morning meeting in Minnesota, followed by a late-morning meeting in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and an evening meeting in Lima, Peru, my first-ever visit to South America. That meeting lasted until about 10:30, and by that time I was ready for bed. I felt like I had a good case of jet lag, although I never once set foot outside of my house. Not even [...]

By |July 12th, 2020|Columns, Toastmasters, Travel|0 Comments

A nod and a smile could lift our hearts

“My head understands it, but it was hard on my heart.” I heard that last night from a woman in British Columbia. I was attending a special “Pandemic Presentations” Toastmasters meeting via Zoom, and the person giving the speech – who is single and lives alone in her apartment – was talking about the feelings of isolation she was experiencing while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. At one point, she talked about how she feels when she goes outside for a walk and some [...]

By |June 19th, 2020|Columns, Health and Well-being, Toastmasters, Values|0 Comments

Creative Coping

“Creative Coping” was the theme of our Toastmasters meeting the other night. I think that’s a good description of all of our lives right now. (Our meetings, by the way, are held online via Zoom for the time being, which is how we are creatively coping with stay-at-home orders and guidelines.) Day by day and week by week, we’re all finding and implementing new ways to cope with the restrictions meant to keep us safe and to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Along the [...]

The Best Response

“Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” That was the theme of a Toastmasters meeting I attended on Friday. It was a demo meeting at a company in Augusta that is planning to sponsor a new Toastmasters club for employees, and I was part of the team providing a demonstration of what a Toastmasters meeting is like. “Feel the fear, and do it anyway” could easily be a motto for Toastmasters in general, since public speaking is one of the biggest fears many people have, [...]

A cranky day, a dreamy week

I had two holiday-related dreams this week. One of them was uplifting and inspiring. The other one – not so much. In the first dream, I was watching an awards show on TV, and a big song-and-dance number was going on. The performers were all dressed in robes of either gold or white, creating a festive and majestic look. At one point they started marching across the stage in a routine that reminded me of the precision drills bands often perform on the football field [...]

By |December 14th, 2019|Columns, Holidays, Toastmasters, Values|0 Comments