Tuesday, August 16, 2016


     When I can’t think of a profound subject about which to write, I search my “blog” folder for posters I’ve saved. These always seem to inspire a story or a thought that I deem worth sharing.I love this one. As I am considering writing my third and final book, I recognize that the blogs that seem to be read by the most readers are not humorous ones; they are ones that touch the heart. It isn’t that hard to find stories in that category if, like me, you look for things that touch the emotional core. 

     Last night, I attended a Toastmaster meeting where I knew no one. It’s always interesting to me to walk into a situation where everyone knows one another, and I am the stranger. It has been a while since I’ve done that, but I’ve put myself in that situation several times in our new hometown over the past seven weeks since we moved here. I choose to observe with my heart, even though my judgment demons are always on the lookout comparing and rationalizing. At this meeting, the members were busy organizing the agenda, so I just sat down. The man next to me was a relatively new member, and he wasn’t the least bit interested in my story, so I mostly listened. He told me was Danish, and he and his wife speak Danish at home. I thought to myself, “He must have felt uncomfortable when he first moved here years ago trying to deal with the language issues as well as the anonymity.” We are all caught up in our own little worlds, and most of us don’t take the time to stop and think about where the other guy’s coming from. This is human. Listening is the easiest way to connect, and the quickest way to belong. When I listen, I learn, and I reflect. I see the other guy’s perspective, and, often, I am amazed at how people look at things so differently than me. 

     None of these people knew that I was a seasoned speaker and former president of my chapter. None of these people care that I perform on stage. None of them know that I was a mentor for new speakers and a cheerleader for the rising stars in my group. None of them knew that I participated in state contests and that I have earned several certifications. They don’t know me, and they don’t even know if they want to know me. Starting all over is a fascinating experience, especially because I am about 25 years older than most of them. No matter. I chose to remain anonymous, not even accepting the invitation to speak briefly. I cannot stand people who, in the first two minutes they meet me have to tell me all of their lifetime accomplishments so I will think they are super cool. No, I prefer to meet the person who is quiet, humble and interested in what I have to offer. 

     Tonight, I will attend the Advanced Club meeting. These are the big shooters, some of whom are already out on the circuit. They don’t mess around. You do it right, or you will hear the consequences. All evaluations of your speeches are by the entire club, so even if one person thinks you were great, there may be a dozen others who disagree, and they will tell you in front of the whole group. I was told that this is not for the “thin-skinned.” Well, I am thin-skinned, so if I decide to join this group, I will need to thicken up.

     When you first meet someone, do you talk or listen? Do you reveal a lot about yourself initially, or do you ask questions? Are you comfortable asking questions? Some people find this invasive. Some are offended if you don’t ask them anything. I am a student of human behavior. I am fascinated by how people think, process and what motivates them. Are you? There is no right or wrong, even though my daughter criticizes me for “interviewing.” My father, a decorated toastmaster and award-winning salesman, always taught me to ask questions so that you can learn from and about people. He told me that asking questions shows people you are interested in them. That’s how I was raised. How about you? What about people do you see with your heart?