Sunday, October 9, 2016



      I am a Toastmaster. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s an international organization for people who want to learn and perfect their public speaking skills. I joined in my thirties, and I have loved it ever since. I’ve been President of two clubs in two different states, have been a low-level contest winner and have gained more confidence by being a member of this organization than anything I’ve ever done. It’s a safe place to stumble, and I highly recommend it for anyone who feels uncomfortable talking in front of others, even in social situations.

    So what? So yesterday, I was a judge at the Humorous Speech contest. It was not only hilarious laughing at the contestants’ speeches, but I was fascinated by what I learned from their stories. One man spoke about rescuing his pet pig from the canal behind his house. Another talked about how he was a “smoker,” and come to find out he was talking about grilling things on his Weber. One young woman talked about her crippling fear of turning left at intersections. It was all hilarious. I love the creativity, the courage it takes to try to make people laugh and the camaraderie generated by this organization. It's a positive place to learn and grow. One contestant described herself as “strange, don’t hate me because I love to learn.” I, too, love to learn. Silly me, I thought everyone did. Apparently not. When I stop wanting to learn, find the box. My morning of hilarity was one to remember, and I am grateful to have found this organization all those years ago. 

    So what? So while I was there, someone told me about a “Comedy Boot Camp” that you can go to to learn how to do stand up. Oh, Lord. Just what I need—a bar raised so far, I’ll never reach it. But what have I got to lose? So I fall flat on my face. At my age, I can’t do much damage to my already wrinkled visage. And if I succeed, what a thrill that will be, and I know I will succeed because Toastmasters has given me the confidence.

      So what? So what are you afraid to do that, with a bit of gumption, you could put yourself out there and try? What makes you laugh? Do you make people laugh? If so, do you know that is a gift—a talent worth sharing. When do you get tongue-tied or uncomfortable speaking? Could you benefit from a supportive network? I am not selling this organization. I don’t have to; it sells itself. I am advocating taking a risk to improve your life. So what? So you decide.