So many changes are taking place in my life. One of those changes: I joined Toastmasters International.
I have a severe fear of speaking in public, but this is a fear I must overcome to reach my goals as a children’s author and as an independent consultant for a health and wellness company.
Are you familiar with Toastmasters? If not, here’s a brief history I copied from the website of my local Toastmasters club:
“In October 1924, a group of men assembled by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley met in the basement of the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, U.S.A., forming a club ‘to afford practice and training in the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings, and to promote sociability and good fellowship among its members.’ The group took the name ‘Toastmasters.'”
I signed up at the very first meeting I attended. The members were friendly and professional, I liked the way the meeting was conducted, and I knew this was what I needed.
A month later, I gave my very first prepared speech, the “Ice Breaker,” which is basically to tell who you are and what your goals are. My fellow Toastmasters were supportive and made me feel comfortable, so after doing some deep, slow breathing to calm myself as much as possible, I gave my speech. I must have practiced it a hundred times, mostly in front of my toddler grandkids I’m care giver for.
I messed up a lot, like saying words backwards when I was tired (for example, “wealth and hellness” instead of “health and wellness”), had some giggle attacks, drew a lot of blanks, stumbled over my words, and actually started shaking as my heart raced. So, I just kept on practicing until, finally, the big moment arrived.
My daughter recorded it for me:
If you’re unable to access the video, here’s the speech and some photos just to spice up this post. The photos weren’t part of the speech!
Hello. I’m Lynn Kelley. I’m a recovering court reporter, care giver for two of my grandkids, an independent consultant for an amazing health and wellness company, and a children’s author.
Highlights Magazine awarded me Author of the Month for my short story, The Jobo Tree, and I’ve published five middle grade books, three as coauthor of the Monster Moon Mystery series under the pseudonym BBH McChiller.
My memory isn’t the best, especially when I’m scared stiff to step out of my comfort zone, so I brought my pet Brain for support.
A few years ago Brain and I got to take part in two Homework Hotline episodes on a local TV station. Brain was a big hit, along with my Monster Moon coauthors, Kathy and Maria. I had an important part too: Cue card girl.
That’s right, I was too chicken to be on camera. Just holding the cue cards gave me the jitters. As it turned out, the teleprompter messed up, so I saved the day! Go cue card girl!
But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s go back, way back to the olden days when I was just a girl.
Abbracadabra Presto Picheelo!
With a magician grandfather, is it any wonder my childhood was magical? Granddad not only performed magic, but he was always working on creative projects, like the time he cut the legs off a coffee table and replaced them with women’s mannequin legs. Like, wow!
In those days, I was a skinny, freckle-faced kid. My dad was Mr. Funny Guy. In my eyes, Jerry Lewis had nothing on Dad. He made up a little song about me that always made me giggle:
Skinny Lynnie, there she goes Walkin’ down the street like a Bag’o’Bones!
It still makes me giggle! Being skinny didn’t bother me and neither did my freckles, but there was this mole on my neck that stuck out like a skin tag. I must have whined about it a lot because for my eighth birthday, my mom gave me a choice:
Do you want a birthday party? Or Do you want to have the mole cut off your neck?
I’d never had a birthday party before, so of course that’s what I chose. Imagine if I hadn’t and my friends asked, “So, what’d you get for your birthday?”
“Uh, I got a mole cut off my neck.”
Still, I was confident, athletic, and spunky, until junior high when I turned into a dorky dweeb and regretted not having that mole cut off.
I’ve always loved costumes and playing with makeup at Halloween, so when I grew up and attended court reporting school, I tried to bring in some extra money working as a clown. That was short lived because…everyone just laughed at me.
I moved on and life’s been good. I worked as a court reporter for 25 years. My husband, George, and I will celebrate 38 years of marriage next month. We raised four rascals and now have four grandchildren, ages four and under.
I’m caregiver for two of them. I can be the biggest goofball ever. And they love it. I wonder if I’ll have an influence on them the way Granddad’s creativity inspired me.
A few weeks ago I came across a Facebook post that said, “If you ever want to know what a creative person’s mind feels like, just imagine a browser with 2,850 tabs open. All. The. Time.” What a great analogy!
What tabs might you find lurking in this quirky mind?
A pirate ditty for my next book,
A new chocolate smoothie concoction,
A time travel adventure,
Or maybe a new Funny Bones video for YouTube.
My Funny Bones character is a numbskull skeleton who carries a bag of bones. Each bone has a joke on it.
Hmm, seems Dad’s little song about me proved to be prophetic.
And one day it dawned on me, Funny Bones is actually a clown skeleton. Go figure!
The future is wide open, and I have lots of stories itching to be told. I hope to leave a legacy for my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, and all children.
All my goals are within reach now that I’m feeling better, thanks to the pea protein shakes I drink every day.
For the record, that’s pea spelled p-e-a, folks!
The pea protein shakes have taken away my sugar cravings. My sweet tooth is so big, it’s more like a fang. Since it’s been tamed, I’ve lost 15 pounds in four months!
Not only that, my energy level has increased so much, I’m able to do some extra things, like join Toastmasters.
Fellow Toastmasters, thank you for the warm welcome into your club. I look forward to being on this adventure with you. I have a little gift for each of you when I’m finished, a bookmark for one of my books, but first…
…I must click my heels three times and wait for the flying monkeys to carry Brain and me back to our seats. There’s no place like my comfort zone…
Do you have a fear of public speaking? Are you familiar with Toastmasters? It’s perfect for learning to speak off-the-cuff and give prepared speeches. Here’s the link for Toastmasters International. Chances are you have a Toastmasters club nearby that you can visit as a guest to see if you’d like to join.