Becoming a Public Speaker – Say What?

Public speaking? Me? Are you kidding?

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Becoming a Public Speaker

Almost four years ago I joined Toastmasters International to get over my fear of public speaking. Here’s a post about my first prepared speech: Stepping Out of the Zone – My Toastmasters Ice Breaker Speech!

I still struggle with speaking-off-the-cuff, which happens during Table Topics when we’re asked a question about the theme of the meeting and given one to two minutes to speak. On lucky days, I’m asked a question that I connect with, something that has meaning to me, and that’s when I’ve been able to speak naturally and actually won best Table Topics a couple times. For the most part, though, I’m tongue tied.

Joining Toastmasters is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The members are friendly and welcoming. They make me feel comfortable, so I’m not afraid to take risks and step out of my comfort zone. When I make a mistake, I know it’s okay because we all do and it’s just part of learning and improving our skills.

I missed most of the meetings my third year in because George was battling cancer, fighting for his life. I’m happy to report he’s still in remission. To read about the beginning of that crazy journey, start here: Down the Rabbit Hole Part 1 – The Spot Found in a Random X-ray. (I still need to finish writing about it. Bit by bit.)

As it turns out, I won the International category speech contest on April 14 for Division A, District 12. Check out the cute dress I wore and new heels in this post: When Your Shoe Breaks in Public or You Tear a Hole in Your Fishmets.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Becoming a Public Speaker

Since February I’ve been working on my speech, “Reduce Your Risk of Dementia,” and I’ve revised it so many times, you’d think I’d be sick of it by now, but I’m not. I love my speech because it has an extremely important message.

Members of my Toastmasters club and a couple other clubs have given me feedback, so I’ve listened closely and made appropriate changes. This latest revision was the hardest. People wanted a description of my father other than just stating he has Alzheimer’s, so here’s what I added over the weekend:

“Dad is a thin, short man whose comical antics are a big hit on the dance floor at wedding receptions. My once-brilliant father is declining into a state of constant confusion. I wouldn’t wish such a fate on anyone.”

Now I know why I resisted adding something like that. It’s so emotional, I hope I can hold myself together during the competition. As hard as it will be to deliver this speech, I’m on a mission to share the message with as many people as possible so they can reduce their risk of dementia.

Here’s an earlier version of the speech.

Fun Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Dementia – Speech for Contest

Not a good delivery, but that’s what practice is for, right?

Finally, here’s a clip of Dad teaching me how to slow dance. I’m the one who’s slow at learning to slow dance, but that’s okay. Learning new skills is what matters. Just going through the process improves our brains!

I’m going to crank up some good music, dance like there’s no one watching, and hopefully calm my nerves. Competing in a speech contest is exciting and scary at the same time. Wish me luck!

What are your thoughts? Are you afraid of public speaking? Have you ever heard of Toastmasters? Do you like to dance? I’d love to hear from you!

Contest Photo credit: Taylor D. Fennell, Esq.




Posted in Grammy Gets It, Lynn Kelley, Toastmasters | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Disposal Edge – A Poem About Old Silverware

Do you have old, messed up silverware? Do your spoons have disposal edge?

Lynn Kelley

Here’s one last poem for National Poetry Month. April sure whizzed by, didn’t it?

Once again, I have a video from 1999, practicing for a poetry reading. The poem “Disposal Edge” starts at the 1:58 mark.

Disposal Edge

Sometimes little things grind on my nerves,
like most of our spoons have disposal edge.
“Check the disposal before turning it on,”
I tell my girls.
“We do,” they say, but the spoons speak
for themselves.
I worry that my youngest will cut her mouth.

For years we had a crooked fork,
its tines bent and distorted.
If the kids set it at my place,
I would flip.
My husband chuckled and set me up
again and again
until the day I threw that forsaken fork away.

My friend’s husband died yesterday,
her pain so sharp, it cuts through her very core.
She’s left with a houseful of kids
and a heart full of sorrow.
Sort of puts bent forks and disposal edge spoons
into perspective
~Lynn Kelley

To read more poems from recent blog posts:


The Taste of Poverty

What are your thoughts? Do you ever forget to check the garbage disposal for silverware or other objects before turning it on? Does it make you cringe? Do minor things like bent forks ever bug you? I’d love to hear from you!

Image: Courtesy of Mark Martins – Pixabay

Posted in Grammy Gets It, Lynn Kelley, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Chuckles the Clown and Buffy the Clown – Friday Funnies

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Buffy the Clown

Buffy the Clown – What a catch!

Do you remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show? How about the episode about Chuckles the Clown’s funeral?

I was watching this clip, laughing my head off. George heard me from the other room. He thought I was crying. Yes, I was crying because I was laughing so hard tears were streaming down my cheeks.

I suppose as someone with a clowning history I should have taken the funeral of a clown seriously, huh? My bad.

What if Chuckles the Clown had met Buffy the Clown? What if? What it? Forget it, Chuckles. She married George, and they made quite a handsome couple, don’t you think?

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Buffy the Clown

Buffy the Clown and George the Clown in October 1979 – Expecting their first baby clown!

Back to Chuckles the Clown. Are you old enough to remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show? Mary is brilliant in the four-minute-clip (above). If you need a little giggle, I hope you’ll take the time to watch it.

Here’s the whole episode in case you need more chuckles. Haha!

If you want more Friday Funnies:

Friday Funnies From a Funny Family – A Little Giggle Get Away

What are your thoughts? Do you love clowns? Hate clowns? Neither? Do you like to watch TV shows from the good old days? I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in family, Funny, Grammy Gets It, Humor, Lynn Kelley, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Adorable Knitted Dolls for Peace Pals

Do you like to knit? Love to help others? Have you heard of Peace Pals?

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Peace Pals

In response to my April 10th blog post, Altered Art Scrapbook For a Little Girl, my friend Marjorie Flathers shared one of her favorite crafts. Here’s what she said:

“My ‘craft passion,’ as you may remember, is knitting, and I’m doing more and more of it these days. About two years ago, I discovered a charity called Knitting4Peace in Denver, and I have sent them knitted hats, scarves, and baby blankets. But what they need most are many of these ‘funky’ but cute little dolls called Peace Pals, especially with darker faces, to be sent to needy children in Third World countries, Syrian refugee camps, etc.

“So I set myself a ‘Lent project’ of making a dozen (two per week for six weeks.) They are easy and fun to knit up.

“They say the kids really love the dolls—many times the only toy they have! Hard to imagine.”

What a wonderful ministry Marge is involved in. I imagine for some of those children, it’s their only toy and a treasure they will cherish the rest of their lives. Those dolls are so precious.

If you or someone you know may be interested in making these dolls to donate to Peace Pals, here’s the website: Knitting4Peace.

Thanks for sharing your craft passion with us, Marge. You’re talented and generous.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a favorite craft or type of art you enjoy doing? Aren’t those knitted dolls so cute? I’d love to hear from you!



Posted in Arts and Crafts, Grammy Gets It, Lynn Kelley | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lines – Mountains and Freeways – Photo Challenge – Graphic Designs

This week’s photo challenge for The Daily Post is a fun one: Lines.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, photo challenge

I snapped this photo a couple weeks ago to capture the silhouettes of the mountain ridges set against the sky. Some of the ridges are barely visible, but if you look closely, you can see them. Layers and layers of hills and mountains. Hovering above them are layers of clouds.

In contrast, layers of lines go every which way on the freeway, some curving and others straight: yellow and white lines, broken lines delineating lanes, cement dividers separating northbound from southbound traffic, the freeway overpass and pillars supporting it, cars, signs, and just off center in the photo, a tall light post.

There are so many lines in this photo, I thought it would be fun to play around with it in PicMonkey, a graphic design program.

Here’s the same photo with the HDR effect:

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, photo challenge - HDR effect

I applied the HDR effect and then wanted to see how it would look if I added the Edge Sketch effect. I didn’t apply it, but instead took a screen shot:

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, photo challenge - Edge Sketch effect

Next, I applied the Posterize effect, which looks very similar to the HDR effect. We’re able to adjust the colors and details:

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Posterize and HDR effect

After applying the Posterize effect, I went back into the Edge Sketch and was able to get more definite lines:

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Posterize and Edge Sketch effects

Which version do you like, if any?

I could spend hours playing around with photos in PicMonkey. I haven’t taken any of the PicMonkey tutorials yet. Maybe I should take the time to do that. One of these days! As of now, I’m still a novice. That’s okay with me, as long as I’m having fun with it.

To see other photo challenge entries, go here.

What are your thoughts? Do you take a lot of photos or videos? Do you like to play around with graphic arts? I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Creativity, Grammy Gets It, Lynn Kelley, Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Taste of Poverty – A Poem

April is National Poetry Month, and I can’t believe how fast this month is going by. Today’s post is about hunger and poverty. I hope it speaks to you.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, The Taste of Poverty - a poem

The Taste of Poverty

Have you heard
the peaceful sound
of boiling cabbage?
she asks.

In the silence of the night,
its gurgling rhythm,
hissing and steaming,
resonates with echoes
from the past.

Its incense rises from
deep within her soul.
Gentle spirit recalls
heartache deep-rooted
in the poverty of her youth.
Tears reveal her pain.

Ah, the wonderful smell
of boiling cabbage.
She smiles.

Memories simmer within:
A thin child with dark curls
rises from her bed
to sit by the stove,
lulled by the music
of the rolling boil
and its pungent aroma.

Longings, longings, longings
of a hungry child
never full.
She sighs.

Mama cooked cabbage
for Papa’s lunch,
barely enough for him
Not even a taste
for the silent child.
Quiet souls
do not complain.

Now, she may
taste the cabbage
anytime she wants
as the past surfaces
to stir her heart’s desires.

of boiling cabbage
permeate her being,
its pulsing tempo, soothing
like Mama’s lullaby.

Feast, oh daughter.
Fill the hungers
of your heart.

~Lynn Kelley

Here are a couple other poems from recent blog posts:


Ragged Old Slippers

What are your thoughts? Have you ever smelled boiling cabbage? Have you ever suffered from hunger? I’d love to hear from you!

Image: Hansbenn – Pixabay



Posted in Grammy Gets It, Lynn Kelley, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Book Call – Essay Written By a High School Student in the 1940s

Lynn Kelley, Book Call by Gordon Powell

This is a piece written by my father when he was in high school:

Book Call

by Gordon Powell

Frequently my father asks me to take him to various parts of the city. He owns a small book store in East Liberty, and he buys much of his stock from private homes. There is a wide variety in the types of homes we enter. The worst I have ever seen was on the North Side. The house was one in a row of five. The steps were sagging, as was the porch, and everything needed paint. 

The front door was open so we walked in. Evidently the house was sub-divided into apartments, because in the hallway a door on the left bore the name Jones scribbled on a little card tacked to it. I glanced around the hallway while my father knocked on the door. The hall was quite long and high but very narrow. On the right wall hung several old tintype pictures, while on the left wall, in loose folds, hung the wallpaper. The one thing the walls, ceiling and floor had in common was a covering of dirt. 

At that moment the door was opened, and the woman we came to see peered out. My father introduced us. The woman was in her late fifties, gray-haired and enormously fat. Her cheeks were pouchy, and saliva trickled from the side of her mouth even when it was closed. She wore ancient high-topped shoes, split at the sides, and a filthy, baggy print dress that was partially covered by a filthier apron. 

Her front room was filled to capacity with junk. While my father was sorting out books, I looked around. The walls were covered with religious pictures, and there were wooden statues of Indians all around the room. 

My father finished the books and asked the woman if she had any jewelry for sale. She told him she had some stickpins in the kitchen. We started to walk through her bedroom when my father noticed another bookcase. While he was looking through this, I surveyed the bedroom. Empty, the room would have been large. But there were trunks, mattresses, tables, old clothes, and litter everywhere. 

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It

Clotheslines were strung across the room, and hanging from them were old girdles, brassieres, stained sheets, and frazzled throw-rugs. I turned around and found myself looking at a giant cockroach, which was perched on an old trunk and whose feelers were waving furiously, as if daring me to come closer. I didn’t take up his dare. 

When my father had gone through the bookcase, we went to the kitchen. As soon as we crossed through the door, a sickening stench met us. I backed up and remained in the doorway. From my vantage point I could look into the kitchen and then, like a swimmer, turn my head and gulp fresh air from the hallway. Like the other rooms, the kitchen was filled with junk. There were four ranges–only one connected–which were piled high with old newspapers and glass jars. The wallpaper was peeling from the walls in great strips. 

Finally, my father finished his business and told me to get a box for the books. I saw several boxes in the hallway. I picked one up, shook out two roaches, and piled the books into it. My father paid the woman and we left the house.

When we got to the car, I asked him how he could stand such places. With the typical antiquarian bookman’s attitude, he replied, “I’m looking for books, Gordon, not bugs.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to be out of that woman’s home and back here with you guys. I guess hoarders have been around a long time, but reality shows made us more aware of this problem.

What are your thoughts? Would you dig through a place like that looking for treasured books and other items? How would you react to seeing someone living in those conditions? I’d love to hear from you!

Photo credit: Gellinger, Jarmoluk – Pixabay

Posted in Books, Lynn Kelley, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Practicing for Poetry Reading – Joker Daughter in Background

Do you have a joker in your family?

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

My family is full of jokers. Below is a home video from 1999 when I was practicing for a poetry reading. Like many people, I have a fear of public speaking, so I needed to practice in order to stay calm and not fret to the point my nerves unraveled.

My oldest daughter goofed around in the background. It took me a while to catch on. She was about 18 at the time. I had a laughing attack watching this a few months ago. I’d forgotten how funny April was with her shenanigans.

I’m only sharing excerpts rather than the whole poem because I may publish it as a picture book.

At one point, our cat PeeWee jumped up onto the chair and startled April. Haha!

Lynn Kelley

Ollie ollie oxen
free free free!

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

Winner wins
losers weep

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

Tic tac toe
Tag! You’re it!

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

With heavy hearts
we stand and gawk

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

Granddad hollers over the rail
Stop all that noise,
his face so pale

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

Better leave our gramps alone

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

Long faces

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

Breathe in the magic
hold your breath

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

I love her expressions.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

Greeted by the morning yawn

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

New sidewalk chalk lights up our eyes!

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

Joker, joker, joker!

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

Small footprints lead down the path . . .

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

. . . to endless whims, dreams, and sighs
far beyond where magic lies

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, joker in background

If you watch the video, you can hear me hooting, cackling, and snorting as I was re-recording this home video to share on YouTube. Ah, the memories of raising kids. Parents never know what to expect, especially with a house full of little jokers.

Humor helps keep my fretting in check. Fret is The Daily Post one-word prompt for today. 

It’s National Poetry Month. If you’d like to read more of my poems, check these out:


Ragged Old Slippers

Defeat and Hope

What are your thoughts? Do you take a lot of home videos or photos? Do you enjoy reminiscing years later when you look back at them? Do you tend to fret? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Posted in Funny, Grammy Gets It, Lynn Kelley, Parenting Plights and Delights, Poetry, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Smile Train – A Worthy Cause – My Niece and Nephew Help Bring More Awareness

My nephew and niece, Brent and Brooke, were born with cleft palates. Now all grown up, they are raising money to go with the Smile Train organization to Peru in June.

Lynn Kelley, Smile Train

Brooke and Brent when they were children and now all grown up.

They’re working to bring more awareness to the issue of children born with cleft lips or paletes and the organization that does reconstructive surgery: Smile Train.

A Global Problem

“Globally, 1 in every 700 children is born with a cleft. While surgery can take as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as $250, it is out of reach for many in the developing world. Smile Train is an organization that provides these children with the surgeries they need!

Lynn Kelley, Smile Train

“Brent and Brooke Hanke are two siblings who were born with cleft paletes, but were fortunate enough to have them fixed as young children. Now almost 20 years later Brooke has just finished her Bachelors at Cal State Fullerton in Communication Disorders and is about to start her Masters at Cal State San Marcos, specializing in cleft and craniofacial abnormalities. As a family we have been donating to this organization for years.

“Now the time has come where Brent and Brooke want to take the next step towards awareness and understanding of the behind-the-scene journey that takes place to supply these deserving children of cleft reconstructive surgeries.

Lynn Kelley, Smile Train

“We are raising money to go with the Smile Train organization to Peru in June. On this journey we will be meeting with the children who we will be sponsoring to get their cleft lips or paletes reconstructed! We will be along for the whole ride. We will have the opportunity to learn about their history, scrub in on a surgery, and be with them post-operation!

“We will also be fortunate enough to meet with previous patients at their homes, who have recieved surgeries, and hear about their journey! We will meet with staff and surgeons from Smile Train to hear about their future plans of expansion.

“Thank you for reading about our story. If you are not in the place to donate, prayers are greatly appreciated as we embark on this journey!”

My Uncle Lee was born with a cleft lip. As a child, he was often teased. As an adult, he always wore a mustache. Reconstructive surgery has come a long way. I’m amazed at what these surgeons are doing.

I’ve got to give a huge shout out to Brent and Brooke for speaking out about a condition they were born with and now going forth to spread good news and make more people aware of this worthy cause.

To donate, go here.

What are your thoughts? Do you know anyone who was born with a cleft lip or palate? Do you think it’s amazing how Smile Train can correct some of these clefts for as little as $250 for reconstructive surgery? I’d love to hear from you!


Images courtesy of GDJ, Prawny – Pixabay




Posted in family, Grammy Gets It, Health and Wellness, Lynn Kelley, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Spool – Short Poem and 1999 Retro Video Practicing for Poetry Reading


Lynn Kelley, Author, Grammy Gets It, Spool

Once upon a time I attended a poetry group at the Frugal Frigate children’s bookstore in Redlands, California. At one point, we were invited to participate in a poetry reading.

Like most people, I had a fear of public speaking, but I decided to step out of my comfort zone and join in since it would be a small crowd.

First, I practiced reading my chosen poems so I’d feel comfortable reading them in public. Recording ourselves is always helpful to see how we will appear to others.

In this retro video, I’m practicing two poems. The first one, Spool, is below. I’ll share the second one, Disposal Edge, in another blog post.

If you watch the video, please pay no mind to my 18-year-old daughter April joking around at the beginning of the video. Haha! My kids always kept me laughing. (And yelling and crying.)

Lynn Kelley, Author, Grammy Gets It, Spool


A spool of dark green thread
Green, I say
yet lacking life, lacking breath
The thread winds its way
around and around endlessly
not searching
layer upon layer
choking with tension
focusing on only the prick of the needle
rather than the mending and patching
it can accomplishment
with the needle’s guidance

The edges of the spool are rough
with teeth that grind and gnash
over unfairness,
unlike the flowers beside it,
alive, delicate, beautiful, relaxed
as they breathe and live and grow

~Lynn Kelley

Other blog posts with poems:

Ragged Old Slippers

Defeat and Hope

What are your thoughts? Do you like poetry? Short or long? Rhyming or philosophical? Or, would you rather read comic books or the newspaper? We all have different preferences and that’s what makes the world so interesting. I’d love to hear from you.





Posted in Grammy Gets It, Lynn Kelley, Poetry, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments