Saturday, November 29, 2014
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Last week at Toastmasters I gave my first formal speech. I came totally unprepared, left everything at home and had only gone over my speech once. Fortunately I was sharing a story that I've told many times over, so I winged it from memory. I know where I made errors, the places I did things wrong, but those in attendance didn't pick any of it up. I've been told though, from many (outside of the this group) that I am very hard on myself so that may be true.
I will not be sharing the speech word for word, as it came straight from my head. It was supposed to be 4-6 min long, but the timer made an error. He went with the timing for speech #2, which is 5-7 minutes long. I spoke for 7:12 minutes.
Good evening Madame Toastmaster and fellow guests. Tonight I am doing Speech #1 which is share about yourself or an event in your life. I will be talking about a major move my family made when I was 11 years old and how it shaped the way I move as an adult.
When I was 10 years old, my father became disillusioned with life on the farm, in Surrey. The city was moving in, the countryside was disappearing and he simply had enough. He wanted to move us up north, homestead in the wilderness and my mother said absolutely not. After a time they went back and forth, finally agreeing to move to central BC - Vanderhoof.
The following year at the age of 11, we were packing up and ready to head north. We weren't supposed to move until the summer, however, there was an accident on Braeside Road and Mr. Deorksen - who we bought the quarter section farm from - was seriously injured. It meant that no one was living on the farm, which isn't a good thing in the winter. As a result, we threw things together and headed up the road on March 31, 1973.
Picture this, my mother, her mother'n'law (who was my grandmother), my cousin who just received his learner's license and planned to help with the drive and one cat - who my aunt insisted come up north with us - all packed in a Chevy car. Mum said that when they hit the freeway, the cat woke up from the tranquilizers and went crazy. My cousin commented on how much traffic was on the freeway, oh boy look out and my grandmother was demanding that my mother get that cat under control. However, I wasn't there, I was with my father in a purple half-ton Chevy pickup with two dogs, plus a box filled with chickens, geese and one rooster, along with a utility trailer filled with pigs. I also had a quart cellar of water - since my grandmother, my Mum's mum decided there was no water where we were going - and an ice-cream bucket of pinwheel cookies, since she knew I'd starve on the drive up. I also enough Reader's Digest books to last me a year. My brother - who was just released from hospital following surgery - was on crutches, up in the moving van with my aunt and uncle.
I'm not sure how many of you have driven the Canyon, but there are many tunnels through the mountain pass. Now imagine this if you can, rain falling down hard and a tunnel coming up. The windshield of the truck is covered in rain and we enter the tunnel when - the wipers stop. My dad is frantically trying to drive and wipe the windshield at the same time. I'm keeping an eye on the right side, so that he doesn't drive into the tunnel wall. Miraculously, once we exited the tunnel, the wipers started back up again. This scenario was repeated many times over and over.
We came upon a detour and headed up the switch-back, however, the signage was poor. As we drove I looked down and went "Dad, I think we were supposed to turn down there." Remember we are pulling that utility trailer, we can't just turn around, so up the side of the mountain we went until we arrived at a logging landing. As a kid I didn't appreciate the tight turn that had to be done, but as an adult, I sure do. Thankfully another person missed the turn and he followed us up the mountain, so he helped Dad out.
Along we go until we hit Cache Creek and make a stop. It's still early morning, I jump out of the truck and am followed by two dogs desperate to find a tree. My dad is fussing with things and I check out my critters. I turn to the gas attendant and offer him fresh eggs in exchange for water. That poor guy was a bit floored to see those eggs in my hand. I think he figured we were straight from the TV show, Beverly Hillbillies!
We stayed overnight in Hixon, except my aunt and uncle who went ahead to the city in the moving van. The next morning we added to our caravan. Another aunt and uncle came up with us, following behind with their truck. My brother, with his crutches, crammed into the front of that pickup - with the 2 dogs, myself and my dad. What a sight we must have been going down that highway.
Imagine this, when we left Surrey there was green grass, flowers out and cherry blossoms were in bloom. The closer we came to Vanderhoof the more we saw snow. Snow. We hit the town and kept on driving, which in my child's mind felt like 10 million miles away. My brother and I had never seen the farm, and we didn't realize how far out of town we were. My brother was jumping for joy, I was silently becoming angry. I did not want to move north, my brother couldn't wait. He knew we had a creek on the property and was excited at the prospect of fishing. My dad had to bribe me with a horse, which he purchased within a month of our arrival but that's a whole other story.
When we arrived at the farm the snow was high, it was dirty and the house was desolate. As my mother and I walked in the house, we were met with a huge mess. Remember I mentioned the house was empty? The sons who were looking after the place had a huge party and trashed the place. I burst out in tears, my mother burst out in tears and that was that, we were going home.
In time we grew to love the farm and my parents remained living there for close to 35 years. We moved up there with very little notice, with no jobs in place and no money in our pockets. As an adult I've mirrored this childhood move. I've jumped on a plane with two weeks notice and flew up to the NWT, in the middle of December for work. I've packed everything up in duffle bags and hopped on a bus, heading south to Vancouver on a promise of a job and no place to live. I have spent my adulthood moving in similar fashion as my childhood. I may not have moved for some time recently, however, I don't believe my adventure has ended. I'm pretty sure, one day, I'll get a call and there I'll be, packing up car without a thought or worry, heading off to places unknown, knowing that in the end it'll all work out - just as it did when I was a kid moving north.
I hope you enjoyed my little story.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Tonight I went to my Toastmasters meeting. If you haven't been to one, there is a section called "table topics" where the host pulls out a topic that you have to talk about, for 1-2 minutes. You have no time to prep, you think on your feet and off the top of your head. Sometimes it is about real life and sometimes it's about make-believe, either way you don't have time to prepare.
I don't know about you, but I'm good at the bull, however, I always think about the best after the fact. Like tonight. Tonight's table topics were "songs" - relate a song to your life and tell us about it. I pulled Jingle Bells. I'm not a person who celebrates large at Christmas. I was disappointed to have that song as it really wasn't one I could relate to. I was laughing over the songs that came before like "Imagine" and "Satisfaction" and "Yellow Polka-dot Bikini" and "the Chicken Dance song" as I could relate to them all. Jingle Bells though, I went completely blank. I gave a speech about how children change the lyrics to songs, how the song reminded me of my favourite movie, Love Actually and how I was pretty well ready for Christmas. The feedback was that I gave an excellent speech, I didn't hesitate and I spoke very well - in the time allowed without going over. ~whew~
Something though was gnawing at me as I knew there was something about Christmas carols that I would have shared if I had recalled, but I could not remember. Then it came to me - college, January, burned-out sunny day and pizza.
It was November or December 1981 and my roommate (Wendy) and I were completely burned out from life, college, debt and dealing with a PITA roommate. We woke up one beautiful sunny day and dragged our behinds to school - we were in nursing school. Lunch rolled by and we looked at one another, took off for Shakey's Pizza. We knew we didn't have the time but we went anyway and when the clock rolled to 1PM, we shook it off. We sat back enjoying our pizza, drinking our Cokes and laughing over nothing. When we were done, we walked back to our apt, arm in arm, singing Christmas carols, O Canada and God Save the Queen at the top of our voices. Once home, we dragged out our dolls, our stuffed animals and placed them in a circle on a blanket, on the floor in the living room of our apt. We cut up veggies and fruit, then placed them in a lovely manner on plates. We put the food in the middle of the blanket, made tea and put on "Where's the Playground Susie" (Glen Campbell). We danced and sang at the top of our voices, over and over and over. We sat down and fed our stuffed animals, giggling like we were only 5 years old.
Ah what a speech that would have been, but alas, I didn't think of it at the time. Don't you just hate when that happens? When the best thoughts come after the fact. Yeah it bites.
So to put that worm song in your ear, here is the song:
Next week I am doing my first speech that isn't impromptu. I figure it's time, as I've been a member for around 5 or 6 months. It's called "Icebreaker" and is basically a 4-6 min speech about my life. I have no idea what to share, to me I've had a pretty basic life. There really hasn't been much to speak of, I haven't done anything special, I just get up like everyone else and head off to work. I really haven't travelled, except in my own backyard and I haven't done anything that anyone else hasn't done. Now if you get me drinking, well, I sure can tell the stories of working as a nurse up north, but it's not really stories for polite company. haha!
I'll figure something out. I am also the one who will be hosting the Table Top Topics, so I have to think of good topics for folks to talk about. It's a challenge but I suspect not many will be there - already 4 have stated that they will not be attending the meeting. Last time I did this, I chose scenarios such as; you are in Toronto or Vancouver, or maybe Calgary or Edmonton, you spent all your money and lost your bus ticket home, talk a stranger into giving you money to get home. Another scenerio I wrote was: you are at MasterChef Canada and cooked up a storm, and now you are in front of the judges. As you watch them try out your entree, your appetizer and then your dessert, you realize from their expression that you mixed up salt and sugar - how will you talk your way into staying on the program?
While people thought those subjects were fun, only 1 person really took off with the scenerio. One member completely changed the topic and spoke about what he wanted to talk about, a few stumbled around trying to figure out the speech and one person flat out stated that he would never mistake salt for sugar. I noticed that the one who changed the topic on me, he does it on a regular basis and once I feel more solid on the ground in the club, I think I will challenge him on this. Part of Toastmasters is moving out of your comfort zone and speaking in and on areas that you are not comfortable with - such as imagining that you like cats instead of dogs or that you would mix up salt and sugar.
One of the members suggested tonight that someone should do a "10, 000 years ago I would be........" and leave it open, so people are forced to use their imagination. I think I might do that. I have some pretty good openers to use too.
That's it, I just wanted to share my speech I didn't make with you all. I hope you enjoyed it.
Monday, November 10, 2014
November 11, 2014
At the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, we will remember.....why does Canada have a Remembrance Day?
Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. It was originally called “Armistice Day” to commemorate armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.—on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
From 1921 to 1930, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. In 1931, Alan Neill, Member of Parliament for Comox–Alberni, introduced a bill to observe Armistice Day only on November 11. Passed by the House of Commons, the bill also changed the name to “Remembrance Day”. The first Remembrance Day was observed on November 11, 1931.
The Ode of Remembrance
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
Why do we wear a poppy on our label, over our heart?
The poppy became widespread in Europe after soils in France and Belgium became rich in lime from debris and rubble from the fighting during the First World War. These little red flowers also flourished around the gravesites of the war dead.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
I will leave with songs to remember the day, to remember those who gave lives in service to their country and to those who are currently. Thank-you.
Pittance Of Time - Terry Kelly
(based on an actual incident)
The Red and the White - Julian Austin
(the video is from a performance in Afghanistan, for our heroes)
I Want you to LIve - George Canyon
...and last I leave you with a song about our Highway of Heroes....
"Highway of Heroes", was co-written and co-produced by The Trews and Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar) and was inspired by the 2006 death of Captain Nichola Goddard from The Trews' hometown of Antigonish, NS. Canada's Highway of Heroes, is the section of the MacDonald-Cartier freeway named to honour those who have sacrificed all in service of country. "
The Trews - Highway of Heroes
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