(Toastmasters International, “Competent Communication”)
[Out of consideration for my fellow Toastmasters and our dear coach, Rinda Reiss, I will write this entire piece in English.]
Not long ago, someone told me I should find something to believe in. This someone also told me that no matter how many friends you have, how many plans you make and how many achievements you get, the end of the day will always find you alone. Not alone, but with yourself, if you know how to make this relationship something different from solitude. I laughed. I needed nothing to believe in! I was wrong. Then, I chose the next (not best, but next) “thing” to believe in. Wrong once again. But this “thing”, by means of the disappointment, sadness and helplessness it brought, made me actually feel on my own skin how lonely I was, even though surrounded by friends, fun and activities. So yes, at the end of the day it’s you. No matter the money you make that day, the friends you meet, the things you learn, the people you help or the books you read if you’re not comfortable with your own company. So I chose to believe in me. It’s not easy at all, but I’m working at it every day!
This decision brought changes in my old habits and gallantry to undertake new ones. Till now, everything was for the best (except I keep finding no time to write on the blog, but I promise this will change, too)! Probably the most extraordinary out of all these new things that made room in my life recently is joining TOASTMASTERS, an International Club for Public Speaking. I had no idea I would enjoy it so much. In fact, when I have heard of it I actually didn’t want to go, not even as a guest, not to mention as a member, so I may say I landed there by chance, not by will. It seems that one hour was more than enough to picture my life in brighter colours – the motivational, optimistic speeches, wonderful, forthcoming people, homey atmosphere, and an amount of things to learn in one hour that (sometimes) outbalance the ones I take advantage of during the entire week! Toastmasters is a chance I would recommend anyone to avail oneself of. No matter what your goals are, Toastmasters will prove useful in the long run on so many levels of your life.
Being a Toastmasters’ member offers you a lot, but also requires quite a lot. You learn how to develop yourself, how to wisely use your time, how to be a good speaker, a competent leader, how to criticize constructively, how to teach others and how to let yourself be taught. Toastmasters is using everything you’ve got for your best, be it good or not so good skills, behaviours, attitudes or ways of thinking. As a brand new fresh member, I was given the manuals of the club. About the first of them, the CC (Competent Communication) manual, I want to tell you in this post. The manual has 10 projects that will materialize in 10 speeches. Last week I found the courage to carry forth my first one, the Ice Breaker. The aim of this project was to begin speaking before an audience, to discover speaking skills I already had and skills that needed some attention. The time span was four to six minutes, and I had to talk about myself (only the first project has an assigned topic, the rest only tell you the objectives you have to accomplish, but you get to choose the subject and everything). I don’t say this often, but I was pretty proud of how it turned out, not because of what I’ve said, but about how I managed to say it. Here you have the final form of my first Toastmasters speech, I delivered on the 7th of June:
|the CC manual|
I Can Do It Proverbially!
I want to begin by telling you that lately I feel I’m all in for the small things life can offer me.
Till quite recently I had been wondering through life searching for various things I thought I imperiously needed – a perfect job, perfect friends, a perfect love relationship, a perfect hair-do, a perfect attitude and way of behaving in order to impress the others, a perfect EVERYTHING, all these while constantly reproaching myself how imperfect I was. I missed a lot of moments. I missed a lot of chances. I missed a lot of fun, smiles and crazy things. And then I was busy feeling sorry for what I lost, so other moments passed by while I was sniffing in my fist. But I finally got it. There is no use to regret things I missed once, but things I will let go from now on. This is why now I really believe my life can and should be proverbial!
I love many things and I think I put it right if I say I’m a passionate being. I do not have special or extraordinary passions, but I’m passionate about them in a special and extraordinary way. Let me give you some proverbial for instances.
I think you are all familiar with the saying “A Muffin a day, keeps the doctor away”, isn’t it?! Well let me tell you, my Muffin sure knows how to do his job flawlessly! My white little fellow is my pride and joy for a year now and he’s getting by each day cuter, fluffier, smarter and lovelier. I let him in my life in a moment of affliction and since then he made my days brighter and warmer. Of course, we sometimes fight. For instance when he carries his food into my bed and hides it under my pillow or when he is mad at me for leaving him alone and punishes me with some wet marks on the black leather chairs in my room. But he’s my everyday medicine and that is all that it counts!
Another saying that I enjoy is the well-known “A dress in need is a bless indeed”J. Call me shallow, but all that I need to see in the elevator’s mirror each morning is a lovely dress, a not so bad hair-do, my matching bracelets on the left hand and a wide, confident smile. If I can say checked, checked, checked and checked when getting off the elevator that means my day will start at its best. I am truly passionate about fashion and individual style, without being a fashion addict or obsessed with the new arrivals on the catwalk. I rejoice in reading fashion books, critical books upon this matter and international web logs. I have to admit that not once or twice had I been called superficial by having this passion, yet who do you think those preachy fellows call when they need a related piece of advice? So, if I may dare to put it this way, call me superficial, as long as you call me!
I love reading in general, not only fashion related stuff and out of this passion came into being my personal web log, a virtual space dedicated to my smart friends, about my other smart friends, the books. As the old saying goes, “God gives the books, but he doesn’t read them for you”, I always find a blessing in each good book I read. Reading helps me let loose of all the frustrations and negative feelings I accumulate during the day and always enhances my horizon and perspectives. Reading can do no harm, so far from me to understand why so many people run as fast as they can when coming to books. None of us had been born cultivated, but we can all grow so if we allow ourselves the pleasure and benefits of reading.
Also out of reading but this time out of experience, too, I reached the conclusion that “The grass is always greener on the other side of the… planet!”, more specifically in Asia. In the last 3 years I developed a great passion for the Chinese and Japanese languages and cultures. During my one year stay in Sibiu I got the chance to study Chinese language at Confucius Institute, and, later on the next summer, to attend the summer school classes at Beijing Language and Culture University. This almost one month spent in China totally changed my life on so many levels and it was by far the most wonderful thing I have experienced so far. At present, I am a student of Japanese language at Musashino Institute.
Last but somehow first on my passions’ list, goes the saying “If you want a thing done well, do it when you’re young!”. Sounding as it may sound, having fun and enjoying my youth is my great concern at the moment and I intend to keep it this way as much as I can. I have been harshly judged for saying a straight NO for now to kids, marriage, bank loans or to saving accounts, house projects or retirement thoughts and an opened YES to life as I perceive it at the moment. What defines it for the best now is travelling, laughing, shopping, enjoying opera plays and theatres, working, doing crazy little things, dancing till dawn, going out with friends for a lunch or a walk, listening to my favourite rock music, reading and writing, and by means of each of them, learning, each and every day learning how to rejoice in all these small things life so generously disposes before my eyes.
So yes, one may probably call me selfish, thoughtless, lazy, immature, inconveniently sincere, maybe unreasonable, shallow, even ignorant, but one cannot ever call me hypocritical and by this only I already have a great advantage in front of those who judge me. Because I chose to remain the same old reliable girl, friendly and affectionate, active and joyful, dedicated and open, sober, educated and decent, yet at odds with everything that could constrain me. Because I chose to be different and not let go the real me. Because I chose to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes up, to the stars. Because I chose to live, not simply exist, and this, I believe, gave me the right to lay down my own rules for a proverbial life!
The delivery of a speech does not imply the participation of the SPEAKER only, but that of the entire room, the rest of the members, and the guests as well. The TIMER makes sure you know how long you have been speaking, by displaying a green, a yellow and lastly a red card at several points in time, so you won’t be disqualified for speaking too little or too much. The GRAMMARIAN watches for your good or poor uses of the language, the AH COUNTER counts your crutch words and the POSTURE MONITOR keeps an eye on your posture, movement and gestures. The TOASTMASTER of the day has the role of introducing you and everybody (if they want, of course) will provide you with a short written feed-back at the end of the meeting. Probably the most important roles are played by the EVALUATOR, who has to give a three minute feed-back on your speech in front of everybody and the MENTOR, an experienced member you choose to guide you in the first 6 months or the 3 first speeches, whichever comes first. I am glad I can brag with an awesome team and with an extraordinary mentor, who constantly offers me exactly what I lack in: confidence, courage and self reliability, all wrapped up in wise words and gently smiles.
|the evaluation I received in my manual, written by my evaluator, Adriana|
(she also delivered an oral evaluation based on the tasks I had to fulfill in my speech)
|the written feed-back I received at the end of the meeting from all the members and guests|
Toastmasters is not about what you’re going to become, but about what and who you are and didn’t know. Toastmasters is about understanding why others like you the way you are and learning from them how to do the same. Toastmasters is about your own lessons of life. There is nothing about learning from others’ mistakes, but about making your own mistakes and bragging about them. Because they are yours and you are unique! I will get back on this in other future post/s. Till then, if anyone is directly interested in this subject, please contact me for further information. We meet each Tuesday at Prefectura, from 6.30 to 7.30 P.M. and we are great!
|some of the TM, on a great day!|
(Mada, Costi & Clau received flowers for carrying out their 10th speech!!)
|Anca, Angi, Ramo & I at Bistro del Arte|