I have always felt something freeing about having a blank pad of paper and a smooth writing pen. I am free to write whatever I want, however I want, wherever I want. No matter how much I improve on my public speaking, I will always find comfort expressing myself through the written word.
Awhile ago, a Toastmaster approached me and asked me to write a story about personal change. Ideally the topic should have been easy: I am in Toastmasters after all, I could have written about all my changes in the past five years and called it a day. But a challenge was put forth: could I write about a change that everyone could relate to, not just the Toastmasters’ audience. I think so…but how on earth would I start? Where would I start? Continue reading
I’m standing on a platform high in the air, at the edge of a forested valley; the tops of the trees are (by my estimate) several hundred feet below me. As I’m trying to erase that frightful picture from my head, a voice behind me pipes up:
“Alright, I want you to let go of the safety bar and just hang there.”
Like hell I will.
We stand on the shoulders of giants.
In my previous life as a Science major, that quote stuck with me. Our forefathers (and mothers) made major discoveries and obtained knowledge that we take for granted today. Often we use that gained knowledge to form our own experiments, make our own discoveries, write our own papers, etc.
Except I always had the thought of “everything that can be written about, has already been written about, how on earth can I come up with something original?”
I had the same approach when I first tried writing speeches for Toastmasters. In amongst trying to get a handle on my nerves, I was trying to find a topic I could “teach” to the audience. I was (and still am) considered young in comparison to the average age of a Toastmaster, everything I have experienced in my short life, my audience has already experienced, many times over. Continue reading
Several months ago I had decided this was it: as much as I loved my current workplace and the people in it, I was going to leave. I wanted to try new things. I wanted to see what else was out there in the big wide world.
I am standing at the top, looking over the side. Pouring rain and strong winds made the water and snow pellets hit my face so hard I thought this was Mother Nature’s cruel way of giving me a free facial. Visibility had dropped to the point where I could barely make out what the terrain was like at my feet.
I remember what it was like last time.
I can’t do this. Continue reading
Happy 2014! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday with friends and family. Myself, I’m still scratching my head and wondering where 2013 went.
As I was trying to fall asleep the other night, my mind started to wander towards the upcoming Dine Out Vancouver Festival and my experiences during the same event in the prior year. During that period (I went to roughly ten restaurants in two weeks) some of the restaurant service experiences still stick out in my mind:
I still remember attending WEST with my mother, and never having an empty water glass, nor an empty bread basket because the waiters/waitresses were that attentive to ALL their tables.
I remember dining at BLACK & BLUE where the waiter took me on a guided tour and proudly informed me the third floor patio would be open by the summer of 2012. (I am tempted to think he mistakenly thought I was a journalist on assignment, instead of some poor soul that was dining alone on a weeknight). I also remembered the waiter offering to provide me with more light to read my menu (as the interior was quite dark) but I politely declined; he was essentially offering to use his lighter next to the paper menu.
Last but not least, I fondly remember ORU (Fairmont Pacific Rim) where the waiter wished me a good evening and addressed me by my name. In my opinion I thought that was a very nice touch by the staff: it made me feel like I a restaurant regular, instead of someone dining there for the very first time.
How do restaurant experiences relate to public speaking? Continue reading
It is early Saturday afternoon and I find myself at the mall to do some Christmas shopping, just like the thousands of people that are already there. I make my way to my favourite coffee spot (because I have a coupon in hand, and in dire need of coffee). There are only two people in front of me in the lineup: the person ordering, plus one gentleman behind them. While I am waiting, another person lines up behind me. There are now four people in the lineup. A few seconds later, another lady makes her way over to the lineup, grumbling the entire time:
What a long lineup, this is ridiculous! They should really open up some more cashiers, now I’m going to have to wait to get my coffee. I’d better get a discount for this.
We are the sum total of our choices.- Woody Allen
That was a quote a Toastmaster read as part of his inspiration, a quote that his mentor had passed along to him. This individual went a step further and added the phrase “although we may not always like those choices…”
How fitting, I thought. Unwittingly I started compiling a list of all memorable choices in my life.
– Choices that I had regretted.
– Choices that I still regret.
– Choices in which I had no choice, but after I had made said “choice” I was promptly informed it had been my choice all along.
I started to wonder what it would be like to go back and change all those choices. But then I thought about what kind of a person would I be if I had taken another road. Would I be nicer, meaner? Would I be more naive, or wiser? Would I be more positive or more jaded? If I “succeeded” and had made the choice I had wanted…would I view it as such?
Not so easy to re-envision, is it?
In the end, I have to sit back and accept the fact there will always be choices in my life I wish I could go back and change, or wish I had done differently. But for better or for worse, I am who I am through the choices I have made.
The other week I came back from a two week trip to the United Kingdom. More specifically, I went to England to visit family and visit the country for the very first time. I do plan to go into a more detailed post about my trip at a later date, but during this (Canadian) Thanksgiving long weekend, I feel a deeper feeling of thanks.
I feel blessed for my extended family across the Atlantic Ocean:
- Whom calmly understood my travel sickness as I tried (unsuccessfully) to deal with the winding roads, and driving on the “wrong” side.
- To my Aunt and Uncle whom let me stay with them without a moment’s hesitation, and welcomed me with open arms even when we have not seen each other in over ten years.
- To my cousin and his girlfriend-now-fiance, whom did the same when I visited them in London.
- To my cousin’s fiance, whom spent an evening adding to her (already impressive) knowledge of our family tree; I am thrilled to hear she will soon become a member of the family!
- To my Aunt, Uncle and cousins, whom willingly gave up all their free time to play tourist with me (before having to go back to work the next day).
- To my extended family, whom asked me not to wait too long before coming to visit them again…after I had worn out my welcome.
- To my cousin, whom (like me), is not quite a morning person, but on her own accord set her alarm so she could be awake in the wee hours of the morning to give me a hug goodbye before I left for the airport.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family: the ones I get to see every day, and the ones that are spread out all across the globe.