Archives for posts with tag: Toastmasters

So the three times weekly (M,W, Sat) publishing experiment has been unsuccessful, to put it kindly. And I am on a mission to be kinder to myself. So rather than berate myself for failing, I will consider the last two weeks a bit of a break, and start again today.

The new year has been interesting so far, in a good way: I’ve been to Raleigh with Dr. T to observe parts of a Moral Monday trial (he is representing some of the protesters pro bono) resumed lessons with BR, attended a meeting of a new group, attended my first Toastmasters meeting as an official member, and socialized more than usual too.

As to my self-photo a day resolution, I will say this: I am rapidly losing interest in myself as a subject. I expect this will result in me “getting over myself” and having a photo I can stand to use on LInkedIn soon so I can move on. Making sure to take a picture and post an entry daily has been a challenge. I dropped the ball on January 7, but I am giving myself a pass because although I didn’t take my own photo, I did cause photos of myself to be taken. (Publicly, even!) I am enjoying the app I am using for the project though: Day One, a nifty journaling tool. Check it out.

Not living a highly scheduled life since I’ve come back home has not really agreed with me. I intend to build more routine and structure into my life this year. I can hardly wait to see how.

Happy New Year. I wish you luck with whatever goals and intentions you have for 2014. Please feel free to share them as a comment.

We love to talk about whether a year has been “good” or “bad.” (Or is it just me?) The real answer is usually “both.” For purposes of this post, I am only addressing my own progress, or lack thereof.

For the first time, I chose a personal “Word of the Year” for 2013.

Did I live up to it? No and yes.

No, in that I have not done yoga every morning. Or most mornings. Yes, in that I can still kick higher than my head, and have actually done so unsupported by furniture recently. (No guts, no glory.)

No, in that I haven’t posted as regularly to this blog as I intended, nor have I added any visuals. Yes, in that I have posted about more personal topics, and haven’t abandoned the blog. Also, I’ve linked to posts from my Facebook page, and shared posts directly with people I don’t even know, including real, live, published writers. Another yes: I attended WordCamp this fall.

No, in that I have not found a “real” job. Yes, in that I have, with the help of my friends, a new resume, and some ideas on what I would like to do next. Yes, in that I have applied to some interesting jobs, and made it to a phone interview once. I’ve joined a professional group in a field of interest. Yes, in that I am actually telling people I am looking for work.

Yes in that I am reaching out and developing new friendships. Yes in that I have pushed myself far out of my comfort zone by joining Toastmasters, and will be giving my “Icebreaker” speech on January 28th.

I plan to choose another Word of the Year for 2014. I was considering the following: Control, Connect, or Direction. I think now I prefer “Momentum.”

Two members of the Toastmasters’ group I have been visiting gave “Icebreaker” speeches at the last meeting. (An “Icebreaker” is a member’s first speech, intended to introduce the speaker to the group.) Both speeches were enjoyable, but one resonated with me. The title: “If You Do What You Have Always Done, You Will Get What You Have Always Gotten.”


I have spent this year focused on that message, trying, often unsuccessfully, to not do what I have always done. Specifically,  avoiding situations that make me uncomfortable. Like drawing attention to myself.

So I considered Toastmasters’. After weathering three shots at “Table Topics” (short impromptu speeches) I am done considering. I will write my membership check at the next meeting.

In some cases, I have stopped doing what I have always done by not doing nothing. In English, that means I have substituted action for lack of action.

Instead of telling my very career-savvy friends that I might ask them for help with my resume, I have sent them my resume for suggestions. You should see it now. I’m impressed.

Rather than wondering if I should approach people I know who are working in fields or companies that interest me, I have told them that I am looking for work, and asked for information. Oddly enough, they have been more than accommodating.

Reaching outside of my comfort zone again, I registered for WordCamp Raleigh, and attended alone. I learned a lot, and talked to folks I never would have met otherwise. I left with a few great ideas for future consideration.

And there is more.

Every little risk I have convinced myself to take has encouraged me to try something else. It doesn’t matter whether any given risk “pays off.” The payoff is in taking the risk.

Normally, when I haven’t posted to this blog for a while, it’s an indication that things aren’t going well: someone is ill; there’s some sort of family drama, or I’m just in some sort of inert funk for no easily articulated reason.

I am happy to report that’s not this case this time.

I’ve had a pleasant and eventful six weeks. Inspiring even. OK, there was one (very scary and horrifyingly expensive) instance of family illness/drama, involving my sweet little cat, but even that ended well, and it served as reinforcement of what I need to be doing.

Briefly, since I posted last, I’ve been back to California to attend a multi-class high school reunion, and squeezed in a daylong visit to my former office. I’ve attended two more meetings of the Toastmaster’s Club I wrote about in my last post. I registered for WordCamp, a conference hosted by WordPress, which I will be attending next weekend. I’ve applied to a handful of jobs. I’ve had several frank and friendly conversations with the boss at my part-time job, and there  are avenues to explore there. I’ve been reaching out to friends for job search help and advice, and I am encouraged and motivated as a result. I’ve stood next to Dr. T as he was sworn in as a lawyer; his exciting new venture makes me even more eager for one of my own.

Those are the highlights. There’s been a lot to think about, and a lot to write about. I am challenging myself to choose a schedule for that, and stick to it. In the interest of developing something I can stick with, I will plan to post on the days I am never scheduled to work: Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday. We’ll see how that goes.

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (

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