Thursday, April 25, 2013

Courage - 23 April

In the absence of the “official” blogger – you are going to get the ramblings of the “technical assistant”. Well not exactly ramblings – since you know that IT people are logical, direct and to the point- and so there will be an adjective-less, succinct blog – with clinical details of the evenings proceedings!

As usual – the meeting started on time. The President – who then morphed into the Toastmaster – warmly welcomed all – including a large – okay 8 – contingent of visitors.

The Table Topics was an attempt by Deborah Stephenson – with the assistance of Wilbur Smith - to get us to develop a truly warm, rural, African bush story. All was going well until Tom took to the floor – and the story was hijacked by an urgent WhatsApp message on a cell phone and a quad bike excursion to a party down the road!! This side-lining of the story won Tom the Impromptu speaking award.

The formal speeches once again covered many things – not quite “of shoes and ships and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings” Midlife – by Barbara de Scande (CC4) to a truly motivating Secret of Success from Gideon Smith (CC3), to an excruciating overview of Dental Pain from Mike Brosnahan(CC4) and finally a plea from Glenis Whitehead with Tots and Technology(CC9) to balance exposure of children to IT with a nostalgic look at what is truly remembered from childhood. So besides being entertaining – the speeches provided food for thought.
but moved from a hilarious overview of

With the Toast to SeasonsAna Heydenrych toasted both the wonder we experience with the change of seasons as we transition from Summer into Autumn but also the transitions through the stages of our lives. This was so apt as Ana moves towards her role as mother.

As Top Toastie last week – Barbara awarded the Top Toastie this week to Reinhardt Botha for the enjoyable, encouraging evaluation (do I detect an alliteration?)

Our warmest congratulations to Marianah Lourens for coming 2nd in the International English Competition and Jessamy Kromhout for coming 3rd in the Evaluation Competition in East London this last week-end.

So where does courage come in? – You may ask! It was the theme for the evening – and as we know public speaking takes courage !!!

Yours in the interim


Monday, April 8, 2013

How do we keep going? - 26 March

Our last club meeting saw us having our annual Club Speaking Competition in preparation for the run of contests leading up to the Division and finally, the District Competition at MaxiCon in May.

There is a saying (borrowed from the Robert Burns poem To a Mouse) about the best laid schemes of mice and men; and sadly, this event turned out to fraught with all sorts of problems. It was not that there had not been enough warning; we had known about it for ages. It was not that there were initially not enough entrants for the International and the Evaluation Competitions; there were. It was just a case of LIFE, with all its complexities and problems, happening.

Despite the limited number of entrants in the final competitions, I believe that we all – and the four or five visitors who were present – learned a lot. Glenis Whitehead (our Division Governor), in her role as Chief Judge, took us through the rules and discussed some interesting items which had been raised by Shaun Goodbrand, District Chief Judge in a recent On a Point. It was an enjoyable evening as always. Mariannah Lourens and Jessamy Kromhout went on to represent Algoa at the Area Competition at Victoria Park Grey on Saturday, 6 April.

This Competition saw entrants from all the clubs in Area E1 competing: Algoa, ACT, USpeak, NMMU and Rhodes. The results were as follows: Jessamy Kromhout won the Evaluation Contest, followed by Charlie Msimane from Rhodes; Michael Travis (also from Rhodes) won the International Contest with Mariannah Lourens in second place. All four of these contestants are allowed to compete at the next level and we wish them the best of luck!

20 April will have competitors and supporters leaving PE and Grahamstown very early in the morning to travel to East London for the Division Contest to determine who will be representing us in the District Competition at LeaderCon in Fourways from 23 – 26 May. If anyone would like to support the contestants from Area E1, please speak to Glenis Whitehead or Colleen Love about transport arrangements.

* * *

I found myself wondering after the club competition though: How do we keep going? We are all so aware of the treadmill lives that we lead. Taking it easy translates these days into being lazy – and if we want to achieve any level of success, either personally or at work, we cannot be seen to be lazy! So, we load our metaphoric plates until we really cannot do any more – and then we sometimes have to face the consequences in poor health, a lack of family time or even nervous breakdowns. I guess the only way to ‘have it all’ is to find balance.

This is not a new topic of conversation at Toastmasters; I have devoted most of a previous blog to it. However, I keep coming back to it. Renowned theologian, Thomas Merton, had this to say:

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony."

So, if we are looking for a way to achieve our goals without falling apart or of driving ourselves too hard, we must find a way to devote time to each of the following areas: Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Social/Emotional and Material. Looking online, I found a really simple article at which sums it all up.

I know it’s not always easy, but if we make small, deliberate changes to the way we live, we would be surprised at the results that will yield.

Until next time
Ricky Woods