As I write this blog, I’m sitting at the dining room table where a small group of my Toastmaster family gathered in November to share in the celebration of my 25-year anniversary in the organization.
That night, the room was alive with boisterous conversations and intriguing stories of experiences, heartaches and triumphs. The laughter was contagious and complimented the culinary delights that were passed around the table.
The only thing that got too heated was the tiny fire in the oven from my bacon wrapped scallops! This ridiculous oversight by the hostess, yours truly, will be the topic of many speeches and embarrassing stories to come.
The evening ended on a fun and creative note as we formed a large circle about the kitchen and asking asked each other Table Topics questions. One of the most memorable responses came from a husband of a Toastmaster I work with. His impromptu query was “Grateful Dead or Led Zeppelin?” and he enthusiastically answered that he had seen both bands live and shared a short rainbow of memories. Also, he preferred Zeppelin!
A long time Toastmaster and past International Director, Don Griffith, asked me to talk about my journey in Toastmasters over the years and I happily shared my adventures of joining my first club, Word R Us, in Bentonville, Arkansas and how so many people have touched and changed my life.
When I joined this organization, I had no idea that I would have such an extended circle of amazingly talented and generous friends and colleagues. For this I am eternally grateful.
In this time of deep and divisive polarization in America, it was heartening to see so many people come together in peace and good will, with the simple goal of celebrating a positive achievement. The group had two things in common, 1) we are part of the human race and 2) we are (or are spouses of) Toastmasters.
It is a rare, novel and happy occasion to have a group of people of such diverse political, religious and cultural backgrounds come together to simply laugh, plays games and tell stories.
After this milestone and event, I reflected upon the real meaning of Toastmasters that goes beyond the communication and leadership skills it builds in its members.
To me, the real meaning of Toastmasters is fueled by the authentic connections and camaraderie which lifts so many spirits and inspires so many to achieve their dreams.
The real meaning of Toastmasters is:
People Sharing Life, Love and Laughter
Like a health tonic with the ability to uncover superpowers, Toastmasters clubs across the world are making a positive difference in this challenging and sometimes lonely world.
I was so happy to be able to celebrate my 25thAnniversary with so many special and talented people.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the next quarter century and I’ll be sure to cater the event to avoid a flaming surprise!