Letting The World Know

A good Public Relations (PR) team shares and communicates the value of their organization to the outside world in a compelling way with impactful and inspirational stories and images.

The heart and soul of  Toastmasters International’s mission is to provide and foster a supportive environment where members can find their voice and share their stories.


As I clarified in my mind the message I want to share with the world about Toastmasters, I wrote this short poem.

 “How lives are changed

How barriers are overcome

How bridges are built

How connections are made

How fear is tamed

How dreams are realized

How goals are reached

How friends are made

How community is strengthened.

At Toastmasters, I am letting the world know,

How Leaders are Made.”

This year marks my 20-year anniversary at Toastmasters and I am honored and excited to be the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for District 26.

Please share with me your stories about ways in which being a member of Toastmasters has benefited you and others you know in Toastmasters.  Reach me at Pro1415@d26leaders.org .



Thankfulness: A US Veteran’s Perspective

Thankfulness:  Awareness and appreciation of a benefit.   Expressive of gratitude.

This year I am thankful for the love and support of my family and friends. I am also very appreciative for the freedom we have in the United States and feel that it should never be taken for granted.

As a US Army veteran who served in the Gulf War in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, I have seen first hand countries and governments that limit the freedoms and rights of a large percent of their populations.  I am proud and grateful to be US citizen with certain unalienable rights:  Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

I believe that we should be thankful for our active duty service men and women who are deployed in various conflicts around the world.  These brave Americans have volunteered to put their lives on the line to ensure that our country remains strong and free.  They are sacrificing their own personal freedoms and comforts so you don’t have to. When you thank a Veteran for their service please keep these thoughts in mind.

20131109-4826K-Veteran's Day Celebration-0953-WEB

Members of VFW Post 1 marching in the Veterans Day Parade in Denver. Nov 2013. Photo by Marla Keown.

This year I am thankful for a number of strong non-profit organizations that are tireless in their efforts to help veterans and their families in need.

This year the following organizations stand out as exemplary:

  1. Team Rubicon- Their mission is to unite the skills and experience of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.   Many Colorado flood victims this year were assisted by this great team.  http://teamrubiconusa.org
  2.  VFW Post 1– The nation’s first and oldest Veterans of Foreign Wars Post has the youngest and most active membership.  This post in Denver, CO actively supports programs and partners who assist veterans and their families in the community.  www.vfwpost1.org
  3.  Fisher House Foundation– Best know for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.  http://www.fisherhouse.org

US Navy Veteran, Dana Niemela, working with Team Rubicon to help Colorado flood victims. Sep. 2013


Whee, I Climbed a Tree!

Yesterday I made my annual trek to the mountains of Colorado to see the beautiful fall colors of the aspens.  In years past I have always ridden my mountain bike on the summit trails of Kenosha Pass, but this year Steve and I decided to take in the sights on foot, armed with two cameras and a monopod.  The weather was great at 10,000 feet with plenty of sun and 65 degrees.  The vistas and colors were as breathtaking as ever.  


During our hike, I was energized by the sun and the view and trotted up the trail at a slightly faster speed than Steve (never mind the fact that his backpack and camera were almost double the weight of mine).  I was in a particularly adventurous mood and found myself scampering up and down the mountain to the right and left of the trail wanting  to see as much as I could of the trees, sky and foliage.  During one such detour I headed down a slight incline and saw the most striking and beautiful tree.  It was calling my name, begging me to climb it.  At that point, the mature adult side of me said “No, you can’t do that-  it’s dangerous.  What if a limb breaks?  You could fall to your death!”.  The boring adult in me noted that since I was already at a great height on this 10,200 ft pass, why would I possibly need to go any higher?   At which point, the Project Manager in me considered the risks, benefits and time involved and reminded me that it had been 36 years since I’ve climbed a tree.   Luckily my Inner Monkey took over and led me quickly to the base of this fine timber specimen.  Oh what a treat I was in for!

With my lens cap securely in place and my camera swung around to my back, I jumped up to the first branch without much problem and then with a bit of slower and more thoughtful maneuvering,  I made my way to the prime location for optimal viewing and reflection.  I don’t know why it felt so good or caused such great inspiration for me to share this story with you but it did!  I had a sense of happiness, freedom and joy that I don’t often experience in my day to day job.   I followed my childlike desires and enjoyed every minute of it.



Me in tree.


So what is the point of my Tree Glee blog?

  • Don’t be afraid to scamper off the set path – you may find other treasures you didn’t count on.
  • Don’t limit how high you should go.  Greater views and experiences are just a few branches away.
  • Listen to your Inner Monkey every once in a while- it can make for a great thrill and oftentimes, a fun story!



Can you hear me now?


I don’t know about you but I’m drowning in words.  Between the emails, web articles, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, blogs and texts, I am in absolute information overload! I read loads of words and see oodles of images but I’m still not satisfied with my level of connectedness with the world.   This is why I was so happy today when I had an honest to God, real live conversation with a good friend who now resides in Texas.   I realized just how much I missed listening to the feeling and emotion in someone’s voice and I jokingly noted that my friend’s southern accent had thickened since she left Colorado.  After months of catching on Facebook and email, it was heartwarming to hear the inflections, tones and prosody of the live human voice.  The conversation was full, animated and nuanced.  It was so much more satisfying to my heart and soul than our online chats have been.


 After 19 years of giving and listening to live speeches in Toastmasters, I’ve grown very effective and comfortable with verbal communication.  I like speaking.  Using my vocal cords, lips and tongue to get my message across just feels more human than the more recent modes of communication that involve text and images on a glowing, backlit screen. It’s just not the same and I have to admit that I don’t enjoy written communication (not counting a well done novel) nearly as much as the spoken word.  I dislike texting and I’d rather not catch up with a long lost friend via email.  So much is lost with this cold form of expression.

 The other thing that troubles me about the overflowing sea of information in cyberspace is that I feel like my voice and message can’t or won’t be heard.  With the plethora of blogs, articles, IMs and tweets, how can my ideas, thoughts or expressions possibly stand out and connect with others?  To address this I think I’ll take some strategies I learned while I was in the Army and that is:  Be Bold, Be Brief, Be Gone.  It also helps to change things up occasionally, keeping it interesting.  Remember that less is often more and oh, have a point, it makes it so more enjoyable for the audience!

 So, can you hear me now?   These are my ideas and suggestions on how to survive and hopefully thrive in this information- gorged world of ours.   With my friends and family I will reach out touch someone live and in the blogosphere I will be bold, brief and then I’ll be gone.  At 437 words, it’s time to go.  I’ll talk to you soon.

Pairing Passions

I love alliteration, especially when it involves the letter “P”.  That is why I am particularly pleased to share with you the idea that pairing your passions can improve your performance and purpose.  I’ve recently done this matchmaking of interests and have been enjoying myself so much more than before.

 The pairing of passions can help anyone and I have two specific audiences in mind as I write this blog.  One is for the beginner speaker at Toastmasters and the other is the person in going through the dreaded “mid-life crisis”.  I’ll start with the neophyte communicator who often seems to struggle and stress over what their first speech topic should be.  During many a mentor session with new Toastmasters I always go back to the question “ What do you love to do on the weekends when you are not working?” and this usually leads to a smile and a fun and interesting idea for a speech topic.  You see, it is so much easier to talk about something you know well or have a strong interest in rather than gutting your way through a topic that you have no connection to. When the words come from your heart they tend to flow more smoothly and your ability to connect with the audience is greatly enhanced.  Plus it is just more fun!

For those who feel like their lives don’t have enough deep or higher purpose, I submit that when you pair up some of your passions, you will have an increased level of satisfaction and happiness in your pursuits.


My passion pairing occurred last year when, after 18 years of giving general speeches at my Toastmaster clubs, I decided to branch out into the community and focus my communication and leadership skills on helping veterans and their families.  I became an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1 in Denver and was quickly appointed as the Public Affair Officer.  Now my speeches, PR and marketing efforts are more specialized and directed.  I have more enthusiasm in my endeavors because I am speaking and leading with a purpose. My passion for communicating is combined with my strong desire to assist my fellow veterans and the coalescence is powerful and potent (again with the “Ps”).

Just for fun, here are some examples of paired passions that I’ve seen or pursued:

  • Photography and cycling or hiking
  • Public speaking and community activism
  • Storytelling and community outreach
  • Travel and food
  • Food and sex (made for a great Seinfeld episode!)
  • Bowling and social bonding
  • Horses and helping children
  • Reading, book clubs and wine
  • Tandem Bicycling and wine tours (the captain is the designated driver)

I hope that this idea of “Passion Pairing” has sparked some creative ideas about what excites or drives.  Please share your thoughts and comments about your inspirations with me and those following this blog.


Virgin Post

Welcome to Brenda’s Blog-  Strong Words and Simple Truths.

Words have power.  Words inspire.  Words can change your world.

I am a Distinguished Toastmaster and leader within my community.

I am a female US Army veteran having served in the first Gulf war.

I have stories to share and perspectives to uncover.

Ready for some short, simple tidbits on Communication, Leadership and Influence?

Here we go………………….Image