I’m Certified!

August 25, 2016

No, not certifiable (as in crazy, although sometimes I wonder…..). I’m a “Certified Communicator” with Toastmasters! I completed my 10th speech recently – 10 speeches in 3 months! Whew! My last speech was on how I do not let the word “felon” define me and how I have taken back my narrative from those who would like to define me that way. It’s interesting though. Nearly all of my speeches were on “serious” topics such as the death penalty, the importance of advocating for your own health care, transgender rights and mindfulness. But the best received of all of my speeches was the one I gave on Tito Puente (our fabulous chihuahua/rat terrier mix)! I told the story of how he found Kenny, how we named him (a combination of Tito’s vodka and his obvious Hispanic heritage), how we lost him (I insisted on calling the local shelter to see if anyone reported him missing) and how he found his way back to us several months later (his owner, who was a serial dog rescuer, realized how much we loved him!). That was my 8th speech and it was supposed to be a speech where I used a “prop.” There aren’t a lot of props available here but when I opened my locker and saw a picture of Tito Puente, I had my prop!! Well, I received more – and louder – applause for that speech than any of my serious speeches. I think it is because I miss Tito Puente SO much and because so many of my colleagues here are in the same situation: they miss their dogs too!

I have to say that Toastmasters is the best hour and a half of every week. Our meeting tomorrow will feature the 100th speech given since the inauguration of our “gavel club” a little over three weeks ago. Pretty impressive! I have really enjoyed hearing the personal stories, the “how to” speeches (yoga to bass guitar) and the heartfelt speeches on how to make the best of their time here. I am looking forward to joining the Palm Springs Toastmasters when I return home!

Finally, thanks to Trish Hayes, Gala Struthers, Mark Grossheider, Bridgette Birdie, Kathleen Poulos, Lisa May and Holly Bennett for sending books in recent months. I think I am up to 140 books read now since I have been here!

Sending lots of love and hugs!

David

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