Maybe rabbit ears would help

Did you ever start doing something and just have your brain seem to go empty? I feel a bit like that today. It’s not writer’s block. That’s something I don’t get. I don’t believe in it, which is probably why I haven’t been cursed with it. I’m just not sure what to talk about in the blog today. Lots of things are going on, but I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a lot of time to process it all. Today might be a little bit random. Please bear with me, or skip along and wait until tomorrow to read again.

The sing-along version of Mamma Mia was really fun. My friend and I sang through the whole thing, and we weren’t the only ones in the theater raising our voices. It made an already joyful movie into an even more joyful experience, and as I was dressed for brunch in a 1940s hat I felt equal to the occasion. I love to have a chance to dress up now and then. I highly recommend the experience, and my friend plans to buy the DVD when it comes out and have a costume party to honor Abba’s unique and wayward sense of fashion. It should be frightening.

The brunch I attended was celebrating the twentieth anniversary of my chapter of Toastmasters International. Each chapter of the group has a different feel to it, and I particularly like the one I attend because I find the people to be charming, supportive and interesting. Some groups are more business-like than ours, too. We have an informality about us that suits me. It was fun to get together and celebrate the chemistry we share as we improve our speaking skills. I’d recommend Toastmasters highly, and suggest that if you went to a meeting and did not like it that you might wish to try a meeting in a different place. The atmosphere may be totally different.

See you tomorrow, when I may or may not be more focused. You’ll have to come back to find out.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

181.  Next time you’re feeling a little bit random, just go with it. Serendipity may lead you to some amazing discoveries, or you may simply learn that it’s okay when things aren’t perfect and organized. Once you’ve spent a random day, figure out if you learned anything from the experience.

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Sign me up

Tonight I’m going to a speech contest for my local Toastmasters organization. I will be greeting observers, supporting my competing friends, and helping to get the work of the evening done. I’m really looking forward to it.  

Some people are not joiners, but I am. Writing is solitary in some ways, and I need time alone each day to think and to create. I also need the company of others who are trying to achieve the same goals, who are striving to become better. We help each other out. Writing groups increase the learning curve as long as the people in the groups write and share their work. Some groups are all talk and no pen on paper.  That doesn’t help anybody.

I joined Toastmasters for my writing. It helps me with poetry performance, and I want to be ready for those book tours later in my career. I was already a good speaker, but I knew I could become even better with the feedback of others. Toastmasters has a proven training program, and I’ve learned a lot by watching my fellow speakers. The polished orators within the group are great teachers, and so are those speakers who still need improvement. Bad speakers teach you what not to do. Badly-written books do the same thing—they alert you to what doesn’t work.

People with the same interests understand each other’s needs and desires. I’ve joined a local country dance group, and we were meeting in a church rec room the other day. One of the more practiced dancers was helping me with my two-step. I was doing okay, and he said “now we’ve got to get you into some cowboy boots.” The slippery bottom will help my foot slide properly during a waltz, and the heel will make a more satisfying stomp when I’m line dancing. He told me where to go find them, too. I’d never even envisioned myself in cowboy boots—I wouldn’t have made that leap on my own. I was excited, and shared that with another dancer. She proudly showed me her first pair, now scuffed by the year’s dancing. I can’t wait to scuff my own.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

63. What are your interests? Check out groups devoted to that interest and see about dropping into a meeting.

Fly me to the moon

Last night I got an aviation lesson, a hands-on practicum in the art of flying by the seat of my pants. I was not trained at SeaTac airport. Instead, I took the instruction at a Toastmasters meeting. This club is a lovely thing, an organization based on improving public speaking skills in a socially supportive setting. It works for those who are afraid to make even the tiniest audible peep—which is not me—and for those who would like to become better at skills they already have. I am always working on improving my speaking, and the group helps me a lot. We support each other in mutual progress.

 

Yesterday evening our Toastmaster fell ill. It was his job to act as a master of ceremonies, to run the whole show. The Toastmaster also provides entertaining filler in between the speakers and other events of the meeting. With two hours notice I was assigned the job. My improvised theme was “flying by the seat of your pants,” a term which comes from the early days of aviation when pilots had to rely more on their wits than instrumentation. I had fun, and it made me think about ways that I’ve been introducing more of this improvisational feeling into my daily writing and art practices.

I’ve recently taken up visual journaling and am drawing every day in a blank book. I am using disposable technical pens for these forays onto paper. This is scary but exhilarating. I want to get things perfect, and I can do that if I use pencils. I can erase and redraw as many times as I need to get the angle of each line just right. In pen I’ve got one shot—if I put a person’s nose in the wrong place it stays there. This has been great for me, because I am learning to look more carefully before I place the first line. I’ve also learned to enjoy the wobbly imperfections that come about as I commit unpremeditated art. There’s a lot of imperfections to appreciate.

Spontaneous writing exercises are also a great way to keep flexible. I’ll tell you more about that Friday. Tomorrow will be something else entirely. Curious? Come back and see me! 

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

24. Take out a pen and draw something in your immediate surroundings. Do not erase. Honor the imperfections in your little masterpiece.