Thursday, August 13, 2009

Speech Outfit - Focus on the Face

Knowing that I had a speech to do for my Toastmasters club today, I dressed to draw eyes up to my face, avoiding any loud patterns or distractingly large jewelry.
I ended up in a pretty corporate looking outfit, which is appropriate since I do work for a corporation. I haven't worn this skirt much since I got it, but I do love the shape and the embelishment (sparkly!). It's hard to see in the shirt, but it has thin grey stripes and a shiny gold stripe in it.

The stuff:
Love the shoes! I also really like the faux antique necklace - there's something about this sort of memento look that appeals.

In case you are interested, here's my speech. The focus was on vocal tone and variety, so try to imagine it done with a very animated voice (which I have).

I Swear

My dad cursed. When we were kids, driving anywhere meant exposure to new and exciting swear words and creative expressions featuring four-letter words. "Get off the bleeping road, you bleeping bleep!" That one was popular. We quickly got used to Dad's swearing, but my mom didn't realize quite how much we'd absorbed until my brother was sent home from Kindergarten after calling his teacher a bleeping bleep.

Fellow Toastmasters, when you need inspiration, you might not look to someone who swears as a great role model. But my dad was more than a collection of colourful words: he was also a marathon runner.

Dad started running in this thirties, when he was told his health was at risk if he didn't lose weight and get in shape. We cheered him on as he slogged through his first 10K race, yelled his name as he finished his first marathon, and called him crazy as he pushed himself to run 50K and 100K in races over the next twenty years. Still he did set that original goal to get in shape and challenge himself, and he accomplished it.

Sadly, after training for the marathon in September 1996, he had a massive heart attack and passed away. His last words were, "Tell that bleeping bleep to mind her own bleeping business!" It was somehow fitting that he combined two of his passions - running and swearing - into his last few hours, and now we laugh about his final words: typical Dad.

When I was a teen, I would go running with my dad, but once I left home, my exercise dropped off. I admired that he'd reached and surpassed the challenges he'd set for himself, and in the back of my mind was always the thought: I'm going to do a marathon one day too. After Dad died, I set my own goal: I will do a marathon before I turn 40.

But the years passed, and I got more and more out of shape. I huffed when I had to climb a flight of stairs; I puffed when I ran for the bus. I was 38 and I weighed nearly 200 pounds - I was on the road to an early heart attack. How had I let this happen? In my dad's words, I was a bleeping mess. I only had two years to get in shape and do that marathon - impossible! I was ready to give up and I hadn't even started.

I knew what Dad would say: "Get up off that bleeping couch and turn off the bleeping TV! Get the bleep outside and move your bleeping butt!" So I did. I joined Weight Watchers and I bought a treadmill. I went out walking every day, faster and further, and the pounds disappeared. Six months later, I had lost fifty pounds. Fifty bleeping pounds! I race-walked a 10K race and I won a medal, and I started training for the marathon...all 26.2 bleeping miles of it. I planned to race-walk it - my goal was 6 1/2 hours.

On race day, I stood at the start time with the other slow runners and walkers. It was 6am and pitch dark as we waited for the starting gun, and I felt the excitement Dad must have felt at the beginning of all the countless races he'd done. "I'm doing a marathon! Am I bleeping crazy?" The miles rolled by, the hours crept past, and the sun came up, all pink and purple and orange. "Wow, that's bleeping beautiful," I thought...not noticing the gathering clouds.

It poured for the last two hours of the race, but I felt exhilarated. The rain washed down my face as I remembered my dad, knowing how proud he would be of me for facing this challenge, no matter what my time ended up. As I began the last mile, the crowds of people cheered and pushed us on - I surged forward with the last of my strength and crossed the finish 5 hours and 52 minutes, well under my goal time of 6 1/2 hours! Mom put my medal around my neck and I burst into tears as she hugged me. It was 3 days before my 40th birthday. I had reached my goal.

It's been 13 years since my dad left us, but he taught me a few important things:

1. Just because you swear, doesn't mean you can't be an inspiration to someone.
2. You have to be a little crazy to do a marathon.
3. And, if you really want to reach your goal, all you have to do is tell yourself, "I can bleeping do it!"

And you can. I swear.

Shirt (Vero Moda), vest (Le Chateau, gift from Ruth), skirt (Point Zero, consignment), shoes (Franco Sarto), necklace and earrings (Plum).


  1. Great speech -- and I think your Dad and I would have gotten along!

  2. That is a bleeping GREAT speech! I'm going to pass this link around because it was just that wonderful. Thank you for sharing it!

  3. Fantastic speech!! I love it when you share these, you have a way with words! Oh and lovely ensemble!

  4. Wow, great speech! I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes by the end :-) What a great story and a great memory, sounds like your Dad was a special man. You must fel very proud to have accomplished your goal in honour of him. Well done :-)) Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wonderful speech....lots of emotion and so very funny!

  6. Wonderful speech! Congratulations!

  7. FANTAAAASTIC speech, lady! Touching, funny, and beautifully written. I know who I'll be calling if I've got a speaking engagement coming up ...

  8. Great bleeping speech!
    You are a inspiration, and you dont even bleeping know it!

  9. Your speech was honest and touching - I have watery eyes! I am sure you will get a standing ovation.
    ... I could not leave without saying that I love your faux vintage!

  10. Thanks, Wendy - yeah, you both have a penchant for salty words!

    Kristen, thank you so much! I am very flattered.

    MS - thank you!

    Kiltsnquilts - aw, thank you! I made a couple of women in my meeting cry too. Dad was a character, that's for sure.

    Beth, thanks very much.

    Thank you, Anonymous.

    Sal, thanks! Ha! I appreciate the compliment.

    Erin, thank you! Hah!

    Lorena, not quite a standing ovation, but I did get some very nice comments. Glad you enjoyed the "vintage".

  11. Oh you brought me to tears....what a moving tribute to your bleeping dad. Loved every bleeping word of it.

    ps - You should be so proud of yourself!!!

  12. Thanks so much, Christy! I am proud of myself - and I keep on bleeping challenging myself to do new things.

  13. I just followed the link to this from Kristen. Wow, what an awesome speech! It totally brought me to tears. So cool that your dad was such an inspiration for you, and now you and all of your hard work are an inspiration for so many.

  14. I just followed the link, too. What a cool speech! Made me cry. And miss my dad, even though he didn't swear. Well, only once when my brothers burned down the woods aacidentally (and almost the house).


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