Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Smashing Humorous and Evaluation Contest

Last Saturday, I have attended Kampong Ubi CC Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contest. I have a smashing good time!
There were 7 engaging humorous speeches and 7 enriching evaluations all in one fun-packed afternoon meeting. As I was one of the 7 contestants, I had butterflies in my stomach. It persisted for a few days especially when my boys were so supportive of me taking part and hoped that I could bring in a trophy.
I woke up on 25 Aug 2012 morning. The gentle morning light shone through the window. It was the day which I was looking forward to. A day which I would learn and enjoy at the same time. But before which, I did some last minute rejigging of my script and rehearsed it again and again. I remembered a key lesson in public speaking - failure to prepare is to prepare to fail.
It was a fanastic event. The competition was keen. The speeches and evaluations were top-notched. While I did have jitters during the announcement of the contest results, I knew that I was already a winner by walking out of my comfort zone to take part in the contest. I was enthralled to be the 3rd winner in the speech contest.
I was an introvert. I joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking skills so that I could sleep at ease when I needed to do a presentation at work. The Toastmasters did that and more. It transforms me into a better person learning from ordinary people with extraordinary stories to share. Thank you!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sharing an Inspirational Story

This MAN is a HERO !

It's a feat most able-bodied people would struggle to achieve - scaling one of the highest peaks on the planet.

Spencer West managed it using just his hands. The 31-year-old, from Toronto, Canada - who lost his legs when he was just five years old - reached the summit of the 19,341ft high Mt. Kilimanjaro on Monday after a slow, grueling and awe-inspiring trek.

Spencer West, celebrates at the peak of Kilimanjaro on Monday, after scaling the tallest mountain in Africa, on his hands.

Because of the rough terrain, Mr. West had to complete most of the seven-day trek on his hands, only using a wheelchair when the ground allowed. Mr. West was born with sacral agenesis, a genetic disorder that left his lower spine poorly developed and his legs permanently crossed.

He had his legs removed below the knees at the age of three and, two-years-later, had them amputated to below his pelvis. Medical experts told the courageous Canadian he would never be a functioning member of society but he has continued to defy doctors his entire life.

He trained for a year to scale the tallest peak in Africa without legs and set off on June 12 with best friends David Johnson and Alex Meers.
The trek to the top took seven days, hiking through Tanzania's jungles, snowfields and deserts - and Mr West was forced to make 80 per cent of the journey on his hands, only hopping in a custom-made wheelchair when the terrain allowed.

The trio made it to the final approach on Sunday and rose the following morning for the ascent to Uhuru Peak. They reached the top at 11.15am after a exhausting seven hour hike.

He was supported the whole way by best friend David Johnson and Alex Meers.

Mr West's hands were left bloodied and bruised after the trek, but insists the pain and discomfort were 'worth it'. Only 50 per cent of people who attempt to scale the mountain make it to the top.

Mr West described the moment he reached the summit as 'incredible'. He said: 'The summit sign seemed almost like a mirage.
'We looked around and realised that, after seven grueling days of relentless climbing, after 20,000 feet of our blood, sweat, tears and vomit we had actually made it. 'The bleeding fingers and blisters were all worth it.'

He added: 'I set out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro not only to redefine what's possible for me, but to inspire others to overcome obstacles and challenges of their own, and to give back to communities, that need our help.

'Reaching the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro was the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have ever done, but in doing so, it reinforced the powerful message behind believing in yourself, and believing in others.

'So many people made this journey possible for me and I am so humbled by everyone's support.'

His incredible feat has raised more than £300,000 for Free The Children, a charity which brings sustainable to thousands of Kenyans experiencing drought.

When he was a child doctors told Mr West he would struggle to play a role in society. Something he has remained determined to prove wrong.

Porters carry Spencer West's wheelchair up Kilimanjaro, so he can use it when the terrain allows him to give his battered hands a break.

Mr West slipped a pair of flip-flops on his hands to help him negotiate the rocky terrain during his hike up the mountain, which looms in the background.

The brave climber grins as he reaches the foot of Kilimanjaro - ahead of the final trek to the top.

Spencer West spent a year training for the Kilimanjaro trek at his home in Toronto, Canada.

He had to be sure he had enough strength in his arms to carry him up the 19,000 ft high mountain

Monday, August 20, 2012

Arizona Road Trip

We were driving to leave Grand Canyon, Arizona. Along the way, we travelled through the Painted Desert, Vermillion Cliffs and Navajo country.

The drive through this wilderness opened up a landscape of unmatched beauty. The Painted Desert offered tremendous view of with its multi-colored sand formations. At times, the sky joined the party glowing with pink and purple hues of desert. There was a feel of desertness as we passed through this section. Although there were makeshift shelters where the paints had faded. A number were disused while some had native Indians hawking their wares from these trading posts.

After the Navajo bridge, awe-inspiring Vermilion Cliffs surrounded us on both side of the highway in Arizona. We did not venture into the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in the small town of Kanab, Utah. Otherwise, we would have to spend a day or two to see the Vermillion Cliffs. Notwithstanding, our drive through this segment gave us a glimpse of what to expect. The terrain was rugged and demanding. The temperature was scorching - into the 40s deg C.

All in all, it was an experience and we were rewarded with breathtaking sights.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My first language evaluation

A fellow toastmaster Ramana suggested that I took up the role of a language evaluator. I was hesitated at first as I had never been a language evaluator in my whole life. Ok, I exaggerated - in my years as a toastmaster.

At Ramana's encouragement, I decided to give it a shot. I did some research in the Internet and watched how others did theirs in Youtube. I prepared the script for the opening and carefully chose the word of the day. I had a rough idea of what I was supposed to listen intently for and the key areas which I should focus on.

In the arena of public speaking, preparation can only take me so far. The real test is the performance on the day itself. I must say my preparation served me well. However, there were still certain areas which I needed to brush up on. These showed up at the actual day performance. Or rather, I should term it as rehearsal. For the Toastmasters Movement is to provide a platform for us to practise.

Thank you Toastmasters Club. I know with you I will be better than what I was yesterday!

Friday, August 3, 2012


Today, I shall do a stock-take of my Toastmasters’ Journey.
I joined my club in 2008 as I wanted to improve my public speaking skills. Improved I did and with progress that amazed me. Having met my objective alongside with new and heavy responsibilities at work and family, Toastmaster took a backseat in my life sometime in 2010. There was a point in time when the thought of leaving the organisation crossed my mind. But something stopped me. Deep within me, I believe strongly in the Toastmasters’ programme. It works! More than that, it gives meaning to my life and it transforms me. It makes me into a better and happy person.
While I have some successes to deal with the responsibilities, new challenges seem to be always be on their way. I have decided to stop procrastination and to take an active role to put Toastmaster back in my life. I do this for myself because I know it will better prepare me to navigate the sharp bends in life safely and soundly.
My dear readers, wish me luck J