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Monday, June 30, 2008

First Speech at Toastmasters

On Saturday, I gave my first scheduled speech at Toastmasters, and won the "Best Speaker" ribbon for the day as well as the raffle! What a great day! Plus I heard from Jimmy O, an old friend whom I lost touch with in 1999.

The three gentlemen I mention in my speech are all fantastic members of our very dynamic Toastmasters group. Please come and join us!

Here is the text of my speech, as I presented it (minus the standard Toastmasters greeting and closing.)

"Have any of you ever felt like an alien from another planet, who doesn't belong here and never quite fit in anywhere?

I have.

Have you ever felt as if life was a club whose members knew all the rules – but not you, and nobody ever bothered to clue you in on those expectations, even though they would be applied to you?

Welcome to my world.

Despite my loquacious nature, I actually did quite well in school until I entered a "gifted" program. This would have been the first clue to someone who was educated about the condition I have… but such professionals were few and far between, and frankly still are. Thus, instead of recognizing that I had learning disabilities in addition to my brilliance. (Pause for effect)

I was labeled lazy, and a chronic underachiever. Bully for me!

My ambitions and obsessions include various unrelated missions such as finding or developing realistic engines using clean, fuel-free magnetic power; informing people about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to marshal support for its elimination and prevention of its recurrence; and last but not least, helping other Autistic people like me.

Yes, I am Autistic. I've been diagnosed with a condition called Asperger's Syndrome. Because of this, I sometimes have great difficulty in processing information – so if I stutter, or smack myself in the head, it's because the words are "stuck" like candy in a vending machine, and I'm trying to get them to come out. If I'm terribly upset or excited, the words WON'T come out. In that case I must take a few deep breaths, (breathe) back off, slow down, and try again. When even this is not effective, I must sometimes write what I'm trying to say.

If you really want me to remember anything, write it down. That phrase, "in one ear and out the other" describes me in a nutshell. However, like many Autistic people, I think in pictures. If you give a speech that evokes imagery in my mind, I will remember it for years – perhaps for life. Dennard Mitchell recently gave a speech which used a story about a little monkey, and David Staples told me another one which used lions to make his point. A couple weeks ago, Leron Gabriel did a fantastic job of bringing the tale to life in his speech using a contrast between desperate refugees from a village and "keeping up with the Joneses." These stand out in my mind as shining and clever examples. Keep it up, boys!

In closing, I'd like to say that ultimately Autism is what led me to join Toastmasters. I am here to overcome communication difficulties, because I intend to become a public speaker and educate others about Autism and our developing culture.

By the way – if anybody here IS from my planet, would you please let me know? I might need a ride home."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Advice for one, good for all

I had written the following in a private email to someone, but it was such good advice I thought I would share it publicly here. Enjoy!

To preface the following, I am writing to someone who is in chronic pain from a car accident as well as diabetic. She has been unable to keep steady work and is in danger of losing her health insurance as well as her home. Naturally, these worries are eating her alive and making her even more ill, so the spiral just keeps sucking her down.

Here is where the email begins. She had told me that she was in her nightgown, and was doing nothing. My response: I'm the one in PJ's.
But I'm NEVER doing NOTHING. Perhaps that is part of what keeps you sick.

Let me explain...

Because you often find yourself with too much time on your hands, it gives you empty, or "negative" space to fill, if you will. Because the space is already negative to begin with, unless you find something positive to fill it with, the negativity of that empty space in your schedule soon begins to overwhelm you.

The solution? It's multiple.
1. Remember that old song? "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative... latch on to the affirmative, don't mess with Mr. In-Between"? LEARN IT, if you don't know it... and sing or recite this to yourself. IT WORKS.

2. Write. Write, write, write. What do you know about? Write about that. Re-read your material as often as you can stand... and edit to make it as positive as possible. However, do not gloss over anything that should be examined. Take a good look at anything terribly negative that you've written and let it speak to you. Let it teach you its lesson.

3. Volunteer. You can come to the IGFA with me and I'll introduce you around. If not there, I am certain your skills will be welcomed at a number of local charities and for-profit organizations that are severely under budget.

Volunteering has dual benefits. It will make you feel good to help others, and it looks good on a resume. In some cases you may find employment where you've been volunteering. IGFA, for example, has job openings all the time.

Does all of that make sense? It must. It didn't come from me - some of it came through me, so they're not all my words.

I'm home today... Sunday is my gardening/housework day in general, unless I schedule something, which I try not to do more than twice a month...

The rest of the email was more personal, but the gist of what I've written above is this: we attract to ourselves what we dwell upon. Whether you believe in "The Secret" or God's law of reciprocity. We reap what we sow... and Jesus said "Ask and ye shall receive." Therefore: ASK. Ask! It's that simple.

If you're a believer, the Bible furthermore states, "Delight theyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." DESIRES OF THINE HEART. No limitations. Think about THAT a while. What is it that YOU truly desire? Believe that you'll receive it - and you shall.