The Call to Speak, Part 2 – Breaking the Ice

I’m sharing my first Toastmasters speech, the icebreaker, on my blog (it’s more like an author reading at this point) as a way to introduce others to my story and hone in on my message.  It is a work in process.  Part 1 of this series is about how the speaking part of my journey started in the first place.

I know in time I will have multiple venues open up to share my story in spiritual and secular settings over the months and years to come.  The objective of this particular speech is to gain interest in my story and start building my audience as I prepare for my pilgrimage to Spain this summer and the next season of my writing.

As you read the speech, envision if you will, Pedro’s music (the young Spanish man in my story) playing in the background and synchronized with the speech.  When you have finished reading it, I’d love it if you would share your personal evaluations of it in the comments below (like my fellow Toastmasters did at the meeting).

First Meeting

Welcoming Pedro into the family, July 2010.

My First Toastmasters Speech

“My name is Ardis Nelson.  I am a wife, a mother, a writer, a blogger, and a follower of Jesus, whose life was radically transformed a few years ago after opening our home to a Spanish young man named Pedro, as part of a short term exchange program.  With Pedro’s engaging personality and eagerness to immerse himself in American culture and history, he quickly became like family.  Our final goodbyes that summer were very painful to me as we had no idea when we would ever see each other again, but we knew the door of his home was always open to my family.

Since that teary goodbye two and a half years ago, many amazing things have happened between our families.  I am finally traveling to Spain this summer to continue my writing and to speak.  I’d like to share a bit of this story with you in hopes of gaining your continued interest of its unfolding.

Shortly after Pedro returned home to Madrid in August 2010, he found out that his grandmother had brain cancer and only had a few months to live.  My mother was also terminally ill, after having suffered a major stroke, and so I started to connect with Rosa, Pedro’s mother, to offer prayer and encouragement as we both prepared for the passing of our mothers.  There was one minor problem though—neither one of us spoke the other’s native language.  But we didn’t let that stop us as we used online translators to communicate via email and bridge the 5,300 mile gap between us.

In January 2011, six months after Pedro’s departure, he unexpectedly sent our family the song “Seattle”, a piece he composed and dedicated to us.  Although he played the piano in our home that previous summer, we had no idea he composed music until we received this song.  Then within days of the receipt of this song, Pedro’s grandmother died. 

Since Pedro’s family was Catholic, I went to a local parish, lit a candle and prayed for their family.  I also prayed for my own mother who had already suffered over a year since her stroke and was living day to day with the aid of a feeding tube.  I surrendered the outcome of the timing of her death and she passed away two weeks later.

Cemetary

Laid to rest, February 2011.

As I worked on my mother’s eulogy, I started to see how I was beautifully made in my mother’s image.  Since she was mentally ill all my life and we were estranged for many years, I had never connected the dots before.  I was afraid that I would someday be labeled mentally ill like my mother and so I cut her out of my life.  I stuffed my emotions and did everything I could to disassociate myself with her.  The ramifications of these revelations were transformational for me.

On the day of my mother’s funeral, on the flight home to Seattle, I started writing about the story that connected our families.  One year later, my story “Walking My Mother Home” was accepted by a publisher and subsequently released in the compilation, Journeys to Mother Love in August 2012.

Meanwhile, Pedro started to send more of his compositions to me and we were planning for his return to Seattle that next summer.  But little did he know I started to play with the idea of taking him into the recording studio for his 18th birthday.  A few weeks before his return, when I offered him the gift of a recorded CD, he divulged a big secret.  Some of the music he performed the previous summer in our home was actually his original music—including my favorite song titled “Portman”.

Pedro’s CD, “Introducing Pedro Gonzalez Arbona”, is now available on itunes, Amazon, Spotify and other online music sites.  Surprisingly, I also now manage the music career of this young international artist.  One of his biggest dreams, to compose movie scores, became a reality last month as he was hired by a professional production company in Spain.  He has completed scoring the music to a short film and has high hopes of continuing with this company on other bigger projects.

I like to think that all of this started because God nudged me to go outside of my comfort zone and open our home to this young man.  When I did that step of obedience, God continued to open up new opportunities for us to connect and invest in each other.  I invested in Rosa at her time of need and she did in me as well.  In return, I invested in her son and his desires to share his music to a broader audience.

On June 24th, I will step on Spanish soil and meet Rosa face to face.  It is a friendship born in sorrow, nurtured in prayer and sealed in love.  As I mentioned earlier, my writing started the day of my mother’s funeral. I know it won’t be complete until I meet Rosa face to face, hear her side of the story and how her faith and family got her through it. Rosa has been learning English to facilitate our communication. I’ve been working on my next book in preparation for our meeting.  It is our gift to each other and a way to honor our mothers.

I’m looking forward to having you journey along with me as I prepare for my trip to Spain and share my story.  Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with you tonight.”

Speech EvaluationTime to Evaluate

My speech hit right on target for the 5-7 minute speech range.  I  finished by distributing business cards and a few handouts related to my blog and story.  Each Toastmaster wrote a short evaluation of each speaker’s speech.  Later on in the meeting, evaluators assigned to each speaker provided even more feedback.

So now it’s your turn.  You can’t really evaluate how well I spoke, but you can provide your feedback on the content in the comments below.  If you don’t already follow my blog, the best evaluation or feedback you could provide on this is to subscribe to email updates of my blog posts and join me on my journey to Spain and beyond.

Leave a comment

10 Comments

  1. This is lovely, Ardis – thanks for sharing

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  2. HI Ardis -I thought you were clear and wove a lot of events into a short talk. This kept my interest and I want to know more. No ums and ahs cause you have it written out and you used my senses with the music.

    Nicely done!

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    Reply
    • Thanks so much Linda for your positive words of encouragement. When I do start to memorize this and the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ start appearing, my fellow Toastmasters will keep a close count on them for me. 🙂

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  3. Ardis! I hear your speaking voice loud and clear and i bet you spoke well. I am happy you have a group you are enjoying and are able to get constructive feedback from. How exciting to have Spain just around the corner for you. Your story was well written here for your speech!

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    • Susan, thank you for your encouraging words about my speech. Good luck to you with your Toastmasters group as well. Your trip to Spain is REALLY fast approaching. Let’s get in touch soon.

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  4. You did a great job, Ardis. You concisely tell this wonderful story of God’s leading and transformative healing in your life with interesting detail. You write well! Keep it up. 🙂

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    • Henriet, thanks for taking the time to evaluate my speech online. Your words serve to encourage me further on my journey to share how God shows up in such unexpected ways when we obediently follow Him. It kind of reminds me of the book title you gave me when this all started. It was spot on. Thanks for journeying with me. 🙂

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  5. Your boldness is making me Bold, Ardis! I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story. Thank you!

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    • Thanks Terri! I’m always willing to partner with others who are bold in their faith. Blessings to you on your writing and healing journey!

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  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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