Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saturday, June 9 - Busy, busy day

I planned to go to the gym this morning, but that danged little voice talked me out of it. My ankle hurt a lot when I got home after the rehearsal, and I was on my feet 1/10 of the time I will be today! I decided to rest my ankle this morning. I'll have to wear comfortable shoes. Not pretty, but comfy. I seem to have lost a pair of shoes somewhere. They're soft and cushy, and they're missing.

Today I'm going to a retirement party for a dear friend at Mimi's in the Rim. I love Mimi's The food there is fabulous. I'm envious and sad at the same time. Envious because she won't have to go to work every day. Sad because this means I won't see her nearly as much as I do now. Unfortunately, that hasn't been very much lately because of my Toastmasters involvement this past year. I'm hoping she'll be able to join us for our weekly meetings once she figures out her retirement schedule.

After the party, I have to head to church for the wedding. We have altar guild this weekend, so my partner and I will get there early to do our duties before the wedding craziness begins. The rehearsal was long, but we got through it, and I think everyone is comfortable with how the wedding will happen.

I'm hoping I'll have a few minutes for a quick nap between the party and altar guild. If not, it will be an early evening, so I can crash early. Because I have altar guild, I have to go to church tomorrow as well to finish our weekly duties.

I will report on today's happenings later. Actually, the report of today's happenings. is in the blog before this one about being Wedding Coordinator.


I love taking naps.

When I was a kid, I hated naps. Taking naps cut into my fun time. I remember some Sundays when Daddy would lay down with us to get us to fall asleep, he would be asleep before us, or maybe his snoring woke us up. These are some of my fondest memories. Even when we went to the lake on weekends, we had to take a nap. I think my mom enjoyed the peace and quiet.

As an adult, I enjoy naps. When my kids were little and they were down to take a nap, I took a nap too. My sister took that time to clean her house or catch up on chores, but NOT me. I was napping right alongside my kids. Now that I have grandkids, it's the same. I try to get them to take naps becaue I really need the time to power down, even if it is just 20 minutes. There are times when I'm the only one sleeping. My son told me that if I went to bed earlier, I wouldn't need to take a nap. He didn't realize that I LOVE taking naps. Sometime between 12:30 and 3:00, I'll droop so much that I barely make it to bed. I'm usually asleep in a couple of minutes, and I wake up anywhere from 1-2 hours later, refreshed and ready to go.

When I have something to do on Saturday or Sunday, I always try to figure out when I can take a nap. Take yesterday for example. I had a retirement brunch to attend for a friend from 11-1, and I was expected at the church about 2:00 for Altar Guild duties. I got to the church about 1:25, and tried to take a nap. When I rested my head on my arm on the back of the pew, either my head dropped or my arm fell asleep. Then I finally decided I'd use my purse as a pillow and lay down in a pew. I just got comfortable when I heard the back door to the Sacristy open. Nap time was over. Oh well, I made up for it by going to bed early after a hot, relaxing bath.

I was feeling like a freak because I don't know anyone else who likes naps. That is until I got reacquainted with an old friend. He likes naps too. Now I feel better. ;O)

Wedding Coordinator

One of my favorite jobs at church is wedding coordinator. I only handle the wedding rehearsal, the church preparations, and the ceremony on the big day. It's hard work, but I love it. The wedding party is usually stressed out about how it will all come together, and that's were I come in. I've been doing it since 2007, right after my daughter got married at St. George.

When I got married, my mom did everything. I mean everything. I was told where to be and when. I picked out my wedding gown, the bridesmaids dresses, the wedding cake, and my flowers. That was all the responsibility I had. Even though I wanted tamales and beer at my reception, we had a buffet dinner with smoked turkey, macaroni salad, and the trimmings and an open bar. Mom was amazing. Her friends served the food; Daddy's friends were bar tenders. Everything went without a hitch. I had an amazing photographer.
My daughter and I planned her wedding. Before her wedding, my daughter told me she needed to get in touch with a lady at my church. I couldn't imagine why. Then I found out we had a wedding coordinator. Before church one Sunday, I asked the coordinator what she did. Then I asked her if I could help. She almost hugged me she was so happy that I asked. Then, before I knew it, I was in charge, and a year later, she retired.

God works in mysterious ways. I've thought about being a wedding coordinator since the kids were in their mid teens. I even made business cards (Alana's Weddings), and researched venues and caterers. But I was still in school and the kids were just getting into their busy teen lives, and the idea just sort of fizzled. Then a few years ago, a friend and I resurrected the idea, but again, my busy schedule didn't allow it. So I figured it would be a retirement thing.

Being a wedding coordinator for St. George is the best of both worlds. I don't have to find the clients, the church staff takes care of the scheduling and the paperwork, and I just contact the bride or groom a few weeks before the day and answer any questions they have. Our pastor and I handle the rehearsal (usually a friend of mine joins us), and I handle the wedding with any volunteers I can get. Our work is strictly volunteer. My duties for a wedding begin with the first contact with the bride and/or groom. I ask questions about the bridal party:  How many bridesmaids and groomsmen? Will there be a flower girl or ring bearer? Will there be ushers? How many guests are they expecting? Will they have Communion? How many do they expect to receive Communion? Then right before the rehearsal, I remind them what to bring to the rehearsal, i.e., the license, the checks for the musician, custodian, Altar Guild, etc.

At the rehearsal, Father and I run through the ceremony, placement of the bridal party at the altar, the readers, the order down the aisle, and if there will be ushers, I teach them how to usher. It helps to have the musician there so we can run through when the songs are to start and end.

I was trained as a Lay Eucharistic Minister in case there wasn't one available. But since I've been trained, I've become the LEM for weddings, and that makes some things awkward. With me behind the altar, I can't help guests get to the altar rail. I'll definitely have to work on getting 2 people to help me at all weddings, especially if there are no ushers. At one of our weddings, my pastor asked his wife to usher and we enlisted a guest to help her.

This weekend we had a beautiful wedding. It was the first one where the wedding party went down the aisle as couples. Everyone was so easy to work with. My pastor wasn't part of this one, so I was basically in charge. It was scary and fun at the same time. I worked with my Altar Guild partner, and she was great. We work well together. It's funny, I want to work with someone who is not afraid to make decisions, but I have a hard time letting go of control.

On the big day, I try to arrive about 15-20 min. earlier than the bridal party so I can unlock all the doors and turn on all the lights. The custodian and I work together to make the men and women comfortable and the space perfect for the ceremony. I run back and forth between the church and the office to make sure the guys know where they are supposed to be. Things get really hectic the last 30 minutes before the ceremony:  I pin the corsages on the moms, then I run across the street to the guys and pin on their boutineers. Then, I or our pastor lights the candles. I find out if the ladies, particularly the bride, is ready to go, get the guys over to the church, make sure the families are seated in the proper places (didn't do this so well yesterday), get the moms down to their seats, turn on the microphone (forgot yesterday too), and then it's show time! The bridesmaids are usually apprehensive about getting down the aisle. The hardest part is getting them to go slowly. The bride is the most nervous of all. Normally, they have their dads with them for support. And they are at their most beautiful in their nervousness and gorgeous gowns.

When everything is over, everything is put away and I can go home, I'm usually in pain and exhausted but happy that everything went well. I'm thrilled to be a part of one of the most important events in a person's life. Being a wedding coordinator is the hardest job that I'll ever love.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Birthday Manifesto & CC again

I got a Happy Birthday email from a high school classmate. When I replied, this poured out of me. I have no idea where it came from, but it is what my heart has been saying for a couple of weeks:

Today I start a new decade. I'm also thinking about how I can make life better. One thing I can start to do today is to stop taking responsibility for other people's actions. Ever since I can remember, I've been responsible for other people. From watching my little sister as a child and my cousins when we were together to having children and being responsible for them. Today, I don't have anyone else to be responsible for except me! And, I plan to take that responsibility more seriously.

It's time to take care of myself first, pay myself first, treat myself first, serve myself first, and love myself most. I plan to live life fully, laugh more, love deeper, and thank God every day for this awesome life I have. It is only because of Him that I have the incredible life, family and friends that I have been gifted with.

On another note . . . I gave a speech yesterday at Wiseman. It was my last speech to complete another Competent Communicator manual. I had the speech on my desk so I could work on memorizing it. Then, when I was preparing to give it at the meeting, I realized it was still on my desk. I never have the middle of my speeches memorized, just the beginning. So, I 'fessed up and told them I'd wing it. Thank goodness there were just 3 in the audience. I did pretty well. I struggled in a couple of places, but I survived. When she held up the green card, I was shocked that I remembered enough to reach the minimum time. I actually went to the red card. I didn't get my official time, but I don't think I went over.

The first thing someone said was that I inspired her. My speech was about leading from the middle of the pack, not waiting until you are a supervisor or manager to learn how to lead. It was the 10th project, Inspire Your Audience. So I achieved my objective. I'm glad because I plan to use it as the basis for some of my "professional" speeches.

Since I didn't have my speech to hold or a lecturn to grab, I didn't know what to do with my hands. They flailed the whole time. I didn't realize how bad I was at gestures. I'll definitely have to work on that. The next time around, I won't be in a hurry. I'm trying to meet deadlines, and it's starting to show in my presentation quality.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Today I'll give a speech at the Wiseman Toastmasters Club meeting. This will be the last speech to earn a Competent Communicator award (again). I'm the club coach for Wiseman. We're trying to keep the club viable and to build it from 4 members to at least 6 by June 30. My goal is to have it to 13 by Sept. 1.

One thing my 2 smaller clubs have in common is they don't have formal meetings. I really think that formal meetings helps members and guests know what's going on. I think it's important to follow a structure so everyone knows what to expect and they can move forward. With a smaller club, the members have to give more speeches and they should each accomplish at least a CC by the end of the year.

I have to remember to send an email to the members telling them to bring their manuals. Otherwise, they don't move forward. They won't know what they've accomplished. It's the little things that make a strong club and great members.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I can't believe I just did this. I had a full screen of stuff about Toastmasters and how hard I've worked this year. All it took was a flick of the ESC key, and it was all gone. What a drag!!! Well, I know not to do that again. I reported in my last blog that I still had several speeches and projects to do to earn DTM. I really believe that by June 30, I may be done with all the speeches and projects, including the CL manual and the 2nd CC and ACS. I can't believe how opportunities have presented themselves to handle speeches and projects just because I've been at meetings. Today I was General Evaluator.

I only have 2 speeches and 2 CL projects and I'm done for the AC, CL ACS and 2 speeches for ACG. Then on July 1, I can report my stint as Area Govenor, and with my High Performance Leadership Project completed, and I'll have earned ALS.

Happy Birthday to Me!

So, I turn 60 today. I'm so excited! I just received an incredible amount of messages from friends on Facebook. I'm overwhelmed and awed by all the well wishes. I must have done something right.

I haven't posted in a while -- mainly because I've been so busy. It's because I've been busy that I should have been blogging this past year.

My Toastmasters club just celebrated 20 years June 1, and I've been a part of it since the very beginning. As a matter of fact, when I joined a different club in 1991, members of that club wanted to help start a club where I work. Then a couple of friends invited me to lunch and sat across from me and put the pressure on me to agree to start a club at work. Well, with pressure coming from both directions, I couldn't say no.

That was one of the best decisions I ever made. Toastmasters has changed my life. I'm so much more confident, self assured, and ready to take on the world because of the things I've learned in our meetings. Now, after almost 20 years, I decided to do what was necessary to earn Distinguished Toastmaster. To achieve DTM, we have to work one year on the District Executive Committee. I thought the easiest job would be Area Governor, so I signed up. Well, I don't mind telling you that I was WRONG! At least my job wasn't easy. I had 5 clubs, 2 of which were really new, 2 clubs with 6 or less members, and my home club Slick Talkers that is going strong.

I started out thinking I would set the world on fire. Then I actually sat down and figured the odds of being a Distinguished Area, and I pretty much gave up. I visited my clubs many more times than the required 2 visits a year. As a matter of fact, I visited several club for most of their meetings during the year. Then in November I was assigned another new club. I visited this club 4 times to help them get started. There was a week in the middle of all the chaos that I had 7 Toastmasters functions in 8 days. I was meeting myself coming and going. But, I enjoyed almost every minute of the year. When you read about the requirements of Area Governor, they don't mention the nagging, cajoling, suggesting, begging, the amount of money you spend on contests, and the time you spend convincing club officers to go to training, pay their dues, update their officer lists, send in paperwork, and then there's the members to give enough speeches to earn their Competent Communicator award and their Competent Leader award. Man, I'm exhausted.

A fellow Toastmaster told me that Area Governor was the hardest job I'll ever love. You know, she was right. I loved meeting all the other Toastmasters, I enjoyed sharing my "wisdom," I  was able to give several speeches to achieve Advanced Communicator Silver, and I really enjoyed visiting the clubs and seeing how they conduct their meetings. It really was fun.