I Faced My Fear! (Well, Partially…)

Last Wednesday I went to my first Toastmasters Meeting and I survived! (I wrote about my fear of public speaking in this post and described a little bit about what the Toastmasters do.)

With a groovy name chapter name like “The Redwood Ramblers,” how could these Toastmasters not be a cool bunch?ย Nevertheless, I had my doubts…

I had a surprisingly good time! After the hour-long meeting flew by, I wanted to linger and get to know these brave souls!

I had almost bailed an hour before the meeting began, but I knew if I did that, I’d feel rotten. Plus one of the members had taken the time to contact me a few days beforehand (I RSVP’d on their Meetup site), and she encouraged me to show up. I felt compelled to give this group a chance.

I’m so glad I faced my fear.

When I arrived, I was made to feel so welcome by the members. Guests are allowed to be a fly on the wall, and that was a blessing since I wasn’t quite ready to speak! (Um, that’s my understatement of the year!)

This is me!!!

Everyone gave a short talk approximately four minutes long (most members spoke less than that) and each person was interesting. It was “Soap Box” day and we met outside in a park, but the meetings are usually in a building. ย The topics ranged from inspiring to educational to “ranty” to funny.

The meeting was well organized; it started and ended right on time since it was the lunch hour. There were treats that included red velvet cookies – how exciting! ๐Ÿ˜‰ย (There were healthy snacks too.)

My first assignmentย or “Project One,” is called “The Ice Breaker.” I was given a packet of materials and the instructions for The Ice Breaker are four pages (!) but I’ll sum it up for you:

For your first speech project you will introduce yourself to your fellow club members and give them some information about your background, interests, and ambitions. Practice giving your speech to friends or family members, (I interject here: Lucy is in for it, that poor dog!) and strive to make eye contact with some of your audience.

You may use notes during your speech (I interject again: HELL YEAH, I’LL USE NOTES!!!) if you wish. Read the entire four pages before preparing your talk.

Objectives: To begin speaking in front of an audience

To begin speaking in front of an audience

To discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need your attention

Time: four to six minutes


The next meeting is the Open House, and I want to do my first project the week after that, and then I’ll report back here!I ran a DBSA peer-to-peer support group for moms with bipolar. I like how Toastmasters is also based on peer-to-peer feedback and interaction. ย 

Simply getting to the first meeting was a huge step, and their slogan says it all for me:

“It all begins with that first visit.”

On a final note, yesterday my good friend, the author/blogger Lisa Henderson, shared a very cool find with me – you may already know about it because I think it has been around for a year.

(Shameless plug: Be sure to check out her new bookย Paw on Amazon, her blog Passionate Reason is here.)

These products made a big impression on the girls and Craig who are massive Star Trek fans. As cute as the suits are, I think I’m taking a pass until they come up with a Tribble-themed suit!

Okay, my friends, have a great weekend!ย 

Lots of love,


p.s.ย Are you going to do something you’re afraid to do anytime soon? Tell me about it!

Dyane Harwoodโ€™s memoir isย Birth of a New Brain โ€“ Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorderย with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Dr. Henshaw is the co-author ofย The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders, 2nd Editionย published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March 2017.ย 

Birth of a New Brainย willย be published byย Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, andย itโ€™sย available for paperback pre-sales on Amazonย here;ย Kindle pre-sales are comingย this summer!

42 thoughts on “I Faced My Fear! (Well, Partially…)

  1. Congratulations, Dyane. It’s very brave to face your fear of public speaking like this. I’m sure it’ll give you lots of confidence. As someone also afraid of speaking in public (I’ll be blogging about interviews soon!), I’m really looking forward to following you as you progress – and I’m certain you will. All the best! xx

    • Thanks so much for the congrats, Sara! I’m very pleased we connected via the net – I hope someday I can haul myself over there and attend the Literary Festival with you! I’m looking forward to reading & re-tweeting your blogs about interviews and about anything else you cover as well since your blogs are fascinating and superbly written. (Forgive the run-on sentence – it’s a hideous habit!)

      I appreciate your support so much & I’ll definitely let you know how it goes! ๐Ÿ‘€

  2. You did face the fear yuppie… Please take out the partially and have some chocolate before I call Trump to order those masters to toast you on ๐Ÿ™‚ My rambles make sense? Maybe not cause I ain’t in the redwoods lol. Whoop whoop whoop. I also started out nervous but my self esteem and zeal to air out whatever was bugging helped me go for speaking from my heart. I make ceiling contact so whoever is looking up there is sure to catch my eye lol

    • Ha, ha, ha, Marie – okay, I’ll do as you command and I’ll take out that “partially” because I want nothing to do with you calling Scary Cheeto Head! Your rambles make sense to me! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

      You’re extra-funny in this comment, such as “I make ceiling contact so whoever is looking up there is sure to catch my eye lol” – yes, you’ll see all those angels, won’t you, my Fairy Godmother? What a team we are! I bet you’re such a fabulous speaker – I’m so glad that your self-esteem, passion and zeal got the best of those nerves!

      Love you & thinking of you after your very intense, bittersweet & emotional trip. ๐Ÿ’ž

      • Thanks lady, the trip back started real late, some last day ‘drama’ to add to my very fragile emotions. I slept lots and think it’s gonna be Ok especially once I see my boys which might be very late or even only in the morning. Am reading lots too as you can imagine. Reading and music is such therapy. I can’t write much on these Humpty Dumpty roads lol

  3. Hi there ! I don’t normally do this but I had to comment and tell you how much I adore your blog! I just came across it now and I am so happy I have, it is so wonderful and you truly have a great blog. I am going to follow you so I can keep up to date with all of your latest posts. Keep up the great work!

    • Dear Redheaded Booklover, ๐Ÿ“–

      I’m SO grateful you took the time to comment, and what a wonderful comment it was!
      Thank you from the bottom of my toes. ๐Ÿ˜€
      You made my day….as a matter of fact, you made my weekend!!!

      As the Official Insecurity Queen of Ben Lomond, I long for such comments, so I’ll be sure to send your check in the mail (just kidding!). I wish I could do that, really!

      I’m honored that a wildly popular blogger such as yourself will read my posts, and I look forward to getting to know your blog too.

      Thanks again, and I wish you a fabulous Sunday & beyond!
      take care,
      Dyane ๐Ÿ’ž

      p.s. Redheads rock – “Anne of Green Gables” is a favorite; I named my girls “Avonlea” and “Marilla” which is a little freaky, I know ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Aww you are so welcome! You have a wonderful blog. Do you have Twitter or Instagram? I just made accounts and would love to follow you!

      • I’d be honored if you follow me!

        On Twitter I’m: @DyaneHarwood & on Instragram I’m: birthofanewbrain – I don’t post on Instagram much, but it’s a fun medium! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Thanks again for such wonderful comments – I hope your Monday is going well!!!! ๐ŸŒž๐Ÿ’“

      • Wonderful I will follow you now thanks so much! Have a lovely week! ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’•

      • This is honestly the cutest reply ever though I am so happy I made your day! I really can’t wait to see what you post next (: keep up the great work oh and they certainly do! Lol. And those names are beautiful! I have four babies, two of whom are new born boy twins! And my children are called Benjamin James, Betty, Bligh James and Alik James! (: nice meeting you fellow mummy and book lover!

    • Thanks, my lovely Irish Rose!!!!! ๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ€๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ€
      (I’ll use that phrase freely & happily now!)
      I still wish I could get you to speak on my behalf ๐ŸŽค

      I consider you an honorary *Toastmistress* LOL! ๐Ÿž

      These Toastmasters are so entertaining Some of the veteran members seem like true “pros” and could lead pricey seminars on the art of public speaking. I imagine they remain the group to mentor terrified souls like me, to enter contests (yes, they have them) and for the social contact and camaraderie.

      Thanks for your encouragement, as always.
      Sending you lots of love, my friend!
      p.s. I’ve been enjoying your spectactular flower images on Instagram – wow!
      They’d look wonderful blown up as prints for the wall.

    • HA HA HA!!! You totally read my mind!!!! Also, I thought of you today when I noticed the Bloggess’ post about her depression & asked for TMS advice etc. – & I commented – if a superstar like her can feel that way, ANYONE can feel awful, right? I hope she finds something that helps fast, and tells everyone what it is!

      Love you!!!!!!!!!! XOOXOX

      • HA! Depends are your friends!! Yeah I saw that TMS post . . . didn’t comment since I only *considered* TMS but instead went for the nuclear option of ECT . . . โค โค โค Have a great weekend cutie!

  4. Go you! Public speaking a tough gig. I hate the old things people say like ‘picture them naked’ cause they don’t help the anxiety. I’m heading to a writers meet up tomorrow which I am nervous about as I have never done anything for my writing, I’ve never thought of myself as a writer or blogger until recently. So yeah, it is also a feminist group so that throws another whole interesting layer on to it cause I’m not one of those men-hating self-reflecting feminists I’m more a research-led feminist (i.e. yes money and career trajectories are gender biased). Anyway enough about me – you will rock this intro sesh practice the shit out of it with Lucy and take that crowd for a ride ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hey Raegina!

      Yeah, picturing folks naked has never worked for me, but I always thought that was a funny take on it! ๐Ÿ˜ธ
      I hope your writers meet up went really well! Good for you for going to that group and for focusing on your writing! I bet the feminist angle will have made it all the more interesting.

      Thanks for always being a positive and encouraging kindred spirit!!!!

      I’ll do my best during the talk, and if I fall flat on my face, these people seem like the sort to help me get back up on my feet without feeling too much like an idiot.

      Sendng you a big hug,
      Xo ๐Ÿ’—

  5. Your sharing gave me hope because, like you, I will have a book out soon, and my publisher is expecting me to speak in book stores. Yikes! It sounds terrifying, right? Congrats on your progress!

    • I’m so glad this post was helpful, Martha!
      Congratulations on your upcoming book! That’s truly a wonderful accomplishment! ๐Ÿ“–

      Book store talks definitely sound scary. I’m sure the more presentations you give, the easier and more enjoyable they’ll become. At least you’ll be discussing a topic close to your heart! ๐Ÿ’ž

      Good luck, and once again, congrats on your book! ๐Ÿ‘

  6. Sounds like you are facing your fears….scratch that….kicking the crap out of your fears!!


    Glad you decided to stick it out and now are moving to the next part! Hey I know you will do great in the typical Dyane fashion!

    • I know you’re an outstanding public speaker from presenting educational seminars and due to your overall Vic-awesomeness!

      Now if I could only channel you and Kitt O’Malley, I’d be golden! ๐Ÿ’ฐ

      I’ll try my best, and thanks for your encouragement and for making me smile as you always do so beautifully!

      • You will do fine. Nothing wrong with practicing a few times in the mirror though, lol.

  7. That is awesome! Good for you that you pushed through it and went. That always happens to me. I don’t want to go and I end up loving it. Loved your post.
    Poor Lucy. lol. jk She’ll love it!
    Hope you’re having a great weekend(:

    • Aww, thank you, Christina Lynn!!!!! ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒน I hope you’re having a great weekend too!

      I’m TOTALLY behind on reading the blogs in my WordPress Reader, but I promise that you WILL see me over at your blog so I can catch up on what you’re doing! I used to be a lot better in terms of reading blogs & commenting promptly, and I hate being out of it. (There’s hope for me! Don’t give up!)

      I’m getting Rilla ready to take her and a friend to a matinee. I
      t’s rare for us to go out to a movie, but it’s the new DisneyNature “Made in China,” and it looks really awesome!

      Sending you a huge hug! Don’t forget….you are beautiful! ๐ŸŒˆ

      • You’re so welcome!

        I always fall behind on reading blogs. I feel bad:( But what can I do, i try really hard too. I mean well. Youre awesome at it, what are you talking about? You always like or reply to my posts. And your comments are always spot on and touch my heart or make me laugh. You’re a so diligent and such a sweetheart. Even if you can’t get around to it, thats ok too (: I’d never give up on you!

        That is great you all went to the movies! I’m sure you all had a fabulous time (: How was the movie, thumbs up?
        Sending a big hug right back at ‘cha. And I think you’re beautiful too!
        Hope your day is going well.

  8. Aaaaaaaah, that shot of Darth Vader covered in Tribbles nearly made me wake the kids! Seriously, though, Dy, I’m sooooooooooooo happy you’re doing Toastmasters. This sounds like the perfect way to strengthen your confidence in public speaking. Mix that confidence with your passion and a dash of good soul, and you’ll be unstoppable! ๐Ÿ™‚ Your Cheesehead Cheerleader, Java Jean xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • โ˜•๏ธโ˜•๏ธโ˜•๏ธ Dear Java Jean, my Lovely Caffeine Queen! (a.k.a. The Cheesehead Cheerleader, ha ha ha!)

      I’m SO pleased you got a kick out of the “Darth Tribble” outfit- someone was clearly thinking out of the box while creating that image, eh? (And we wholeheartedly approve of the effort!) The Force was with the designer, I’ll say! ๐Ÿ˜†

      Isn’t Toastmasters a funny name? It threw the girls for a loop; they thought it was literal “toast.” (They’ve only been to one wedding and they don’t know about making toasts yet.)

      Anyway, darling one, it’ll surely be an educational experience.
      I must say I’m relieved I have one more meeting where I can be a fly on the wall. (The Open House is next week & they don’t expect me to speak – at least I don’t *think* they do….uh oh, I better check on that!.) Well, whether or not I begin this week or the next, I’ll have to jump into the icy waters of speaking – ahhhhhhhhhh! I promise to live to tell the tale!

      I hope you’re up to a ***good*** Sunday!
      I send you lots of love and a strong cup of java bliss! ๐Ÿ˜‡
      XOXO ๐Ÿ˜ always
      Spy Dy ๐Ÿ”ญ

      • LOLOL! Hey, a club about toast would be great, too! Just think of all the marmalade and jelly! Flavored butters! French toast stuffed with all sorts of numminess! Aw man, I’m hungry now, and Bo even grilled today!
        You’re going to be awesome. I’m not worried one iota. ๐Ÿ˜‰
        We’re still recovering from strep here, but the weather’s been sweet, so we’re doing okay. I hope your own java is deliciously illuminating for tomorrow morning, O Sweet Salacious SpyDy! xxxxxxxxxxxx

      • This comment made me laugh – you are too funny! Except the part about strep isn’t funny, of course!!!! Glad the weather has been kind while you recover. Love ya, ya gifted scribe, you!

    • Thanks heaps, Cass!!! ๐Ÿ’“

      I’ll certainly write about the intro speech after I give it. I’m sure something zany & unexpected will happen, but hopefully that will serve to make the talk a little more interesting! ๐Ÿ˜Œ

      Hope you have a great Sunday!

  9. Wow Dyane!! You really do rock!!! I’m so proud of you! I’ve thought about joining Toastmasters. My husband did it for a while, but it did sound scary. Being a writer doesn’t automatically tranlslate into impromptu speaking skills. After reading your post, I’m actually reconsidering joining. Thanks for motivating me. Speaking is an invaluable skill for a writer — or so I’ve heard!

    And thank you so much for mentioning me and my new novel in your blog! I wish I had read it earlier! I think it’s hilarious that you included the “Trekkinis”! You reminded me of how much I have to have one. I plan to be the envy of South Florida in my nerd-chic bathing attire! Visit me and you an I will rule the beaches. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good luck with future Toastmaster meetings! Looking forward to updates on how it goes! XOXO

    • Hey Lisa!!!

      That’s SO cool your husband did Toastmasters -please let him know how impressed I am.
      My Toastmasters group has continued to be supportive & kind. It feels good to simply be around positive people like that – I’d be happy to keep on being a fly on the wall, ha ha ha, but that wouldn’t be fair, I guess! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Today at a park, I practiced my Icebreaker speech in front of the group’s president Tim(he’s mentoring me) and while I was terrified, I got through it. I did it 6 or 7 times!!! He was so generous to sit through them. He gave me helpful feedback and made me feel empowered.

      Woo hoo! Wednesday is the big day when I’ll speak in front of the group.

      Please let me know if you join Toastmasters!

      I’m happy to mention you and “Paw” and your other works anytime I can. :))

      p.s Could you imagine my wearing a Trekkini as my outfit for my first speech? That would scare everyone. Take a quick look at this video of a speaker who did something almost as outrageous – I only watched the first minute, but it made me laugh…

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