Journey Of A Lifetime!

Now that I have been a member of Toastmasters International for 10 years, it’s a goodToastmastersLogo-Color time to reflect on the experience.

It has been a life-changer for me.

As a born introvert I know only too well the ‘apparent fear’ one experiences when one stands up before a group of people to speak, whether it is in a work or business meeting, or if you are asked to give a speech somewhere.

After 10 years of ‘investing myself’ in the programme, here’s what I have learned:

* The old adage ‘you only get out what you put in’ is totally true.

Out here in Australia, Clubs meet twice a month and I’ve missed perhaps 15 – 20 meetings in those 10 years. I would say that I’ve been to at least 240 Toastmaster meetings if you count the other Toastmaster clubs that I have visited in that time.

* The benefits I have gained/positive impact on my life are immense.

I wrote an article back in 2015 for this blog and will post the link at the bottom for I identified 18 ways my life has benefitted from being involved in Toastmasters.

I’ve even managed to progress from Introvert to Ambivert as well!

* I sometimes get asked, ‘Why do you keep going?’

Simply put, Education, Motivation, Friendship & Fun!

I can’t remember how many times that I felt like just going home and vegetating because I had a hard day at work or whatever. Whenever I went to the Toastmasters meeting, I always came out at the end, revitalised and re-energised.

Every meeting you learning something new, either about yourself or about public speaking/leadership and with each time you do a role and/or speak you grow that little more in confidence.

I’ve made so many great friends who are so supportive, and we have loads of fun.

* It gives you a chance to have a positive impact on other people’s lives

I can easily relate to how other people (especially Introverts) feel and can help them through my experiences. The membership individually and as a whole want people to succeed. We support them through their mistakes, want them to progress and use their skills out in the World at large.

Toastmasters Clubs also run Youth Leadership courses in schools and Speechcraft courses for adults.

I’m really looking forward to the next 10 years and beyond in Toastmasters. Here in Australia, we’ve just taken delivery of the new PATHWAYS Education programme. 10 Paths to transverse. I’ve selected, ‘Presentation Mastery’ as the one I’d like to begin with.

There is another old saying that says, ‘It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey…’, well this journey is one that I am ever so grateful for!
David Johnson
17 March 2018

To find out the way 18 ways being involved in Toastmasters has helped me, click on
https://communicatingcreatively.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/why-toastmasters/

If you would like to find out more, click on https://www.toastmasters.org/

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Life Lessons!

Like a lot of people at the start of the year, I did a Vision Board and set some goals etc.

One area I addressed was health. I set walking, meditation, exercise and fluid goals which were going tremendously well until the 18 February…

Whilst I was doing them I felt I had more energy and was keeping on top of things.

The goals were to:

  • Walk 3 times a week
  • Walk a minimum 15km’s (9.3 miles) per week
  • Meditate every day for a minimum of 10 minutes
  • Exercise 3 times a day (I have 10 stretching exercises a Physio recommended)
  • Drink 1.5 – 2 litres (3.7 – 4.2 US pints) a day

With my Wife, Susan, we operate a Strategic Marketing business, I am in a BNI (Business Network International) breakfast networking group, holding two committee positions; Vice-President Public Relations for Camden Toastmasters and am a co-Mentor for Gledswood Toastmasters, a proposed new club.

Apart from that, we have our time together plus all of my creative interests.

Looking back, I can see the reason that the goals went pear-shaped over the last month!

It has been such a busy month on all fronts that the business meant quite a few late nights; it is contest season in Toastmasters and I was involved in contests at Club level and Area level. These led to late nights, and a lesser quality of sleep that definitely impacts the next day (especially when you have some early starts) and so on…

I restarted the activity today and feel much better for it! I believe the last month would have been a lot less draining if I had made the time and stuck to the goals I had set myself. I also need to look at perhaps reducing my involvement on committees from 4 positions to two.

Hopefully, I can learn from this ‘latest life lesson’ and that I won’t have to be taught it again. 🙂

David Johnson
17 March 2018

Inspiration Plus! – Lions Club International Youth of the Year!

Yesterday, I had the most marvellous experience of being a member of a panel of 5 Judges on the Lions Club International Youth of the Year District 210 N2 Final here is South-West Sydney, Australia.
Initially, there were supposed to be 6 contestants, all aged 15, however, the only boy withdrew from the contest prior to the day.
As a panel, we interviewed each of the 5 contestants on subjects such as Leadership, Sporting & Cultural activities, Citizenship & Community involvement, Academic and general knowledge of Local, State, National & International affairs for a period of 30 minutes.
We then had to judge each contestant on two Impromptu Speaking questions, one 5 minute speech and on Presentation and Personality.
It was a fascinating process. Seeing and hearing the students present themselves via three different formats, handling the nerves as they did was a credit to themselves, their parents and their schools.
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Congratulations to all the contestants and in particular the Public Speaking Winner and the Overall Winner. Best wishes in the forthcoming State Titles!
In all-in-all, it was a very inspiring day! It was such a pleasure to interview and hear the contestants. They were so inspirational!
It was also wonderful representing Toastmasters International on the Judging Panel.
Congratulations to Lions Club International for conducting such an event and a HUGE THANK YOU for the opportunity!
Thank you also to fellow Toastmaster, Anne O’Keefe who put me onto the opportunity.
If you ever get the chance to be part of the Judging Panel for this contest, I would highly recommend that you take it.
Written by David Johnson
11 March 2018

Journey Of A Lifetime!

Photography has been a passion of mine for 35 years, though since 2010 (when I did a basic Drawing course and started dabbling in Painting),  Drawing and Painting have been slowly increasing in interest for me.

For the first time ever, this year, I have spent more time painting than I have photographing… Wow!

They are two very different mediums, with some similarities, particularly since Digital impacted photography. Painting cannot compete with the immediacy of photography, however, photography (since the Digital onslaught) has become almost machine gun-like, in that where a lot of photographers churn out numbers in the hundreds and the thousands when they go out to take photos.

There are or course photographers who do not take this approach to photography. They give serious consideration to the idea before they even pick up their camera to shoot the image or image series.

These photographers remind me of the painter who gives serious consideration to the idea and plans the painting accordingly. They need to decide on the composition, the story, the colours and the lighting etc. They pre-visualise just like the Black & White/Monochrome Darkroom photographers of yesterday did. Some still do.

Sitting in front of a computer (for me) editing image after image just isn’t as exciting or as fun as sitting in front of the canvas and creating.

This did surprise me somewhat, being a passionate photographer for as long as I have been. Recently, a photographer friend went on an overseas trip for a few weeks and took 8,000 digital images. 8,000! Having to review that many images from the trip are a real turn-off for me.

I’m still passionate about photography, though in different ways than above.

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“Abundance Of Joy” Acrylic & Oil 90cm x 30cm

So, why I am attracted to Drawing and Painting?

  1. They slow me down. They force me to think about what I am doing, what I am endeavouring to create, much like using an old TLR (Twin Len Reflex) on a tripod and taking the time to explore a scene with the eyes and the mind instead of firing off shot after shot with a DSLR…
  2. It really takes you back to basics i.e. just using the mind, the limbs, pigments and paper/canvas. It is a challenge to create something uniquely yours without the high-flying technology. This excites me!
  3. We, humans, spend our lives these days ‘tied to technology’ via our ever-present mobiles (cell-phones), tablets and other digital devices. Sitting in front of the canvas or creating in my Journal allows me to disengage.
  4. I was thinking the other day that one can’t get much closer to the raw beginnings of hand-made Art than Drawing, Painting (or indeed Sculpture). The cave-dwellers picked up a rock or some other pigmented material and started to draw/paint.

Drawing and Painting takes one back to the early days of Art, the person, tool, pigment and the imagination.

What you draw, paint or photograph depends on your genes, your environment, what influences your thoughts and actions and your beliefs etc just like those cave-dwellers.

In that respect, only the tools and Mankind’s thoughts and advancement have changed.

In regards to drawing and painting, I am in the early stages of my journey. I feel it’s a journey that I will be on for the rest of my life. Exciting times are ahead!
Written by David Johnson
30 December 2017

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“Journey” – incomplete. Oil – 16in x 20in

Poetry – Music To My Ears!

As a child, I was interested in Poetry, and that interest grew throughout my teens, into my twenties and beyond to the current day.

In a previous post, I mentioned how much I love Libraries. I have lost count of the number of poetry-related books I have taken out of libraries over the last 45+ years.
Somewhere along the line, I acquired a taste for rhyming poetry and it is still my favourite kind, although I am starting the explore non-rhyming poetry of late.
Libraries are still great, apart from the obvious problem of having to return the books!
The Internet is, of course, a Goldmine. I’ve listed some sites at the bottom of the post that readers might like to explore.

Whilst the Internet is a wonderful resource, I’m one of those old-fashioned people who still love the feel of holding a book, and so, over time I’ve picked up the odd poetry book.

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I picked up two more books to add to my collection, last weekend.
– The Golden Book of Modern English Poetry – Everyman’s Library – 921.
  It features 500 Poets.

– Selected Poems and Letters of Emily Dickinson – Edited by Robert N. Linscott

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Reading poetry helps me to tune out from the world. I disappear into the poem and let my imagination run wild.

On August 2013, I started to write my own poetry. I write to explore my thoughts and feelings that I have about life, the Universe and everything.

Poetry is really ‘Music to my Ears!’

Written by David Johnson

28 November 2017

Journal To Discovery

It never occurred to me many years ago to keep a Journal, not a Diary, but a Journal of thoughts and ideas. It would have been great to be able to delve into now to see what sorts of things I was thinking of way back when.
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The idea to keep such a thing only started to enter my thinking around 2010. I started a small one for photographic ideas that I would definitely need the use of Photoshop to engineer as they were moving towards ‘Conceptual Photography.’ I would write a few brief notes and then do basic drawings or a sketch. Ironically, these days I seldom use Photoshop, but that’s for another article…

At my core I am ‘an ideas person.’ I have a lot of them and sometimes the phrase, ’shiny object syndrome’ comes to mind. Through 2003 – 2009 I was traveling 4 hours return by public transport to work in Sydney, Australia, was in two Photographic Societies, on committees and had lots of things on the go. Over the years, I have many ideas and some of them have progressed but many are still there, waiting…

In 2008 Toastmasters arrived in my life and I was being exposed to new things, ideas, people. Evernote became my ’Typed Journal.’

I began to revisit Sketches (that were not connected with Photographic ideas) which led me to keep a related Sketching journal, which led to me completing a basic Drawing course. Up sprang another type of Journal!

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Drawing led to me wondering if I could Paint? Up sprang a small Painting ‘Journal.’

In August 2013, I started writing Poetry, so yes, enter my Evernote Poetry Journal. Two years ago I realised just how much I was missing the ‘actual act of writing’ and so I bought an A5 journal that I handwrite poetry in. As I was halfway through my 4th poetry journal, a thought came to mind… Instead of having all these different Journals, why not combine them?
Research began on what type of journal to buy? This went on for a few weeks…

I ascertained it had to be able to be good enough quality paper to be:

  • Written on using a Calligraphy (or similar pen)
  • Able to withstand Watercolour and Acrylic Paints
  • Sketched or Drawn upon

As I found out, there is a whole industry devoted to Journals/Journaling. Here is one of the links that were indeed very helpful to me, as I hope it will be for you.

The next decision was, ’should I buy a ready-made’ product or make my own?’

I decided to go the ready-made route. I feel that my next one will be one I make myself. It sounds like fun!

The Journal I have chosen to combine all my Artistic, Writing & Poetical ideas is an A4 Ivory paper journal.

In this Journal, to my Heart’s content I can:

  • Write Poetry
  • Write small articles
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sketch
  • Formulate Ideas
  • Paste photos

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As I get on in years it is going to be so much fun delving back, re-engineering ideas and seeing what thoughts and ideas I have had. When I am no longer on this Earth the Journals will be left to relatives/friends who I know will appreciate and gain enjoyment from (and who knows) may progress some of the ideas and be inspired to record their own Artistic Journey.

Do you keep a Journal of your Art, Thoughts & Ideas?

If so, what do you use? I would be interested in hearing about your Journal of Discovery!

As for me, I believe I can hear my Journal calling me… Bye for now.

Music To My Ears!

Music is such a wonderful thing. Can I play it? No, except if you count the half a song I learnt to play on my 3rd learning attempt at the age of 16, in 1979 with my Brother, Larry as Tutor.

Or in 2011, when I purchased a Harmonica as I had always enjoyed its sound, and found out that learning to play it would assist with breathing, in terms of doing public speaking. I learnt the first two lines of ‘Kum By Yah.’ The first two lines are exactly the same…hmmm. Like the guitar, I lacked the daily discipline of practice. That could probably be the end of the line as far as me attempting to play music…

Larry went on to learn 1/2 dozen different instruments, write some music, can sing, does Watercolour painting and uses soft Pastels.

I was in a shop yesterday, and The Beatles, ‘Penny Lane’ came on. My mind was instantly transported back to my early years when life seemed no doubt, easier, more fun where I had no responsibilities. Such wonderful memories flooded back!

7 years of age when The Beatles ‘called it a day’ in 1970, my music world was full of The Beatles, Pop, Motown etc courtesy of my Sister, Cheryl who was 17 at the time. My Brother, Larry (4 years older than me) was also heavily into ‘The Lads From Liverpool’, The Beach Boys, other band legends from the 60’s, Elvis and 50’s music.

Moving into the 70’s my sibling’s musical influences on me continued with Neil Diamond, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bruce Springsteen, to name but a few.

Even though the joy of being able to play music has seemingly escaped my life, music continues to be an incredible force in my life.

Yes, I am a long-term Beatles, Elvis & Bruce Springsteen Fan but my musical tastes did broaden over the ensuing years and include:

The Rolling Stones; Tommy Emmanuel; Status Quo; James Morrison (Trumpet); Amy Grant; Frank Sinatra; Gene Krupa, Dean Martin, John Lee Hooker, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Guitar Shorty, Lambchop; Lee Kernaghan, John Denver, Galapagos Duck; Acoustic Alchemy; Vivaldi; Stevie Ray Vaughan; Fourplay, The Moody Blues, Creedence Clearwater Revival, MUSE, are some of my other favourites.

Genres include Rock, Pop, Blues, Australian Country, Motown, Disco, Swing, Jazz, Folk, Classical and some Alternative.

Music inspires me, soothes, relaxes and entertains me and for that, I am exceedingly grateful.

Written by David Johnson
9 July 2017