Let’s Get Personal

I am unexpectedly DELIGHTED to speak at Red Hat’s Open Voice Toastmasters club TOMORROW.

No big deal.

And cause it’s no big deal, no problem, no worries, I’m totally going to do project two, Let’s Get Personal, of the advanced manual Storytelling.


Now part of me is REALLY TEMPTED to talk about the pole dancing class I took four weeks ago where I was SHOWING OFF WAY TOO MUCH and, like the forty year old I am, THREW OUT MY HIP and haven’t been able to walk right EVER SINCE.

But another part of me thinks, “Rain, this is YOUR JOB.”

So I’m going to go the safe route and talk about the not so safe experience of leaping out of a plane. Because this is their first impression of me.

And I’m feeling a little scared.

Except that’s exactly the point, to get personal, like I do here, when I remember to write. And, if I’m honest, since I’m scared, I should do it anyway.

Cause that’s how I roll.


Once Upon a Time.

In the land of Raleigh North Carolina United States of America Earth.

There was a woman, named Rain, who found herself in a bit of a pickle. You see, she was a Toastmaster.

And in Toastmasters, it’s important, nay VITAL, to take chances, to make mistakes, to learn and evolve. Even when taking chances and making mistakes is terrifying.

So it was that this woman found herself before you today.

Giving project two of an advanced manual.

Let’s Get Personal.

You may think, “Oh, she must be scared of public speaking.”

Not so much.

Or you may think, “Ah, it was last minute.”

No, that’s fine, too.

And before you think of another excuse why I, Rain, for yes, it is I who I am talking about. I will tell you why I stand before you, quite ill at ease.


Because there are two stories that I have in mind to tell you.

You see, one is scandalous. If I tell you, you might judge me. You might listen and think, “Oh, what a foolish girl. To do this thing. What was she thinking?” And you’d be right. Maybe.

A horrible first impression.

But a lot of fun.

And the other story is foolhardy, but safer – as a first impression. There’s skydiving in it. And death. And overcoming fear. Twice.

Therefore, I’m going to tell you both. Since I have plenty of time within these six to eight minutes.

Once Upon a Time.

I decided to take a pole dancing class.

And, with twenty years of dance in a previous career, I was damn good at it. I point my toes. I am naturally graceful. I am VERY flexible. And, in the course of the class, since the teacher was encouraging and I was super full of myself, I over extended my hip.

And haven’t walked right since.

It’s been four weeks.

Once Upon a Time.

I decided to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

And, with two dear friends, Jacque and Carly, I mustered up the courage to do it. We laughed nervously the entire time. We were trained for only four hours. And, then with a professional diver strapped to each of our backs, we leapt to our deaths. Until we pulled the rip cord and saved ourselves.

Have you ever been on a rollercoaster? Remember that feeling of the first hill?


Jacque and I HATED it. Swore we’d never do it again. One of us, Carly, LOVED it. Exclaimed that she’d take her mother in a year, for her fiftieth birthday party. We pledged to support her with our feet firmly planted on the ground.

Carly was killed a year later.

At the funeral, Jacque and I walked straight up to her mother and pledged to take her diving.

A year later, we did.

The first time we went diving, we had NO IDEA.

You’ve watched the videos, you’ve done the training ON THE GROUND, but you have NO IDEA the HELL of your stomach in your throat and your sinuses ripped out of your head and you can’t breathe and… it’s awful.

When we went again, Jacque and I KNEW HOW STUPID WE WERE.

Tears fell quietly down our cheeks as we rode the plane up to fourteen THOUSAND feet.

And then we jumped.

Once Upon a Time.

I did some foolish things and I hope you won’t judge me too harshly for it. Because doing those things gave me some great stories.

And, sure, sometimes I dive out of a plane one more time than I meant. Or throw out my hip for four weeks, but I’ll keep doing those things.

And I hope you do, too.



It’s the only way to live happily ever after.

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