Saturday, July 1, 2017


I do love to sing; I always have.  Music has given me so much in my life.  It's been a great source of solace in times of trouble; to lose myself in the sound of a beautiful passage, or listen to the glorious rich sounds of some of my favourite voices has been pure pleasure.  Music has given me joy, whether i'm listening or dancing, or singing the song. 

Yes... to lose myself in music and stories.  I do it frequently.  I recall an evening in my teens; it had to be around 1968, so I would have been 14 or 15.  But the details are so vivid it could have been last week.  I was walking home after seeing the movie, "Funny Girl", starring Barbra Streisand.  I adored her!  She was so funny and quirky, and what a great voice!  As I belted out, "I'd Rather be Blue", I remember thinking...'you'd better watch out, Barbra, cos I'm comin... I'm gonna be the next big star!!'

There was just one small problem with that statement... because I has never going to be a star.  I was too damn scared!

Oh yes, I loved to sing, but it was mostly to myself, or maybe in a large group of people.  I was in a choir at school and I absolutely loved being a part of it all, performing the Hallelujah Chorus was such a thrill, to be at least partly responsible for creating the wonderful sound we made.  But it would have to be from the back row, where I wouldn't be noticed.  I was always far too nervous to move out the the front to do a solo.

When I left school I gave up singing in a choir.  Not being a churchgoer cut down on the chances that I would do it again.  So, other than blasting out Bohemian Rhapsody while cleaning my house, or singing in the shower, or in the car, or to my kids, that was pretty much it.  Any formal singing completely dried up.  And I certainly never pursued a singing career!  Far from it, as I was perfectly content to stay away from the limelight, working behind the scenes wherever I happened to be.

Move forward 40 years... that fear of being in the limelight had never left me; it had only got worse as I grew older.  The mere thought of getting up in front of a room full of people had my knees shaking and my stomach churning.  I'm not quite sure how I'd managed to accomplish as much as I had in my life to that point!

The year was 2008, my mum had passed away and I was attending her celebration of life.  My brothers had persuaded me to get up and give a eulogy.  Fear seized me, but I did it anyway.  The yes came from a place of love, but the panic I felt was real as I read my piece.  My voice was tremulous, and I shook like a leaf as I rushed through it far too quickly.  I was so cross with myself! 

Then I watched my brothers give their speeches in utter awe.  They held every single person in the room in the palm of their hands as they told their stories about our darling mum, stories that left everyone in laughter and tears.  I don't think I've ever been so envious of their natural ability to speak from the heart with such ease.  Where did it come from?  I remember thinking, "I want to do that!"

I needed to do that!   

It took a couple more years before I finally discovered Toastmasters.  I found a club in Ladner, Deltones Toastmasters and went along to a meeting to find out more.  And I jumped in with both feet and joined! 

I managed to get through my first Icebreaker speech without completely collapsing into a big puddle.  I didn't die. This was an important thing to notice.  After I'd done my third speech I was invited to be a test speaker at another club's contest.  I said YES, a response that completely shocked me!  My confidence was growing in leaps and bounds.

The day I finally completed the first 10-speech Competent Communicator manual felt pretty amazing.  And the day my daughter told me how impressed she was and how much I'd changed was even more special.

In September, 2012 I took another huge step.  I got the chance to audition for The Richmond Singers.  Getting accepted was such a thrill!  Being a part of this fabulous group of women, making beautiful music together has been an absolute joy over the last 5 years.

Although I'm usually pretty exhausted at the end of a long work day, I find I lose myself so much in the process of our Monday night rehearsals, by the time we're done, I'm completely energized!  It's a fantastic stress reliever, and the challenge of reading music again, and learning all our new songs, stretches me more than I thought possible.   

Joining Toastmasters has helped me tremendously in my business.  I no longer stay in the shadows.  I have moved up front and centre of my life.  But I have to say that joining my choir has been the absolute best thing that has come out of my Toastmaster experience.  It gave me the confidence to audition in the first place.  

Although I still haven't been brave enough to have taken on a solo... yet. I've sung in a quartet, so the solo could happen.  But I'm up there on stage enjoying every moment... in the front row!   

The most important thing I've learned about this whole journey is, that it's never too late to stretch your wings and take flight.

So, Ms. Streisand, you had better watch your back. It's quite possible that I could be coming after your spot!