My Toastmasters Humiliation & Kay R. Jamison Blurb Bliss

This is what I’m going for, T.S. Eliot!

 


Last Wednesday at Toastmasters, I turned on my laptop and spent a considerable amount of time placing it in the perfect position to record my speech #2.

I was so freaking nervous that I spaced out on pressing the “record” button so I can’t share the video as I had planned!

During the five minutes of my speech “The Dr. A. Way,” I was a shaking bundle of exposed nerve endings. I made a complete ass of myself.

I was hit particularly hard because I thought I had a chance at improving just a little bit. I spoke about a topic I knew well (“Exercise for Mood Stability” by Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan) and I even brought some fun props, but nope – I still blew it.

I won’t give up on these speeches! In five months I’m presenting my first book talk. I refuse to be a mass of quivering jello in front of my family, friends, and community members.

Now, I know I won’t conquer all of my anxiety – I’m realistic – but I’m going to work hard on dialing it down a notch or ten… 

The cool thing (or sadistic thing, depending on how you look at it) about belonging to Toastmasters is that I’ll face my public speaking fear every seven days. It’s up to me when I want to schedule the remaining eight speeches of the “Competent Communicator” program, but at each meeting I’ll be required to speak through various roles, i.e. Ah-Counter, Table Topics, etc.

Meanwhile…

I still can’t quite believe Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of the classic memoir An Unquiet Mind, is endorsing Birth of a New Brain!  It’s a wonderful feeling to think that someone like her will support my book. 

Last night Rilla told me to “stop bragging on Twitter” about the KRJ endorsement, so I erased a braggy tweet I was writing. I reluctantly admitted she was absolutely right. It’s humbling when your nine-year-old is more mature than you are. 

All is quiet here tonight, and I’m off to enjoy a late dinner and watch my new favorite show Rosewood.

Rosewood’s star Morris Chestnut is a fantastic actor. I wasn’t familiar with his work until I saw his performance as an ER doctor in Nurse Jackie. If you’re looking for a new show, I encourage you to check out Rosewood on Netflix.

I hope you have a good weekend!

Lots of love,

Dyane

 

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. It’s available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales; Kindle pre-sales will be available this summer.

 

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Stoked I Didn’t Pass Out During My 2nd Toastmasters Talk!

 

 

 

Hi there, my friends!

I hope you’re doing well…

So yes, I survived presenting my Toastmasters “Thought of the Day” to my Redwood Ramblers group yesterday.  

Once again, I was nervous as hell.

 

At least my head-to-toe shakiness wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been during my Icebreaker speech. I was less freaked-out this time, but don’t get me wrong, it was scary!!! It probably didn’t help that I forgot to, um, breathe much.

Each meeting has a different theme chosen by the member assigned the “Toastmaster” role. The Toastmaster serves as the host of the meeting. All roles, both speaking and non-speaking, rotate weekly so everyone experiences each role. Roles include the Ah-Counter (the person who counts the filler words in every person’s speech), the Grammarian (guess!) and the Timer. Yes, every speech gets timed. It’s very precise. I like it!

Yesterday’s theme was Clutter.

(Ha! It could’ve easily been re-named Dyane’s House.)

My speaking role, the Thought of the Day, needed to relate to the theme and last one-to-two minutes.

I decided upon the topic of “Clearing Mind Clutter.” I thought it would be cool to share something that actually helps clear my befuddled brain. 

The following paragraph is what I wrote on my practice notecards. When I spoke to my group, I surprised myself and didn’t use the cards, although it would’ve been fine to refer to them. Instead, I paraphrased my notes and I did silly things like the scrubbing move! (Watch the video for that one…) Oh well. I have no problem making a fool of myself – I have a PhD in tomfoolery!

 

Without further adieu….

What can we do to clear out the clutter, the confusion, and the disorder in our minds?

I found something that’s easy, enjoyable, and free that everyone in this room can do. Plus we’re in the perfect area to do it! It’s called Shinrin Yoku*** in Japanese, and in English, it’s known as forest bathing. 

I didn’t even know forest bathing even existed until I read about it last year in  Good Times. Forest bathing is a leisurely stroll in the woods for fifteen to twenty minutes. Every now and then, you stop and take extra notice of your surroundings, and during your walk, you take deep breaths…making sure you don’t hyperventilate, of course!

Deep breathing allows you to inhale organic compounds given off by the trees. The amazing benefits include lower stress, lower blood pressure, increased energy, better sleep, better focus, and an increase in the NK cells (your natural killer cells) which fight cancer — all this from a leisurely stroll!

Doing this has helped me feel better and manage the clutter in my head. I encourage all of you to take a stroll in the redwoods over the next few weeks, notice how you feel, and let me know about it.

***I encourage you to check out this forest bathing site for more info. – it’s a cool resource!

At the close of the meeting, all talks are evaluated either briefly or in depth. There’s much more scrutiny given to the “Project Talks” (Thought of the Day isn’t one) so I only got a couple comments: the speech was “well-developed and demonstrated planning,” and “giving a call to action was effective.”

At one point I walked down the aisle and back to the podium, exposing the group to my rear. (Good times!) The president advised me to consider walking slowly backward so the group saw my front and I could utilize those moments, LOL!  

Slick move, eh?

See you next week when I’ll reveal some juicy details about my upcoming interview. 

Lots of love,

Dyane 

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. It’s available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales; Kindle pre-sales will be available this summer.

 

I Broke the Ice at Toastmasters!

 

This isn’t me!!! It’s one example of a Toastmasters Icebreaker speech – you only need to watch the first minute to see her concept was clearly out of the box!  😉

 

 

During the last month, I posted here and here about my enormous fear of public speaking and my experience joining Toastmasters International.

A couple weeks ago I scheduled my first author talk. Setting that date motivated me to get used to public speaking by committing to Toastmasters for a minimum of six months. 

On Wednesday I gave my first Toastmasters Icebreaker speech. Those six minutes were some of the MOST nerve-wracking minutes of my life! After I spoke, I plopped down in my chair and felt vulnerable. I was incredibly embarrassed about my public speaking shortcomings, but I can’t deny I was proud as hell of myself!

I had come a long way from my psych unit hospitalizations.

I had practiced my speech “From the Darkness to the Light” close to thirty times without shaking. I spoke in front of my dog Lucy, in front of my family, and in front of my mentor, the President of our Toastmasters group.

During every practice run, I was still as a stone. But when I stood in front of the Toastmasters group on Wednesday, my body and voice shook like a freakin’ quaking Aspen tree the entire six minutes – even my face shook. My shakiness threw me off so much. I was totally humiliated, but at least I didn’t sprint for the exit!

Each speaker receives a few minutes of detailed oral feedback from the Evaluator immediately after the speech. In addition to that, she gets brief written comments from each group member to take home and review. Here are some of the following remarks that were given to me:

“I thought you had been doing this a long time, had I not met you first,”

“Excellent Icebreaker! Relax, enjoy, your story is compelling!”

“What an inspiration you are – I can’t wait to watch you growing in confidence as a speaker!”

“You are a natural speaker. You did not seem terribly nervous. Great material, and putting yourself into your speech. Relax! You are among friends!”

“No need to reflect on your nervousness when you’re on stage”

(At the end of my talk I apologized for being so nervous!)

I was going to post my speech here, but there was a glitch in the recording and it didn’t record. I’ll make sure I don’t have the same technical difficulties during my next speech so you can see if I shake like Elvis in his heyday…or not.

Here’s a sample from my practice session with my mentor…

Have you faced one of your profound fears lately? Do you plan to do so anytime soon? Please share! 

Have a great weekend!

Love,

Dyane

 

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw. Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!

 

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? 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.  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! 😉 (There were healthy snacks too.)

My first assignment 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

Gulp.

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.  

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 book 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! 

Lots of love,

Dyane

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

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

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

Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!

Fears of Public Speaking (Kitt, Can You Impersonate Me?)

 

After a morning thunderstorm, Lucy and I took a long walk at the high school. My Scottish collie was tired, so where did she decide to rest? In a rainwater puddle, of course! 

 

 

Today I felt inspired to write about a book promotion-related fear I’ll face this fall. I’ll eventually write about other book-related trepidations, but I won’t ignore topics close to my heart ranging from the serious to the superficial, i.e. bipolar disorder, motherhood, the supernatural, coffee (a.k.a. the 5th food group), miscellaneous cool resources, and, naturally, my dog Lucy.

It’s safe to say there will be no more anecdotes about mountain lion encounters or freaky spiders – hurrah!

Public Speaking

Some of Us Have the Oratorical Bug…

Some of Us Don’t

 

I wish I could have mental health advocate/blogger Kitt O’Malley impersonate me this fall when I do my book events.

Kitt is a passionate and gifted speaker. She taps into her talent as a NAMI Provider Educator at the hospital where she received inpatient and partial day treatment over a decade ago. Kitt educates staff on what it’s like to live with mental illness and to be in mental health recovery. As a mom with bipolar, she has many responsibilities and she does all kinds of activities. Somehow I don’t think she has the time to fly up here to pretend to be me, but I certainly could try bribing her. You never know… 

I adore Kitt!

As a mom with bipolar, she has many responsibilities and she does all kinds of activities. Somehow I don’t think she has the time to fly up here to pretend to be me, but I certainly could try bribing her. You never know… 

My husband Craig is also an accomplished and dynamic public speaker. After his book Quest for Flight – John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West was published, he was psyched to give book talks wherever he could. Craig has given over fifty presentations at libraries, aviation clubs, museums, and other groups. He continues to receive speaking invitations even though his book was published in 2012!

I’m thinking maybe, just maybe, it’s time to drag myself to the Redwood Ramblers, my local chapter of TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL.

TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL is a non-profit organization that aims to help its members develop “public speaking and leadership skills through practice and feedback in local clubs since 1924.” 

Look at all the TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL benefits:

You know, that list reminds me of the tenets of this rather mysterious dogma!

There’s no need for me to feel paranoid. A trusted source tells me that TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL is proud to be GMO-free

and Tom Cruise-free!

(If you’re a Scientologist, I don’t mean to offend you…much.)

Book Endorsement Pupdate Update

Meanwhile, the ARC (advanced review copy) of my book is being read by a variety of amazing psychiatrists, mental health advocates, and authors. They live in Australia, Kuwait, England, Western Canada, Oregon, upstate New York, and Massachusetts.

Karen Kleiman is the founder of the Postpartum Stress Center, a bestselling author, and postpartum expert. She emailed me a blurb that actually brought tears to my eyes. 

“Bipolar illness is serious and widely misunderstood. When it emerges in the postpartum period, women and medical professionals are often blindsided due to the current lack of awareness. Birth of a New Brain is a brave and deeply personal account of how bipolar illness can impact a new mother. Her honest reveal of startling references such as mania, ECT, hospital wards, suicide and “tsunami obsessions” creates heartfelt transparency and highlights its stigma-busting potential. Postpartum women in distress will relate to Dyane Harwood’s genuineness and be grateful for this book.”

Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW

Author, The Art of Holding: An Essential Intervention for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety and Founder, The Postpartum Stress Center

Karen designed this fantastic meme that appears in my book

 

If you have public speaking advice (either happy stories, horror stories or both!) I’d love to know the details. Please share away…

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support!

Sending you lots of love,

Dyane

 

Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.

It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales coming this summer!

 

Catamaran Saturday Part One – Wish You Were Here!


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Evidently Lucy had a puppy named “Joey” at Lake Tahoe while I’ve been down here at the glorious Catamaran Writers Conference.

I continued having fun, feeling excited, exhausted, anxious, scared, embarrassed and exhilarated yesterday at the Catamaran Writers Conference in Pebble Beach.

At least I woke up Saturday morning having slept much better than the previous night. That was a total miracle – 25 mg of Seroquel had something to do with it (a PRN) and I’m glad I had it with me. 

Upon waking up there was no lollygagging. At 7:00 a.m. I made my pilgrimage to the dining hall – that’s when they started serving Peet’s coffee. I didn’t put on a stitch of makeup, my hair looked like a bird’s nest, and I smelled like one who has sweated a great deal and really needs a shower. Keep in mind that at this conference I’m mingling with bestselling authors. But no matter – I let my vanity fall to the wayside and put on my favorite T-shirt perfect for this conference + jeans & flip flops:

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I plunked myself down at a table with two mugs of brew with a dash of almond milk. All for me. (The mugs here are pathetically lilliputian.) Another attendee joined me named Emily, a poet. She was one of the first people I chatted with on Day One at breakfast so she was a familiar face. After we ate, I noticed she was knitting a scarf with pretty, autumn-hued, multicolored scraps. When I commented on how cool it was and I inquired who she was making it for, she said, “I’ll make it for you!” I was floored. Here it is – sorry for the blurry photo: 

Photo on 8-15-15 at 7.23 AM

Meanwhile, my girls and their best friends were at Lake Tahoe and along with a bunch of joke texts about poo, they texted me a photo of what they call The Lip. They use The Lip when begging me and Craig for candy and toys. It actually doesn’t pull at my heartstrings at all – I’m tough to manipulate…unless they threaten to do a public temper tantrum, but The Lip makes me laugh:

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I need to go shower now, so I’ll be writing Part Two (which will describe the reading I gave last night at the Stevenson School’s Big Theater in front of conference attendees and instructors/authors) later on, but I’ll close with a couple things:

One of my most spectacular cases of diarrhea mouth/sycophantism took place with my new favorite author,  Jane Vandenburgh. Check out her Wiki bio. When I looked at it I was a little impressed. Maybe you don’t know who she is either, but one of her closest friends (who she affectionately refers to as Annie) is Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird etc. For those of you who don’t know “Annie” – well, she’s ginormously famous in the book world and Bird by Bird is one of the most renowned writing books ever. She wrote the introduction to Jane’s new book Architecture of the Novel – A Writer’s Handbook.

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So yes, while I haven’t read Jane’s books yet (despite her being my new favorite author) take a look at the cover of her book The Wrong Dog Dream – a true romance. She had me at the cover. I bought it at the book faire.51L8kGRDNVL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Stay tuned on how I behaved in front of her when she signed this book for me. I’m glad it’s not on YouTube.

I can’t wait to tell you more about the day, but a shower/Peet’s coffee is more important right now. Excuse my typos – I’m not going to re-read this but just post it with all the boo boo’s intact. Forgive me.

Please know that I miss you & your reecnt posts, my beloved blogger pals. I still haven’t read any blogs you’ve written lately, very few tweets (right, V.?) and hardly any emails while here. This is shocking.

Your comments over the past few days have made me feel so good. A number of Catamaran attendees don’t blog, although in the p.r./marketing seminars the teachers are saying “You must have a platform for your book! You MUST blog! Blog, dammit, blog!”

I’ve shared with other attendees about how wonderful it is to have this blog because of YOU – your posts, your encouragement, the camaraderie between us all in the blogosphere. So thanks for reading, and I’ll “see” you soon. 

Wish you were here with me, maybe next year?

XOXO Dyane

Someone is having fun in Tahoe….

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