TIC Toastmasters

Some people enjoy public speaking.  I would like to be one of those people.  I’ve had moments during public readings or radio interviews when my heart beat so fast I could hardly breathe.  I had a television audition during which my mouth became so dry that I couldn’t separate my tongue from the roof of my mouth. 

I learned about Toastmasters from Mike Dooley’s book, Manifesting Change. Dooley’s first Toastmaster speech was on the topic, “Thoughts Become Things.” He is now a professional public speaker. 

I went to my first Toastmasters meeting last Wednesday, along with several other first-timers, most of them students at nearby Columbia University.

Presiding Officer, Vic asked all the guests to introduce themselves.  Then Toastmaster, Carole, introduced the word of the day: motivation.  Next, two speakers presented speeches.

Thomas talking on the Year of the Snake

Thomas, a Toastmasters regular, gave the first speech, “Happy Year of the Snake.” He used the floor space and aisle, asking listeners, “What do you associate with the snake?”  Thomas explained that the lunar New Year means a lot more to him than January 1st.  He said the snake is good for money and flexible so we could expect a good year of change and financial fortune.

Vic talking on Privilege and ResponsibilityNext, Vic spoke on the topic, “With Privilege Comes Responsibility.” Vic recounted his defining moment, when as a child in India his bicycle broke down on the way to school and a young boy helped him fix it.  The boy said proudly, “My elder brother goes to school.”  This boy was working in a garage to help his brother study.  Vic realized then how privileged he was and determined to use his gifts to help others.

Next came a section called “Table Topics” during which Vice President and Topics Master, Rory, called on attendees to speak for two minutes or less on various topics, including the Superbowl electrical malfunction, whether the New York Times should continue in print, whether St. John the Divine Cathedral should sell abutting land for tower blocks, and whether many children or a single child is better in a family. 

Me talking about Wine Pairings

I was asked to speak about what I would choose if I were on an important business meeting and asked to select a wine to accompany fish.  My knowledge of wines is so poor that I admitted I would have to request assistance from someone in the know.

After an anonymous vote, prize bookmarks were awarded to Vic for Best Speech, newcomer, Nora, for her 46-second Table Topics answer to the family size question, and Thomas for best evaluator.  

All speeches are timed and measured by an Ah Counter for the number of sounds used as a crutch.  I expected my Ah Counter to be off the charts, but it was zero.  Toastmasters is such a relaxed environment in which to learn confidence in public speaking, I’m actually looking forward to giving my first speech.

The Moon Also Rises

Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han were married in 1960 when he was 40 and she was 17. They were known by their followers as True Parents.

The news of Reverend Moon’s passing on Monday shocked me even though he was 92 and had been suffering from pneumonia.  For fifteen years I considered this man to be the Messiah, and I was moved to hear that his time on earth was over.

I learned of Reverend Moon’s passing from one of my Unification Church friends on Facebook, the first of whom posted the news several minutes after his death at 1:54 a.m. on September 3 Korean time, or 12:54 p.m. September 2, EST.  

Most Unification Church members posted the obituary in the Washington Times, which Moon owned.  The New York Times and other papers like the Daily Mail provided a very different viewpoint. 

Moon’s followers on Facebook posted comments like, “MY HEART IS CRYING,”  “Sad, but it's not the end” and “Long live True Parents!!! Death cannot stop Our True Father.”

One woman said, “Thank you beloved Father; because of you my life changed direction 100% almost 32 years ago. You taught me the way to become a true and ideal person and I will continue to strive to become just that.”

Reverend Moon’s son, Hyun Jin Moon, posted this comment, "I mourn the passing of my father but I know that his spirit and legacy will live on.  His vision has inspired so many forward-thinking people to see beyond the barriers that divide humanity - be they national, racial, or, most of all, religious.  I will continue to work to give meaning and substance to his legacy."

Moon is survived by ten of the fourteen children he had with his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon.  In May of 2011, their youngest son, Hyung Jin Moon was named as the likeliest to inherit leadership of the Unification Church.

Although I no longer believe in the Unification Church, for years I trusted Reverend Moon enough to happily have him (or perhaps another Church leader) choose my husband for the Church's 30,000 Couples Blessing and advise me on what to do, think and feel.

The only photograph I have of me with Reverend Moon. His back is to the camera and my face is touching the bottom of his jacket.

When he addressed me directly at speeches, I felt blessed. One time he told me I had dancing hair. Another time he drew a line down the middle of my face with his finger and said half of me belonged to satan, half to God, and that I should make a cut.

Reverend Moon was a man of determination and charisma.  Ultimately, I came to see him not as the Messiah, but as a man who realized the power to create his dream and to have millions (or at least thousands) of others respond positively to that dream.  In 2004, he had himself crowned the Savior of Mankind in the Capitol Building during a ceremony in which he heralded the "Era of the Eternal Peace Kingdom."  Perhaps without meaning to, Reverend Moon taught me that—with focus and determination— any one of us can live our grandest dreams.


 BBC documentary from 2008: Moon: Emperor of the Universe


2012 - 120531 - Married to the Moonies from European Office on Vimeo.