2016 Christmas at MorningSTARS

Written by Johanna Rzepa

What I love about Christmas time is the range of possibilities to be experienced: the colourful indoor to outdoor light displays, thoughtful family to friends gift-giving, and the spirit of community outreach to greater inclusion of all living beings. I accept that there is sadness at this time, too. Loved-ones who have moved or passed on. Expectations unfulfilled. Concerns about the health of ourselves and others.


It was magical that at our last MorningSTARS Toastmasters meeting for 2016, the depth and breadth of possibilities were embraced and realized. All who were able to attend did so in festive outfits. We were immediately welcomed by outdoor decorations and indoor Christmas tree lights, which Guy had orchestrated in full glory. The banquet table was set ready for the food to arrive. Carol sheets were placed around the meeting table, thanks to Sheila. All the trimmings!

Table Topics and Gift Giving

Gifts were piled on a table as members walked in. Katherine, our event organizer, had engaged us with the idea of “re-gifting” and combining the opening of presents with a Table Topic explanation of “why this particular gift found us and/or how it will be used in the New Year”. Gifts from our homes to the club members came in all shapes and sizes. We heard creative and constructive applications for each gift from individual members.

Our special events are an opportunity to invite guests to our club, even our pets if that means they will be on their own in cold temperatures. The snow this year did evoke traditional stories of bringing warmth and cheer to others. Lowry sang an original piece about our Sunshine Coast “green and wet” Christmases during the meeting and supported us singing, too, accompanied by guitar. With Weegee’s prior communication through our newsletter and meeting announcements, new members participated with ease in the meeting’s tidings of joy.

New Traditions

This year my Christmas experience so far has been reinforced with positive feelings which I attribute to my connection with Toastmasters here on the Coast. While yearning for the old ways at times, I am encouraged by how co-creating traditions in new ways keeps bringing deeper levels of insight and inspiration into my life… to meditate upon or to potentially prepare a speech about, for example.

Our meeting last week was certainly one to write home about. Thank you everyone for making it so special.


And the Club 1248 Winners Are . . .

That moment when you see someone step up and shine.
That moment when the past year’s accomplishments pay off.
That moment when you watch someone take their skills to the next level.

Wednesday’s International Speech and Evaluation Contest was that moment.

I was impressed and in awe at the ability, courage and demonstrated skills of our club as members took the lectern to participate in the two contests.

Speech and Evaluation ContestWilliam B., who took first prize, and Michael W., a close second, participated in the International Speech Contest chaired by Weegee S. Both contestants will continue on to the Area finals (TBD). It is the only one that goes all the way to the International competition level – and where the World Champion of Public Speaking is decided!

In the Evaluations Contest chaired by the lovely Ria Q., Sandy W. (first), PJ R. (second), Sarah L and William B. delivered a two to three minute evaluation on Liam’s “Trump Card” test speech. It’s always interesting to see the personal observations and takeaways each evaluator has to offer.

As always, there were several key positions manned by the talented members of our club. Without their assistance, the contest would not have been a success: Katherine S., Johanna R. (Chief Judge), Bertha C. (ballot counter) Vimalasara M. (ballot counter), Patricia H. (Judge), Frank C. (Judge), Kate W. (Judge), Michael S. (Timer) and Larry B. (Timer).

Special thank you to those who filled the roles and congratulations to all those who participated!

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Today’s Post Written by Frank Coldicott

Forty-seven years to earn a DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster)?

It was a proud moment to receive recognition yesterday morning for this rather noteworthy achievement, having first joined Toastmasters in Vernon, Club 1929 in September 1967. As I mentioned in my acceptance, I have seen many changes in these years. My first manual, called Basic Training, was similar to our Competent Communicator manual but focused on rather mechanical yet effective “how-to’s” of Public Speaking and Robert’s Rules of Order. Significant of the day was that Toastmasters was an all-men’s organization. The Advanced Manual was simply another 10 speeches.

Through the next 30 years, Toastmasters saw many changes: improved materials and designations were accompanied by opening the doors to women. The basic concept of Ralph Smedley has remained the same although the introduction of the leadership track and the “Better Listening et al” has given way to the focus on Becoming Leaders. This has enriched the program immeasurably.

The last 15 years of my Toastmasters experience have been the richest. Overlander Toastmasters Club in Kamloops, Advanced Speaker’s Klub in Vancouver and Morning Stars Club here in Gibsons have all enriched my life in ways beyond adequate description. With the encouragement of so many, it became clear that always ‘starting over’ with the latest materials was a valuable pursuit.

Today, I thank all Toastmasters who have kept that encouragement alive. I extend special thanks to Patricia who challenged me and provided a model of focus. She also yesterday nailed it when she described the awards as the ‘harvest’ for the period of sowing and tilling. Yet, like the Buddhist notion of achieving enlightenment which requires ‘chopping wood and hauling water’, it (like our achievement in Toastmasters) follows that when enlightened, one should ‘chop more wood and haul more water’.

Thank you Morning Stars….still chopping wood.

In a Heartbeat

Written by Patricia H., and Judyth S.

Discombobulated is how PJ, our Chair for the day and Morningstars President, described our meeting while expertly maneuvering our disjointed parts into an unusual order of flow. Despite this, our Grammarian of the day Cathie R. wrapped us up as, “Morningstars is like an advanced club, we take ourselves seriously while having fun.” 

Yes, it was the usual morning bundle of jokes and laughter, possibly infused with the expected pot of coffee prepared by Sergeant at Arms John G., plus our word of the day “vitality” introduced by Cathie. This morning nineteen of us wouldn’t have missed our weekly dose of fun, communication and leadership.

We also come for the challenges handed out by our supportive evaluators. As our General Evaluator said last week, “We are not to apologize for giving a challenge, that is what we are here for.” Today we were challenged with our ums and ahs. Yes, you know them, they’re the filler words we use at an unconscious level.

Several Milestones Today

So, guess where all of this has led Morningstars Toastmasters? Today we reached a milestone, and as one of our proud Distinguished Toastmasters, Patricia H. chose to say:

“Today April 16th, 2014 is a banner day in Morningstars Toastmasters, #1248 in Gibsons BC.

We have been constantly raising the bar in our club, in fact that is our banner, encouraging us to always take the next step. This has truly been a banner day and one that I suggest is possibly unrivaled and unprecedented. In fact possibly in the history of Toastmasters International.

What has come to fruition on this day April 16th 2014, in our club? Literally the awarding and the recognition of three Distinguished Toastmaster’s (DTM’s). Two members took 7 years while the third took 47 years to arrive at this distinction. We have acknowledged two new CC’s today, one Advanced Communication Silver, and one Competent Leader. I believe not only does that place us in President’s Distinguished Club two months early which is prior to the end of our Toastmaster year on June 30, but we believe that we will be three points over the top for a total of thirteen points. That also might be unprecedented in a Toastmasters Club. Clearly a banner day. Congratulations.”

Recognition must also go to those leaders who have mentored and shaped our club to be what it is today and over the years. For today though our VP of Education Katherine S. can be acknowledged for her contribution to gathering and mentoring the loose ends and bundling them together to achieve our present status.

Here is a brief description of these awards given today:

The Distinguished Toastmaster award is the highest our organization bestows and it recognizes both communication and leadership skills. To be eligible for the award a member must have:

  •  Achieved Advanced Communicator Gold award (or achieved Advanced Toastmaster Gold award)
  •  Achieved Advanced Leader Silver award (or achieved Advanced Leader award)

Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS) is under the Communication Track:

To be eligible for this award, you must have:

  • Achieved Advanced Communicator Bronze award (or achieved Able Toastmaster award or Advanced Toastmaster Bronze award)
  •  Completed two additional advanced communication manuals
  •  Conducted any two presentations from The Better Speaker Series and/or The Successful Club Series

While under the Leadership Track and as a Competent Leader we learn leadership skills by learning and serving in club roles.

The Competent Leadership manual is the core of the leadership track, and to become a Competent Leader one must complete all 10 projects in the Competent Leadership manual

Distinguished Club Program: is a standard of achievement by individual clubs and recognized by Toastmasters International. This level of achievement is an acknowledgement of the sum of the individual members achievements.

For more information about these tracks and achievements go to:



This weekend on April 19th our International Speech Contest for Division H level is taking place in North Vancouver. Morningstars members Sharon B. and Sandy W, along with Sunshine Club (Sechelt) member Paula H. will be representing the Sunshine Coast. We are all behind all of you.





A shout out to two members of Morningstars club for their articles published in the District 21 (all of BC) newsletter The Link.

First up is In Your Hands, Under Your Feet by Frank Caldicott. I was there the day he delivered this speech, and anyone would agree he is a speaker with a lot to say. His article reminds us of the power of being a Toastmaster and that we never know what effect the words we speak will have.

The second article was written by PJ Reece, president of Morningstars and soon-to-be editor of The Link. We had the pleasure of reading the article first right here on this blog. Coming Out of Hiding is definitely worth a second read.

And astute readers will note that personal power is a theme in both articles.

Congratulations to PJ and Frank.

Happy Birthday Morningstars

Written by Katherine Scott

birthday balloonsToday as we celebrated Morningstars fifteenth birthday our theme was Shake It Up and we certainly did.  We had an open house. And breakfast. And five guests, three of who are joining our club. And fun.

Even if there wasn’t anything more to say about today’s meeting, that’s a lot. And of course there is more.

Our Chair today was PJ and he set the energy and tone right from the beginning. He successfully dodged the helium balloons that Sharon had attached to the lectern as he opened the meeting and welcomed all our honoured guests. And he had some fun and interesting ways to make the transitions between roles and keep the flow going.

Sharon as Inspirator reminded us what Toastmasters is all about… it’s so much more than speaking. It’s about leadership, communication, listening, learning and growing as a person within a welcoming and positive community. And Patricia reminded us that we may not set out to become leaders, but that’s exactly what happens.

Our two speakers today, Ben and Sheila, while having widely different topics, certainly informed and entertained us. Ben’s speech was aptly titled Imagine Living Beyond Our Dreams while Sheila’s speech was a story called This Little Piggy. Bill and Frank as evaluators demonstrated their status as seasoned pros.

Anne Marie as Table Topics Master kept the energy pumped with some Shake it UP music.  And I only have one question for Kay our Jokemaster. Where does she get all those jokes?

Next week our theme is Fly High, Land Gently. Even though today was a special open house, guests are welcome at every meeting. 7 am at Harmony Hall. You might not get  breakfast, but we always have the coffee on.

DTM Award

Patricia receiving DTM award
Patricia and Club President Bill Baker

Congratulations to Patrica Hetherington who recently completed all her qualifications to become Distinguished Toastmaster.

From Wikipedia:

“Toastmasters awards its highest honor, Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), to members who have achieved both the Advanced Communication Gold and Advanced Leader Silver awards. To achieve the DTM typically takes five to eight years of dedicated service and leadership in at the local club and area (or higher) levels.

DTM candidates must also perform more than 40 public presentations (as part of earning the prerequisite Competent Communicator and Advanced Communicator awards)…

The Distinguished Toastmaster title is not necessarily the end of the journey for most Toastmasters. Many Toastmasters will re-enter the program and repeat it at least once more.”

Patricia and Bill dance
Doing the Happy Dance!

Calling All Storytellers

We all love a good story. They touch us, they make us laugh or even cry, and they can show us something new about ourselves.

Toastmasters are lovers of good stories. Our neighbouring club, Sunshine Toastmasters Club in Sechelt, is hosting an epic storytelling event. You can read about it and get information about location etc here in the Coast Reporter.

Come join us on May 27 at 6 pm.

Breakfast Anyone?

breakfastBe our guest at breakfast, and bring a friend.

When: Wednesday, February 27, 7:00 am to 8:30 am
Where: Harmony Hall, 686 Harmony Lane, Gibsons BC

At Toastmasters you can:

  • Build confidence in a supportive environment
  • Develop leadership, communication, and speaking skills
  • Be part of a fun and creative community

 This is what Morningstars Club members say…

“…I love to learn and to laugh. Nothing less could get me out of bed at 6:30 am.”

“…I joined to increase my self confidence and be more comfortable talking to people.”

“…I still get butterflies in front of an audience but now they fly in formation.”

“…Someone invited me so I joined and now you should hear me talk about it!”

“…I could meet amazing people in my new community and improve my speaking skills.”

Step up to your next level with Morningstars.

We hope to see you there.

Yule is Cool, Snow, and Four Legged Visitors

Written by Katherine Scott

Snow on the Sunshine Coast. It’s not impossible but it is somewhat unusual. We are much more likely to spend the winter months waterlogged and wearing a fleecy under a raincoat. However snow is what we had this morning as we all traveled from our various locations to our weekly Toastmasters Meeting. And it was totally fitting for our theme of the day – Yule is Cool.

The meeting was a smorgasbord of images, memories and the ways that Yule is Cool.

For our Toastmaster of the day, Sharon, what was special was having snow for the season and the feelings that impact her emotionally this time of year.

Bill inspired us with his reindeer cap, a toast to family and friends, and the question, “Isn’t it a time for reindeer?”

But it wasn’t a reindeer that was our four legged visitor. (Although at one point there might have been just a hint of sleigh bells in the air.)

No, it was Katie’s new puppy Sara, complete with her personal and portable home away from home. Of course, there was a chorus of Ahhhhhhhhh’s from the crowd as Sara appeared.  Katie was doing her second speech for her Competent Communication manual and Sara was her ‘prop’.

In her speech we heard Katie’s story of “will I get a dog, won’t I get a dog”, and we all know what her decision was!

And this would be a great place to  talk about how important language is for invoking images, memory and feeling. In her speech, Katie gave us some beautiful examples:

  • “The trouble (with deciding to get a puppy) began with the cuteness quotient.”
  • “Reason flew completely out the window.”  (She decided yes just from seeing a picture of Sara.)
  • “Sara was a 10 week old whirling dervish furball.”

As we continued with the remainder of the meeting, Frank reminded us all about making fruit cake and turning the handle of the old fashioned food grinder to mince all the ingredients. It seems that home made fruit cake (I remember it being made early and packed away in cheese cloth to age) is a dying art, one that Frank would not be sorry to see resurrected.

Patricia’s table topics were both fun and thoughtful, and Johanna in her first time as General Evaluator did a wonderful job, finishing up the last Morningstars meeting of the year.

Next meeting Jan 9th.

Blessings to You and Yours
Blessings to You and Yours