I’ve been a member of the St. Charles County Toastmaster’s Club for nearly two years, which has been extremely rewarding! I’ve given 10 speeches, earned the Competent Communicator certificate and won the first place in our club’s speech competition in April 2018 (you can hear that speech here). Recently the organization launched a new series called Pathways, and now I’m starting a new series of speeches. I completed my first one recently, which was an icebreaker. The goal of that speech is basically to introduce yourself to fellow club members. I was so excited (and nervous) to give this speech… and it felt good to share my perspective, so I wanted to share it!  

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I remember the moment very clearly. It was about 7 years ago and I had just calculated how many grams of sugar my then 5 year old ate for breakfast before sending him off to kindergarten. I felt shocked and a little dismayed.
 
You see, Evan was having some issues at school, lots of redirection, fidgeting, and a lack of focus, and as part of working with a behavioral psychologist, I was looking at his diet. He recommended that we try to stay around 25 grams per day, Evan’s breakfast alone was around 55!! I was filled with this icky shame that I wasn’t doing the best thing I could for my child. I vowed at that time to make some changes to what our family was eating.
 
Fellow toastmasters and honored guests, my name is Laura Harris and I’m an integrative health coach and joyful life creator. What began as a simple exercise one morning has unfolded to be a new career and passion for me… those were dots I could never have connected at that time. Sometimes, most times, you just never know how life is going to “play out.”  I believe it’s not so much about figuring out how things will work and controlling outcomes, but it’s much more important to know what you want. 
 
I spent the next few years raising my boys (Evan who is now 12 and Cash who will be 9 in July) and freelancing as a graphic designer and website developer.  I continued to expand my knowledge around nutrition and food and trying to live a healthier and happier life – both mentally and physically. I wanted to do the best I could for my boys, my husband and myself.
 
When my youngest went to kindergarten and I was left alone all day, by myself, just me and the dog, staring at a computer screen, making brochures, alone. Did I mention I was by myself? Yes, I was being creative, but if you aren’t getting the hint, the isolation was hard, really hard. Plus there was a part of me that was professionally unsatisfied.
 
Ok, actually I felt broken. Totally broken. Like cry in my kitchen I was suffocating broken.
 
So, I did something about it. I went to a workshop – by myself in California called Brave. It was there that I admitted out loud to a group of strangers and to a woman who would become my coach that I was super, duper unhappy.
 
This took so much courage for me to do. I’m not a natural complainer. I don’t like to upset the apple cart. Saying that I hated my clients, certain aspects of my life, that I was sad, missed my kids, felt unfilled – yikes!
 
But oh the release from that!
 
What I’ve learned since then is that by facing what hurts or is scary, you don’t always have to turn your whole life upside down to change things.
 
What I did next was make some simple changes. Mostly I started to pay attention to what actually brought me joy, like writing, cooking, being outside, not finishing the laundry all in one day b/c I had some unwritten rule about that. And coming to toastmasters!
 
Eventually, I would go on to get my certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which was a yearlong program from the largest online nutrition school in the world.
 
I have several coaching clients already and what’s so interesting to me is that we hardly ever focus on counting grams of sugar or figuring out macros. We talk about life and dreams and goals and the ways in which the small things we do inform our existence.
 
We talk about habits and how hard things are and the ways in which our negative ego holds us back. We talk about the primary foods – joy, home cooking, career, relationships, finances… the stuff that means something, not necessarily “did you eat any carrots today?”
 
Although as a side note, please, if I could implore us all to eat more vegetables and less processed food that would be so great!
 
We talk about self-love and how making space for quiet and stillness and breath is so very important in this world where we are all continuously battered by over-populated schedules and social media and never-ending to do lists.
 
When I get off of a coaching call, I usually get this tingly sensation. It’s like time warps and I’m so “myself” in those moments, and I feel very lucky and happy.
 
Conversely, I still have my graphics business because I literally well up with tears and get this funky choking sensation if I think about not making stuff for my clients.
 
It’s a harmony between my introvert, creative side that needs the quiet computer time and the extrovert, teacher part of me that needs to human and help others.
 
So, what’s next?
 
I’m letting things unfurl. Looking for common threads in my coaching. Noticing what feels right and what’s supporting my dreams and how it’s impacting our family.  
Popular beliefs will tell me that I should have a 5-year business plan, a spreadsheet mapped out with my revenue streams, and follow the templates from other coaches. There are some elements of truth to that.
 
But based on what I know and have experienced from being in business for myself, getting to see the inner workings of my clients’ companies and coaching people, life shifts a lot. Although those things seem concrete, in many ways they aren’t what actually drives us.
It’s way more important to pivot to your passion, to know what you want, to define your own metrics of success, to be conscious of who you want to work with or be around, and most especially how you want to feel.
 
Every morning, I spend a few minutes journaling and always seem to end with thoughts that flow into poem, so I’d like to close with one of them: 

ON PIVOTING
May you stop and look inward
with curiosity, not fear.
 
May you focus less on “figuring it all out,”
and more on what you want.
 
What you really, really want
to feel.
 
Pivot there.
Not based solely on plans and data and templates sold by other people and what you should do or even what you promised.
 
Focus on the feeling.
Focus on believing 1000% on your worthiness.
 
Then
 
Then
 
Then
 
Your decisions, your people, your experiences will support
the pivot
in powerful ways
 
yet unseen at the start.

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Thank you for reading! For sharing your precious time with me! For giving yourself the gift of a few minutes to think about something else than your to do list. For being open to how you too can grow and change and live the life you want. 

Many hugs, 
Laura 

P.S. If you’re not familiar, Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. If you have ever thought about joining Toastmaster’s, I highly recommend it. It really is a supportive environment that will help you with much more than getting used to talking in front of people. I’m very thankful for all that I’ve learned from my fellow Toastmasters, plus I’ve made new friends!!!  : )  If you live in St. Louis, you can always come with me on Tuesdays to our meetings. Otherwise, try to find a club near you!! 

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