The Journey to Health: Choices, Perseverance, and Sacrifice

Embarking on a health program is a commitment that requires dedication, determination, and a clear vision of one’s goals. This year, in January I began my own health journey with a comprehensive plan which includes six meals a day, consuming 64 plus ounces of water daily, and the support of a coach. With a specific goal in mind and a well-structured plan in place, I set out to achieve my objective before the end of September. While the road has not been easy, the lessons learned include the importance of making certain choices, developing perseverance, and making sacrifices to reach the finish line.

Undoubtedly, the path to achieving our goals is often accompanied by challenges and setbacks. There were times when I felt tempted to give up, especially when progress seemed slower than anticipated. However, learning to appreciate that progress is progress, regardless of its speed. Each step forward was a testament to my determination and commitment, even when faced with obstacles. By embracing a mindset of perseverance, I was able to bounce back from setbacks and stay focused on the end goal.

Are you on a path towards achieving your goals? Do you ever feel discouraged because progress seems slow? By consciously choosing to prioritize our goals and making decisions that align with them, we set ourselves on the path to success. One tool taught by this health program is the idea of “STOP. CHALLENGE. CHOOSE.” (

When facing setbacks, before you give up, STOP. This is a time to pause and reflect. Evaluate your reasons for wanting to quit. Then CHALLENGE: Challenge your negative thoughts and seek alternative perspectives. Achieving our goals often requires sacrifice-a willingness to let go of certain comforts, habits, or distractions that hinder our progress. Sacrifice is not a punishment but a steppingstone towards a brighter future. Evaluate what you can give up or adjust to make room for your goals. Then CHOOSE: It is easy to let setbacks derail us, but it is in these moments our choices matter most.

For example, I want a piece of chocolate cake. For those of you that know me, you know I have a weakness for anything chocolate, but especially chocolate baked goods. They are extremely hard to resist. What I want to grab a piece, I STOP, I CHALLENGE myself with the thought that it will set my goal back another four days and then I CHOOSE to not have the cake.

What are you working on now that this process will work for you? Do you have a big project at work? Is your child graduating in the spring and you have certain goals around that? Do you want to grow as a leader in Toastmasters? Whatever your goal is, this process could work for you. I encourage you to use this when you have a goal you want to achieve.

Replay of WordPress Workshop, Plus a Bonus Lesson

This blog post is by David F. Carr, who provides technical support for our district website and runs the service.

Thanks to District 62 for allowing me to present a workshop on the club website hosting service and the underlying software. This was a quick tour through the advantages of WordPress, how to work with the WordPress editor, and how to create and modify your agenda using my extensions for Toastmasters. I’ve been invited back to present a more advanced website and agenda administration session on October 25.

Workshop @ District 62

The full replay is embedded above, but you can also click any of the links below to skip to any of the topics I’ve highlighted.

I recommend that viewers also look at the video course I created, which is broken up into series of lessons on different aspects of the platform. However, the advantage of these live demo sessions is that they provide participants with the opportunity to ask questions.

Their questions, in turn, help me understand what I need to explain better — and often lead to improvements in the software itself. An example from this workshop was the woman who asked how a club that alternates between two meeting schedules should set up its agenda. See the section below.

Bonus lesson: How to modify your meeting schedule

During the Q&A for the workshop at District 62, one of the participants asked how she could set support two different meeting schedules for a club that alternates between evening and noon schedules to accommodate the schedules of different members. I suggested establishing two different meeting templates, one for the evening meetings and the other for the noon meetings.

Having come across a similar request once before, I decided I should produce a tutorial covering all the ways you can alter your meeting schedule from changing the start and end times for a single meeting, to changing the template for all your upcoming events, to handling this split schedule scenario.

In the process of producing the video tutorial, I made some changes to the way the RSVPMaker event scheduling system works to make the process easier to explain — and which ought to make it easier to accomplish!

For additional documentation, see this knowledge base article.

Member Spotlight on DD Laura St. Louis

by PRM Julie Gessner

Meet District Director Laura St. Louis, DTM. As District Director, Laura has a wide range of responsibilities which include overseeing and managing our Districts day-to-day operations, finances, and human resources. By dedicating her time and expertise to empowering the Leadership team, Laura creates a positive and nurturing environment where leaders can thrive.

Additionally, Laura’s diverse background with a Masters in Public Administration (MPA), project management, case management, training, public speaking, and event planning make her well suited for this role. Laura’s experience working with minority contractors to help them grow their businesses includes education in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). With this added knowledge, she is highly valuable in leading our Toastmasters in creating an inclusive and supportive environment.

Living in Norton Shores, MI with her husband and their two fur babies (Cats) Abbot and Costello. In addition, with five grown children, Laura now has the joy of being a grandmother. Her first Granddaughter will be four in December and her new Granddaughter Alba was just born. Being a grandmother allows Laura to cherish special moments and create lasting memories with her Granddaughters.

In addition to her family, Laura finds fulfillment in her involvement with Toastmasters. Working on various district initiatives allows her to contribute to the growth and development of the organization while connecting with like-minded individuals who share her passion for communication and leadership. It is evident she finds joy in both personal and professional connections, and she values the friendships she has formed through her Toastmasters experiences.

Youth Toastmasters Club in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Youth Toastmasters Club 

The Village of Heather Hills Meeting Room 

1055 Forest Hills Ave. Grand Rapids MI 49546 

The club was established to allow people who are younger than 18 years old in all Grand Rapids communities to learn public speaking skills and leadership skills in a supportive and positive environment.  The goal is to improve members’ self-confidence, communication, and leadership skills. The benefits of becoming a member of Grand Rapids Youth Toastmasters Club are: 

  1. Learning public speaking skills in a safe supporting environment, no ridicules, just support 
  1. Learning leadership skills from Sergeant at Arms, Secretary, Treasurer, VP of Membership (marketing), VP of Education (operations) to President (people skills) 
  1. Public speaking skills can be certified by Toastmasters International  after giving 10 speeches. 
  1. Leadership skills can be certified by Toastmasters International after completing the leadership book. 
  1. Opportunity to take on club leadership positions via annual election. 
  1. All learning is self-paced, not exams or deadlines. 
  1. The skills and experience learned can put on your high school resume. 

Club Dues: $60 per year in March of each year.  Prorated the first year. Competent Communicator book:$8  Competent Leader Book:$8 

Counselor: Shane Sievers 616-484-3501  email: 

Advisor:     Nancy Tuohy DTM 616-648-0095  email: 

Meeting dates and time 

Every first and third Monday of the month from 6:30pm to7:30pm. 

Location: 1055 Forest Hills Ave. Grand Rapids MI 49546 -Community Room 

Parking: the south lot off Forest Hills Ave past the main entrance entering at Medical Park drive 

Facility Rules: As a guest, you are asked to be courteous and respectful.  When entering and exiting the building, please keep your voice down.  During the meeting time, please stay close to the meeting room and don’t wander to other parts of the building.  Thanks for your cooperation. 

Location Map 

How to Give a Speech Like the “Great Communicator”

The former deputy assistant to the president and chief of staff to the First Lady recalls lessons anyone can apply


It might have been a cold day in southeast rural Illinois, but inside the inelegant student center at Eureka College, on an old wooden stage, tempers flared. Many credited America’s 40th president with learning about public speaking as a broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs, or as an actor on the silver screen. But it was in fact at this small, largely unknown liberal arts institution near Peoria, the very same where Lincoln spoke during his campaign for president, that Ronald Reagan learned the power of oratory.

As a 17-year-old undergraduate student and football player, Reagan was leading a revolt. He and his fellow students had decided their highest priority was to oust the president of the institution, who had taken away many of their most popular courses due to financial constraints. On the podium that day, Reagan gave his first speech.

Years later, when I was working as deputy assistant to Reagan in the White House, he recounted this story and added, “When I heard the cheers and saw the standing ovations in response to my student body speech, I discovered, for the first time, the power of oratory to move a crowd.”

He never forgot that day. He applied that lesson to his presidential speech-making by always focusing on a specific objective with values and beliefs, confident that his approach could bring results. In this case, the results were that the Eureka College president resigned. It was an early example of another startling result decades later, when the Berlin Wall came down—ultimately in response to and in part because of Reagan’s confident call to Mikhail Gorbachev to end the tyranny of a divided Germany.

Anyone can follow Reagan’s formula and be successful at communicating. Here are five rules to adopt and master. The world awaits.

Tell a Story

All people really want to hear, whether you are speaking to a team of Little Leaguers or giving a keynote at the United Nations, are stories. Why? Because they’re like a piece of favorable art: Once you see it, you can easily remember what you saw—or heard, in this case—and retell it over and over to others who were not present. In fact, Reagan loved telling the story of his favorite painting, which was of George Washington kneeling in prayer by his horse at the Battle of Valley Forge. By depicting prayer in this way, Reagan avoided telling people they must pray and instead illustrated how a great leader stooped in humility to do so.

Your Health Matters 

Stories are especially relatable if they focus on the ordinary man or woman. Stories about heroes are also effective, as they teach by example. If you think you don’t have any stories to tell, then tell someone else’s. Obituaries of famous or not-so-famous people are spectacular places to find them.

Storytelling makes you a friendly presenter. It draws your audience up close, so that when you have important and serious declarative sentences to share, you already have your crowd in the palm of your hand.

Know Your Audience

Don’t start talking to a crowd of sales reps by ignoring the fact that they may have just had their worst year out of 10 and are afraid of being fired. Don’t start talking to a group of community leaders without knowing what is uppermost in their minds. Don’t be the CEO of a company who is indifferent to the struggles of families who have just lost loved ones.

Ignorance of the audience is a needless and extremely costly mistake. Do your homework. Understand what is really on their minds, and be aware of their fears and concerns. Be empathetic.

Be Relatable

Build a bridge to your audience, across which they will be able to connect with you. If you are cold, disinterested, irritated, or fearful, your audience, already skeptical by being called to hear your speech, will mentally revolt by playing Wordle on their phones, sending texts, or snoozing. If you don’t like your audience, why should they like you?

This is a mental process in which 65 percent of all public speaking is nonverbal. People can tell before you utter a word whether you are a relatable speaker and you will pay the price if you are not. You convey your feelings about the audience through your body language and through your conscious happiness of being on the podium.

Begin your talk by telling your audience how glad you are to be with them and how grateful you are that they have taken time from their day to spend it with you. A humble approach will win you more listeners.

The Tone of Your Voice

Reagan rarely raised his voice; he knew that deepening the tone of his voice and pausing was the way to express a serious or an especially important point—the opposite of shouting. This is how Reagan drew his audience to him, making them feel confident in the man as a leader they wanted to follow.

For example, when Reagan delivered arguably the six most iconic words of the last century—“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”—he did not raise his voice for emphasis. In fact, he deepened his voice and spoke that sentence in a different cadence than the rest of his speech. His words stood out—jumped out, really.

Stick to Your Values

When it came to his love for America and Americans, Reagan was totally, undeviatingly firm in his convictions. He also spoke of it several times a day; that’s why Americans loved him back.

He would rarely ever moderate his beliefs or tilt them to meet a trend or political compromise. During his years in office, I saw many times people attempted to change his mind. I could count on one hand the number of times that he did. What was the outcome of his steady convictions? People trusted him.

A man with zero ego, he did not bend to pleasing people because he didn’t care what people thought of him. He was more devoted to his ideals—and grand they were. And that is how he earned the title of “the Great Communicator.”

The Journey to My Dream Job: A Tale of Perseverance and Skill Building

by DD Laura St. Louis, DTM

The path to success is often riddled with challenges and setbacks, and my journey was no exception.  Back in 2011, I made a life-changing decision to invest in education in pursuit of my dream job.  After graduating in 2013, it took 10 years to finally land this dream job which starts September 5.

To get where I am today, I dedicated myself to continuously building a skill set.  Simply holding a degree would not guarantee success. It was essential to stay current, adapt to industry changes, and refine my expertise. 

 There were moments of self-doubt, rejections, and unexpected twists along the way. However, I refused to let these obstacles deter me from my goal.  Instead, I used these experiences to fuel my motivation, learn from my mistakes, and grow both personally and professionally. Every setback became an opportunity for self-reflection, improvement, and resilience.

These words came across my computer screen the other day when reviewing which brought reflection to our District 62.

In a perfect world, we’d all love to achieve our goals and become successful overnight without any real effort, pain or struggle.

Unfortunately, that’s not how things usually work out. More often than not, that “overnight” triumph was actually years or even decades in the making. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of instant gratification and overnight success, but the truth is that behind every great achievement lies a story of perseverance, hard work and dedication.

The road to success is rarely a smooth one. It’s important to remember that success is a journey, not a destination. So, if you’re feeling discouraged or frustrated with your progress, remember that even the most successful people have been in your shoes. Keep working hard, stay focused on your goals, and trust the process. The rewards will come, but they may take time.

I’m so glad we are taking this journey together as we bring District 62 to success! Together we can seek out opportunities for self-reflection, improvement, resilience, and Celebration. United We Succeed!

Growing Pains

by Laura St. Louis, DTM

During the summer when I was 12 years old, I had the worst pain in my legs. They hurt day and night. My mom rubbed my legs in hopes of alleviating the pain, but the pain always came back when she stopped. By the end of the summer, to everyone’s surprise, I grew four inches!

Personal growth can also be painful; however, pain can lead to substantial results. We are able to learn from those times of least success. There is pain in knowing we did not meet goals. But realizing something could have been better is growth. Growth can be painful but can create opportunities for improvement.

Our District 62 had events we could consider “learning moments” over quite a few years. As we endure the pain from admitting we could have done something different and got better outcomes, we can also celebrate our growth and our opportunity to create something better.

Imagine, 15 New Clubs for District 62! What an exciting opportunity! What’s the most important lesson so far? We can’t do it alone: UNITED WE SUCCEED!

Please Join Me in efforts to create more successes for our District 62!
Share your gifts, Gain experience, Build Networks. Contact Laura, John and Kim at, and we will get you plugged in where you are wanting to grow. Need Some ideas?

  • Event Role Opportunities
  • Social Media
  • DTM or High-Performance Leadership opportunities
  • Sponsors or Mentors for New Clubs