Last month I experienced my first official toastmaster speech.  After being introduced to Toastmasters about 4 years ago, I finally committed to a club.  The Fitness Town Toastmasters began at the end of 2012 and conduct their meetings on the evenings of the 1st and 3rd Wednesday each month.  I don’t tend to fear speaking in front of a crowd, but I wanted to become a stronger, more powerful presenter.  I joined to learn how to collect my thoughts and articulate myself better.  I hope to gain confidence in entertaining the audience while sharing whatever topic is asked of me.  Though my first attempt was a little shaky, it sure felt great to actually do it!

Video compliments of Little B, my amazing soon to be 8 year old! (warning, difficult to hear)

Here’s a the intended written copy of my speech. There are loads of different angles I am excited to expand in further detail in future speaking opportunities!

Madame Toastmaster, fellow members and guests. I am the one and only Christie Kennedy Manuel, and this speech is ALL ABOUT ME! 
I was born at Langley General Hospital just shy of 34 years ago to highschool sweethearts Bob and Lynda Kennedy. I was raised in the sunny Okanagan with my 5 younger siblings. Yes 6 kids – craziness I know! 
I couldn’t imagine a more eventful childhood. We were involved in MULTIPLE activities for as far back as I can remember.  A few being, swimming, where I swam competitively for almost 7 years, field hockey, gymnastics (well until I broke my coaches nose while attempting a back handspring at the age of 7), basketball, track & field, water-skiing (fantastic memories), softball, and volleyball, where I received a post-secondary scholarship. We were coined the Kennedy Clan in the Jumbo Jet van, because our blue, red and white caravan was always scene scurrying through town dropping kids here and there. 

To this day the jumbo jet van remains a part of our family. What memories were had in that van…I recall trip after trip to California to see my grandparents (which just this past month I had the chance to take our little girls down memory lane and road trip to Palm Springs to see the grandparents, well their great grandparents who are still going strong at age 86 & 88), our annual trip to Syderhoud Waterski School, our Costco runs, WWF Wrestling matches (it had a bench in the back that folded down into a bed) and who could forget piling almost my entire class in for field trips – no chance of that happening this day and age! THIS VAN will always hold a special place in many people’s hearts.

I do remember being terrified of driving THE JUMBO JET VAN when I got my license. If you think back to the 90s, that’s when we could apply for our full drivers license after having our learners for only 30 days, I was stoked my wonderful stepmom gave me her red 1986 two door mustang, as she had adopted the “taxi driver mom” role, after we lost my birth mom in a tragic accident during spring break of my grade 8 year. 13 years of age was definitely a pivotal time in my life. My Mom and I were extremely close. She was an amazing individual who taught me to embrace each day and to be kind to everyone. I am pleased to report our family found a way to stay strong and make her proud. It is because of my mom, that I followed thru with my passion for travel. After playing a year of Volleyball at Okanagan University College in Kelowna and becoming provincial champions, I decided to take the following year off to explore other parts of this wondrous world. I was originally planning to visit Australia with one of my best friends, but she wasn’t as serious as I was about making it happen in the fall of 1998. Come September, I decided I was going solo and a few weeks later I was off on my first of many longterm adventures. 1998-2002 consisted of travels to Malaysia, Eastern Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Canada coast to coast, Southeast Asia again and Western Australia before returning to Vancouver for some dude I had met the year prior. Cutting my 10 month plan in half was one of the best decisions of my life, as he became my full married husband on December 12, 2012. 

 The man I am referring to is not only my life partner and bestest friend, Dai Manuel, he is also the father of our two high-energy, caring and beautiful daughters, Chardonae 10 and Brielyn 8. Yes, wine and cheese, we know! 😉 The past decade I have been fortunate to be a full-time mom, home-maker, and business partner. Being entrepreneurs in the health and fitness industry, we lead a fairly flexible schedule, which allows me to be heavily involved in our daughters school fundraising and volunteering when needed. For quite some time I suffered from the ‘disease of yes’, where telling people ‘no’ wasn’t in my vocabulary. Dai kindly brought this to my attention a few years back, and though I still help people as often as possible, I am at peace with the word ‘NO’. 
As for what life entails this day and age. Our family recently relocated back to downtown Vancouver, after spending almost 6 years in South Surrey. We decided to simplify life and move into a 2 bedroom apartment in the heart of Yaletown. I couldn’t be more happier we did. Our life consists of regular visits to our massive, beautifully gardened back yard (aka city parks), bike rides on the sea wall, aqua bus trips to acting classes on Granville Island, Canucks games, helping people with 90 Day challenge goals, Whole Foods, the Grouse Grind, sunrises and sunsets, and who could forget Crossfit. Now that it’s so convenient, our family is involved in a style of physical training and we have been able to create a personal group of our own, who we refer to as the Fitness Town Sunday Funday Throwdown crew!  A diverse bunch of people who come together early Sunday morning to workout, inspire and encourage each other to lead a healthier, happier life. A community I am very proud to be a part of!
So there you have it. A quick glimpse ‘ALL ABOUT ME!’, a quirky red head, (and yes I am a legit ginger) who enjoys smiling and being active and who is blessed with fabulous family and friends. Christie Kennedy Manuel, the one and only!
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