Out Of My Comfort Zone - Walking The Talk At Toastmasters

Out Of My Comfort Zone - Walking The Talk At Toastmasters

I don’t talk about that part of myself a lot often because being vulnerable is hard for me. These last few weeks I’ve been really struggling with my confidence, which I have kept hidden. When you begin the process of emotional purging (which has really stepped up lately) you begin to question everything about yourself - and all you believe that is solid gets a shake up too. It can freak you out, like I did, because what I thought was certain is now up in the air.

“Oh gosh breathe girl, just breathe.” That’s what I kept telling myself, because I didn’t want to quit. I was embarrassed, yes, but I worked too hard to just sit down for the rest of the meeting. The irony of the moment didn’t escape me - my speech was about how Toastmasters was teaching me to help others step out of their comfort zone. I had to make the choice to now walk the talk.

# 33 I Wish You Enough...

A shell I found on my walk at Taiwhakaea Beach, a place where my soul laughs, cries and allow myself to walk side by side with the madness.

A shell I found on my walk at Taiwhakaea Beach, a place where my soul laughs, cries and allow myself to walk side by side with the madness.

It's easy to feel let down by life, that our perceived good deeds somehow gives us a pass on less sh*ttier experiences in the future. Did I just make up a superlative for a swear word? Indeed. Bad things happen to good people, deal with it.

Being alone doesn't really bother me, I can easily go places by myself and enjoy my own company. It's only in social situations that I find it a bit harder, but that's only because there's some perceived social stigma behind it. No pressure to make communal decisions, and I can be as adventurous with food as my stomach allows. Still some days, my company does get stale.

So what do I want to write about today? What exceptional combination of words from the English language could I summon to bring an inspirational message that can flip the switch for you? Perhaps the magic lies in simplicity - I wish you enough. For seeing that beauty is in everything and I am a part of that everything. I am my choices, and I choose to live.

When I was 12, I couldn’t picture what my life would look like in my thirties. Now that I’m here, I don’t how society can expect 17 year olds, in their final year of high school, to make significant life decisions based on such minimal life experience.

Let’s face it, in terms of technology, the world has evolved at a crazy pace. I’m part of a generation with computers that ran on the DOS system and used dot matrix printers (until our the cat peed on it). As a kid, it was still cool to listen to the Top 40 countdown on the radio, record my favourite shows on a VHS tape, and at one stage our TV only had two channels. Nowadays everything is on demand, and we have become more impatient.

So, what is my measure of success? It’s in the choices of people in my circle. It’s seeing my dog’s goofy, drooly smile in the back seat. Sitting at the beach, falling asleep and waking up to an incredible view. Seeing current and past dance students embracing life. Discovering new music. Running into a long lost friend. There’s lots more I’m sure, and still I’m yet to discover. Definitely not my bank balance, that needs A LOT work haha.

Western society has conditioned us to think this our existence is linear - you’re born, you live, you die. Now, I plan to see out the rest of my life like a tree. Still growing, reaching to the sun, with infinite possibilities and growth, seasons and changes. I’m unrecognisable from the seedling I once was, setting down roots, being content with my patch of dirt. History is linear, lives and memories are anything but, for each memory have tangents and branches of emotions. History is linear, memories are how we remember them.

I’ve been a graphic designer since I was 18 years old. Ok, I took about two years off when I travelled and that one year I worked in retail. Sometimes I do wonder how differently my life would have turned out if I ended up doing that Bachelor of Science - perhaps living out my days in lab coat couture? Would I have discovered my love of dance? Where would I have lived, who would I have met? It doesn't matter, I am here, in this life, and it is beautiful.

Yes, life is beautiful.

Today, and in all your days, I wish you enough.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting. I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.
— Anonymous

Ronna Funtelar Thacker is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner.
A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self-love.

# 23 Kayaking at Ohiwa Harbour

# 23 Kayaking at Ohiwa Harbour

Do you feel guilty taking time out for yourself when the house is a mess, or you haven't done the washing? I do. It's been a busy few months, and even when I'm home, there's always something else on the task list that I thought was more important than me. Then I started to feel tired all the time, and I knew if I didn't take some time out, I would be burnt out by the middle of the year.

# 12 Be Ignited Studio presents The Discovery of Fire

Cas Whiteley performing 'Small Bump'.  Photo by Joanne Black Photography

Cas Whiteley performing 'Small Bump'.  Photo by Joanne Black Photography

The aim is to converse. But first I shall rehearse. No doubt I will stutter and confuse my verses. But the purpose, is to the speak to the masses. With dreams put to the corner, struggling with doubt, aching to fly.
— The Discovery of Fire 2015

I had a dream a few years ago that I was standing on the Little Theatre stage. I was all alone with a spotlight, looking out into an empty audience. Then as the lights warmed, seats began to fill and I could feel people standing behind me. The lights grew so bright that I had to close my eyes. When I opened them I was standing on the centre aisle of the theatre, looking back towards the stage - a stage filled with performers taking a bow. This was my reoccurring dream for a few years, and last week it became a reality.

Be Ignited Studio's first end of year show, The Discovery of Fire, was a story told by many voices. The theme of doubt and fear is pretty common, you get it in most dance movie franchises. We didn't want it to be cheesy and predictable, and instead have audiences feel uplifted and excited about life. We took out the storyline and used the music and dance to tell about the ups and downs of the studio, of feeling like a failure, the struggles to explain to people why it's ok to think and do things differently. I don't think this will never go away, but now that the show is over, we can focus on writing the next chapter.

 The studio had 30-40 dancers on stage over two nights, and overall I couldn't be more proud of everyone involved. On behalf of the studio, we want to thank the following:

  • Our sponsors: O'Hagan Home Loans & Insurance, Glassman & Locksmiths, Simply Graphics
  • Kelly - Lighting and Production (thanks for answering all my questions!)
  • Rose - Sound (ever so patient with all the mix changes!)
  • Cameron - Stage Manager
  • Theatre Whakatane - Lighting & Sound equipment
  • Glassman & Locksmiths for selling tickets
  • Charmaine Hands and front of house team
  • Gabe & Eli for coming over to perform
  • Kaitz & Jackson for performing and helping out backstage
  • Corazon - my Mum for all the amazing catering this year, being a super cheerleader for the studio and the ticket sales ninja!
  • Manny - my Dad, for letting Mum use the credit card to pay for the studio food haha
  • All the dancers, students, and supporters of the studio

The biggest lesson I learned from the show is that you don't have to walk your journey alone. There are a lot of people who want to help, and many don't know how to, unless you tell them what you need. It doesn't have to be money, it could be their time, lend a shoulder to cry on, give encouragement, or just honest constructive criticism. By working in a team we are accountable, and we also share the burden. 

The Discovery of Fire is proof that dreams do come true...like legit.

# 11 Moonlight kayaking

Looking back a lot of my big life adventures have been on my own. I have travelled South East Asia and a bit of Europe, but have barely explored my own backyard.

My friend, Julie-Anne and I must have been thinking the same thing, because neither of us have explored Ohiwa Harbour, even though we have lived here most of our lives.

It was a Thursday night adventure - moonlight kayaking at Ohiwa Harbour, out by Kutarere. Kutarere is a small town about 25 minutes out of Whakatane, heading towards Opotiki. Unfortunately it clouded over, so no moonlight, but the darkness meant we could see the phosphorescence in the water. That is one trippy plankton I tell ya!

We went on a guided kayaking tour with Kenny at KG Kayaks, and the kayaks launched just down the hill from his house. As a local, I knew of him, but we had not met formally until that night. Kenny is quite the character, a well known local, always up for a yarn in his unmistakable Scottish accent. I got the feeling that he genuinely loved the water, the harbour and being around people. 

There were some funny moments, like Julie-Anne taking on the mangroves, and the mangroves won. Lucky for us, the tide was high and a bit of persistence got us unstuck. I love the overhanging Pohutukawa, though some Kenny said were the result of erosion on the nearby islands.

After a couple of hours in the water, we got back to a camp fire where hot drinks and Kenny's wife's home baking were waiting for us. It was a real family business, even Kenny's son took our life jackets and paddles. 

Great company, good yarns and another adventure ticked off. What's next?