My journey with Toastmasters began with an Icebreaker speech in which I had 4 to 6minutes to present myself.
*Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network.
In simple words: a friendly, supportive place to face your fear of public speaking and discover and fine-tune your leadership style.
Without further, ado, here’s how I broke the ICE:
The universe has your back
What if I told you there was an invisible force that helps you in everything you do? An invisible force that always has your back?
Albert Einstein said it himself:
There are only 2 ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein
I choose to believe everything is a miracle.
Even the fact that I’m here, standing in front of you it’s a miracle. If you imagine, it was one of millions of sperms that was at the right time at the right place and BUM! I won the BIG RACE – one in millions!!!
So did you by the way!
This is just the micro picture. Imagine the big space picture. For God’s sake!!! We are standing on a gigantic rock in space spinning around itself, simultaneously spinning around another even bigger rock made of fire, all of this in a forward motion. And the fact that we have air to breathe, water to drink and 4 seasons is a result of super, mega, giga intricate balance of this rock. How did this come to be if not with the help of divine power?!
By now you think this all sounds woo-woo and I’m in a religious cult. Indeed, some people call this force God, may the Force (be with you), Energy, Universal Wisdom…
I call it the Universe.
Spending a year in Spain
I was born in Bulgaria in the mid-80s – the times of transition from the 45years long communist regime to the newly formed democracy. The times of economic and political instability. There was no European Union, little access to travel and information. We didn’t have much money.
But I had my own passions as a young girl. I had a crush on Ricky Martin and his music – this sexy, Latino man singing about love and adventure. The Spanish language was literally music to my ears. I was dreaming of leaving everything behind and living la Vida Loca. All of this was so exotic and so sweet I never believed it was possible.
So I put my Spanish dream aside and got busy with school, university, and life. But I kept this in the back of my mind. With one of my first salaries, I enrolled in a Spanish language course.
And let me tell you – these were the times of my life! I had my ordinary life during the day and submerged myself in the Spanish world in the evening.
It was not long after that I noticed an announcement for an Erasmus program at my university. A student exchange program, with all expenses. Guess where!…
Spain of all places. So went there and I had my Vida Loca. It couldn’t have panned out better even if I planned for it.
Moving to Berlin
I landed in Berlin is a similar fashion. In my student years in Bulgaria, I wanted to move to Germany and study here. But it was such an overwhelming task, I didn’t know the language so I just forgot about it and moved on with my life.
It was only 10 years later, at the end of my 20s when I’d already gathered some experience as a software engineer and I started looking for a job abroad. I was focusing on the English speaking countries and the Netherlands – somewhere where I didn’t need to learn the local language.
One sunny day a recruiter got in touch with me. Nokia wanted to fly me to Berlin and talk to me. I didn’t know what to make out of it – Germany was not even on my list. But I went with the flow and I let them fly me to Berlin for the interview.
I felt at home from the very first day. I took the job and I stayed. Again, a desire was granted just as easy as that.
Meeting my boyfriend
So, now I was a Berliner. Everything fascinated me – the variety of people, architecture, events, activities and food! Oh yes, the food! I love food. Only in the first year, I gained 5kg, just by trying all the Asian restaurants (no, we don’t have this variety back home). These curries, these burgers, all the sweets in the Bakerei!
I was busy establishing myself in my new job and exploring the city. A single woman in this crazy, colourful city! I was not even thinking of a relationship. Until one evening, when a friend told me about her experiences with online dating platforms. This got me curious – hey, I don’t believe I can actually meet a potential boyfriend online, but at least I can meet some German men and practice German. I swear I had no intention of finding the love of my life.
But this is exactly what happened. He was the third man I met – a sweet, handsome, smart, tall, caring man with whom I share my life for many years now. Isn’t this miraculous? How easy it happened?
Walking the Camino de Santiago
Last but not least – the Camino de Santiago! The 850km pilgrimage through Spain which leads to the Atlantic Ocean through the city of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St. James are kept. At least what the church says.
In my Erasmus year, I lived in Galicia. This is exactly the area where the Camino ends. I had been seeing the tired pilgrims arriving in front of the cathedral in Santiago, dropping their heavy backpacks on the ground and savouring the end of a long journey.
Back then it didn’t resonate with me. It wasn’t until 10years later, when in my sabbatical I listened to a book about the Camino. This sparked my imagination, I booked a ticket and 2 weeks later I found myself in Pamplona on what was going to be an epic journey that spanned across 3 years. A journey of self-discovery, speaking many languages, food, nature, amazing people and – did I say food?
In all these events, things turned out better than I could have ever imagined. I didn’t have an overview of what was hiding behind the corner. But I trusted the Universe. I took small steps, I initiated the dream but how it unfolded was out of my hands.
Now I stand here in front of you and wonder:
What other miracles are in motion right now, unfolding without me even being aware of them? – Kate App
I don’t worry about it. Because the Universe has my back.
Photo credit: Kate Apps’ private archive, header made with Canva