When you drop a pebble in a pond, it makes ripples that travel out to the shore and then they refract back until they lose energy and dissipate (or at least that is how I imagine it). When we lead a life of service, I think we are dropping pebbles in the pond of life, and on rare occasions, we get to see some of those small waves come back to us. This refraction gives pause for reflection, and gives inspiration to continue doing what we are doing.
I spoke at the District Rotary conference yesterday and entitled my presentation, “Ripples in the Pond.” As I prepared the presentation, I looked back at the past 12 years since I was a Rotary Group Study Exchange (GSE) participant and realized what a significant life event that was for me. I travelled with three other young professions, Wayne, Gloria and Lise, and a Rotarian, Tim for a month in Argentina in June of 1999. We visited many Rotary clubs and projects and we welcomed like family in home after home. During my GSE, I was exposed to the Rotary Motto of “Service above Self.” Our team has kept in touch since our experience and I count Tom as one of my mentors.
The GSE Experience is funded by the Rotary International Foundation, which is supported by Rotarians worldwide. I realized that many of the experiences I had and the skills I learned during that month (for example, delivering presentations in Spanish and developing infinite patience for travel) enabled me to both take on Everest and to make it “More than a Mountain.” So in my presentation, I wanted the Rotarians to see some of the ripples in the pond they had made by supporting the GSE program and in turn, wanted them to take some of the credit for the service I have done as a result. It takes both passion and hard work to continually dedicate oneself to the service of others and I wanted to offer inspiration and gratitude for their efforts. It was also a great honour to be present when Tom received special recognition for his lifetime of service in Rotary.
The previous week I was in Fredericton speaking to New Brunswick elementary school teachers. As I prepared for that event, I thought as well of the role my schoolteachers had played in my life and was once again filled with gratitude. I, again, had the sense that I would never have been able to attempt Everest without the cadre of engaged and dedicated teachers that guided me through the school system. Without them, I would not have developed the physical literacy, curiosity, determination, and academic achievement that led to my current path. I aimed in my presentations to those teachers to offer both gratitude and inspiration there as well because teaching is such challenging work and I wanted them to see some of their ripples in the pond.
After both of these presentations, I had the privilege of seeing some of the ripples in the pond that I have created. A few teachers shared stories of the Everests they were facing in their lives and how my words came at a pivotal moment for them and some Rotarians did the same. Perhaps I have been focused on trying to give out gratitude and inspiration these days because I’ve been needing a bit of a pick up myself. Of late, I have been feeling the weight of trying to keep all of the things that I need to do on track. Finding balance between work, home, training, fundraising, writing, and speaking is in a tough phase and so I have appreciated seeing/hearing of a few ripples myself…it helps me carry on carrying on.
I am back teaching for the intersession term at school and training for Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe (and France and Italy). It’s a two-fer and has been on my list for a while. It’s been an exciting week on the south side of Everest and I followed the Peak Freaks’ climbers to the summit. Congrats to all on safe summits and to those who made hard yet good decisions to stop climbing as well. I look forward to virtually climbing with Alan Arnette at some point this week when he (hopefully) gets his summit window.