“The Way to Get Started is to Quit Talking and Begin Doing” – Walt Disney

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do” – Bruce Lee

It is funny how the universe sometimes unfolds. I recently had an invitation from the Ontario Honours & Awards Secretariat asking me to give the opening remarks at the Volunteer Service Awards in York Region (on two different nights!) Quite honestly, I checked my email twice to make sure it was me that she wanted?  Who am I to give an address? What could I possible say that would be inspirational enough or have an impact on anyone! But more than that – how could I possibly stand up in front of 300 people and deliver a message?? Public speaking to a large crowd makes me incredibly nervous! But ah ha….my last blog entry! I talked about how the “Year of Yes” impacted my thinking! Shondra Rhymes changed her life by embracing her fears! Public speaking and being the center of attention are fears of mine! HOWEVER, I have gone semi-public (on this blog) and said that I should do something that scares me! You, my readers, are my family and friends and I know that you would understand if I didn’t do it – but what would I think of myself?? To thine own self be true! I know, quite honestly, I would be disappointed in ME. So after several days of mulling it over – I decided to do it! I will grow from this experience…I know I will! I have written the speech which I will deliver both Monday and Tuesday night of this week! Wish me luck!

Speech for the Ontario Honours & Awards Secretariat Volunteer Service Awards

When asked to speak to this organization tonight, I immediately panicked …. However, as I will explain in a minute – I have recently been re-examining my life and been reading a lot of self-help books (I am a type-A personality and when I need help I get all the help I can get). I just finished reading the book “Year of Yes”- by Shondra Rhymes so I figured I would take her advice and do this. I have always volunteered – as long as I can remember…I guess it was something instilled in me as a child – to give back. I started volunteering at the age of 10,  watching the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and then sending away for my own Muscular Dystrophy Carnival Kits that I hosted in my in my backyard in Brooklin. I continued to volunteer in my teens and into my adult life… to this day I play an active role in my community. I have always felt that I was fortunate in life to have enough, to be healthy and have the precious commodity of time and I wanted to help those less fortunate. I wanted to give back. I think that’s why we all do it! Recently, however, my life has been turned upside down and changed directions. I have retired. While this was a plan that my husband and I made together year’s ago – I was totally unprepared for the emotional turmoil that I was going through! Not only was I not working every day and there was no longer structure in my life but I also felt like an un-useful and un-important member of society (remember I am a type A personality). I wondered what my purpose was in life was and where I was going. And what would give me the feeling of purpose again? I felt very unsettled and extremely lost. Then, I was reminded of some volunteer work I did when my kids were very little. I was a friendly visitor and assigned to a ninety-one-year-old named “Sophie”, who had no relatives and lived at a senior’s home in Markham. On one particular day, we were going to visit, and I was struggling to get my children out of the door… one child had an “accident” and we had to change the outfit and the other one had a temper tantrum putting on a snowsuit. I considered cancelling because I was feeling quite overwhelmed by the whole ordeal! However, we went and when we got there – the kids were fine – as a matter of fact – they lit up the place. I remember feeling so good about being there. I felt we had made a difference and our visit had been appreciated by all. The action of volunteering had in some way, lightened my load. I felt like we had done some good in the world. Taking that lesson back to my reality today — I don’t need a job to define who I am or my purpose in life. My purpose in life comes from how I feel about what I am doing in this world. To thy own self be true. I do volunteer because I want to give back but ALSO more selfishly – it makes me feel good too! I just retired from teaching – and as every teacher does – I love books and would often begin or end a lesson with one. For the sake of time – I will paraphrase a book that sums up my opening remarks. There is a great children’s book titled “Have You Filled Your Bucket Today”. The premise of this book is that everyone in the world walks around with an invisible bucket. The purpose of this bucket is to hold good thoughts and good feelings about yourself. You feel very good when it is full and you feel sad and lonely when it is empty. But you need other people to fill your bucket and other people need you to fill theirs. You fill a bucket when you do or say something kind or appreciative. But the funny thing is, in the act of filling someone else’s bucket – you fill your own bucket too! Visiting Sophie was filling her bucket but visiting Sophie was also filling mine! I congratulate every volunteer here tonight for all that you give to the community. Without you, our community would not be as rich and as strong as it is today! You are all the true essence of bucket fillers! My wish for all of you tonight is that your own bucket-is flowing over and you feel as good as those that you have helped along the way! Congratulations!