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From Ashland to Ubatuba: Service Above Self

My brother and I with the Rotary Club of Ubatuba, SP, Brazil.
The one-hour Rotary meeting I went to last night will be a treasured memory of my three week vacation in Brazil. Though I understood perhaps only ten percent of what was being said, it was the welcome I received that made the experience so worthwhile. There is a magic in knowing that I share the same values as the people who attended the meeting last night. The hearty handshakes I received and the kisses on my cheek spoke volumes of the shared fellowship that is Rotary around the world.

Ubatuba, the town I went to last night, is only four hours from São Paulo, where Rotary’s International Convention will take place this June. In my broken Portuguese, I could make that connection, along with another question that brought smiles to their faces: “How long have you been in Rotary?” Whether the answer was one year or twenty, I could tell these people were dedicated.
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An Overall Sense of Well-being

I am not alone.

This is the revelation I had this morning. Like the hot water bottle I sleep with on cold nights, I feel this reassurance radiating outwards, warming me with its simple truth.

What’s funny is that, I am right now actually alone, at least physically. My husband is on the East Coast for business as well as to visit our daughters, who work and go to college there. And my father, with whom we bought our ranch 13 years ago, is no longer with us in body though he is often in my heart.

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Service Above Self & Belonging

Yesterday I got my Blue Badge in Rotary. Initially, we get a Red Badge with a ribbon that says "New Member." We are then expected to work our way through a long list that has on it such tasks as join a committee, attend a district meeting, participate in a club service project, etc., to get the coveted Blue Badge.

There was a short ceremony during which I had a chance to address my fellow Rotarians. As I looked out into the crowd, I realized how much these people have become my community. After eating lunch with them every Thursday since last September and hearing about their children’s sports wins, new grandbabies, trips far and wide, and professional achievements I have a new way of locating myself in this little town of 20,000 people.
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The Courage to Lead and Learn: Rotary Youth Leadership Awards summer camp

Having returned recently from my first 24-hour stint at a Rotary leadership camp for youth, I feel renewed. Renewed, inspired and hopeful.

Imagine being in a room of high-schoolers who do not have their attention on their next text or tweet. Instead, they greeted us adults with handshakes and interested eye-contact.

Imagine groups of high schoolers who do not reflect the sarcasm and anxiety that is so prevalent in today’s media. Instead they worked respectfully with one another on group agreements and developed pitches for service projects to help their communities.

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