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The Preciousness of Life

In had an exchange this morning with my younger daughter, Grace. She had just found out through Facebook that a friend’s mother died several months ago. This friend is her age and I could tell she was upset by this idea of death and the loss of a mother. We exchanged “I love you’s” via text and I thought, once again, how precious life is.

In honor of this exchange with my daughter, and the three-year anniversary since my father’s death, I want to post the following blog that I wrote way back when. I like to take time to know my family history, and to consider those who have gone before. I value appreciating the span of time: past, present, future. Here goes  . . .

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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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I Will Shine A Light

Last night I got to play a very small role in a monumental event: Shine a Light. Invited to be a greeter by my friend and colleague, Mary Rogan, I stood in the darkness on the longest day of the year and opened the door for participants as they arrived to roll out their yoga mats and do 108 asanas to raise awareness about human trafficking. Shine a Light partners with organizations in Oregon and India to give refuge, rehabilitation, education and hope to individuals affected by or vulnerable to the commercial sex industry.

I asked Mary if she wanted me to say anything specific or shake people’s hands like I do when I am a greeter for my Rotary Club. “You can do whatever you want,” she said calmly. “Free form welcoming! I trust you.”
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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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Belonging on the 4th of July

I loved this 4th of July weekend because I realize I am a part of my community. Now I know where and how to be. I used to feel like only the cool, in-the-know people knew where to be, and I was, well, neither cool or in-the-know. Excluded.

But on the 3rd of July this year I got to meet the Queens from our sister city of Guanajuato at my Rotary club, and then read a quote on hope by President Obama. Then, this morning, I got up and got dressed in red and black, like my husband, the current President of the Ashland Rowing Club (ARC).

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