Day 7 – The Conference Begins

After an early breakfast Friday, we hit the road for the drive up to Burnie for the Rotary District 9830 Conference. It was a beautiful day for a drive and we had lovely views on our drive up north through Tasmania.

Burnie is a small city on the northwest coast of Tasmania. As you drive into the city, signs welcome you to “The City of Makers.” For nearly 100 years, the local mills made paper and pulp from the timber. In the 1990s, industry changed and several companies closed. According to the tourism website Discover Burnie:

The people of Burnie were desparate to find a new way of looking at things…They cleaned up the environment and looked at the past, present and to the people who most inspired them, The Makers.

When we drove into Burnie on Friday afternoon, the Bass Strait was a sparkling blue. I was mesmerized by the views over my right shoulder as we drove to our lodging. We could see Table Cape in the distance we we approached the village of Wynyard, where we spent the next two nights.

Our cabin at LeisureVille Holiday Centre was very accessible, although manual wheelchair users might find the entry threshold difficult. The bathroom was one of the most accessible and user-friendly I’ve ever had away from home. Kelly and I each had our own bedroom and there was a full kitchen. If you want to visit the northwest coast of Tasmania and need accessible accommodation, ask for cabin 3.

The theme of the conference was “No Limits.” I was honored to be one of five keynote speakers. My presentation was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, so Friday night I enjoyed the welcome reception and introductory speeches.

The first keynote speaker, John Coutis, set the bar very high for the rest of us. His message of respect for everyone resonated with the audience. As I listened to John’s personal stories, I kept thinking, “This is a man I could spend hours with in conversation.” Sometimes when I listen to motivational speakers who also happen to have disabilities, I have difficulty relating to their message. Not John. Every few minutes I would find myself smiling and nodding my head, thinking “EXACTLY!”

John spoke about goal setting and encouraged all of us to write down our goals regularly when planning our actions. Nine months ago, I received an invitation to return to Tasmania. I accepted, not really knowing how it would happen. But I created a plan, wrote my action lists, and tackled my goals one by one. I know this trip became a reality because I was systematic in working towards my goals. Thank you John, for reminding all of us how self-motivating it can be to write down our goals.

Before going inside our cabin Friday night, I took a few moments to look up at the stars. The sky was cloudless, and I could see the Southern Cross overhead. I was reminded of my sister Susan. When I was an exchange student, she sent me a letter telling me whenever she missed me, she looked up at the stars and moon and reminded herself I was somewhere out there able to look up at the stars and moon as well. I smiled up at the Milky Way, said hello to Susan in my head and went in to bed.

**This post was brought to you by Sister Charlene Bloom (Sister Char to most everyone). When I was a student at The College of St. Rose, she was one of my professors and mentors. I am honored to now call her friend. Thank you Sister Char for always supporting me and believing in me.

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