Yesterday, I explained the structure of Rotary in that the individual clubs belong to regional Districts. Each District has a District Governor (DG) who serves for one year. Ken was the DG of District 9830 (Tasmania, Australia) from July 2014 – June 2015. I first communicated with Ken as I did most of the conference committee, in email. In July 2014, Ken sent me a note telling me he was glad to hear I was considering accepting the invitation to return to Tasmania.
I’m sure you will make an excellent addition to the agenda and look forward to hearing your story of living without limits.
I knew the conference theme was “No Limits.” This concerned me, because at the time I received the invitation I was certain I had forgotten how to say yes to life. I felt I was not living without limits, and was worried if I accepted the invitation someone would surely accuse me of being a fraud. I was letting fear hold me back and thought everyone would recognize my words were hollow and empty, lacking the personal commitment required to live without limits.
Still, I accepted the invitation. I started evaluating my decisions, looking for ways to once again say yes to opportunities in my life. I set goals for making the trip a reality, finding encouragement in the positive feedback and support from friends, family and strangers. By the time October came, I was once again saying yes and knew I was on the right track to putting into practice the message I intended to share at the District Conference.
Of course, I did go to Tasmania and attended the District Conference. I wrote about my experience in this post and this one. Being a keynote speaker and participating in the weekend was an honor. I learned a great deal from the other speakers and fellow conference attendees.
Ken and wife, Lois, were supporters of my involvement in their conference because of what others told them about me. Their faith in my ability to contribute to the overall theme of the weekend gave me the courage to make the most of the opportunity. They welcomed me with open arms, making me feel at home for a weekend in Burnie. Ken and Lois were some of the first people to greet us when we arrived at the conference, quickly confirming we were all settled with all our needs met.
One of my favorite memories from the conference happened on the dance floor after dinner on Saturday. Never one to shy away from having fun with friends, I gave in when someone invited me onto the dance floor and joined some of the Rotarians and exchange students for a few songs. As I spun around, I felt someone grab my free hand. It was Lois, who smiled and said, “Let’s show them how to groove!” I twirled her around, laughing at the others who quickly backed up to give us space.
I danced with Lois, Ken, and the others on the dance floor for the next few songs, until I noticed Kelly, Malcolm and Rae (my ride home) all standing looking at me. I remembered they had told me fifteen minutes ago they were ready to leave. I was supposed to be saying my farewells, not partying and dancing. This happens frequently – people tell me they are ready to leave and it takes me another half hour to actually make it out the door. Yes, I am one of those people. I quickly finished making my rounds, apologizing as I got back to Malcolm’s side. “Don’t worry Denise – this isn’t the first event I’ve attended with you!”
Thanks to social media, I am able to stay connected to Ken and Lois. Ken shares jokes and stories which make me laugh. Last month I traveled with them to Europe, enjoying their photographs and experiences from the comfort of my living room. I know it is not the same as being there, but their images helped me escape from the cooler weather creeping into upstate New York.
Ken – thank you for the invitation to be a part of your District Conference. Your confidence in my ability to deliver a meaningful message helped rekindle my passion for saying yes to life. I had not realized how much I was letting fear hold me back until your theme of “No Limits” challenged me. I appreciate your support and assistance in making my dream of returning to Tasmania a reality. I will always be grateful for the opportunity you provided. Should you ever want to explore the eastern United States, you have a friend here who would enjoy returning the hospitality!