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Archive for February, 2012

Photo: Julie Kativretenos

Tonight I presented project #5 – Your Body Speaks – in the Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual. The speech objectives were:  (1) Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and achieve your speech’s purpose; and (2) Make your body language smooth and natural. Time: 5-7 min.

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

I recently read an article about the common regrets people have when they’re dying. It included wishing they’d been truer to themselves and not having let themselves be happier. They realized quite late that life is just a bowl of cherries.

The 1931 song urges us not to take life too seriously. … For a while, I was far removed from the things that lightened my heart. My time was consumed with things that I found quite tedious. It wasn’t good for my mental or physical health. Then I took a trip and rediscovered the importance of that bowl of cherries.

Madame Toastmaster, fellow members and guests, we need to live and laugh – it’s the berries that are important. I left that job shortly after returning from my trip and have consciously tried to keep the berries in sight ever since. Movement and the outdoors play a large part in my sense of joy and wellbeing. They’re a major factor in my bowl of cherries; but, on July 15, 2006 the bowl shattered.

It was a Saturday and I went hiking. A large sign posted in a tree warned us that we were near a hunting zone. The pace was faster than I like and the terrain was very rocky. It wasn’t one of my favourite hikes but afterwards we stopped at a farm to pick berries. They were a ripe ruby red. I was planning to end the day by going over to the park to see an outdoor play. I had some free time and decided to go buy a fan. I’m not sure why. I didn’t need one that particular July 15th day. Nonetheless, I headed over to the Junction and purchased a white cylindrical oscillating fan. On the way home I missed the bus and decided to walk.

I was crossing the street when in the corner of my eye I saw a minivan accelerate as the driver made a left hand turn. It was ruby red. I tossed the box forward to free my arms and swung them to my left to brace myself against the vehicle’s hood. WHAM! It hit me. A minivan weighs about 5,000 lbs. It wasn’t going very fast but the force of the impact still threw me about 15 feet. I was lying on the ground, stunned. The first thought that came into my mind was that I hadn’t danced the tango in Buenos Aires yet.

I spent the night in the hospital and in the morning I wanted to go home. I attempted to stand and couldn’t. A nurse gave me a cane and with her help I was able to get up. I tried to take a step and couldn’t. I knew I was injured, I was in a lot of pain; but, I hadn’t actually realized my mobility was impaired.

My injuries weren’t serious but I had several fractures. I needed to use that cane for a couple of months. I spent 20 hours a week exercising and it took close to a year before I felt I had my strength back.

In the first couple of months there were a few instances where I experienced immense rage. This would be when a vehicle turned while I was crossing the street. One driver was particularly careless and I almost bashed his vehicle with my cane. Every now and again I would get angry at the driver of the minivan who had hit me. Most of the time though I just focused on overcoming this challenge.

I went on my first hike again in the late fall. The feeling was incredible – it was sheer ecstasy. My ultimate self test came almost 2 ½ years after the accident. I left another job that wasn’t right and went on an extended backpacking trip. I didn’t get to dance the tango in Buenos Aires – I pulled a hamstring in Bolivia. But I had reclaimed my life.

Life is a series of challenges. This one was ruby red. Along with the challenges you need to experience the joys and be true to yourself. It’s the berries that make you stronger. You don’t want to leave this world with too many regrets.

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Photos from the first weekend of Winterlude at Confederation Park. The ice sculptors were busy adding the finishing touches to their work for the noon deadline.

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