Monday, June 2, 2008

The Emotions of Making A Difference...

STOP! Emotions are in the roadway! Please take a moment to reflect on how you made a difference today and the emotions you felt.

I had a very long day today at work. Nothing went the way I thought it would, but overall, in retrospect, it went rather well. Just not as I had anticipated. Life is funny like that.

I held some end of the year celebrations for my mentoring programs. It was a lot of lugging of party items, setting things up, being the emcee for the party, making sure I thanked everyone, blah blah blah.

At my first party, I had over 60 people in the room. It was amazing! Each person in that room was involved in some way, shape, or manner with my mentoring program. When I talked about how special mentoring is, and how proud they should be to be involved, there was no emotion. But when I had goodies to give to them to remember their special place in my mentoring programs that was different. When I had them come up to get their own packets, it reminded me of the days when cabbage patch kids were the "Hot Toy." The emotion was frantic.

"I saw your Pez Tie and I knew we were getting Pez!" ... "I think its cool they call you the Pez Man." ... "I hope you have a chewbacca Pez for me!" .... "I love Pez; just like you!" .... "Can I take two?" ... "This is better than Pizza!" ... "Do people think you're weird for collecting Pez?" ... "What happens to your Pez when you aren't here anymore?" and my favorite (from the principal): "Pez is something so wonderful and universal, isn't it? Everyone likes Pez. Do I get one?"

After that, more lugging, cleaning up, etc.... I then do the same thing for another party an hour or so later. Except this time there were only 15 people in the room. And the emotions were rather bland in comparison. No frantic emotions, no excitement. It was as if they were in slow motion. Kinda crazy! I wondered if it was all worth it. And would it be the same without Pez? Without me?

I had worked all day long with no lunch and no supper. To busy to stop for today. I then head to an awards banquet at a local high school. I am presenting awards to 3 students for their dedication to Big Brothers Big Sisters. We are meeting in the gym and there are lots of seats to sit in. The crowd gathers and it is made up of a huge cross-section of the community. Parents, grandparents, students, professionals, kids, etc.

The speeches were very quick and the awards were given out quickly. I began to have an internal panic attack because I am giving out 3 awards and my speech is 6 pages....typed! Oh My Goodness, I say to myself...I am going to bore them to pieces! I am really panicked.

I begin to get nervous as my name is called to present. I walk up to the microphone and I was immediately intimidated for some reason. I stumbled on my first words, but quickly corrected myself and began my speech. For some reason I lost total touch with the audience and never really focused on one or two people, like I usually do. YIKES! I scanned the audience at appropriate times during the speech. Other times i just concentrated on the paper in front of me. I was sure I sounded and looked nervous.

As I presented my first two awards, the crowd was quiet and respectful, and when I announced the names of the first two winners, I heard great applause. Maybe they were glad I was done, but yet I had one more presentation and it was many pages long! Uh-Oh!

I then realized that I am here talking about young adults who make a difference in their community, and I was going to complete my speech as planned. We never hear about the good deeds that students do to better their communities, so I just went for it, albeit nervously.

I began to talk about the "Big Sister of the Year" and I could tell the audience got very quiet. As a few moments passed, I felt a bit of a panic and thoughts of "taking too long" danced in my head. How many internal voices can one have? I felt like all my voices were fighting. My reaction was to stick to my typed words, but I picked up the pace. I expressed the emotions of how one person literally changed the life of another person. I then got lost in my own words and totally got into the emotion of the speech. I choked up at one point, but then quickly got back on professional track. I didn't care what I was saying as long as I was saying it. It is important. People need to know "Big Sisters of the Year" actually exist.

When I got to the end of my speech, and introduced the Big Sister of the Year, the young woman stepped up from the sea of people in front of me. She walked swiftly towards me. She was totally red faced from crying. When I saw her emotion, it stunned me. The Emotions of Making A Difference vary so much. This young lady is really just beginning her life, and she has already saved one. Amazing. Freakin' Amazing!

She came up to me and before even reaching for her award, she just hugged me and thanked me. I gave her the awards and said, "You deserve this moment so much, you really do." She turned from me, still full of emotion, and headed back into the sea of people from which she came. She blended back in, and I, too, went back to my seat and blended in as well. And so the show goes on.

When I sat down, a friend said to me, "You pulled the heart strings of every mother in this room with your speech." I replied, "I hope I wasn't too long, that is all." My friend said to me, "Ron, the audience was totally captivated by your words. They hung onto each word you said. A speech is never too long when everyone is engaged in it. I am surprised that mentor didn't get a standing ovation." All I thought was, "Wow!"

I looked around the room, and I saw many faces looking at me. Some would look away when our eyes would meet, while others smiled slightly. The woman sitting next to my friend said, "I don't even know this Big Sister of the Year, and I am crying. My son is a senior, and he should have mentored. I missed that one!"

Later in the evening, when my friend and I stopped to get a bite to eat because I was totally famished, my former supervisor saw me and said, "Great job at the award ceremony, you actually made me cry. Good Job!" My friend said, " made an impact. I saw how many people were captivated by your story of the success of this one mentor and her Little. It was Amazing."

It really was amazing to me that a room full of 60 people in the morning can be so different from 15 in the afternoon and 100+ in the evening. All the environments were different, yet all the people who were at these celebrations were there for the purpose to celebrate the difference people make, or the difference they make.

All people have passion, and I think it is great when we see it, when it is respected, and it is celebrated. When have you told someone who makes a difference in your life that they deserve to be celebrated? That you notice their passion. Do you have local awards that honor those people? Have you nominated those people for awards in your area? Have you written a letter expressing your emotion?

Share your emotion. Share your story. Share the success. We will all be captivated by it in the right circumstances. There is no denying that people make a difference in our daily lives. Why deny them the right to be celebrated. Share. And Share often.

I am hoping by doing this blog, I can finally get some sleep. Very long and emotional day.
And yet so satisfying.

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