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Life in line

Sun, 2012-02-12 14:04

The mechanical sound of a pump startles me from a blank stare. I turn around quickly to see an elderly man with a breathing tube inserted up his nostrils. He carries his oxygen tank in tow, his weathered wife pushes him along. Behind them is a pair of very loud, somewhat rude teens speaking some very animated spanish. They seem to be passionate about something. They spatter their conversation with a few distinct english swear words.

I regain my focus on… On, something. I have no real challenging thoughts this early Sunday morning. I look up to stark contrast. To my right is a young couple in love, giggling, touching and in a playful mood. They make me smile. Remind of the excitement of new love. Always so hopeful and innocent.

STOP IT!” breaks my somewhat inappropriate stare.

“Sit down! Now!” Screams a young mom at her 3 or 4 year old little girl. Perfectly done pigtails, a cute plaid dress and the still reddish tinged cheeks from either the cold wind or perhaps a recently finished crying fit.

Many of us in line focus our attention on this obviously stressed mother. I think to myself how hard it must be for a mom to travel alone with a child. To have to balance everything. The tickets, the carry on bags, the stroller and the continuously dropped ratty old teddy bear. Did I mention that she had a new born baby strapped to her in one of those organic baby slings.

“Will you please help, for god sakes!” She finally says in frustration.

She’s not alone, the father of the little girls I assume. Maybe the husband, maybe the boyfriend. He turns away from his unabashed stare of the very attractive young girl just ahead of him.

“What?” he says with a roll of his eyes and a clear level of disinterest in his voice. Reluctantly he tells the older child to sit down in her stroller, playing his father roll that is “expected” of him.

My eyes wander back to the young couple, still very much in love. How long ago was that married couple with children like that? In love, excited about their future?

I am nudged from behind. Shaken from my work of fiction that I am creating in my head.

“Buddy, can you move up?” suggests a guy in business suit, obviously numb to the world around him. Horse blinders on, blackberry in his hand, nothing maters to him except, well, him.

While in my few moments of deep observation I had stopped paying attention to the people ahead of me. The line had moved up, maybe 10 feet. Better be more aware of the number of grey spotted tiles between me and shoes in front of me.

A hacking cough again steals my focus. An elderly woman coughs into her wrinkled hands. She looks tired, worn and not at all excited about the prospect of going through the lengthy line.

“Why do I have to take off my shoes? They take forever to put back on. You know they’re orthopaedic” She says with a real sense of disapproval.

“When I was young flying was magical. You knew you were bound for adventure. You were treated like royalty. Not today, not anymore.”

There’s a pause. Then I realize she is speaking to me. I look down at her. Her face quickly tells a tale of a long and full life. Full of carved lines created by laughter and sunken eyes perhaps attributed to sadness or loss. I am sure she could fill up a week of my time with stories, lessons and wisdom.

“Yes, yes you’re right.” I reply. “It’s much more of an inconvenience today. Although, I guess this is the world we live in now. Can’t do much about it.”

She grunts back at me. An agreeable grunt, but a grunt none-the-less. We stand quietly, shuffling along. I am mindful of my ‘buddy’ behind me. Don’t want to slow him down.

We stand side-by-side now, like I am traveling with her. I look around me. Heads down. Almost all of them. The whole line. Fully connected to the mini-computers in their hand. Updating their profile status, tweeting their departure times, reading the “news feed”, texting a friend who is still asleep. It seems they are all unaware of the life going on all around them in this line. Like part of the herd, I glance at my iPhone, blank. no messages. No one wishing me well on my flight. Still to early to text anyone.

I place my phone back in my pocket. I look down at my line-mate.

“Dorothy.” She puts her hand on my arm and gives it a little squeeze. “My name is Dorothy. My friends call me Dot. Where are you off to?”

Life happens all around us. Usually we think our life is the most important. I guess it should be in many respects. We get caught up in our problems, our celebrations. We rarely seem to see the other stuff. We don’t pay attention to the people who are beside us. Look up from the iPhone, blink and break our stares. Participate in the world.

“Prince Edward Island. PEI.”

“What are you doing there? Going home? Work? Vacation?” she pushes the conversation further.

“I’m going for work. Just a few days.” I reply.

“What do you do dear?”

“It’s a bit of long story” I quickly say with a smile.

“Well it looks as if we have some time.” We both look down the long snake like line leading to security. She winks and grins a warm grin.

“Well Dorothy…” she stops me quickly. “My friends call me Dot I told you.”

“Right! Well Dot I am a speaker and a bit of an author…”

Life is beautiful.

  • Student Conferences

    We brought 40 students, mostly juniors, and the layout of the conference space and dorm space made our staff feel comfortable with supervision. The college also made it super easy for meals - everything was in the same complex. I HIGHLY recommend trying out this conference for those schools who haven’t yet. Top notch leadership experience!

    ~Bob Kline - Teacher - Huron Heights Secondary School, Kitchener, ON
  • Student Conferences

    Thanks so much for an amazing conference. We’re already looking forward to EOSLC 2018!

    ~Riley McMullen - Tagwi Secondary School - Avonmore, ON
  • Student Conferences

    I want to thank you for giving my students the opportunity to attend EOSLC!! On the drive home, they were discussing how wonderful the speakers were, and the spirit leaders, and the venue, and the whole experience!!!

    I know they have taken with them new insight as to what it means to be a leader! I thank you for that! You must be so proud to have so much positive influence on the youth of tomorrow.

    Thank you, thank you!!

    ~Jennifer Neville -VALOUR SCHOOL - Petawawa
  • Training Centres

    We had such a great time! Your camp is aMazing. The students loved it, and did things they never thought they would have! The slide show at the end was the cherry on top!!!

    ~Amanda - Teacher - Huron Heights Secondary School
  • Stu Speaks

    Students were very engaged, enthusiastic and excited. Stu is hilarious…seriously. “Humour is never a bad thing” said one student.

    ~Annalisa Varano - Vice Principal - St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School
  • Stu Speaks

    They say a great presenter “leaves them wanting more”. Well, we loved your presentation and the entire team asked me when you will be back! You are truly STUpendous!

    ~Nancy Klensch - Founder of Summit Kids
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu is an energetic, entertaining and dynamic presenter. He captures is audiences’ attention and keeps the room engaged for the entire presentation! His stories in his presentation captures everyone at different points, even the teachers!

    ~Sara Meaney - Cobourg Collegiate Institute
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu was great! Staff and students felt it really broke the anxiety in the building and we even got cupcakes today from one of the students.

    ~Carrie Rowlandson - William Aberhart High School, Calgary Alberta
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu was fantastic. There is nothing better than seeing 600 adolescents laughing their heads off. He delivers a terrific message and has the entire audience engaged, thinking, listening and most importantly laughing within seconds, and he keeps it going for over an hour. Thanks again on behalf of the Shores!!

    ~Doug Woods - Vice Principal, Nantyr Shores Secondary School
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu’s speech did exactly what I hoped it would do when I tried to bring him in: it brought the school together for a good laugh while empowering the student body to be the change they wish to see in their classroom. I feel he hit this goal perfectly.

    ~Steven Fotheringham - Oakville Trafalgar High School
  • Stu Speaks

    I really liked how the speech really just seemed like Stu was telling us funny stories, but he always related it back to the overall message. It didn’t sound like a speech at all, it was as if he was just talking to the crowd. I would say that he is excellent in connecting with the audience and keeping them entertained. There was not a two minute period in Stu’s speech were nobody was laughing. He kept us amused throughout the entire presentation. I thought he was perfect.

    ~James Palloto
  • Stu Speaks

    I would highly recommend Stu, his engaging personality was a real hook for the students and his messages were ones that many of them could identify with. The humour was great and the students shared that they enjoyed the presentation.

    ~Teresa Fowler - W.H. Croxford High School, Airdrie, Alberta
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu is personable. Students are willing to listen to him. They enjoy listening to him. He has a message, but he is also entertaining. He is fun to listen to and students don’t feel talked down to or preached at.

    ~Tanya Lacey - McKinnon Park Secondary School, Caledonia, ON
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC has played a pivotal role in the growth and development of our Student Activities Council leadership group over the 10 years we have been attending. The chance to get away together, bond as a group, meet other awesome leaders and advisors from across the province, and be challenged by some of the best speakers in the world has made a huge impact on the enthusiasm and effectiveness of our leadership program.”

    ~Jeff Gerber, Waterloo Oxford District Secondary School, Baden, Ontario
  • Training Centres

    “Just want to thank the Pigeon Lake YLCC staff for another wonderful experience. My Grade 7 class just returned from their overnight with smiles on their faces and singing ‘pizza man’. I have taken a group for a number of years now and I never tire of the experience. YOU rock!”

  • Youth Camps

    “Thank you Stu and Ornj and the AMAZING counsellors and staff for making the past two weeks amazing for Noah. He sobbed when we left, and can’t wait to return. He showed me his journal and we compared it to last year’s - what a difference a year makes.”

  • Youth Camps

    “Nothing makes my heart sing more, than to see my kids having the most amazing life experiences together. YLCC makes this happen every year. Pure Gold. ‘Thank You’ can’t really cover it …”

  • Youth Camps

    “Thank you for the best summer I have experienced to date. YLCC taught me how to embrace my values and to express opinions. The entire camp and amazing staff believed in me achieving any goal I were to set. “

  • Student Conferences

    OSLC to me is family, period.

    ~Hayley Press
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC showed me through the people I met what it was to be a better leader by how you act and what you do.

    ~Ben Arnold
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC is an experience where you can literally go and see 1000’s of other teens that have the same desire as you to lead and make a change in the world. The energy is electric, the movement is massive and the memories are completely unforgettable. The experience is one you fully cant understand without going there, there is an indescribable and irreplacable feeling that is created there, and it sticks even after you leave.

    ~Brittany Roney
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC changed my life. I have never felt so alive in my entire life. I met so many people who I will be life long friends with. The energy is amazing and the inspiration is indescribable.
    If there was one memory I could remember it would be OSLC.

    ~Maddison F
  • Student Conferences

    I don’t even know how to begin or where to start telling you how amazing OSLC was and how amazing and incredible you are! This event was truly life changing for me and my council, thank you so much for this, for OSLC and for you. You are truly an inspiration and have shown me so much and have lit a fire inside me.

    ~Joshua McCallum, Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School, Strathroy, Ontario
  • Student Conferences

    I have been bringing students to the Ontario Student Leadership Conference for over 10 years. Our students clamour for a spot at the conference because they have heard about it and want to be a part of it. They always come back from the conference excited and motivated to make positive changes in our school and community. The speakers are always world class and the workshops inspire and educate the students, I look forward to being part of this incredible conference for years to come, keep up the great work.

    ~Kyle Pope, Oakville Traflagar High School
  • Student Conferences

    This conference consistently fosters, in the students who attend, a sense of community in leadership that I’ve yet to see generated to this degree anywhere else. Former students have told me, years later, that the OSLC was the highlight of their high school experience. I believe them.

    ~Ross Thomson, Craig Kielburger Secondary School, Milton, Ontario
  • Student Conferences

    I have been attending OSLC a number of years with our Students’ Council Executive. There is no other opportunity that I am able to offer my students that leads to such enthusiasm and ideas for the school year. Many of my students have worked as Spirit Leaders at the conference, and more than once students have told me how OSLC has changed their life. On top of that, OSLC is one of the very few conferences that allow for PD for staff members who work in student leadership. More than once I have had my own commitment to student leadership refreshed through workshops at OSLC.

    ~Tanya Lacey, McKinnon Park Secondary School, Caledonia, Ontario
  • Stu Speaks

    I was at the OCA conference on May 6th, and I just wanted to thank you on being such a wicked keynote… you definitely put me back in the camp mindset and reminded me of what’s truly important about the up-coming summer. Once again, a job very well done.

    ~Emily Summers
  • Stu Speaks

    The students really enjoyed Stu’s humour and low-key but critical message about getting involved and getting the most out of their High School experience. I would recommend Stu as a speaker who relates well to students, is funny, and gets the message out without preaching.

    Thank you,

    ~Lynn Toye