My Personal Theme for this year is Take Care of Self, Each Other and the Planet. Our personal success depends on making smart choices, on having strong relationships and working on restoring and strengthening our environment. As a retired Family Physician I naturally bring my professional values to Rotary. In this month’s message I’d like to focus on Taking Care of Self.
At first glance, Taking Care of Self seems like a self-centred idea. Some might say it’s the antithesis of being a Rotarian. We are about Service Above Self. Doesn’t prioritizing ‘Self’ subjugate the importance of serving other others? Nothing could be further from the truth!     
We’ve all heard the message before take-off.  “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”  Here the reason for focusing on ourselves first is clear; we need to prioritize our need for oxygen so that we don’t faint and remove all hope of helping others. 
Within Rotary, taking care of self allows us to do a better job of serving others.  Taking care of self speaks to the need for basic personal health, nutrition, sleep and exercise. It also means being aware and responsive to our own mental health.
The stress of a Pandemic makes this last point especially important. To be clear, we are not living in a ‘New Normal’.  The adjustments we’ve made to avoid contracting Covid 19 are not in tune with human nature. We are social beings with a need for deep human connection in order to thrive. Deprivation from meaningful social interaction is a slippery slope that can lead to physical and mental health issues. Uncertainty about a lasting solution for Covid 19 makes matters worse. In some cases new financial pressures compound the issue. To some degree Covid 19 has put us all on a slope.
I hesitate to be prescriptive about how to best care for self in this pandemic. Volumes have recently been written to educate and inform. The prioritization of taking care of self is the best medicine I can offer. Advice from the doctor: Make a conscious effort to gauge your daily physical and mental health.  If you feel either is eroding quickly, seek help and advice from a friend, family member or health care professional. Prioritize your health; your ability to truly serve others depends on it!  Rotary depends on it. 
I’ll take this opportunity to say a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to District Governor Lesley Barmania for her leadership, adaptability, passion and tireless efforts to communicate and follow-up with action throughout the past year. The theme for this past year was Rotary Connects the World; with the help of Lesley’s leadership we certainly did that!
As well, thank you to all that served in district and club leadership positions over the past year. It certainly was not ‘business as usual’; your efforts to lead during a time of adversity are appreciated by all.
I look forward to meeting you all in the coming year (by Zoom, if need be).  If you have a special meeting, event, fundraiser or service project and would like me to attend, just ask. You can reach me at via email at:  Or, give me a call at: 519-503-2646.
Please do take care!