Posted by Joe Quinn on Feb 21, 2020
President Bill Potter walked up to this Scribe before the meeting to check on who the bulletin writer might be today.  But in our chat, he mentioned that he forgot his printed agenda today and would be working from his phone agenda.  Thus, our theme for this bulletin was born—The “No Agenda Bill” theme.  The meeting unfolded consistently from there!
Bill’s Walkin’ In Music was appropriately “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller.  Those youngsters who did not recognize this song really missed out on the big band sounds of the 1950’s.  Or was it the 1940’s?  It seemed like Bill had also rigged up the mic or speakers so they had that “reverb” reminiscent of announcer Vince McMahon back in the professional wrestling days.  Rob Erb got up to fix the reverb though and restore a modicum of order.
NO AGENDA BILL called upon Bob Peterson for our Thought for the Day, and our Pledge of Allegiance was led by Eric Quinn. At that point, Bill announced that the “dog ate my agenda” so he might be a bit slow at the switch, working from his phone to remind him of what the agenda was today.  Not to worry about slowing down; he usually talks so fast it is hard for us bulletin committee writers to keep up with him.  From memory, Bill remembered to thank the numerous Setup Committee members, or most of them.  Several Rotarians chimed in, however, to remind Bill of those he missed.  This was the first example of team strength, which is a Rotary hallmark.  We were all there to support Bill in case he forgot some minor item in his quest to perform with NO AGENDA!   Later, someone commented that it was a great meeting—so spontaneous and interactive—as we all stepped up to fill in the blanks, in any, in the agenda. There was something liberating, actually, in not following the usual routine by rote.  Sort of a ….mindfulness…about that.  A bit like doing the high wire act without a net, but he did great didn’t he? Who needs a printed agenda?! Just let it flow.
Bill also thanked Leon Titus, the Sergeant at Arms, who did say we had no Visiting Rotarians today.  Bill recognized Eric Warn (more on him later) and Nicole Hancock for teaming up at the Foundation desk today.  Sally Porter Smith staffed the Auction table, assisted by a hovering Barlow Buescher.  Joe Quinn was called out as the Bulletin Writer and he was asked to be kind to President Bill (never gonna happen!).  Bob Zawilski was our Photographer today. In the Sunshine Report, John Forkenbrock said Eric Warn’s wife Kathy is battling cancer.  He added that Sharon Selden (Rick’s wife and Gayle’s Mom) took a bad fall and will need surgery.  John also said his fraternity brother and long-time Lakewood Rotarian Tom Sadler is with us today.   President Bill clearly wants to recognize those who show up to meetings—he cited Kris Peterson, Dave Betz, and Sonia Martinez as good examples of folks to appreciate.
Even without an agenda, Bill remembered to seek out and feature any Guests of Rotary.  Sonia introduced little Gabriel, who we think is approaching seven months of age.  Donna Hastings was also introduced as someone “interested in Rotary”.   Welcome to all guests, interested in Rotary or not, and returnees who are already in our club. President Bill noted that they had recently held a great board meeting and that today both Jim Rooks and Mark Edgecomb are attending the President-Elect Training Seminar at the Doubletree Hotel near SeaTac Airport.  Noticing somewhat reduced attendance today, Bill stressed that seeking new members is a job for everybody.  We are all on that committee, he said.  He called on Chris Kimball, who is a frequent sponsor of new members and makes it a real priority.  Be mindful every day and at all times about membership, Chris said.  Well, he basically did say that.  He also noted that we need younger members and several wags expressed interest in recruiting Gabriel.  Maybe not quite that young.  Bill Potter said we need more bankers!
Yours truly asked a question about the upcoming District Conference/District Assembly, which is scheduled for May 15-16 in Victoria, just because I was not sure if that was on the Announcements Agenda in this NO AGENDA meeting. Apparently, it was and Bill was definitely going to get to it.  Gayle Selden let us know that so far at least 17 Rotarians, spouses, or significant others are signed up.  But we need lots more to sign up to support Greg Horn, our incoming District Governor, and Mary Horn, his hard-working support team.  Oops, there is that team concept again.  One question has been whether LR will support attendance by “subsidizing” those who sign up.  It was re-affirmed at this meeting that Rotary will reimburse any Rotarian who registers, for the full registration fee.  This year that number is $350 Canadian, which is about $250 in US dollars.  Not a bad incentive!  Gayle said the Friday night special social event was to be held at an axe-throwing place.  Thought I heard somebody shout out: “Who would hold up the targets,” but maybe that was my imagination!
SPORTSMAN’S DINNER AND AUCTION:  Gayle told us to procure like crazy, especially with experiences. Physical items can be brought to Ed Selden’s/Carpet One on Steilacoom Boulevard.  Lots of seats (did she say 175?) have already been sold and we now need to focus on procuring.  This year’s Raise the Paddle will be for Lakewood Playhouse, so we may consider going there as a group. Gayle asked for a show of hands to see who was interested in “Wolves” (about a ladies soccer team), or “Murder on the Nile”, or “Ragtime”, the musical.  It was also suggested that we might be able to procure and auction off some seats for one of the plays, as a silent auction or oral auction item.  Gayle also said the teams are getting competitive.  I think she said the Rick Steves team is now leading.
THE BANK WAS OPEN:  President NO AGENDA received a deposit for $30 from Eric Quinn, due to a recent two-week trip to Las Vegas to visit his wife’s family and to show off Baby Storey.  They saw the sun (not like Lakewood) a lot.  Mo Sarram paid a $60 fine, but we could not hear what it was for, because Leon was running with the mic, but not quite fast enough. Please wait a moment for the microphone so we can all hear what is being said!  (Besides, we do not want Leon to have a heart attack.) Sonia Martinez paid $70 for trips to Arizona and Idaho to visit family.
Eric Warn shared with the Bulletin Committee a Certificate of Appreciation from the Lakewood YMCA, showing he was honored as the 2019 Lakewood Y Member of the Year.  The Y has about 10,000 members, so this is a big deal.  Has he already been fined for this? It was on Facebook but I’m not sure he was fined yet.   If not, we suggest that Bill should nab him next week if he can put that on the AGENDA!  If he has already been fined for that, did you know that Eric Warn has also won a Couples Choice Award from the Wedding Wire Honors group, which recognizes top wedding professionals?  You could always get a deposit for that, Bill, as there is no double jeopardy defense in Rotary.
THE PROGRAM:  Bob Zawilski introduced Erin Joosse (pictured above), who is a Certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Instructor.  Bob said that learning mindfulness techniques can be a life changing experience. Erin said that learning mindfulness is a practice that has ancient roots.  Often linked to Buddhism, mindfulness is, however, a universal tool.  In the 1970’s at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, a Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn studied mindfulness in a non-denominational, secular way, as a method to improve health.  This practice is an intentional, purposeful and non-judgmental exercise where a person strives to stay “in the present moment”.  She noted that our lives “happen in the moment”.  In other words, oftentimes we do not have AN AGENDA, and that sometimes turns out much better than living our lives in a pre-programmed manner.  She said people often notice how—after a physical workout or training session—they feel a strong sense of well-being.  Essentially, she said that mindfulness practice is like a workout for the mind.  It too can leave us calmer or more patient, especially in stressful situations.  
Erin said some brain science publications have spoken of “neural pathway plasticity”.  The brain does change over time, and it is not true that our brains are totally formed and unchanging at some young age.  Scientists have shown through experiments such as brain scans that meditation can aid in developing the left pre-frontal cortex of the brain.  This practice can protect against certain effects of aging, such as lower cognitive function, Erin said.  Scientists have found that meditation or mindfulness practice can make humans happier. 
Erin then tried it out on us.  She told us to sit up straight, relax, and let in less light with our eyes.  “Put both feet on the floor,” she said. 
Pictured above: Leon Titus practicing mindfulness in his own way, no judgement. (Captured by Gayle Selden)
Bill Potter, the man with NO AGENDA, mindfully then dimmed the lights without being asked.  She told us then to be aware of the air in the room and aware of our breathing.  Let your mind wander but then bring your attention back to your breathing.  “Training your mind is like training a puppy,” Erin said.   In other words, a puppy will lose concentration but must be brought back to the lesson you are trying to teach. This was a good five-minute introduction to mindfulness or meditation. Many Rotarians had questions and impressions for Erin. She asked what the session made us think about.  Eric Warn said it made him want a cookie.  She said actually that such “cravings” are a common result of this practice.  Various feelings of Rotarians came out such as a feeling of gratitude or calmness.  Mo Sarram said people react differently or individually and that is fine too. Erin pointed out how this practice can help us deal with stressful situations in our daily lives. 
A good question was asked about how mindfulness might be used with youth in our schools. Erin said she does that already and that the Tacoma School District is making good use of this practice already. (Coincidentally, the Washington Post had a good article this weekend, with a survey of how mindfulness practice is being applied in schools in various parts of the United States.)
Bill Potter asked about the history of this practice and Erin said that actually many religions have espoused some version of mindfulness or meditation throughout recorded history.  It is not limited to Buddhism or Hinduism at all.  While there is some spiritual or religious component to this practice of mindfulness, it need not involve organized religion at all.
After the meeting, several of us said we noticed that the room got quieter.  No one was talking and one could hear the quiet humming or background noise that we usually cannot hear. Someone said they felt calmer or more relaxed.  Many noticed greater awareness of their breathing.  Bill Potter and Erin both taught us that having NO AGENDA sometimes brings out our creativity, spontaneity, and makes us think clearly.
THE DRAWING:  Barb Spriggs (pictured above) won the drawing but drew a white chip worth $5. She didn’t seem to mind! Read this bulletin and tell Greg Rediske so you can get a make-up. Additionally, if you shop online, please do so at Amazon Smile so a portion of your purchase can be allocated to Lakewood Rotary.