Saskatchewan Student Leadership Conference 2014 in Nipawin, Saskatchewan

WOW! What a great way to start the 2014 / 15 school year!!

I am writing from John Diefenbaker Airport in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. This is definitely a familiar airport, as many are these days, but it’s been a while. I am really pumped right now. I just had an awesome 3 days in Nipawin, SK beginning with my first presentation of the school year on Wednesday afternoon.

I arrived in Saskatchewan Tuesday evening after a busy day in Vancouver. I had a fitting for a Reebok commercial I am going to be in. My same pal Kris who cast me in the SonReal Believe video last year hooked me up again this time around. Funny how life comes around full circle. I spoke in Kris’ school 8 years ago, and he has told me he was moved then. So years later he decides to give me these acting opportunities. I am 2 for 2 so far! Pretty exciting stuff!!

So yeah my second acting gig shoots tomorrow (now today as I edit), and once again I don’t have to stretchtoo  far from myself to get into character… Well besides the Speeedos I will be swimming in haha. Ya, that was a bit of a surprise Tuesday when I was asked to put on Speedos, take off my shirt and pose for some shots. I guess there’s a first time for everything!  As I sat there Speedoed out I was definitely wishing I had gotten more than a weeks notice of this commercial. That way I could’ve at least tried to shed a bit more of my summer picnic basket!!

So anyways, late arrival to Saskatchewan Tuesday. Enterprise didn’t have to pick me up since they are located in the airport. They did however provide me with the Ferrari I requested. Kidding! They gave me a mini-van. Go soccer Kev!! Hey at least it was a comfy 2.5hour drive northeast to Nipawin. Timmy Ho’s and punk rock kept me alert for the evening drive. I checked into my room at the Northern Greens Resort in Nipawin around 1am and caught some great shuteye.

I have been sleeping great for the past couple of weeks. My mom got me some tea tree oil to combat breakouts I occasionally get on the back of my neck. I have been prone to them and cysts ever since I got MRSA back in the hospital after my car crash. Some online research suggest staff infections and skin issues they could be related. My mom being the awesome lady she is researched and found a natural remedy in tea tree oil. Anyone with any kind of skin trouble I suggest looking into this as a holistic remedy. As an added bonus the aroma seems to have a total calming effect on me that sends me softly to slumber every time I apply this nectar from the land down under to my rear neck region.

Nothing like a great sleep!!.

I was as ready to go as one can be Wednesday afternoon when I arrived at LP Miller Comprehensive School. I felt welcomed as soon as I got out of my mini-van. First a couple girls helped me get my massive bag full of Just Wiggle Your Toes shirts into the school, then Mrs. Comfort and her amazing SSLC team all greeted me and made me feel like a champ. It had been over three months since I last presented, so this warm welcome was a nice way to calm my jitters. The presentation went pretty darn well if I say so myself, and I thank the great people at LP Miller for that! I even tried some new material out on the fine folks in the audience. Considering I was the only thing sitting between a gymnasium full of students and an extended long weekend I must say they was one stellar audience!! THANKS!!

For the next 48 hours or so I would split my time between my hotel room, LP Miller (the high school) or Tim Horton’s. When in my room I was usually on my computer or scribbling notes on paper trying to hash out some new ideas for my presentation at the Student Leadership Conference Thursday morning. I have never dissected my presentation before like I did the past three days. I told myself and the world earlier in the summer that I would be changing things up this year, and so the speaking season has arrived and time to put words to action.  I will admit it’s a bit scary for sure rolling out of my comfort zone, especially knowing what I had before worked. But just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. Yeah I don’t believe in the saying if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Where s the growth and excitement in that??? It’s good to take the road less traveled now and again. How else does one experience new things?

My time at LP Miller was a great reprieve from the intense brain storming and feverish note taking going on back in my room. Saskatchewan folks truly are an amazing breed. Just all around good people I tells ya. I saw about 750 examples of this first hand over the past few days. One of the highlights of my time at LP Miller between presentations was not a Saskatchewinian though… In fact it was a southern Ontarionian named Ian Tyson. A fellow speaker with about 13 years experience on me. I caught Ian’s presentation Wednesday night and was inspired and motivated. What a beauty!!

I also saw about the most Canadian thing ever Wednesday evening… a game of street hockey in a Tim Horton’s parking lot. I sat proudly in my mini-van eating my steak and cheese panini wishing I had some Stomping Tom on my iPod as it would the perfect soundtrack and trifecta for this beautiful Canadian spectacle. I would be back at this same Tim’s later in the evening with my pal Michelle who came up to say hi from Melfort. Tim’s is boss.  America you are in for a treat!!  Wednesday was a great night!

I woke up at 4:30am Thursday morning hamster wheel upstairs just spinning. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up and hopped on my computer and started working more on my talk. Obsess much??!! I finally did go back to bed just as the sun was waking up. I slept. I slept in.

The highlight of Thursday was the banquet held across from the hotel in the curling rink. Adding tables and chairs to the mix really showed just how many people there were at SSLC ’14! I sat at a table with a great crew of teachers from LP Miller and Ian Tyson, my new pal. I also met closing speaker Mark Scharenbroich here. Yet another inspiring person who I could learn a lot from. Dinner was great! My only regret was not grabbing Saskatoon berries for my pork. I thought they were cranberries, which I like but not more than apple sauce. Loves me some apple sauce!! I bailed back to my room just as dinner turned into a dance party. Back to work again!!

Once my eyeballs had had enough staring at paper and a computer screen I applied some tea tree oil fell into an aroma induced siesta. It was time to rest. I had absorbed all that I would absorb. In hindsight I was definitely over-thinking everything. But no regrets because at the same time I was pushing myself to be better. So long comfort zone!

Up at the crack of dawn Friday, I went over everything one last time before showering, eating a little snack and packing up my room. Into the mini-van I lifted my bags and myself. My favourite song EVER Matchbook by Strung Out was the theme song for my drive. LP Miller was bustling as I imagine it would be at 8am on any other Friday, only this Friday students from across the entire province were being dropped off and saying goodbye to surrogate parents (local Nipawin billets) in place of their own folks.

Ian Tyson fired everybody up.  Some more Strung Out back stage fired me up.  Then a couple of SSLC construction crew members introduced me.  I rolled out in front of a packed gymnasium as I have done more than a thousand times before and launched into my talk. I was firing on all cylinders for the first half while simultaneously thinking about my upcoming delivery of the second half. When I reached new material point, I felt on point. I made it through the first 3 / 4 pretty much nailing all the points and stories I wanted to. I had one little brain fart, not sure anyone besides fellow speakers in the audience noticed, but I recovered. I recovered a bit too well though. I went right through my conclusion which I had reserved for after my video. Anybody reading this who was in attendance yesterday. As this video played I sat backtage and thought WHAT AM I GOING TO CLOSE WITH NOW!!!?? To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you now exactly how I closed. But I did get a second standing ovation, so it must’ve worked on some level.

I am a perfectionist when it comes to my presentation. I had definitely set the bar high, and in my own personal opinion I hadn’t reached it. But in hindsight I may have been being a bit hard on myself considering I was trying out about 30 minutes of in depth and emotional material I had never presented publicly before. I chatted with Ian Tyson for a bit afterwards and he gave me some great pointers. I was happy to hear them and once again that hamster wheel got spinning.

But the best thing of all about yesterday was the endless stream of students and teachers and advisors who all came up to me to thank me; to hug me; to take a pic with me; to grab cards or brochures or buy t-shirts. It made me so happy to know that I moved so many of you yesterday.  At the end of the day whether it be my old presentation or a new presentation, the ultimate goal is to move people.  And as long as I know that I succeed in my goal, I can’t have any regrets.  Also… THANKS SO MUCH to everyone who bought t-shirts!! I love that you were so moved you want to rep Just Wiggle Your Toes. I was also happy to have the load of that MASSIVE travel bag reduced to the point where I could actually lift it and roll around with it on my lap.  It was great seeing so many LP Miller students, staff and everyone else wearing my shirts yesterday.  That made my day!

I watched the closing ceremonies and then Mark Scharenbroich closed out the event in style. All I could think was what a great few days I just had and props to everyone at LP Miller and the SSLC ’14 Construction Crew and the entire town of Nipawin, Saskatchewan for putting on such an amazing event!! I am sure everyone in attendance will agree it was a knockout! Well done. To all of the attendees, kudos on being so well behaved and respectful. 700 teenagers away from home for 3 days could turn pretty ugly pretty fast with just a couple of poor choices, but you all showed by example why you are leaders in your schools, your communities and your province and our great country! To all of the performers, exhibitors and the DJs great job! It was an honour to hold court with you. I truly hope to see you all again at future Saskatchewan Student Leadership Conferences or any event or anywhere for that matter.

As I pulled away from LP Miller in my mini-van and made my way back towards the Saskatoon airport and home I did a lot of reflecting. I was beating myself up a bit thinking maybe I should have just went the safe route by delivering my standard presentation. But then I thought if I did that who is to say if I wouldn’t slip into the comfort zone again putting off the opportunity to take a chance and pave new roads?  I mean I started the week in Speedos.  That was WAY out of my comfort zone, but who knows where the ensuing commercial will lead to…?

Both Ian and Mark mentioned a part of my presentation they both really liked. Life isn’t so much about what happened. It’s more about what happens next… I applied my own words to my current internal analyzing as I drove country roads westward towards Saskatoon. The presentation is behind me. And now it’s about what happens next. I got two standing ovations and was mobbed by people wanting to thank me following my presentation. I got praise and advice from experts in the game. And I personally crossed the threshold and took those first few pushes down the unknown road. And now there is no turning back.  Who knows where these new chapters in my presentation… and my story will lead???  Time will only tell.

What happens next?? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. The wheels haven’t stopped turning, nor has the passion in my heart to take this journey to an entire new level. I will always be grateful for the great people of LP Miller and all in attendance at SSLC ’14 and the town of Nipawin for being the opening verse in the next chapter of this journey.

For that I thank you all!!

Thanks for reading! Next stop Vancouver Aquatic Centre for the Reebok shoot. We are shooting tonight.

Wiggle Your Toes