Good evening.


It’s great to be back in Lauderdale at Beyond Leather.


Thank You for attending.


Have you ever wondered what happened to the dinosaurs in our community?  Where did they go and why?  Why did they stop attending events?  Why did they stop producing events and contests?   Why did they stop being an educator, an activist, or an event or contest producer?  


Many of the people I admired and looked up to from those yesterdays are no longer around, some because they have passed away and others because they followed some imaginary yellow brick road to a faraway land. No, I am not talking about OZ, but rather something bigger and further away. This fictitious place is called Retirement. 


Over the past couple of years, I have heard many people in our community talk about losing their passion and wanting to step away.


Now don’t get me wrong, like some of you, I personally understand that being a part of a community can be tiring, it can be exhausting. 


You can feel that you give and at times get no satisfaction in return. 


You feel that people stop listening to what you have to say and therefore you feel regulated to unimportant.  


You may feel that people have stopped appreciating our history.  


You may have found that Individuals have stopped looking for fellow ship and place more importance on cyber connections.  


The values from my generation will not be the values of todays or tomorrows generation.  The values I grew up with are not the values people hold near and dear today nor will they be held near and dear tomorrow.


For the ones who are contemplating stepping away, today, tomorrow or sometime down the road, I would ask that you ask yourself a few questions before making any decision. 


Ask yourself:

Have I done all I can do to make a difference? 

As a vendor did you find a new vendor to replace yourself in the vending mart? 

Have you taught somebody your workshop skills so they can continue to teach topics to the best of their ability? 

Have you passed along your knowledge on how to produce a contest or an event?

Have you promoted your favorite event so more and more new attendees to want to attend?

Have you passed on your knowledge about how to run or be part of an organization?




Have you given insight on the importance of being a visionary and never settle for second best?


I believe that if you respond to these questions with a yes, then and only then can you say, you may have earn the right to step aside – not away.  


Remember, your community chose you. It decides when it is time for you to retire they will let you know and go.  It is not your decision.  As I was told earlier today, when the phone stops ringing then it’s time to slow then go.


Now I would be ignorant to think that all people are going to follow through with foundations that you may have laid, the values you tried to instill and the knowledge you tried to pass on.  The only thing you can do it offer it.  It will be their decision should they embrace, change it or file it away. 


In my opinion, people have to feel your passion, convictions and excitement before they pick up the baton and carry on this marathon race called the involvement before retirement.      


Personally, after almost 30 years of involvement, I have yet to feel that I earned the right to give up and step aside.


However, I feel I have earned the right to slow down (a little).


Looking back:

I can still remember the excitement I felt the first time I attended an event,

I still get nervous remembering the first time I did a workshop,

I remember the hesitancy of the first time I played in public (without my imaginary friends),

I smile when  remembering the fellowship the first time I joined a organization,

I laugh at the cockiness I showed the first time I held a title,


The satisfaction, I felt the first time I produced a contest and event.


For me like some of you, I am not ready for the imaginary leather retirement village that is going to be built for the old farts.  My fully stocked suite will have to wait.  I think I have a good 30 more years ahead of me – if I pace myself.  After all, I am only half way complete with my journey down the yellow brick road. 


In closing: 

Remember, keynotes are supposed to inspire and make people think not necessarily make you agree with it.  I hope I have left you something to think about.


As you leave here tonight, remember – this event is all about fun, folic and friendships.  If you cannot find somebody to play with this weekend, then lend yourself a hand and play with yourself. 


One last thing, before leaving this event, make a point to go up to the volunteers, staff, event coordinators, producers (Sir Top and bonnie) and say Thank You.  This event is will not happen without you, without your input. They rely on your input – give it to them.  Believe it or not, event producers do not make tens of thousands of dollars from producing events like this. It becomes a labor of love.  t’s a working weekend for them also. They do have time to relax and really enjoy the event other than talking to the attendees.   Even after the weekend is over, they don’t get time to relax. They are busy wrapping up for the weekend and preparing next year = talk about a masochist.  


Thank you again for listening, I hope to see everybody next year.