Ben snapped a picture of me jumping off the picnic table, seemingly suspended in the air. The image captures how I feel about the upcoming change in my professional life, now a mere two weeks away. My secondment to Arts Council Wood Buffalo will come to an end, as will my 15 years of service at Keyano College.
At first, I was having panic attacks with the thought of leaving the nest of a steady income and the comfortable safety net offered by Keyano College. I would sit on the sofa, imagine being totally unemployed with no prospects, and my heart would start to race and beads of sweat began forming on my brow. I was petrified.
When the news came that I wouldn't be getting the permanent executive director role with the Arts Council, it felt like a kick in the gut, to be completely honest. But, I quickly reframed the situation, realizing that I could now move forward and freely explore new opportunities. I wrote a blog (At the crossroads) sharing the news that for the first time in 25 years, I would be out of a job come May 31st. There is an advantage to having a large social network, especially when you want to get the word out fast about something. Almost immediately, employment and contract overtures starting falling from the sky. It's been a remarkable couple of weeks, being reminded that I have a toolbox of skills and experiences that are in demand.
I'm still in the phase of sorting out the details of what the future will look like, which, for the moment, precludes me from being specific. However, I can share that contract and job opportunities have popped up that would leverage my strengths in strategic communication, social media, event planning, facilitation and community development. Everything that I'm exploring resides in the social profit (nonprofit) sector, which makes me incredibly happy.
Meanwhile, Heather and I continue to talk about incorporating. Rather than having two sole proprietorships, it would be more advantageous to roll things into a single business entity. We're playing with naming ideas and looking into the details.
I'll be drafting a reflection/gratitude piece in the coming days, about what my 15 years at Keyano College has meant to me and our family. We'll be forever grateful to Julie Brown for taking a leap of faith in bringing me over from the radio station back in 1999. In the cradle of the College, I was able to develop a broad set of skills, participate in great learning opportunities, and reap the benefits of working with some amazing people. Yes, there were some incredibly difficult times - employee challenges, leadership change, arts programming cuts - but they only added to the value of the experience. There will be no anger, resentment or regret at the end of the month when I pass in my keys and do my out clearance. There will only be appreciation, respect, and a treasure trove of great memories.
What a great time of year to go through a transition. Spring, which came late and only now has settled in, has brought with it optimism and hope. The grass is beginning to turn green, the leaf buds are forming, and our backyard has turned into a remarkable bird sanctuary. Bohemian waxwings, red-winged blackbirds, purple finches, evening grosbeaks and yellow-bellied sapsuckers swoop in by the dozens, enjoying the offerings of the bird feeder and the fermenting berries on the tree behind the shop. We have a set of binoculars on the windowsill, at the ready to identify new species that seem to arrive on a weekly basis.
The warmer weather has also allowed me to get back fishing on the Athabasca. Heather's brother Michael was a little jealous seeing the above photo on Facebook. I caught a beautiful 68 cm walleye on my first outing. Two days later, I caught another, almost as big: 66 cm - a great way to start the season.
Heather is feeling fantastic these days, pursuing her professional aspirations with amazing energy, enthusiasm and vision. There has been no word about a surgery date. Instead of worrying about it, she is moving forward will full intention and attention. Heather is a force to be reckoned with.
Dylan is nearing the end of Grade 9 and getting increasingly excited about his summer trip to Red Deer for Artstrek, the provincial theatre camp for teens. There is no question that his experiences with Les Mis and Hometown...The Musical! have inspired him to continue his dramatic explorations. Like his father, he also enjoys his politics, and was thrilled to be able to get up close and personal with Trudeau-the-younger.
He also continues to educate the gaming community with his series of "Let's Play" videos. You can check one out below.
Ben is sliding to the end of Grade 5. His favourite activity is something called parkour.
The above definition gives you a sense of what it is. Here are some pictures to give you a better sense.
Neil and Susan (Heather's dad and mom) arrive on Saturday for a much-anticipated visit. It will be nice to have them around for a few days.
My mom (Loraine) celebrates her birthday tomorrow. She will be a spry 71 years young. I wish we could be there to celebrate, but we'll have to send our love from a distance.
All the best from all of us.