Yesterday was one of those really incredible days that just don't come along often enough. While those of us involved in the day are who made it incredible, it was also just a day when everything aligned in such a way that I could experience joy in simple things--like arriving at the bus stop at just moments before the bus...instead of my usual watching it pull away while I am half a block distant and have to wait 15-20 minutes for the next one.
That is not a complaint--I have come to savor those 15 minutes, sitting on the bench, my face turned up toward the sun, eyes closed, taking respite. This is about the most hectic time of the year, what with not only the typical end-of-semester tasks, but also giving comprehensive clinicals and doing graduate applicant review all in the same 2 week span.
Yesterday after a particularly long and busy week, we culminated with our first Child Welfare Symposium for graduate students and child welfare professionals from our region. My colleague did an outstanding facilitation of addiction and recovery for the child welfare professional. It succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. I had said my role for the workshop was to be Vanna White, minus the evening gown ensemble. I was in charge of support and logistics, which is a role I sometimes really enjoy. While I was in the process of managing the environment that nurtures and supports--coffee, water, fruit, pastries, I could also enjoy the interaction of getting folks settled, and so forth. It was a nice systems approach, and then I got to settle back and enjoy the presentation/interaction. We ran out of time before we ran out of material, interest from the participants, and food--always a good place to be.
Afterward, we had a retirement celebration for one of our colleagues who is leaving at the end of the semester, and it was one of those rare times when all the faculty were present, the food was simple and delicious, and the interaction among those of us who work together and strive to form a team from disparate individuals was on the mark.
Afterwards, more celebration! I was elated to walk all the way across campus (I am still reveling daily, moment by moment at my new found joy and pleasure in the simplicity of being able to enjoy walking again) with several of my colleagues to attend the official retirement celebration for our department chair. It was a time to see people I don't regularly see, and do a little catching up, along with joining with my department colleagues to express our appreciation for the wonderful leadership and support our chair has provided for us for the past 10 years.
I do celebrate her accomplishments, and what she helped us to accomplish. I celebrate the difficult times we all went through in forging relationships, because in that difficulty, we learned and refined our roles in our common mission. I listened as the provost used words he would describe her, and listened as the faculty and friends gathered expressed agreement and confirmation: fair, honest, reliable..and many others that characterized her person and her leadership.
As I walked back to my office, alone this time, I marveled not only at the ease of walking across the campus at all, but at the ability to see difficult and challenging things as opportunities, for growth, to step into leadership and followship, and as moments to embrace. I completed the task of entering the recommendations for applicants to our graduate program, thinking about beginning a new class of students, developing new relationships and helping to facilitate new learning and skills for those social workers who will continue the work that is winding to a close for me--not an immediate close, but there are fewer years left in front of me to work than there are of those behind me.
I walked to the bus stop, thinking about how often in my life I have experienced a time of difficulty, only to have the breakthrough occur when I said, "I embrace this! I welcome this! I face this!" And that is what someone once called Choosing what you got.