Saturday, June 04, 2011

Retreating To Advance

From arriving at the front door, we gathered as a community. Vita has a staff retreat once a year, the goal is to get people together, reflect on what we've accomplished and to set goals for the future of the agency. It's way, way, more fun that that sounds. Over the course of the day, I got a chance to talk with several people, those whom I don't manage to run into often. I spoke with one woman about her goals for her future, discussed how she might further those goals with the agency. I chatted with another woman about the importance of making all welcome, all staff, all members. She was quick and funny and warm, all the things you want and need in a care provider.

I had a serious conversation about the importance of an agency living up to the mission of 'safety, respect and community' for all within the organization. The need for tackling larger social issues within a smaller community - racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, disphobia, ageism - all them came into the conversation. Two young women, one older woman, two gay men, two people of colour, one person with a disability, three people of separate faiths, all of 5 of us, some sharing multiple identities, talked passionately about continuing to create welcome and acceptance and encouragement of all. We talked about how difference, understood, provides everything we need to know about inclusion.

Later I demonstrated my 'pull my finger' pen to a bunch of folks at my table and we all laughed, none of us being above 'fart' humour. Even later, several of us had a passionate, and loud, discussion about what it means to stand with people with disabilities against those, all those, who would treat them as eternal children.

Earlier, I had eyed the celebration 25th anniversary cake, one of the things we were celebrating, and figured out a way to get two pieces. It was a plan of such depth and deviousness that it was bound to work. It did.

Sometimes I think we all spend so much time meeting that we never meet.

Sometimes I think we all spend so much time talking that we never talk.

Sometimes I think we all need to just have time for a chat, the opportunity to spend time discussing the future and the past and NOT the present.

Sometimes I think we all need to just be with each other.

And that's what we did.

We talked.

We listened.

We met.

And as a result, I'm certain, we will all be changed.


Anonymous said...

I soooo enjoy reading your blog ... and it's not like I'm just "reading it", I feel like I'm actually sharing your life. Because, I find that in whatever situation, circumstance, belief, etc. that you are writing about, that I can easily connect your experience and feelings to my own life ... and thus share the same joys, frustrations, hopes, humour, etc. as you are so clearly able to express yourself, and connect with us in your writing (even though our situations are not necessarily the same). I love your title "retreating to advance" and it did take me a few minutes to let it sink in ... and I love how you figured out how to get some cake ... I pictured you as being Calvin (in reference to the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon) ... and it made me smile and chuckle! -- and the farting too (LOL), sounds like my son and I when we're being silly and destressing. I'm glad that Ontario's moving ahead with additional measures to protect the innocence and well-being of those provided "care", as well as give them a voice should something happen. I'm really going to push that they (the NB legislature) adopt the same measures here. I know in my son's situation, I'm angry, disappointed, sad; but, hopeful and believing things will get better; and fearful too, like the other lady who commented on yesterday's blog about things taking 20 years to get to the place things are now ... she fears for her son ... and as a parent of a child whose been put through the mill so-to-say, his whole life ... and finding out a week ago that I may have cancer .... well, it's really hard for us, as parents to believe our children will be okay, should something happen to us. I'm glad though, that there are those with a strong voice and a determined spirit, who will continue to fight for what is right (despite the opposition .. and trolling/harrassment). That DOES give me hope that things will be okay. Thank you for having broad shoulders, and taking the heat and abuse ... and NOT giving up ... because we all need one another .. and "they'll" eventually hear us if we don't give up on embracing what is right.

Thanks for being a great role model for my son.

~ Elizabeth & Andrew

ps. I'm learning to use my voice .. and to say "no" .... at almost 44 ... so, again, thanks for helping get that message into my heart several months ago when we crossed paths ... and I thank God we did :)

Casdok said...

Just be :)

Noisyworld said...

That sounds brilliant but I have one major question...
what was the cunning plan to get 2 pieces of cake?!
(I don't picture you as Calvin, I have you as Baldrick from Blackadder, but as your plan actually worked you can't be him lol)

theknapper said...

I love the Sometimes.....going to use them at my wkplace

Belinda said...

Something I read today said that, "Each person at ___ whether paid or unpaid, needs to personally ensure that they feel renewed and refreshed, as an agency is only as good as the people who are within it."

It sounds like you all had a great time of refreshing.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this is appropriate or not; but, I wanted to clarify that my reference to you being like Calvin and Hobbs is not to their actual deeds (as they were really quite naughty); but, with regards to the intense thought and planning that went into their endeavours ... because when I read your comments about making your plans, it made me smile, as we all have done similar things, and it made me think of Calvin. So please know that my reference was not to do with their actual deed; but their planning. Thanks, Elizabeth.

wendy said...

It sounds like a wonderful retreat. Sometimes we need to stop in order to take stock.

I, too, find myself wondering about your cunning plan. The work of a true cake mastermind, I'm sure! ;)