And it's a big but ...
There is a cost to what we do. Last night I missed Vita's annual holiday party. I missed the one opportunity I have in the year to be with hundreds of our staff on a social basis. I have really enjoyed these in the past and as we were driving last night, through snow and roads that were becoming increasingly icy, I would check my watch to make sure I caught the time the party started. I'm not sure anyone noticed but when it was due to begin I closed my eyes and sent warm wishes to those arriving in the cold. I said a prayer that all would be safe there and on their journeys home. It wasn't much, but it was all I could do.
I am fortunate, very fortunate, to have a strong team in my department. They are a group of some of the most talented people I know. They are all thoroughly competent, they are all incredibly kind, they are all, each of them, willing to pick up any slack that's left when I'm away for a period of time. We stay in contact through email and, when necessary, through phone calls - but I know it's not the same. I try to be a support, at a distance, and across time zones, and for the most part, because they are who they are, it works.
Equally I am blessed by having a good solid relationship with the other directors, and ED, who keep me informed and involved over the time that I am away. They both understand and encourage me to continue to travel, and learn and bring back amazing ideas that I get from my experience with others. Learning always flows both ways. It's astonishing to have this level of support.
It was hard, though, last night. Sitting in a hotel eating delivery food and watching television in a hotel missing people that I am honoured to know and even more honoured to work with.
I wasn't there in body.
But I was there in spirit.
I hope that my presence was felt but not missed.
Today we get in the car again, heading to another hotel in another city. I hope what we do, out here, matters. I hope that the keynote I gave yesterday will have made a difference. I hope the work, upcoming, will create better service for those with disabilities.
It's this hope that has me here, in the early morning darkness, thinking about both what I missed and about the honour it is to have the opportunity and support needed to try, in my own small way, to make a difference.