We talked about aquariums.
We talked about snakes and toilet paper and Atlanta.
But we didn't talk about work.
Everyone gathered at Fressen, Toronto's amazing vegan restaurant, for dinner after a long day. 12 were visitors from the UK who had spent the day at Vita - 3 were Canadians who had helped either put the day together or made it run smoothly. We began by meeting at head office and doing 3 presentations on sexuality - creating a safe agency for people to live in - serving sex offenders with disabilities - then they left in two groups. Each group going to a different location to see how services were set up.
Back at head office two hours later another two presentations and a question and answer session. It was intense and their interest was palpable. The questions flew thick and fast, treatment, liability, funding, staffing - these people knew their stuff and they knew what they wanted to know. When it was over, I was drained. Partly because of the intensity of the day and partly relief after much planning that it had gone well.
Then it was a trick of organization to get everyone back to Toronto, get the vans back to Vita and get out to the restaurant. We arrived late because of the long weekend traffic and we found everyone sitting around three tables pulled together and people chatting.
But not about work.
For two hours we yakked and laughed and swapped stories. Even though the only thing we all really had in common was our work, our passion for providing the best service possible, there seemed to be an unspoken agreement that the day was done. Work was finished and now we were to be ourselves. People with other lives and other interests.
It was a lesson for me, who sometimes spends my weekends reading mission statements from organizations around the world - to just let it go. To rediscover the 'me' who isn't working. It was such a healthy day.
Know the difference.