Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks 2014

Thanksgiving isn't until tomorrow, but I'm starting early. Let me count the ways that I'm thankful.

1. After 29 days on the road, I was thankful to wake up in my own bed this morning. Not only is it good being next to my wife for the first time in a month, but my sore back is weary of the strain of travel. I'm hoping that a week of R&R at home will ease the pain and accelerate my slow healing.

2. This weekend celebrates the completion of Ma'ikwe's and my first year of living together, which we're enjoying every bit as much as we'd hoped we would. While it was sad for me leaving Sandhill, I'm happy with my choice.

3. I enjoyed taking the last leg of my train ride home last night—from Chicago to Quincy aboard the Illinois Zephyr—with my stepson, Jibran, who is joining us for his first break since starting college last August. It was fun hearing him describe all the new things he's been exposed to the last three months and see how much he's thriving. I was concerned about his going to a rigorous academic school (Shimer College) a year ahead of his age cohort and with no time spent with peers through his high school years (he was tutored at home), but I needn't have been. It's clear he was ready.

The most satisfying piece for me was his disappointment that his fellow freshmen are not (yet) that accomplished at listening carefully to what those who disagree with them have to say. Learning how to think and how to listen are not necessarily skills picked up prior to college, but Jibran, apparently, had a good start.

4. I just completed as solid a stretch of work as I've ever had. Bad back and all, over the course of four weeks I worked every weekend: three with cohousing groups and a fourth at the NASCO Institute (Nov 7-9), where I conducted a pair of workshops. Satisfyingly, everything went well. Woohoo!

5. My Amtrak travel has been extensive enough that I just reached Select status for 2105. That means expedited reservation service, three passes to the first class lounge in Chicago or DC when I'm traveling coach, three free upgrades to Business Class on intermediate-distance trains, and a 25% bump on tier qualifying points for next year. As someone committed to train as his preferred mode of transportation, this cornucopia of amenities and bonuses is a blessing.

6. I'm also thankful for a major life change that's just ahead. At the fall FIC organizational meetings (held Oct 23-26) the Board agreed—at my request—to move forward with shifting me out of the center of things. Though I've been happily up to my eyeballs with Fellowship affairs ever since it was launched in 1987, it's time for a change. We'll be dividing my current job into two parts: Development Director (DD) and Executive Director (ED). 

We have completed an overhaul of the DD job description and are poised to start the search for candidates soon. In addition, we have a promising ED candidate already in hand. With luck, by the end of next year I'll have turned over both roles to worthy, younger successors without a glitch.

I'm pleased to be making these changes from a position of strength. While I expect to continue to play a supportive role in the Fellowship for some time to come (after all, I represent an incredible wealth of personal relationships that cannot be transferred as easily as a Vulcan mind meld), it's time to bring in fresh horses.

While I'm simplifying my life, I'm not sailing off into the sunset. There will still be plenty for me to do as I redistribute my time among the four remaining never-a-dull-moment major interests in my life: my marriage, my cooperative group consulting, my teaching, and my writing.

• • •
So I'm sitting at my desk at home, thankful for a great deal. All of this and I've got roast turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes with giblet gravy, orange-cranberry sauce, homemade minced meat pie, Famous wafers and whipped cream, and spiked eggnog directly on the horizon—which I'll be consuming with consummate enjoyment amidst family and friends. 

How much better can it get?

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