Charting new horizons.


Surprise, surprise. All this running around lately has come to a grinding halt as I cozy up on my couch with a bad cough and an unrelated toothache. If it was just one or the other, I might have made it to work, but I’m feeling sapped at the moment. Really drained. Dead tired. And so I’m doing email and reading and attempting to heal myself quietly for the day.

It’s been a really crazy time since I went to Ottawa on collective bargaining business, came back to get married, and then hurried back to Ottawa again. I’ve had garden clean-up to get to, visitors, angry union members, and heavy workload to contend with as I try to catch up from what was an unexpected foray into contract negotiations. And in all honesty, I’m not particularly happy about the abruption of it all. I had planned my wedding, fall visiting and food security workshops around the fact I didn’t have any big union commitments scheduled – that it was perhaps the last fallow period before bargaining started again the early winter for me to plan some actual living around…. And out of nowhere, it was all been turned upside down.

Now I’m not bothered to be resentful about that, because I did say yes when the phone call came and I should have known better, but it has underscored a realization I’ve been coming to for awhile: I’m just not cut out for this life of union politics and continual travel. And I don’t mean that in the I’m a big wimp kinda way. I mean in the way that there are too many other things I would rather be doing right now than facing down angry people, or sitting at boardroom tables discussing the specifics of severance pay buy-outs.

Like what you ask? Well, hiking, canning, spending time with my family, gardening, working in my community, going to the gym, reading books, writing creatively, and most of all…. working towards another degree or some other education. Which is something I have been itching after for awhile, but with the tuition benefit at SFU attached to B’s job, it’s become just that much more possible. Or at least, the economic barrier has been reduced some what.

So I’ve got two months of a pretty hellish schedule ahead, doing ratification votes around the lower mainland, on the island and in the interior – but should this agreement pass muster with the membership? Well the next two years I had set aside for bargaining are now open for me to do something else with (our normal bargaining process takes 18-24 months, the agreement I just worked on was part of an exceptional and expedited process). And I think I know just the graduate degree program I want to go with.

So I’m working on my applications and lining up references because for once I’m not going to talk myself out of the process before I even get to the gate – and because this program is exactly what type of education I’m looking for right now: inquiry-based, interdisciplinary and aimed at the mature (working) student. Plus it’s situated at the downtown campus which is three blocks from my office.

Really, I’m using it as the light at the end of the tunnel right now. The chance to move onto something that serves the intellectual part of me for awhile. After several really intensive years of union responsibility, I’m feeling the need for a little space to re-evaluate, and re-prioritize.  Where I used to feel that I was gaining a lot from my union work, I now feel like I am missing out on too much. How is it that we find the balance in these things?

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