Back to Work — Let’s Toast!

Yeah!

I started back at work Monday after a month of medical leave.

It was great. Sure, I tired easily and I won’t be back full days for a little while longer, but it felt so normal being at my desk, talking with staff, and getting back on top of things.

I missed my friends and colleagues more than I had realized. Work grounds me and satisfies a big chunk of my needs for achievement, intellectual stimulation, conversation, connection, and purpose.

I know how lucky that makes me!

Recovering from surgery this past month has reinforced my sense of gratitude. I’ve had the good fortune to have a health problem that could be addressed successfully with surgery; the surgery and recovery went well; my benefits will cover most of the cost; my friends, family and work-family were all supportive and loving; and I’ve gone back to work with a renewed sense of interest and excitement.

So that’s why I feel like I should bring out the champagne.  It’s going to be a happy new year.

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Training Time

I’m in the middle of a fabulous 2-day training on facilitating a strategic planning model called the Theory of Change.

So far it’s been fascinating. I’m excited at the prospect of bringing this knowledge back to my agency to use in our internal planning. There may even be opportunities to offer my newly learned skills to other organizations involved in similar projects.

Theory of Change starts with establishing the final desired outcome — in other words, it starts with Intention — and then digs down and down to identify and map out the all the “necessary and sufficient” preconditions that must be in place to achieve the final desired outcome.

While it shares a lot with traditional logic models and other planning tools, some how it turns these on their heads — or inside out — and encourages a perspective that is a structured, but creative, kind of thinking.

Maybe Theory of Change is the sonnet of planning — infinite variety in a tightly constructed format.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions and to exploring different ways to use this tool.

Learning new stuff is so great!

“Fun day” at work

Last Friday afternoon we all met at the upstairs dance/meeting space at the French Broad Food Co-op in Asheville to work with an art therapist for a couple of hours as a stress reducing/fun initiating /creativity releasing /team building…. whatever. Even though many of us scoffed (me chief among them, though I usually love this kind of stuff, I was just in a pissy mood).

Well, it was wonderful. We laughed ourselves sick — we got silly and wacky and did this amazing scream exercise, as well as a bit of self-revelatory stuff. But mostly we just laughed and laughed. We sooo needed it.

My personal highlight was playing the musical chairs-like game where one person stood in the center and asked if anyone had ever…. (fill in the blank). The only rule was the “thing” had to be something you had actually experienced. Carolyn said, “did anyone ever have a pet chicken growing up?” Deafening silence. The trick was, those who had shared your experience had to jump up and trade placed with each other — you rushed into the fray to claim a spot too, and the one left standing started the inquiry all over again.

So, we have 22+ staffers and volunteers present, several of them my age group. When I get my chance in the middle I say, “has anyone ever taken LSD?”

The upshot is, both pet chickens and hallucinogenics are unfamiliar to many Western North Carolinians in the social services. Who knew? And is it any wonder Carolyn and I best friends?