Yesterday, as I drove from Brooks back to the Calgary airport to fly home, I caught myself smiling while I bopped to the music. I was feeling energized and happy. It was a good trip. Even better than the miles of smooth, nearly empty highways with nothing but good music and my thoughts, were the many good people I spent time with. This trip was just what I needed. I was refreshed by relationships.

1. My brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. On Thursday night, I hung out with my niece while she showed me a cool powerpoint she was working on for school. Later, my brother (sometimes known on this blog as bbb, though he doesn’t have a blog – unless you count the five entries he did while he drove across Florida) and I went to a movie (Catch a Fire – worth seeing, by the way). Movies have always provided a bit of a common bond with my siblings and I. It’s what we often do when we’re together. Two of us (bbb & ccap) are more addicted than the other two, but we all enjoy a good night out at the movies now and then. The next morning, we played a couple of games of Settlers (and nobody cried :-), and then went out for Vietnamese food for lunch. It was a delightful time. Comfortable, relaxed, and just the right way to start a business trip that I initially thought would have its stressful moments. I am blessed with good family.

2. Volunteers and supporters of the non-profit organization I work for. On Friday night, I drove to Red Deer for a annual meeting with about 100 dedicated volunteers who commit time and energy to our organization’s mission to end hunger. It was SUCH a good meeting. There was a great spirit in the room. Given some of the challenges we’ve been through lately in that province, I really didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out much better than I even dared to hope. I’ve made some good friends there over the past couple of years, and it definitely feels good to walk into a room where you know there are people who support you. They energized me to come back home and re-commit myself to doing my job the best way I know how.

3. Staff. In the Spring, we hired 2 new staff to work on my team in Alberta (there are staff across the country that report to me). It’s a husband and wife team that job-share in the role. They are the kind of people you want on any team – compassionate, understanding, cooperative, energetic, committed, and all those other good things. More than anything, they feel safe – the kind of people you just know you can be yourself around and they will support you and continue to respect you. I spent Friday night and Saturday morning with them, and the trip was worth it just to see them in action. Their presence was one of the reasons Friday night’s meeting was so successful. Also, another new director was there from our Winnipeg office, and he’s a similar kind of person. (I was also on the hiring committee when he was hired, so I’m starting to think I have good instinct when it comes to hiring!) After the meeting Friday night, the four of us congregated in my hotel room and hung out until about 1:00 a.m. It is so much fun when you enjoy the presence of the people you work with. Things have gotten much better in that regard.

4. Hope. Yay! I got to meet another blogging friend! I hooked up with Hope for lunch on Saturday and it was everything I’d hoped for and more. We chatted for two and a half hours and it felt more like half an hour. I don’t think there was an awkward silence throughout. In fact, we probably could have chatted for another two and a half hours if I hadn’t had alot of miles to cover to get to Brooks. What can I tell you about Hope? Well, I think I’m in love. I want to live next to her, share recipes with her, wander along the river with her, stay up late at night chatting around a campfire, you name it. She is warm, comfortable, safe, kind, funny, and lots of other good things I can’t think of words for. Plus she’s the classy kind of woman who thinks to bring a gift AND pay for lunch. Wish I’d thought of at least SOME little gesture! Maybe when she makes her way to Winnipeg, I’ll get a chance to return the favour. I’m waiting for your visit Hope.

After my second successful blogger meet-up, I’m getting a little addicted. Anyone else want to meet me? You never know where my travels might take me. In my limited experience, you really CAN get to know someone from reading their blog, and so far, I’ve been drawn to just the kind of people I would like in “real” life.

5. Julie (and family). My third night in Alberta was spent near Brooks at the home of my very dear friend Julie. When I arrived, she was alone (her husband and sons were at a birthday party) so we got a few hours of alone time to reminisce and catch up on family news, etc. Julie and I have been friends since we were in diapers. We grew up about a mile apart, but out there in the country, they were our closest neighbour. We used to ride bikes or horses or walk to each other’s houses all the time. Our families did lots of neighbourly things together too. We didn’t have a TV growing up, so we would sometimes get to visit their house to watch special shows like The Sound of Music, Disney, or the Santa Claus parade. One of the memories Julie and I reminisced about was the time (I think it was around Halloween) she and I decided we wanted to be world-changers and we wrote and performed a play for neighbours and friends as a fundraiser for a charity. I think there were about 10 people in my parents’ living room, and if I remember correctly, we donated about three dollars to the Gideons (an organization one of our neighbours worked for). I guess life has come full circle since I now work for a non-profit organization and part of my role is leading the fundraising campaign. It was such a treat to see Julie again and actually get some one-on-one time without our kids clamouring around us.

6. Julie’s church family. Part of my reason for visiting Julie (or at least the reason that justified my visit on a business trip) was so that I could make a presentation at her church. It was one of those incredible services where you know something bigger than any of us is at work. The speaker spoke on exactly the same topic I had planned to talk about in my presentation. The story I told couldn’t have been better suited than if we’d sat down and planned it together (which we didn’t, since I’d never met or talked to the speaker before and we’d made no arrangements through Julie about the topic). I felt completely at home there, and left feeling happy that Julie and her family have a wonderful church community surrounding them.

So there you have it – relationship refreshment. I have been renewed by the people I met. Thank you to all of them for sharing pieces of themselves with me.

Speaking of relationships – now I think it’s time I start catching up on all of your blogs so you don’t think I’ve abandoned you. (And just so you don’t think I’m doing this on work time, I’ve taken today off to recuperate from my trip. Catching up on blogs sounds like recuperation to me!)

Before I go though, Hope, this picture is for you, just so you know how much I enjoyed the gift. Mmmmm…
sipping chai

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