Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New art for a new office




The big news in my life right now is that I have accepted a new job.  I realize this type of thing happens to people all the time, and for many it’s not a big deal, but I tend to find a place and dig in and never leave.  The only reason I left my last job is because the company closed.  The job before that I left to have a baby.  The job before that was because my husband finished grad school and we moved 3,000 miles.  I’ve only had 4 jobs in my adult life.  I sometimes wonder if I hadn’t gone to college if I’d still be working in the town library (my much-beloved high school job.)

All this to say, this is the first time in my life I am voluntarily leaving a place I love to go work somewhere else. It is rocking me to my core in all sorts of ways.

Let me back up.

Many of you know, I am currently the director of a school age child care program in a town about 15 miles from my house.  I've been there five years and really like it.  I had no intention of going anywhere. 
Then back in July, I was reading email from the superintendent of schools in the town where I live - one of those general mid-summer updates to all the parents in the district, talking about progress on various goals.  In this email, he announces that the long-standing director of the after-school program has retired, and that the position is being totally re-vamped into a much larger leadership position for the district. Intrigued, I clicked through to the details of the job posting, and immediately realized, they are looking for ME.

So I applied, and then spent the next two months worrying and feeling guilty and conflicted, while waiting to get called for an interview.  (My family might point out that “worry” is a bit of an understatement. I was a wreck.) The interview process kept getting delayed due to more pressing school district issues.  My nerves got increasingly frayed.  Finally, two weeks ago I got the call, and then very quickly proceeded through a series of increasingly demanding interviews, until at last, I was offered the job last Thursday.

I will be doing very similar work – coordinating before-and-after school care within public school buildings – but on a much larger scale.  My current company is a small non-profit who holds a contract with a school district.  In my new job, I’ll be a school district employee, and I’ll have many new responsibilities in terms of community outreach, collaborating with other town programs, and innovating new ideas for learning that takes place outside of traditional school hours.  It’s a fantastic job, and wonderful opportunity for personal and professional growth.  The best part of all this?  It’s my home town.  The town in which I grew up and was educated. The town I moved back to ten years ago so that we could raise Max here.  The town I love. This is a dream job, and a perfect fit.  It feels like every choice I’ve made in my career up to this point has led me to this place. I’m incredibly excited.

BUT….I have to say goodbye to a community of people I’ve grown to love, and I’m terrible at letting go. 

I’ve got four weeks to tie up all the loose ends in my current job, and jump through all the pre-employment hoops in my new job.  I spent all day last Friday telling my staff and my board members.  Monday was a day full of strategy meetings, planning how to conduct the search for my replacement.  Yesterday was the email announcement to all the parents of the kids in the program.  The predictable pattern of response to this news has been shock, followed by disappointment, followed by “but I am so happy for you” followed by “but I’m so sad for us.”  I dance between grief and gratitude all day long.  I remind myself how boring and empty life would be if I didn’t feel and care so much.

There will be lots to do in the next four weeks, and I expect my days will be long.  It feels great, after nearly 3 months of worry and secrecy, to be able to move forward.  I’m much better when I have a plan.  It’s hard to predict what role art will play in this.  The weeks of not-knowing paralyzed me creatively.  I drew inward, and took comfort in books and movies.  It’s no surprise that I finally got my art mojo back the day I completed the interview cycle.  I still didn’t know if I had the job, but I had given it everything I had, and I finally had room for something else.   

Meanwhile, I bought frames for two of my favorite pieces, with the intention of hanging them in my new office.  Whether or not I have much time for art in the next four weeks, the pieces are leaning against the wall, ready to go, and reminding me that my creative and professional lives are both a big part of who I am, and are not mutually exclusive. 


32 comments:

  1. Congratulations! They are both stunning pieces, however I like the one you highlighted in the blog - it is incredible. If I get a new office (maybe next year, as it happens) I should commission you to do the artwork!

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    1. Thanks Phillip. I panic at commissions, but if you ever see something posted on the blog that you're interested in, let me know.

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  2. Congratulations, Karen! How exciting! The new job sounds perfect for you!

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  3. Yay you!!! So cool to find something that's *so* right up your alley. Those waiting months are hell. I went thru that trying to buy my first house. Hope it all goes swimmingly and you're soon ensconced in your new art-bedecked office!

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  4. I'm so happy for your, Karen, that is fantastic news. Congratulations!!

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  5. You're right (and not so unusual) in describing the tension, the up and down, the back and forth, of waiting for a job interview and then waiting for a decision. We've all been there at some point - and it's certainly exacerbated when we really want something. I'm so glad it worked in your favor - even tho, like you said, it's hard to leave a loved job behind. This one sounds right for you on many levels.

    It's such an exciting time and with all the changes afoot, I'm sure you'll be busy - I'm also sure you'll find time for art....I'm always amazed at how much you can accomplish. Congrats on the new job and I hope you love it!

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  6. Congrats to you Karen! Sounds like the perfect job -- and it is in a school district (read that = retirement benefits!). I hope you love the new job!

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    1. Thanks Rhonda - you are exactly right about the attraction of a school district position!

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  7. Wow Karen! Warmest congratulations to you! The artwork will connent you very nicely to your new office, good thinking...I wish you all the best.

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  8. I'm sure you have been very conflicted about this....but change is always good. It renews your enthusiasm. How you manage art, swaps, AND a full-on job is quite beyond me. You must be Wonder Woman.

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  9. congrats karen! and remember the world needs those of you who hunker down for the long haul (my dh is one) ... you are the bedrock that the rest of us flitters anchor to.

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  10. Congratulations Karen want wonderful news!

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  11. Hi Karen, All good wishes in your new position. Home Town is special. Having work you love to do is an amazing blessing. Change- can be difficult, but it stirs us out of our comfort zone, and we grow from the experience. You are amazing. I hope your new employer and co-workers recognize that from Day #1. Go for it! Honi C.

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  12. Yay! You will be ARTing in just a few days.....Can't wait to see you!

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  13. Woo woo, Karen -- what wonderful news. I totally understand your conflicted feelings but it really sounds like a terrific opportunity and change is good. I'm sure you will be making art once you get set up in your new routine. Congrats!!!

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  14. Congratulations Karen. This is wonderful news. All roads lead to now. Be well and happy as you make the transition.

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  15. Congratulations!! My husband is similar in that he stays in jobs and just went through a similar transition anyway, for similar reasons--and I think both of you are great for saying a wholehearted YES to a new opportunity. I wish you all the best as you finish at your current job and bring all your amazingness to your new job. xo

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  16. Big Congrats, Karen! It sounds tailor made for you. Much good luck, with your new position.

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  17. You never cease to amaze me, Karen! How you manage a demanding job, a family, friendships, art-making and running MMSA is totally beyond me. I'm very happy for you!

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  18. I am so proud of you! Change isn't always easy but it is definitely exciting and this is is an amazing opportunity for YOU. You were meant to have the job. :) Think about it.

    So congratulations, and felicitations! An omen is headed your way. Precognition and all that. :D You'll show us photos of your art in your new office, yes?

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  19. Those pieces of artwork are fabulous! Who's artwork are they again? Must be somebody famous? And what are they for again? Must be for somebody and/or something important.... :D (Congrats a million times again. My heroine!! Maybe your gutsiness will rub off :D)

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  20. Yay, You!
    They say that if you have a job doing what you love you never work a day in your life...sounds like you are THERE!
    We all love you, so keep us posted!

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  21. I'm so happy for you - it just sounds like it was all meant to be!

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  22. Congrats on taking all the brave steps & leaps that brought you "home"
    Your new job sounds like a wonderful fit & challenge~
    Best always,
    Care

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  23. Congratulations, Karen!! I've just gone through a similar experience with my daughter...she is leaving a company owned by friends to go to a bigger company where she knows no one. It's a challenge but I'm sure she will do good and so will you. Remember a trapeze artist must let go of one swing in order to catch the next one.

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  24. A huge hug of congratulations across the wide US to you, Karen. Sounds like your river of life is broadening in a glorious way. AND I can certainly see that you may not have the same amount of time to spend on MMSA with all of this. I hope you find what's just right for you in this, and that we all enliven ourselves and each other with Casual swaps while waiting for the great themed exchanges. You have really created a fabulous community in this, and I can see you thriving in your new postion. Any chance we can see a larger version of both of these peices of art? They are great!

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  25. Congratulations, Karen. It sounds like a match made in heaven.

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  26. Karen this is wonderful news. The town is lucky to have you as a resident and now an employee!

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  27. Congratulations, Karen! This sounds like a really wonderful opportunity for you. As hard as it is to leave your current position, it sounds like you will bring so much to this new role. Your district is so lucky to have you! (And I love that art piece for your office!)

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  28. Congratulations, Karen. Sounds like an excellent fit. I too am changing positions in two weeks. Exciting times!

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