Monday, November 13, 2006

Sleepless in Cedar Rapids

Even in Iowa I have become a master of surviving on very little sleep. Coffee and alcohol help (in moderation, of course!)

Although the Cedar Rapids trip was work related, I'm willing to write about it here, because this trip/work transcends my current workplace and is really more related the bigger picture of my "career," if that is what it is to be.

What brought be to Iowa, you may be wondering? It was the National Performance Network(NPN)annual meeting, of which my workplace/organization is a partner.I've been representing my organization at these meetings for the past three years. The NPN is an amazing network of arts presenting organizations and artists from across the U.S. that is intentionally diverse on every level imaginable. When I first started going to the meetings I was totally overwhelmed, but this year I really felt engaged and at the center of what was going on. Imagine a gathering of approximately 200 perfoming artists and arts presenters (mainly grassroots and social change leaning) in one place together for four days. Insane amounts of creativity were bouncing all through Cedar Rapids. So much, in fact, that I was able to battle 3+ weeks' sleep deprivation/exhaustion, jet lag, homesickness, post 30 bday shock and a nasty bloody cold to get into all kinds of great social and professional goodness. Meetings and networking at every hour imaginable. Performances interspersed throughout with full out showcases/performances every night. Following by more improptu arts sharing/jamming/networking.

A list has been started of artists (of every walk of life and from multiple locales) who are incredibly curious and enthusiastic about visiting my little workplace and spending a few days out on Judy Branch. My reply: "Y'all come!"

Even though I went into the meeting with some exhausted, burnt out work dread, I am leaving it reinvigorated, inspired AND, most importantly, with a PLAN. I have reminded by my wonderful colleagues that I belong to a larger, vibrant world/network filled with people I have been forming friendships with for nearly four years. Friends who want to see me grow and prosper and (drum roll...) be HAPPY. What a concept! I'm returning home from Cedar Rapids with great contacts and leads for my transition onto the next great adventure. Many doors have been unlocked, and the next year I'll be working on opening doors through my friendships in this beautiful network. Plus, I was asked to take a leadership position for the Southern Region partners, which, among more good times with colleagues, I'll be attending NPN Board meetings in New Orleans throughout the next year! I always love to spend time in the Gulf, especially if in good company (and the NPN staff are some of the best company to be in).

Between Portland and NPN, I have banked up on positive connections, gathering many keys and have begun to make a plan. The plan: ONE year until the big move. Right now, I think it may be Portland. But I'm keeping my options open. ONE year to make the change. One year to keep my head above water and focus on what's ahead.

I think I deserve a reward: SLEEP!