Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Going Emeritus

Ahhh, that sounds so good.

Yup - June 30th was my very last day as the president of our watercolor society. I announced my stepping down several months ago, and since nobody agreed to take the baton from my hand (like Taltul in his time), I had to cope with a lot of requests, pleas and emotional blackmail, all aimed at making me change my mind and stay put. I spent hours, days, weeks contemplating, consumed all the assertiveness I had in me in order to stick with my decision - and the day has come.

Oh say can you see the air going out?

. . . Can you spot my dropped shoulders straightening a bit?

. . . . . . Can you hear the large rock falling off my weary chest?

. . . . . . . . . . Can you trace this wrinkled forehead getting a bit looser, with less line work and texture?

Let's have a moment of quiet here, if I may. Zen, almost:

P H E E E E E E E E E E E E E W ! ! !

My sister, who during her visit witnessed me in action as president several times, both at an all-member meeting as well as at home, asked me if I won't be missing all the action and responsibility and fire extinguishing and crisis solving and peace making and never-ending phone calls and emails and the adrenaline rush and the status (the WHAT!?).

Yup, she is smart.

And she knows me well.

And yes, to be honest, I was somewhat afraid of having mixed feelings, of a sense of regret, a void even.

But, y'know, on the morning of June 30th we had the last board meeting arranged by me. As I did in the year of being the president (and actually, in many a month before I became one...), I arranged-the-meeting-called-for-committee-reports-sent-them-to-the-board-members-ran-the-meeting-assigned-tasks-took-minutes-and-distributed-those-to-the-board. (and the monthly board meeting, mind you, is only one part of what kept me occupied full-time during this year).

And now that it's all said and done, reverting to dude-language: I am like, "Cool!".

Man, was this a busy year!!!

To quote a fellow president (well...), I sometimes feel that during this whole year, "I did not inhale". Only exhaled.

Looking at the blogpost I wrote when I just started, I smile at that young enthusiastic girl, who was so full of energy and excitement and goodwill and plans to change the world (or at least the organization) and I think, "Ah, duckie(*), if you only knew..."

And yet... of the feedback that I hear, I did achieve some things.

We are now on the road to becoming an incorporated non-profit organization (yup, after over 40 years of existing!!! about time, don't you think!? and it was not a trivial thing to pass to some of our members who are not too keen on changes); I drove some other novel ideas in several domains, and I guess I did have an impact.

Oh, also, despite all I've been told, I did not manage to make a certain member hate my guts, as he did with many former presidents. On the contrary - when I announced my stepping down, he came and spoke to me, and actually had tears in his eyes. (and yes, so did I).

And yes, I have gained a lot. A turbo speed steep learning curve from almost zero to nearly 100% has granted me a vast and invaluable knowledge of so many aspects of being in the art world, as well as what makes such a big organization tick. I won some friends, I made a couple of enemies (but hey, one of Mother Theresa’s Paradoxical Commandments says, “If you are successful you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway"... and who am I to argue with that remarkable woman?). And, I got acquainted to so many people, from fellow volunteers to art museum directors, that this may have been the biggest advantage of all; being a relatively newcomer to this country, it's not easy to have your foreign-hard-to-pronounce-name be known. And now it is.

So, what are a bunch of white hairs, a few sleepless nights, a collection of (well documented!) emails that caused serious palpitations, and some showers of tears (oh yes....) comparing to all this?

I was lucky to work with a board that has some truly incredible women (and one great guy) on it, which made it easier, as I did not really need to know everything. I also got a very helpful hand (and sometimes ear), from a couple of former leaders, whose wise advice was like a CPR and kept me going. And - The JohnnyB was beyond supportive the whole time. He provided some priceless ideas (for which I got the credit, alas) and insights, suffered through going over the monthly Leader's Notes to help me polish them for the newsletter, helped me phrase some responses to some ultra-bitching emails (yeah, those were fun) - I am pretty sure he is also relieved that these days are over. Yup, he is a keeper.

In hindsight, I would have done it again.

But now it's time for becoming Leader Emeritus (that is music to my ears!), and thinking about moi for a change. Yes, I am still volunteering, of course. I'm stayin' as a working bee on our exhibits committee and the website committee (coz those are fun!), and will also be busy supporting our board in leading the organization, and initiating our incoming leader (yup - someone has finally agreed to do it starting January!) - but still, I feel like I am getting my life back.

Did I mention Pheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew?

(*) Courtesy of Val, who warms my heart each time she calls me that.



Sandy Maudlin said...

YIKES! SO glad you can breathe out now. What a great post about the travail and certain satisfactions of being a good leader! I just finished up 3 years as pres of Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society, but we're a mere 7 years old, so we don't have as much baggage yet to deal with. It took a LOT to find a new president here, too. She's doing a great job, tho. Enjoy the lack of responsibility! You desrve time toe xplore your own art. Can't wait to see what else you do.

Myrna said...

CONGRATULATIONS on a job done par excellence and a well deserved release on life! You will be very hard to replace...the down side of being too good at what you do. Now that you have all this free time, expecting to see fabulous paintings flowing off your brushes.

tz said...

first, thanks for visitin my blog and commenting..

secondly, what a bittersweet post, yes it's so nice to have the burden of responsibility off your shoulders, on the other hand the position gave so much too...

congratulations on making that change in your life.

i'm always so envious of artists, really like the sketch of the back of the woman on the post below.