The Serenity After the Storm

I love storms — the malevolence of the sky, the crash of the thunder, the relentless drive of the rain. But after the storm passes, the damp stillness brings its own charms in the form of chirping birds, the smell of fresh rain and the juxtaposition of peace lightly scarred by the storm’s damage. After the deluge, there’s tranquility.
But not all storms show up on Doppler radar.
Two weeks ago, at long last, the Michigan Association for Healthcare Quality conducted its annual educational conference. For this year’s event, we trekked north to The Park Place Hotel in lovely Traverse City. As president-elect of the organization, the role of conference chairman fell to me. Aided by a delightful team of volunteers from across The Mitten, we continued our long, storied tradition of yanking a three-day educational event from ‘twixt our buttocks.
I was worried, though. Paid registrations nosedived — we had no idea what moving from Frankenmuth to Traverse City would do — and as late as one week before the event, much of the important stuff like menus, brochures, etc., hadn’t been wrapped up (i.e., I hadn’t gotten to it yet). And don’t get me started on the damnable attrition clause with the hotel!
Now that it’s over and the results are tabulated, I can breathe again. It appears that attendance was, indeed, down a slight bit — we ended up with 50 total attendees for the main conference plus a healthy eight for the CPHQ review course — but evaluations came back very positive. The attrition clause wasn’t enforced, so not only did we have a highly regarded event, but we probably will end up turning a small profit off of it, too, despite that I spent like a drunken sailor on things like branded messenger bags and speaker honoraria. In other words: The conference went off without a hitch!
The event, though, was just one drip in a much larger bucket. Add to that a bunch of out-of-state travel activity this summer, plus work on the anthology, plus volunteer stuff with NAHQ, plus the promotion at work, plus extra contract assignments, plus a more robust social calendar, plus deeper political engagement, plus, plus, plus … well, it’s been a wild ride. An embarrassment of riches, actually — the “busy stress” wasn’t because of bad stuff, but because of new opportunities.
Starting roughly last October, and continuing to today, I’ve experienced something I hadn’t really felt in a decade: Overwhelming workloads. Especially this summer, I’ve had to-do lists so long that I realized I just wasn’t going to get everything done, no matter how hard I tried. I don’t like swimming in that pond! So some things suffered — including, alas, my plan to attend VIMFP in Las Vegas next weekend.
But things are winding down. The conference is done, I’m getting more settled at work, the contract assignments are becoming more routinized, and the anthology is humming along. This weekend is the first since late August that I haven’t had any calendar commitments to deal with. Although National Novel Writing Month will be here in a scant three weeks, I have an idea ready to go and a plan for making things happen.
So now the storm has passed, and as I survey my task list for the next week, I can breathe the clean air knowing that the list isn’t impossible, or even that much of a strenuous exercise. It can be done!
I therefore sit, blogging, with Murphy laying on my lap and coffee on the desk and Skype open for occasional chats. I’m going to go for a walk today. It’ll be grand.
Long-hidden serenity is starting to shine through the dissipating storm clouds of 2014. At last.