May 21, 2022
The pandemic years were (and let’s be honest still are) so, so hard. I lost friends, a job I loved, and a great deal of optimism and my own confidence in navigating the world.
I came to OTESSA with low expectations. This is not any reflection of the conference organizers but rather, expectations have gotten harder as hoping in things has proved risky, painful business. I needed PD for my new job. I knew people speaking and in what felt like a past life was interested in the topics. I was pretty free. Done.
Best. Decision. Ever.
Hearing presentations and reconnecting with friends reawakened a part of me I thought had become yet another pandemic casualty. Metaphors and complexity—care and reflection—irresistible pedagogy and legos and afternoon swing music and dancing…these things began to rekindle hope in me. I’ve never been to a conference where I came to predictably cry through keynotes but, as cliche as it sounds, they were all good tears as things inside me began to thaw.
Here is what OTESSA taught me: there are still people doing good work. There are still people caring and listening and showing up and being open and keeping going and….this is why we can still have hope. This is why I can still have hope.
The last six months have been the hardest season of the hardest season of my life. This season is by no means over and yet OTESSA taught me there still is brightness. This brightness helps me remember who I am by remembering we are not alone or perhaps more specifically, I am not alone.
So thank you friends for showing up and keeping going and helping to begin the slow thaw of my little hobbit-like heart that had inadvertently sworn off adventures and expectations. Thank you for reminding me of the larger views, being your messy selves with tech glitches and children and pets and all the real life merging together even on a digital platform. Thank you for welcoming me and all the introverted misfits like me who went off radar back….again and again and again.
Here’s to the good hard work and even more that we never have to do it alone.