At the crossroads


I am at a crossroads, standing in the intersection looking down divergent paths, wondering which way to go.  For the past year, I have been on a generous secondment from Keyano College to Arts Council Wood Buffalo, serving as its interim executive director.  It will soon be time to pass the torch to a new person, as I will not be carrying on in the permanent role.  And unless the right opportunity emerges in the next month, I will be out of a job for the first time in 25 years. It's a little unnerving.

Despite the waves of panic, moments of fiscal anxiety and doubt, I'm trusting that the universe is taking me exactly where I need to go.  A couple of years ago, I was asked to jump off the waterfall into the mist below.  I said yes, knowing full well that this day could come, a day when the safety net that I have enjoyed for a very long time may be gone.

I am 46 years old.  I am a writer, communicator, strategic thinker, innovator, community builder, actor, painter, facilitator, marketer, arts champion, and recovered politician.  I say that last part in jest, though there is a ring of truth to it.

I am a loving husband to Heather, "Papa" to Dylan and Ben, and a fierce ambassador of Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo.  In my spare time I like to fish, spending peaceful hours along the river watching the tip of my fishing rod, waiting for a slight tug, and the anticipation of a good fight.

I share stories, in person, on social media and here, on the Middle Age Bulge blog.  Once in awhile you'll see my stories in print, in the Fort McMurray Today and in YMM Magazine.  Writing is one of the anchors of my life, an activity that brings me great joy and balance.

I spent a full decade in the radio broadcasting business, starting off as a Jack-of-all-trades at small market stations in Fort St. John, Parksville, Port Alberni, Stettler, and Drumheller before accepting a job here in Fort McMurray as program director of CJOK back in 1996.  It was a great career that gave me an invaluable foundation of skills that I continue to nurture and grow.

I am fiercely loyal, whether that is to a person or an organization.  I've spent the last 15 years at Keyano College, in a variety of different positions ending with this secondment to Arts Council Wood Buffalo. Keyano feels like home to me, and its people, my extended family.

I served as President of the Fort McMurray interPLAY Society for 13 years, and helped create Events Wood Buffalo.  And while that story didn't end in the way that any of us would have liked, I still am very proud of all that it accomplished, and carry no resentment about what has happened.  There are valuable lessons to be learned, and as a community, we are trying to figure them out.

What's next for me?  I really don't know for sure.  I am going to be open to offers and exploring a number of different trajectories.

I will remain an active member of the Premier's Council on Culture.  I'm also continuing to engage as one of the Nexus North Fellows, a cultural change initiative aimed at moving us closer to being a global model for sustainable living in the north.  Additionally, I've accepted the onerous task of working with a dynamic team of volunteers as Chair of Festivals for the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games.  There is no end to volunteer and learning opportunities.  The only missing piece - post the secondment which ends May 31st - is an opportunity that can leverage my skill set, network, and community equity and provide an income for my family.

If you have ideas or an opportunity, I'm open to talking about it. We do everything else by social media, why not look for a job?

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