Thursday, July 02, 2015

Fibre Week and Beyond

Another Fibre Week at Olds College has come and gone, and once again, I have lived to tell the tale.

(For those of you who do not know about Fibre Week, a brief primer: Fibre Week is an annual celebration of all things fibre hosted by Olds College in Olds, Alberta, Canada. The centerpiece of the week is the Master Spinner/Master Weaver programming offered by the college, but the week also includes a short workshop program, a vendors' marketplace, fleeces shows and sales, and a variety of social events.)

I wear two hats at this event: Master Spinner instructor and Workshop Coordinator, so even before I got sick, Fibre Week was exhausting. Knowing this and taking my doctor's gloom and doom as a warning, I worked very hard for the week leading in to Fibre Week to organize myself so that I could conserve energy and reduce pain and impairment as much as possible.

And it worked.

I'm not going to say nothing hurt or that I didn't come home absolutely exhausted, but I did manage to drive there, shop, teach and visit, then drive home with stops to pick up furniture on the way. Much fibre was purchased. Many friends were hugged. I got to see the fashion show, which included this SAORI piece I made...


...and I had the privilege of teaching this really remarkable group of women...



The beds were hard and the food was abysmal, and there were details that we as organizers had overlooked that led to brief moments of stress, but the people and the fibre more than made up for the shortcomings. As they always do. This is why I go back, year after year.

This Fibre Week was a little different, though. Along with all the usual stress and chaos, I received a phone call on the Tuesday night that has, very literally, changed my life. My husband had been laid off from Keyano College, where he had worked for nearly 24 years, due to budget cuts and organizational changes.

I was pretty shaken by the news. I lost all interest in fibre and spinning and teaching at that moment, and just needs to be home with the partner I have shared my life with for the past 33 years. But then, after a good cry, a shot of Jack Daniels (okay, a double...or two), and a pep talk from a good friend, I decided not to pack my bags and rush home. Dealing with that crisis could wait-my husband, though in shock, was fine and we are not suddenly destitute, thanks to wise investments and a generous severance package. And I had a great class to finish teaching. There was fibre to touch and twist. I stayed and finished up my class, then had a meeting to start the planning for next year in motion.

The time and space between me and the news was probably a good thing. I did not get hysterical (after the initial panic, anyway) and, let me tell you, it sure took my mind off my disease! I left Olds feeling relaxed, with that exhausted but happy post-Fibre Week glow.

I've been home a week now. I'm busy getting ready for my next teaching trip, which is just 10 days away. And my husband and I have realized something. Something big. We can go anywhere, do anything. We are not so financially strapped that we need to find work tomorrow or starve. Our kids are grown and educated and responsible for themselves. We owe next to nothing on the tiny home we have loved for 20 plus years and only have 3 more car payments left. We are young enough to do almost anything, from farming to urban life to living on a boat for a few years.

We are free.

And the dreaming begins. 

So tell me. What would you do if you had the freedom to choose any life you wanted?

...because we're making a list!


3 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that your fibre week was a success! I see that through all your trials and tribulations that you have an awesome attitude which I believe will get you through your new phase of life. You will grasp and embrace your new freedom with gusto!, I envy you that. What would I do with new found freedom? I would buy a B&B in B.C. either in the mountains or on the ocean, and continue with my knitting and weaving of course! Good luck in your future endeavors and I hope to see you soon.

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  2. So sorry to hear of your latest setback, Michelle, but you're already making lemonade out of the situation, aren't you? As to your question, we're already doing it: husband retired early, already own our little home (in Vancouver!), both crafting from our extensive stashes, gardening like mad and taking a month-plus-long vacation every Sept in our vintage VW Westie. Our kids and grandkids live close enough to see regularly and we can walk nearly everywhere we need to for groceries and such. Even though we don't have lots of cash, we love our life! I know you guys will figure out what works for you too. Best of luck, hon'!

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