Thursday, November 01, 2012
THE HOPE LADY'S FUTURE
There’s a question I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: What is the difference between the Hope Foundation and THE HOPE LADY? It’s a difficult question to consider, the two—Hope Foundation and HOPE LADY having been so closely intertwined for 17.5 years. Still, there’s no getting away from it. It is a question that simply will not go away, because the Hope Foundation is a non-profit organization managed by a board of directors. Those directors have given notice that the Hope Foundation will officially close December 31 2012. Hope research will be the responsibility of the University. Physical assets will be dispersed. Holiday pay will be added to final paycheques. Come January 1 THE HOPE LADY will no longer carry a key that fits the lock on the door of Hope House. Her business telephone number will be reassigned in the campus phone system. And thus we come to a different question, another one that simply will not be thrust aside: If a Hope Foundation falls victim to a lack of financial support in the jungle of non-profit organizations, is there still a HOPE LADY? The answer to this question is clear and unclear at the same time. Yes, there will still be a HOPE LADY in 2013. She will most certainly be different from the 2012 version in some ways. Though we don’t know exactly how those differences will be manifested, we do know about some things. This seems a good place in which to state them, for she will certainly be doing many things that she loves. It’s more hopeful to focus first on the knowns. THE HOPE LADY will be blogging in 2013. This promise she has made to herself. THE HOPE LADY loves blogging. You may wonder about this, given the stretches when she does not blog at all. But rest assured that, at those times, she is thinking about blogging, explaining to herself the reasons for the gap, and planning what she will write when she starts again. Blogging gives hope to THE HOPE LADY. It clears her thinking. It sometimes makes her laugh. She will need all of these things, just as she has needed them in the past. THE HOPE LADY will be making public appearances. Some dates are already booked and have been for a long time. She will be doing conference keynotes, making her knowledge about how to use hope and strengths tools in counselling and group work available in workshops for professionals, and facilitating hope discussions for groups of people who are trying to find hope and strength in difficult times. THE HOPE LADY will still be supervising students who are learning to be counsellors. She won’t be able to do this at the Hope Foundation, but she is committed to supervising the Master’s students studying counselling psychology at the University of Alberta. She does this every Wednesday morning, and has for years. It is one of her great pleasures. Now for the unknowns. THE HOPE LADY does not yet know how she will exercise her love of counselling. A lot of people say they would not welcome the opportunity to deal with people who have illnesses, depressions, chronic pain. But this kind of work has made her very happy in the past, and she’d like to find a way to keep doing it. She will still, after all, be a Registered Psychologist. THE HOPE LADY does not know how she will deal with the looming loneliness. She is accustomed to arriving at the office knowing she will be in the company of friends. She is used to laughing some time in the first five minutes of the workday. She is, by nature, a social being and those social needs have been splendidly met on a daily basis through a shared enthusiasm for knowledge, challenges and experiments in the company of some of the finest people the universe ever created. It won’t be easy being THE HOPE LADY without a Hope Foundation. Without the supporting structure of a Hope Foundation it won’t be easy to be known, to be respected, to be reached. If the Hope Foundation had weathered the financial storm, I would have faced a different problem a few years hence. I would have had to wonder how to retire THE HOPE LADY when I retired from the Hope Foundation. Retirement would have offered certain perks. These I would have presented to her as an incentive. THE HOPE LADY might have welcomed later morning starts, more holidays, less drafting of annual reports and calculation of statistics for funding requests. She likely would have retired—albeit with a lot of complaining. But she still would have wanted to be THE HOPE LADY—wanted it because she liked it so much. Things did not turn out the way we had hoped. The Hope Foundation took early retirement. Seeing the inevitability of this, I have presented all the advantages to THE HOPE LADY. She can sleep late. She can stay home on cold snowy days. She can take a holiday whenever she wants. She can join a bridge club, sing in a daytime choir. But THE HOPE LADY has made her position clear. She is not ready for retirement yet. She has insisted on staying with me. She’s stuck like glue and hard to shake. Now I just have to figure out what, exactly, to do with her.