As the leaves change

For as long as I can remember, fall has been my favorite time of year. Growing up on a dirt road in Michigan surrounded by farmland and forests, I would eagerly await the cooler weather. Then and now I take time to marvel at all the rich colors of the trees—the shades of green, yellow, copper, and ruby red. Together they paint a beautiful canvas, becoming nature’s way of reminding us of the beauty of letting go and falling forward into new seasons and opportunities.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve actually never been good with change. I value consistency and structure, which don’t really go hand in hand with times of great transition. Over the past year a lot has changed.

Pivoting to online programming, declining membership numbers, CVN staff members moving on, and most recently, the closure of our Takoma Park office as we transition to remote working and regional meeting spaces (more on this to come). These are just a few changes that come to mind for me. I’ve had my struggles embracing all the newness and constant necessity to just “be flexible”. Perhaps you can relate?

Of course, amidst seasons of great change, there are moments of clarity to discover and opportunities for growth unearthed. If we are lucky, we might get the chance to slow down and reevaluate why we’ve been doing things a certain way for so long. Burn out is real. Continuing to operate in a society and systems that demand so much of our energy and time is difficult.

For me, there has been great exhaustion this past year. However, as I look ahead, my heart is ready for a new season and the hope that can be found there.

Some new and exciting changes are afoot this fall.

For one, my husband and I are expecting our first child this October! We’ve prayed for this for so long and are overjoyed to have the gift of a child. (Our hearts are with all of those who are waiting, hoping, and working towards their dream of growing their family.)

This monumental change means I’ll be stepping back from CVN for a few months for maternity leave. Don’t worry, I’ve made detailed notes for the rest of the CVN team to reference, so they know how to make updates to your program listings, reset passwords, and of course connect you with whatever else you need to run your programs. I have the utmost faith in each of them to help support you while I’m away.

The other change rustling the leaves this season are the beginnings of a new and expanded membership structure. Together with the Membership Committee and CVN Board of Directors, we are taking steps to explore what membership could look like in the near and distant future. We’ve already had some life-giving phone calls with other membership organizations to pick their brains. We’ve asked questions about dues structure, benefits, member engagement and expectations, technologies, and platforms, etc.

To be completely transparent, it’s a bit overwhelming but also very exciting. I’ve been given the gift to dream of how to make CVN membership better. My hope is each of you will join me and the Membership Committee during this process. More details will likely come when I return from maternity leave and nothing major will change overnight. Like all things in transition, this, too, shall take time. Maybe when the leaves are changing next fall things will be more clear? Only time will reveal what’s next!

Until then I invite each of you to try and embrace some of the changes that are coming in your life and work. Wouldn’t it be great if we loved changes in life as much as we love seeing the leaves become a sea of different colors each fall? Perhaps this month we could each set aside time to admire the utter beauty in the transition of summer to autumn. Maybe this will help us find and embrace the beauty in the transitions of our own lives.

Peace to you always,

Sarah Hammel
Director of Programs and Operations

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