It's interesting that during this unbelievable time of transition (and emotion) for me, I woke up this past Saturday, feeling absolutely great about everything in my life. What a way to start a day!
The previous Thursday night my co-workers in the photo department at the Star held a going-away party for me. It was great to see everybody there, including the many reporter-friends, editors and imaging friends who came out to pass along their best wishes. Thanks also to some of the other Toronto-area photographers who came out.
After the emotional roller-coaster of the previous week, I told myself I wouldn't get upset. There is sadness in leaving, but I have great opportunities ahead at the Globe and Mail. However, as expected, the beers, and the tears were flowing, and I think that everybody there who knows me well, would have been surprised if either were absent.
I've tried to make this change in my life wisely, and with grace. I have not wanted to leave behind any animosity, or harsh feelings. Anything remotely resembling these would be a betrayal of the great friends, excellent co-workers, super opportunities, and wonderful success that I have had at The Star these many years. This is a move of opportunity, and change - both of which will serve me, and my family well.
Fast forward now to Saturday afternoon - I'm feeling awesome, and speeding toward Belleville with two great friends. We're on our way to the 20th Anniversary Gala of the Photojournalism Program at Loyalist College. Twenty years already. It's hard to imagine.
The evening was planned and executed in fine style by the students at the college. It was a night I would not have missed for the world! I would have liked to have seen more of my original classmates, but I hope that those who I did see were as happy to see me, as I them!
In addition to the student awards presented that evening, (congratulations to all, and good luck!), the program's founder, Dr. John Peterson, received an award of appreciation and thanks that he has been long due, There are many of us who owe him much for his vision and determination over twenty years ago. As well, other long-serving members of the staff and advisory committee were also recognized, during an official program that saw humour, gafs, serious reflection, and some funny photo-ops.
Thanks to my friend and colleague, Steve Russell, it was decided that this year it would be fitting to present the President's Cup for the ECNPA's Photographer of the Year during this reunion. I have not won this award since 1994, when, as everybody loves to say, I had more hair! Many Loyalist grads and other talented photographers have taken this cup home over the years, but it has eluded me for a long time. Michael Lea, long-time clip chairman, and talented Whig photographer/reporter made a great presentation, and it was a pleasure to receive the cup from him in front of that gathering. Thanks again. I cannot think of a more suitable place to receive such an honour, especially for me at this time, than at the school, and with the people, who were so influential in my career at the very beginning.
So what a time this has been! A very tough decision. A sad good-bye. A joyful reunion. And all the while constantly reminded of the good fortune I have had over many years of being surrounded by knowledgable mentors, great friends, and generous colleagues.
Kathleen and my children have been strong through all of this. Patience and guiding words have been there from the start, and their support is unwavering. This March Break week off together will give us an opportunity to reinforce to the kids that this career change for me will not change their lives dramatically. That they are still secure in every way, shape and form. Kathleen remains determined to overcome her own challenges, and will continue to be a skilled, and valued member of the library staff at One Yonge Street. It will be strange not working in the same building.
Next Monday I start my new job. I can't wait! Like everything in life there will be challenges, but I expect to meet them with patience and the same determination that has brought me to this point already. In all the years I have preached about bringing one's skills to the table, contributing in a positive manner, and participating in the entire news-gathering process, there has been no time where this has been more important than it will be during the coming months and years.