I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a staff retreat for a social service organization.  This was one of the first in-person work activities I have had since the pandemic began and I was looking forward to human contact.  I tried to anticipate the day’s outcomes for my client, but I was surprised by how I felt at the end of the day.  Humbled, hopeful, exhausted, changed.  Not only was this one of my first work outings, but it was also the first time that many of the retreat participants had to be in the same room with their co-workers since before the pandemic.

People were changed; they endured personal loss, financial challenges, balancing remote work with parenting.  Yet, they spoke of their personal and professional accomplishments – starting new business ventures, completing a graduate degree, moving on from a toxic relationship, and supporting the individuals who continue to rely on them for critical social services.   There were tears, laughter, work, but most importantly, a shared desire for human connection.

The respite transformed all of us, heightened our sense of our place in the world, allowed a reassessment of our personal and professional relationships, and provided an appreciation of what we are capable of and what is yet to be.  We shared the hope to re-enter and contribute to a better world.  Humbled, hopeful, exhausted, and, yes, changed.