A fond farewell

From the time I was young, raised by my parents on a homestead in rural northern Wisconsin, my life has been influenced by the lessons and values of what is now called the voluntary simplicity movement. Taking the slow way through life. Simplifying whenever and wherever possible, in order to have the time and energy to enjoy those things that may seem insignificant in passing but turn out to define your life in the end.
But every once in a while something happens that makes you take a step back and reassess your priorities. Sometimes the events that change your perspective are life-altering experiences. Other times, they’re simple realizations and changes in thought processes. I’ve experienced both of these.
The first was a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler when I was in my mid-20s. At the time, I was working 60-plus hours a week as a staff accountant for a multi-national conglomerate, and unconsciously letting my life slip through my fingers in exchange for stress and a paycheck. As I headed to work early one morning, my truck hit a patch of black ice on a hill and sent me careening across a four-lane highway into the front end of an oncoming semi. I will forever recall that split-second before I hit the front end of that truck going 45 miles an hour, thinking “So this is what it’s like to die.”
I didn’t die that day. I quit my job instead, moved to Montana a few months later and started living my life.
I’ve experienced some changes in thought processes lately, and had some rather profound realizations as I would lie awake through the night, worrying about things I couldn’t control or change. I’ve watched my health and happiness deteriorate, and often wondered, “Is there more to life?” I just turned 40 and I’m nowhere near done living yet. So instead, I’m quitting my job. I’ve been offered an opportunity to return to my agricultural roots, to focus on my longterm goals, and to once again start living my life.
For a significant part of the past 13 years I’ve been attached to OWAA in some way — either through direct employment, or through friendships that I’ve maintained across the miles. I wouldn’t exchange one day of those years for anything. I’ve learned many lessons, both good and bad, and forged relationships that I hope will stand the test of time.
It is with both sadness and exhilaration that I bid adieu to an organization that introduced me to the world of nonprofits, put a gun and a fly rod in my hands for the first time, offered me experiences I would never have found anywhere else in this world, and provided me with a vehicle in which to realize what it is truly important in life. I stepped down as executive director of OWAA, effective Dec. 31, 2012, to pursue a more simple life — which will certainly not be an easier one. But it will be an experience that is motivated by creating a life and not simply making a living.
I’m grateful to OWAA, the board, and most definitely those members who have taken me under their wing over the years. I hope to see you again along the trail. ◊
Warmest wishes,
Robin Giner

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