Challenging Choices

A new family walks into my yard

In March, I marked a year of online programs at The Ottawa Children’s Theatre. I had to try to figure out what to plan for this summer. Last summer was the first summer OCT had done summer camps. We launched into running 17 online camps that were wildly creative and hugely fun. Everyone was thrilled to leap into online programming and our campers had a fabulous time.

A year later, we are all weary of our isolation and our online lives. But I had to think carefully about whether OCT was ready to make the transition back to in-person programming this summer. I had to try not to be impatient. Not my long suit.

I thought long and hard about whether to take a risk and pivot to in-person programming. I desperately want to be with students and instructors again! But in the end, there were too many uncertainties. I decided to keep the business online and stay committed to the virtual world for, hopefully, one last semester.

And yet my non-virtual life is thriving.

My writing life has taken off. I have a novel and a picture book in final edits. (I can’t wait to tell you more about them soon!) I’m working on new manuscripts, and a lecture for Canscaip for the fall. I have a wonderful and busy family who I want to spend more time with. My garden calls daily.

It’s a bit of a schizophrenic existence. I’m not entirely sure where I am at my most “real.”

I find myself wondering if this summer’s virtual camps will be the last gasps of my pandemic adventure? Or will life retain some of the positive elements that have come from my virtual life? Or, God forbid, will the variants take off and force us to endure another pandemic year?

The future is opaque. But whatever happens, I don’t want to pretend these past 16 months didn’t happen. They have deepened my relationships and priorities and made life richer in so many ways. They have helped to open new paths. Not always places I wanted to go, but places I returned from wiser.

Author: Amanda West Lewis

AMANDA WEST LEWIS has built a life filled with words on the page and on the stage, combining careers as a writer, theatre director and calligrapher. Her book, The Pact, (Red Deer Press) was listed on the 2017 USBBY OUTSTANDING INTERNATIONAL BOOKS LIST; selected for the 2017 ILA YOUNG ADULTS’ READERS CHOICES LIST; Nominated for 2017 SNOW WILLOW AWARD; and listed in the CANADIAN CHILDREN’S BOOK CENTRE BEST BOOKS FOR KIDS & TEENS, Spring 2017. SEPTEMBER 17: A NOVEL was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, the Red Cedar Award, and the Violet Downie IODE Award. Amanda has an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her theatre career, Amanda is the founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre, where she teaches and directs children. She has developed specialized drama and literacy programs for youth at risk, and for children with autism spectrum disorder. She has a Certificate in Theatre for Young Audiences with Complex Difficulties from Rose Bruford College, England. In 2015, Amanda co-produced the hit play “Up to Low” is based on the book by Brian Doyle. As a professional calligrapher and book artist, Amanda is passionate about the history of writing and has taught calligraphy courses to students of all ages. She studied with Hermann Zapf, Mark Van Stone and Nancy Culmone among many others. Amanda lives with her husband, writer Tim Wynne-Jones, in the woods in Eastern Ontario. They have three wonderful grown children. Find out more on her website at http://www.amandawestlewis.com/ Photo Credit: Marianne Duval

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