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The contracts and futures I have in mind, you may be relieved in these times of financial crisis to hear, are not the contracts and futures beloved of brokers and traders and financial speculators. They are contracts and futures of a more personal, and personally meaningful kind, and they come in pairs or, if you like, in couples.

The contracts are those I have with the NBI, and the marriage contract. The futures, belong to Rob and to me.

This morning (incidentally, my birthday – more of that in a minute) is the first working day of the second quarter of my contract with NBI, as a consultant. It marks not only a period of time, but a change in conditions: from full time, and full pay, to part-time and part-pay. It also marks the point at which I can (and must) generate other work of my own, and I am happy to say there is work lined up till the end of September, at least. More to be done then, to follow up with potential clients; but beyond the financial exigencies the deeper question I guess is, how is this going? How do I feel about this new life of mine, as an independent consultant?

Frankly, I am relishing it. It is only when you are free of organisational life and management responsibility, that you realise how onerous and constraining it is. Of course, during the good years it provided me with opportunities, to learn and grow, and to do things I could never do as a lone consultant – but I had reached the limits to growth, in that space, I am pretty sure of that – and continued personal and professional growth demands something different, now. Along with growth is freedom, independence – and the space to be my true self. I am feeling enormously empowered, fulfilled, content, and positive.

That there is a marriage contract in the making is part of this feeling of optimism and resilience, of that I am also sure. Two futures in the making, two lives crossing and inter-mingling, two streams flowing together at last. It has been a hard journey, in some respects – reading last night through my journal I was reminded how hard – and I won’t pretend it has been without its doubts and uncertainties. But reading from the journal of my last visit to Toronto, in September 2009, I was struck, and quite moved, by the feeling of confidence, contentment, happiness and certainty, that lifts off those pages, as if the spirit has lifted, the weight has been struck off – a more than bearable, a pleasurable and delightful lightness of being.

Life is good, and it is time to get on with life. Today, as I mentioned before, is my birthday, and birthdays are always a time for reflection as well as celebration. And my reflection, in this year of momentous change, is simple. Life is a journey of possibility – and there are many possibilities still to be held, loved, tasted, explored. As I contemplate marriage, independence, the decade ahead, I am reminded that one may step again into the river, but one can never step into the same river twice. There is loss, in that reality, but also renewal.