Let me put it this way. What if God gave you three weeks away from your day gig, each week has like a different theme and at the end, you’ve been completely rejuvenated, rested, understand where you’ve been, what’s been keeping you stuck, and have had the opportunity to discover your true friends and say no to some toxic situations, claim your personal power and find your smile again? AND....you did absolutely nothing to plan any of it in any way. It just happened.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s to pay attention when things DON’T happen. So, as two of my client families went on vacation just as “Gypsy” closed, I sensed I was to rest in the after effect of having given my best to my clients and the show. You might call it ‘intuition’, I call it ‘following the Spirit’. Well...and also, weirdly enough because it never happens...no new clients showed up to fill their slots.
Those first two weeks were about “ Accept the Past: Gather the Good”. The days began to unfold in a timeless way. Time really did seem to stand still. Whether sleeping, reading, writing or eating, I would accomplish some activity and there would still be hours and hours left ahead of me in each day. Deep thoughts, epiphanies and insights would surface like concrete facts letting me open the palm of my hand and blow off whatever clingy angst wanted to fester in my soul. “insight = disengagement” was never a more true dynamic.
I read “The Lovely Bones”.. I was so relaxed and strong, I could read an intense book about a girl from Norristown Pennsylvania – my hometown- whose name is Susie – the name of my childhood playmate who, for all intents and purposes, died in my lap when I was nine- and find comfort and meaning. It’s about being in between life and death and what grows in the place of loss. It was time for me to leave the in between place in the chapters of my life and notice what originated, developed and matured in the void of my own losses.
Then I read “Starbird Murphy and the World Outside”, the fictionalized story of a teenage girl who goes from a farm similar to the Love Israel Family, to their Seattle based restaurant. The novel sent me into pensive declinations of questions about what is a cult and what is a utopia and what is a community. I thought back to a paper I did as a junior in high school on Utopian cultures in America and I made many connections between my journey and living on an Island.
In between chapters of both books, specializing in Staycation ADD, I would erase hundreds of pages of orchestral score reviewing and debriefing my experience with “Gypsy” as I went along, and write many random rough drafts of columns, book ideas, and ‘assignments’. Oddly enough, episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond” viewed on my phone via Netflix, also made my way into my sphere of experience. Although all of my activities might look like they fell under the category ‘entertainment’, none of what I did was entertaining. None of it was escapism. All of it drove me into my life, my story, my dreams, my hopes, my fears, my concerns.
Ah...concerns. That first week, I was compelled to give up worry. I physically couldn’t do it. “Whatever’ and ‘Surrender’ came to mind repeatedly. It didn’t feel irresponsible, it felt healthy. I felt very healthy. Nothing toxic. Which means chocolate is not toxic, because there was that.
I began to permanently settle myself into my home, fully unpack. Everyday I put something on the walls, moved something from storage, sorting a box. This is monumental. Please remember I have been on the move since 1992. For me to stake a claim as if I was never going to move again felt hugely powerful. It was, however, part of gathering the good. It’s not possible to build on the good without roots, a foundation. After thirty moves in 22 years, I was putting my shovel in the dirt and tying a flag to the property markers.
Week three began with three misunderstandings that clarified big issues and a reconciliation. I phrased a question wrongly to one of my mentors and really, well, to put it bluntly I ticked him off. But out of that came my conversation with him that revealed my confession,”I am afraid of haters”. I may bluster well and look strong in response, but inside I’m terrified. He told me it was a badge of honor to have haters. My goodness, that’s a new county in which to live. Then I had to ask a colleague and future friend which side of the fence she stood on with regards to a controversial issue in which I am involved. As hard as the conversation was, she ended up understanding a part of my story in a new way and I realized I had more support than I thought I did. The third misunderstanding came when I set limits with a very toxic, one sided friendship, I being the giver and the other person being the taker. They’re still mad. I just feel free.
The reconciliation was an old collegial friendship that has been years sorting things out between the two of us. It took years because unless one is on Staycation, such things are prioritized around the daily necessities and ambiguities of daily life. It just takes longer sorting things out on the run, in motion.
I found a new mantra week three: “Not my monkey; not my circus”. For the first time in 15 years I didn’t play Bridge at Family Camp. I talked with people, knitted endlessly, read, engaged in craft activities, played with my young friends who accompany me, did a lot of music. I outlined an entire book; the only one I’ve ever wanted to write. Since I’m a day-camper, it also meant I got proper sleep for the first time ever. Every lunch and dinner was eaten with my dear daughter Caity. Lovely.
Usually on vacation one is refreshed through new sights and geography. Staycation 2014 gave me healthy perspective, resolution to interior conflicts, and strong defining moments.
Today I’ll organize daily life to support the growth of Staycation fruit. Leisure was wonderful. Now I will engage those insights with industry. Peace in motion. Joy in relationship. Life with a smile that comes from some place way down deep.
My favorite movie ever is “City Slickers”. From 1992-2005 I watched and re-watched it because it ministered to me on some level I didn’t understand. Sunday night, before I went back to work, it was my final act of Staycation. Ah...I get it. It was about figuring out what’s the one thing most important in your life, and finding your smile. The best gifts are unplanned. Thank you God. You’re awesome.