Posted by on May 21, 2013 in flexible | 8 comments

group hug, including one member who joined us via Skype

Last weekend I drove the RV up to the Bay area for a retreat with my Wisdom Council Mastermind. We are seven women solo-preneurs who have been having video meetings online every other week since July, 2012. In addition to supporting each other in our businesses, we offer compassion, inspiration and a place to share our biggest fears. And we have become deep and true friends.

To further deepen our connections, we all decided to meet in person, in Emeryville, just outside of San Francisco, where one of the women has her art studio. Instead of dealing with hotels that accept dogs, I decided it would be easier and less stressful to drive the RV up so that Laddy would be comfortable while I was in my meeting. And, even paying $4.00/gal for gas, it would be less expensive than driving my car and staying in a hotel for three nights.

It was a long, five hour drive from Cayucos, with a stop for lunch and gas and ripe cherries from a highway fruit stand. When Marika and I used to travel together, we’d change drivers every two hours to avoid overdrive, and so that, when we entered a big city, one of us would be fresh and ready for the traffic.

On the trip up, the last hour of driving was pretty stressful with narrow lanes, fast trucks and big city interchanges. I did so much conscious belly breathing as the cars zipped in and out of my lane, grateful for BOB, my GPS, for guiding me from one five lane highway to the next.

By the time I got into Emeryville I was exhausted. I pulled over onto the first tree lined street to rest and breathe and I missed hitting an overhanging branch by mere inches.

Emeryville is a cute, up and coming neighborhood where most people park on the street in front of their house. The streets closest to my friend’s studio had NO PARKING and 2 Hour Parking signs posted. I kept circling the neighborhood and finally found a space long enough for the RV on a street about a half a mile from the studio where we’d be meeting. This meant that Laddy would have to come with me the whole time because I didn’t want to leave him in the RV so far away.

And, since it had been so hard to find a spot to park, I didn’t want to drive anywhere, for fear of losing it. I was so cranky and tired that I was ready to stay one night and turn around and head home. I cried for a few minutes, in frustration, in tiredness, just wishing I were back in my cozy little beach town.

A friend called, after reading my cranky post on Facebook and I cried a little more. Then I took Laddy for a walk in the neighborhood, both of us distracted by the fragrant spring flowers and the cool breeze and the invisible trail of dogs.

When we got back to the RV I turned on the generator, heated up some chili in the microwave and fed Laddy. Finally, I could feel my body begin to relax.

And I started a gratitude list to counter the cranky grumpies:

  • we have a fairly level place to park
  • we can take walks in the nice neighborhood (and no hills!)
  • Laddy is a laid back, easy, adjusting kind of dog
  • being in this huge urban area gives me 4G on my unlimited wifi so I can watch hulu without buffering
  • I’m going to see my mastermind loves IN PERSON
  • and I didn’t hit the tree

Between enjoying my chili and my fruit stand cherries, and finding things to be thankful for, my mood shifted.

Laddy and I took another walk, this time I was able to admire the architecture and the gardens while Laddy sniffed between the slats in fences and around the thick trunks of the trees, nosing after cats and squirrels and the random food wrappers.

I remembered why I was there, that this was a choice, that, in the morning, I’d be hugging the group of women who have been so much a part of my life and growth this past year.

And the meetings were great. Huge trusts had been created over the many months of our online gatherings and so it was easy to show up, ready to really open up and be vulnerable. We laughed, we cried (me more than anyone), we painted and made prayer flags. We shared our visions and where we felt blocked and offered each other strategies and new perspectives. And Laddy laid down right in the middle of our circle and took it all in.

In the company of my friends, I felt their excitement, their passion, their clarity about the work they are here to do. But in the evenings, back in the RV, I was a complete bucket of crying. Alone, I felt flat, uninspired, passionless, so not myself. I cried for fear that I would never feel that spark in myself again.

One of the women reminded me how much change I’ve gone through in the last year, that it makes sense that everything is stirred up and unsettled. From that perspective, yes, I understand why I feel so lost within myself. But it doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable, especially when it is my passion and drive that supports and sustains me, financially and spiritually and emotionally. Without it, I began to question this whole path I am on and gigantic doubts crept in.

But I knew this is temporary, like all things. Deep in my heart of hearts, I knew that, once I got back home, returned to my daily beach walking, and gave myself time and space to settle back into myself, that I would find my center again, that something would spark my passion and I would be ready to take the next step.

But until then, I could just lean into the company of these very special women and be as gentle with myself as possible.

In our closing circle, we each asked the group to hold a vision of our best selves as we return to our lives and our work. Even if I couldn’t see it for myself, knowing that these six women had the faith and confidence that I would re-connect with my center was the best gift of the weekend.

The drive home was easy and uneventful and I sang most of the way. No tears, no fears, just a wonderful feeling of being held and guided.

In the morning, Laddy and I took our walk on the beach. He was prancing and barking and chasing his stick and I was breathing deep, watching pelicans dive in the waves, and crying, but this time from a calm and opened heart.

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