Advancing and retreating (and an invitation)


Earlier this week, I alluded to my definition of a vacation, which differs quite a bit from a lot of other folks', and whichdiffers greatly from how I was raised to look at vacations.

It wasn't like we were the EnormoSlackers of the Fat Midwest: on summer and winter holiday from school, I was expected to keep up with my reading, and usually to take some sort of additional class to better myself.* When we stayed in the city, we went to museums and the library as often as the beach, more, when it got really hot. (And in Chicago, it is definitely the heat, at least as much as is it the humidity.)

But as a child of divorce, there tended to be a bit of the indulgent stuff on Dad's part: spring breaks in Scottsdale (his favorite) filled with banana splits, miniature golf and trail rides; winter weekends skiing in Wisconsin (for practice) and Vail (for real); a 16th birthday trip to New York City. When, as an adult, I took "vacation" vacations, they ended badly: one horrifically sunburned week in Ixtapa leaps to mind, as does a trip to a posh resort in Montego Bay that felt more like Whitey Internment Camp (it was for our own safety, they swore!). The final nail in the coffin was the most hateful week I've ever spent in the most beautiful place I've ever seen, aka "The Wainwrights Go to the Big Island." I still have nightmares about that one.

My preference has always been for a kind of working vacation: me, somewhere else, doing some kind of work. It can be a different kind of work, or even the "work" of unplugging, giving myself some time and space to let new things bubble up. That's what Seattle was about last year, and that's what this year's slightly shorter trip to the Pacific Northwest is about. I take myself places like conferences and meetups to bump braincells with nifty people, many of whom I've been somehow exposed to online first. I think that's the finest use of the Internet, a virtual sort to bring the right people together in real life.

This year, to give it some structure, I'm building my trip around a four-day (FOUR DAYS!?!?!) retreat outside of Portland: my (online, for now) friend and colleague Mark Silver's Path to Profitability Retreat. That's an affiliate link, so you know, and one of the rare times I'd even consider linking to anything I'd not yet consumed myself. But over the past few years, I've derived such huge value from Mark's stuff, culminating in my great success using the Heart-Centered Websites thingy (more like "the Miracle that got me off my goddamn ass") and my recent head-opening with the Heart of Money teleclass (which I will now and forever shamelessly flog, as doing it actually did start making me money, and kind of scary-fast), I'm pretty much sold in advance. Plus he wisely offers the best money-back guarantees in the business, so I never feel like I'm really risking much.

I share this for a couple of reasons. First, because investing in myself, while terrifying, has made the past couple of years the most professionally and sometimes personally rewarding ones I've had in a long time. And second, because I have a secret hope that some other Right Person who's meant to come to this place outside Portland will be tipped by this confession I'm making, and decide to come, too. Not that I don't think the retreat will be filled with all kinds of right people: I'm woowoo enough to believe that there's a reason when I showed up at Danielle's FireStarter session a ways back, the room was packed to the rafters with rockstars. Maybe you & I are supposed to work on our crazy shit together at this hippie-dippy outpost outside of Portland. Maybe not. You'll know, I know.

Finally, I realize that this is one of the more profoundly uncool posts I've written in a while. Maybe since I started writing the crazy poems. I'm sure that every time I let my seams show, people leave. But that's cool. And even if it wasn't, I'd have to get down with it, right? Might as well argue with gravity.

But to slow just a wee bit the wild, wild beating of my heart, feel free to let me know how you're letting your own freak flag fly. Or what and how you're investing in yourself. Or even your feelings about vacations. I get that I'm a little intense; maybe I'm missing something with the whole vacation-vacation thing.

This is me, advancing...


*Or, once, an unintentional course of learning rather gothic in its horror at a genteel girls summer camp.

Image by Samuel Gordon via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.