- One in August to Rockland, Maine, for our fifth six-day sail on the Schooner Heritage.
- Two weeks later, to rural New York and a retreat for women who love a veteran.
- Two weeks after that, to nearby Vashon Island, Washington for a first-time weekend with five other bloggers.
- And next Monday, a six-day vacation in Akumal, Mexico, to snorkel and sun and explore ruins and celebrate the wedding of Art's daughter Laura.
When I think about the trips, I think about my life these days. I started this blog in January 2010 because I was six months away from quitting my job of 20 years. I was excited and terrified. I worried about the money - in spite of a reassuring spreadsheet - and wondered if I'd find enough to do. Nearly three years later, life looks quite different.
The Schooner Heritage is a favorite trip for us, even though it's not easy to get to Maine from Seattle - and nearly impossible on a budget. The sail is a source of deep relaxation for us, but for my husband Art it's a chance to help sail, and put on a costume to be a pirate one morning at breakfast (very embarrassing!!!), and eat comfort food and wonderful lobster. I think if we could only take one trip a year Art would choose this one. He's a very good sport about taking all my other travel suggestions, but this one's for him.
The New York retreat came up just a couple of months before, held by the wife of the psychotherapist who took Art and me to Viet Nam back in 2005, as a way to help Art heal from PTSD. That was a life-changing journey. We even wrote a book about it. A retreat just for the women, though - "they also serve who also stand and wait." The trip reminded me how grateful I am for the financial resources to take this trip, and of the opportunities that can happen for me if I'm willing to say "yes".
The Vashon retreat - with five bloggers I met through the written word before we saw each other face to fact - full of laughter and easy conversation. This virtual community has become a real place for me, where friends are found. We found that our written words reflected the people we really are. We six bloggers already knew each other by the time we arrived at our lodging.
And the trip to Mexico. We are so proud of daughter Laura's accomplishments and are delighted with Brian, the man she's chosen to share her life with. Five of Art's six children will be there next week, plus Laura's mom and stepdad and half brother, and Brian's family. I'm grateful for this blended family I'm a part of - including the experience of planning a gathering with Laura's mom Nancy for when Laura and Brian come to visit in December! It reminds me that we really are all in this together.
For me, travel isn't just about going places. It's about learning and growing, meeting people from other places, using my ordinary eyes and ears to experience the other-ordinary. When I worked, travel was about relaxation. Now it's about living. For some reason I hadn't thought about that until recently - in spite of the 22 trips we've taken since my last day of work in June of 2010.
When I'm home I'm learning and growing as well. Two weeks ago we hosted a Swiss family - a mother and three of her children - for four days at our home. We all talked and laughed and learned. I'm almost ready to be certified as a mediator - I brought my own talents to a new field and love how I can be useful in the community. We were interviewed last week by a journalist from a local paper. While we talked about our book, we found mutual interests. I've even agreed to speak briefly at a local event honoring veterans, and to donate a copy of the book to a silent auction. Again, it's about being willing to say "yes".
In January 2010, the Bag Lady saw only the money. She didn't see the life. And I look at the spreadsheet now. It's still pretty encouraging. Probably wouldn't be if we'd bought a new car, or an RV, or seen the world from a first-class place instead of a sensible one. Fortunately, I'm fine with sensible.