I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A weekend to remember

Deb, me, Sally, Sandi, and Jann at Vashon Island Farmers' Market
This is the weekend of the bloggers' Vashon Island getaway. I'm starting my Sunday morning from the farmhouse here on Vashon Island where we have been staying since Friday afternoon. I wrote about some of it yesterday on my other blog. But the story of how we decided to get together here is worth telling.

Linda (missing from the picture above, since she was busy checking out the booths at the Vashon Island Saturday morning Farmers' Market), who writes the blog Thoughts from a Bag Lady in Waiting met Deb one morning at a Starbucks in Vancouver, Washington and discussed the possibility of having a gathering of some bloggers that they both follow. They emailed five of us about it, and all but one person accepted the invitation to investigate the feasibility of getting together somewhere. Linda researched some possible locations and dates, and we decided on this weekend and chose Lavender Hill Farm on Vashon Island. After some difficulty finding the ferry (covered pretty well in those two previous links), we have spent the last few days together, getting to know each other in person rather than as virtual entities in the Blogosphere.

We have discovered many things about each other that we didn't know, but mostly there have been only a few surprises in personalities. It makes me realize how much of who we are comes through in the words we write on our blogs. I have been taken by surprise by the dry wit of one, the elegance of another, and the sheer generosity of spirit in every one.

Although I am a bit saturated by all the interaction of the weekend, I am filled with an amazing sense of camaraderie that has developed between us. We've shared, we've cried, and we've laughed until we were holding our sides in pain. Last night I had to pull myself away from the living room and make my way to bed so that I would have time to write a post this morning.

I am the oldest of the group, with the youngest, our baby, nine years younger than me. We are all in our sixties, all committed bloggers, and two are still working as teachers and knew each other before they started blogging (Deb and Sandi). I will write one more post about this weekend on my other blog before I will move on to other things. As I sit here with a cup of coffee, in the living room so I can watch the sun rise and illuminate Mt. Rainier, I am feeling introspective and wondering what I've learned from this weekend.

One thing I've learned that surprises me is that I have actually become less extroverted, and for the first time understand the need for quiet introspection. Since I retired, I haven't been exposed to such a concentrated dose of interaction and find myself looking forward to pulling out my meditation pillow at home and sitting for some time. I miss Smart Guy and the connection that has developed between us since we've moved here. The past five years have changed me. In any group, some people talk more than others, and I've always been one of them, but this weekend taught me that I no longer have a need to be the center of attention for extended periods of time; in fact, it's a bit daunting.

In a group of bright, articulate women, I fit right in. In retirement I've continued to grow and change, and it makes me happy to learn that. I guess I thought that once I no longer had the stimulus of productive work, I'd stagnate and become someone less interesting. That's not true, not for me, not for any of us who have retired. Linda is extremely active, traveling all over the world on a shoestring, marking things off her bucket list, and learning to be certified as a mediator. She performed her magic on me when I got an email about a possible contract job I might (or might not) take on. In a half an hour, all the different aspects of the situation had been examined in terms of what it means for me, and what I want out of it. I am impressed and grateful for her expertise.

There's just the tiniest bit of light in the morning sky, and I m looking at Mt. Rainier on the horizon, thinking about this amazing weekend and what I've learned. It's been an education in more ways than one.


Rubye Jack said...

I think it would take a certain amount of courage to get together with four other women you haven't met in person before. Unlike joining a group where you know no one and thus have some anonymity, here you "know" the people and probably have expectations of each other. It sounds like you all are having a great time though.

Sally Wessely said...

I am upstairs in the farmhouse on Lavender Hill looking out at Mt. Rainer as I type. I have not yet gone downstairs to meet you all for the morning. I needed some time to reflect on the weekend. Like you, I learned much about myself and others this weekend. Mostly, I learned about myself because I could see myself in a new light based on listening to the rest of you. For that I am grateful.

My life is greatly enriched because my path has crossed your path. You are wise and beautiful. I amazed at the friendships that are made in the land of blogging. Thank you for saying "yes" to this weekend.

Linda Myers said...

I wish I had said a little less this weekend, but I am glad and grateful for the opportunities to listen.

Teresa Evangeline said...

And isn't that what it's all about, learning what we can from each and every situation, and mostly about ourselves?

What a wonderful opportunity for all of you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about your experiences here and on DJanity. Love both accounts. I, too, have met a number of bloggers in person and have posted photos of them. It's always fun and worth the effort.

Rian said...

From reading all the posted accounts, it sounds like your weekend get-together turned out very well. I'm so happy that you got a chance to do this... and for sharing the experience.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I got goosebumps reading your post followed quickly by responses from Sally and Linda. And I know what you mean about introversion after retirement. I was already an introvert, but even moreso now. And that's okay! (After several days of face-time, you'll probably want to hibernate for about the same amount of time!)

Linda Reeder said...

DJan, I have read this post with great interest, being the one who declined. I would have had my fill much sooner and wanted to have time and space to renew.
I recently finished a very interesting book called "Quiet", about introverts in an extrovert world. Even though you are not a true introvert, you might find it insightful.
I look forward to your final post on the weekend.

Jackie said...

How wonderful to meet fellow bloggers!
I know Sally (through blogging) and you (through blogging) and I lived vicariously through your visit!
This is absolutely wonderful, Jan.
I hope to meet my blogging friends one day...if not on this side of Heaven, then I hope to meet in Heaven with Our Lord.
Hugs and love,

Gigi said...

Oh how fun! I am an introvert so I would have had to force myself to go. And would spend the rest of my life kicking myself if I didn't.

Red said...

I can tell by this post that your week end with bloggers has been one that brings about all kinds of examination. Interesting that you notice the changes in yourself and that you feel they are for the better.

The Broad said...

Very illuminating post, DJan. Your description of your surroundings makes me miss those lovely days in Olympia when we were able to see Mt. Rainer in the distance! I am not really an introvert, but I do need lots of time to myself -- I actually rather enjoy my own company. For me, blogging serves the dual need for engaging with other people and keeping to myself. So glad your meeting went so well -- it sounds wonderful.

Friko said...

Meeting other bloggers has been a great delight for me too. I haven't yet posted about it but surely will eventually.
I was amazed by how much I already knew about two of them and how similar to the picture I had formed in my head they were.

I haven't been away with them, so I have not learned anything new about myself, but I have certainly come to appreciate the closeness that is created in this virtual world of ours.

Rita said...

That is so interesting that you found out new things about yourself and that from reading blogs you had a good idea of what the other ladies would be like in person. You missed your sweetie, though, and I bet it will feel good to be back home...to your mirror apartment--lol! :)

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CrazyCris said...

I love the idea of blogging friends meeting in the real world! Won't happen any time soon for me seeing as how all the people I interact with are in the US except for one in the UK! :p

I imagine it must have been a little bit scary to all get together... not knowing each other "for real". How wonderful that it all worked out so beautifully!

As for being less extrovert than before... could it also have something to do with the company? I've discovered over the years that depending on who I'm with I'm either the person moving others to action and the one always talking (centre of attention) while with others I'm quieter and content to let someone else take the lead (which I find very relaxing!)

Terminally Ill said...

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Mel said...

What a great experience! So glad you all had a wonderful time. I've wondered what it might be like to meet bloggy friends, if I would live up to my own expectations of myself, if that makes sense. I'm sure there would be sharing, tears and laughter. I think communal laughter must be one of the best parts about crossing the digital divide.
It's always nice to come home after and adventure though, isn't it? Welcome back.

Deb Shucka said...

This is my third reading of your post, now a full week later. I'm so grateful to have these words, and those of the rest of the group, to go back to as reminders of the magic of the weekend. Every day some bit of our time together surfaces in my memory and makes me smile.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for sharing the names of some of those who were at this first--will it become an annual--meeting of fellow bloggers in the Northwest. I follow Deb and Sandi and so I find myself being just a little envious of your get-together. I'd so like to meet the three of you.

I'm not surprised that you learned things about yourself when in the midst of such interesting and interested women. Oh, what a treat you all must have been for one another. Peace.