Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Looking back and looking ahead...

Sitting near gate B77 at San Francisco Airport, somewhere around midnight on Sunday night/Monday morning.

The return trip began at 9 pm, Pacific time on Sunday evening.
Shuttle to the airport for a 12:30 am flight out of SF.
Three and a half hours to sit, journal, reflect, pray, and get ready to return
to my extraordinary and ordinary life.
That was the longest chunk of time I had alone all weekend.
(Note to self: You have got to be careful to take more solo time next year.)

Arrived in Houston a 6:20 am (4:20 SF time.)
Departed Houston for Charlotte at 8:30 am.
Arrived at 11:35 am. Drove home.
Rested one hour. Drove to Daniel's tennis match.

Ate dinner. Cleaned up the dishes. Hung out with Steve and the kids.
Gave out a few gifts. Went to bed. Exhausted.
Kristiana woke me up at 9 am this morning; I felt drugged. In a bad way.

The whole day was a blur; I am writing the details here to remind myself of what I did on the outside.

On the inside, I was and still am a whirl of emotions. I met some of my blogging superheroes, spent quality time with a few of them... with the sad exception of Jen Gray. (We are gonna need to carve out some time together, girl. But it was great to meet you and have a few seconds to hug anyway.) Breakfast on Saturday was at the table with Jen Lemen, Odette, Andrea Scher, Tracey Clark, Maya Stein, Lisa Ottman, and me! They number among the most beautiful, thoughtful, joyful, soulful women I have ever known. Wow!

Here's the thing: the BlogHer conference itself was great.
The breakout sessions were better than expected.
It ought to come as no surprise, but it was the people,
the messy, funny, weepy, angry, excited, engaging, hopeful, peaceful people
that made the journey worth every hour spent in an airport or crammed into a musty airplane.

In elevators, at tables, in hallways, at restaurants, at the swap meet, and in staircases, we told our stories.
We interrupted each other with hugs and "uh-hunh"s.
We drank lemon drops, glasses of wine, capuccinos, and ice water while we talked.
Our stories were different in detail - but the same in outcome.
Families torn by divorce and violence.
Relationships worn down by apathy and boredom.
Women upended by fear, loneliness, and suicidal sorrow.
Newfound strength, peace, forgiveness, and comfort in our own skin.
Adopted children and unborn children.
Unexpected love and undeniable despair.
All of us, each of us vibrantly alive. Achingly alive. Relentlessly alive.
Not only have we lived to tell the story, but we have also taken the insanely inexplicable, unnecessarily dangerous step of writing our stories down.
And then making them known to the mostly non-judgmental and unflinching public.

The view from my window on the Houston to Charlotte flight yesterday morning.

Looking back, I realize that this is my 500th blog. The 500th time I have shown up here at the computer and unearthed yet another small sliver of the landscape of my thickly overgrown soul.
Powered by deeply buried spiritual coal, dangerously and precariously excavated,
once set aflame, this soul of mine emits smoke, soot, and pollution -
As well as light, heat, and enough life-brightening energy to power my life for a few more flights of fancy.
Looking back, I see that the spinning engine of my life, The Spirit, has carried me on tail winds and hurled me against headwinds that have threatened to throw me wildly off-course. And provided me with those amazing women. I am deeply grateful.

The view from my window as we landed in Charlotte yesterday.

Looking ahead, I see land beneath my wings, the same cement runway of a life that I left behind.
With skidmarks and oil slicks, the ancient treadmarks of blow-outs and blow-ups gone by.
But also one of the safest places for me to land, to collect the emotional and spiritual luggage that I haul with me on my many journeys, as well as the souvenirs I pick up along the way.
There remains ahead of me much to unpack about the BlogHer conference, the people I met there, the relationships tended to there, the lessons learned, the conversations engaged in, and the parts of me that I dredged up and now must put through the refining process.

But before all that, I need to get myself back to east coast time.
And fold two loads of laundry.


Lori said...

....and then you can fold mine....

lisa said...

Hello My Friend :-)

*so* love your awesome words in this post. tom was right about your command of the english language.

thank you so much for the gift of your time, energy, presence, hugs, tears, smiles, nods, questions, affirmations, musings,...

what an adventure it was!

now...I'm off to my first ever wellness coaching conference :-) (Although I'm not feeling very wellness-like today...bags under my eyes, sheet marks embedded on my skin, 4 hours of sleep, etc.)

Amy said...

Oh, Gail, I love the analogy to the plane. Your thoughts and writing continue to amaze me. I wish I could have been at Blogher. Get your rest, my friend.

Owlhaven said...

So glad to meet you on the Photo Walk at BlogHer!!

Mary, mom to 10

Maya Stein said...

Gail -

It was SUCH a treat to meet you. You were my anchor at BlogHer, my safe zone, my port in the storm of sensory overload. I loved getting to see you in person after all this time, and to have shared some of the experience with you. You are an absolute delight!

jen said...

Gail -

It was great to meet you at BlogHer - I was The Word Cellar's roommate. I look forward to reading more of your blog.