Two words. Packing. List.
I clicked on the link and scrolled, seeing all the usual suspects. Toothbrush, pajamas, jeans, clothes for yoga.
Then I stopped.
Two more words.
Of course. One sleeps in a sleeping bag when they head to camp.
I never went to sleep away camp as a kid.
I went to week-long church camps and slept in cabins and bunk beds. I roasted s’mores, sang songs, and hated the group games.
Never, though, have I flown to another part of the country for a summer away.
I was too shy, too much of a home body, too little like Lindsey Lohan in the Parent Trap.
That’s going to change next week when I launch myself out of my comfort zone to head to Camp TDP – a camp experience specifically for grieving young adults. I should probably watch Hallie Parker and Annie James to prepare.
I’ll be leading a writing workshop using wordplay and other writers’ wisdom to bring words to our grief stories.
Me – standing in front of people – experimenting as I turn my pain into purpose to help other people tell their stories.
In conversations this week, people have been asking me where I’m going.
“I’m not really sure,” I respond. “I’m getting on a bus at the airport with other brilliant bereaved people and they’re taking me there.”
Yes, I have the address and the appropriate phone numbers and emergency contacts in my phone. Mostly, I’m trusting the process and willing myself to be an eager introvert in a typically extroverted space. In shaking hiking boots.
I also scanned the agenda seeking out other introverted activities. I keep imagining myself standing in the woods, nodding inward to my chubby inner eleven year old self. When I lift up my head, I’m 30 and competent and brave. I’ll bring my jeans, a Colorado flannel shirt, my Chacos and puffy vest for protection. And bug spray. Lots of bug spray.
Last week, I ran a dry-run of the workshop with a few friends here in my community. Walking them through exercises and listening to feedback made me nervous. Sharing our grief stories is tough work. It was also empowering – connection building makes my heart leap.
Inviting people into their pain requires vulnerability and risk. And I think….. I think…. I’m ready.
I’m ready to share my story out loud. I’m ready to use my talents to help others tune into their experiences. I’m ready to make awkward jokes, stumble over my words, and try something new. I need not be a polished professional to make an impact. What a beautiful thing.
Now to find the sleeping bag. Will that fit in a carry on?