In a previous post, I mentioned that I’d be attending a workshop this month. It’s a dual-purpose workshop. It’s being held at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, which is a place with huge meaning for me and KT. We attended a workshop there in June of 2012, and it was literally life changing for both of us. When her family asked that those of us closest to her return part of her ashes to a place that held great meaning for us, I knew instantly that Omega was where I’d go.
I just had no idea I’d be making that trip so soon!
Here’s the interesting part… I had seen the workshop advertised during the winter and was immediately interested–“Contemplative Practices in Higher Education.” How could I NOT be?? But, whomever scheduled the workshop apparently neglected to consider that one of the busiest times of year for those of us in higher ed. is mid-to-late August. No one in their right mind in higher eduction would plan a workshop this time of year! So I didn’t consider it any further–I didn’t feel right asking to be gone at such a busy time.
When I returned from the memorials for KT at the beginning of June, though, I saw on my Twitter feed an invitation to apply for a scholarship for the workshop. Now. Normally when I see an invitation like that, I look at it, consider it, get excited about it, and then never do anything about it. But this time was different. KT was my champion in my quest to become more mindful, and I could almost feel her gently nudging me toward applying.
So I did.
I didn’t tell anyone, really–a friend or two, and that was about it. I let Clint read my application essay, in which I explained the personal and professional importance of the workshop. On the personal side, I closed my essay with this:
In January, I declared this my “Year of Mindfulness.” Not long after, my best friend (Katie) passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. She knew of my plan and was set to help me focus on intentional daily incorporation of contemplative practices. I’m still reeling from the mental and emotional tornado in which I’ve lived since losing her—not exactly fertile ground for developing intentional practices of mindfulness. However, as my world begins to come back into focus, I keep feeling that perhaps my true purpose now is to return to that focus, expand my knowledge, and share it with those around me.
In 2012, I spent a week at Omega with Katie, and it was one of the most powerful weeks of my life. I returned home with a greater understanding of myself and our interconnected universe. That week was also the last time I saw Katie in person. Given my personal and professional interest in learning more about contemplative practices, my curiosity was piqued the first time I read about this workshop. The recent loss of my dear friend who connects me to Omega and these practices draws me toward this workshop more strongly now than ever. The Universe is speaking, and it seems about time that I stop and listen.
I submitted it, and then I waited.
A week and a half later, I got an e-mail notifying me that I’d been accepted. I stared at the computer screen in my office, jaw hanging open. I called my mom, and she shed a few tears of happiness with me. I told a few important people in my world, and they celebrated with me.
It was really going to happen. I was really going to make the voyage back.
At first, as usual, I assumed that 10 of us applied and they funded us all. I recently found out that there are 17 of us who will be attending on scholarship–out of 85 or 90 who applied. Whoa. Suddenly this all starts to feel much more important–somehow that offered validation for the importance of my story and of my attending the conference.
It didn’t take much convincing to get the bosses to approve my travel once I was able to show that I had taken care of half the cost of the workshop. So on Thursday August 21, Clint and I will fly to Philadelphia. I’ll drive to the Omega campus the next day while he spends the weekend with a friend from college.
I’ll take the remaining physical piece of my best friend with me to let her free back into the earth and the wild where she belongs. To say I’m nervous about that would be a huge understatement. But it’s what I wanted, and it’s what my heart feels is right–so I know I’ll be ok.
As I read the text book in preparation for my workshop, it’s also pretty clear to me that I’m going to be in over my head… Which deep down, I love. They have driven home the point that one must have their own solid background in whatever contemplative practice they incorporate into the classroom. So I anticipate being surrounded by people who are well-versed in the topic and the practices.
I am NOT one of those people.
Normally this would make me anxious. Instead, I feel confident walking in, speaking my truth, and allowing myself to learn as much as possible from everyone I encounter, without any pretense. I see it as an opportunity–to be surrounded by people who know so much more than I do! Such a gift.