Annual Theme Book Camp

Shared Vision

I actually have / had a theme for this year. It is / was called Shared Vision. Typically it is something that would have filled the majority of space on this blog. For years now, I’ve selected a theme for the upcoming year sometime around October or November. I consider how that theme impacts all the different aspects of my life: wife, mother, friend, relative, citizen, financial provider, author, Christian. The spreadsheets are seriously impressive in January when comes the time to start meeting all those smart goals I established in the fall.

Then 2020.

I should end this post there, probably. The words “then 2020” have a specific, unique meaning to each of us, but they also have a universal core we can mutually understand. That we share.

Twenty-twenty has not thus far been the vision I expected to share within anyone. Most of my careful plans appear upended. Can’t go to a writing conference mid-pandemic, for example.

Six months in and it’s finally time to recast my vision. To my utter shock, most of my goals still have pathways even through pandemic, given that I and my immediate family are relatively safe and cloistered and employed.

Line by line through four printed pages of minute type in tiny boxes, and I see a way forward. Or at least a way to be here for a while.

Being present, being here now, has been somewhat of a struggle for me. Not just during pandemic but in all times. My mind tends to wander to ruminate on the past and to fantasize about the possible futures.

Now, during pandemic, more than ever before I need to anchor myself in the now. In the here. In what is and the way it is.

Happily, my shared vision theme document from last fall pretty perfectly sets the stage. There are some things that I can’t do, or that I choose not to do. But there are lots of other things I can work on where I am when I am.

And at least one shared vision is coming on Sunday…it’s Book Camp time! Book Camp looks way different this year. The kids are another year older and that much more capable. They’ve been in near-isolation since spring break. Virtually no other camps, except a virtual camp, have been had this summer.

More than that, I have a formal job now. Book Camp and work–wait, what?! It’s really only possible because this is the sixth Book Camp (seven years since we started, but that one summer we moved to Florida) and because the kids are teens or nearly so. The schedule has a Book Camp Intensive before work and one after work, teatime mid-afternoon, and loads of other neat perks. In between, though, the kids will be self-directed, working on assignments and the big group opus.

The two families have undertaken what a niece calls “severe quarantine” for two weeks leading up to camp. This is serious business.

Oh, and did I mention Book Camp is TWO WEEKS LONG this year? That’s right! Given the weird schedule and all, I don’t promise to blog every day this book camp, but I will keep you apprised.

To Book Camp! To shared visions! To being present even when “then 2020.”


Be Here Now

Old news to anyone who’s read this blog in the past: I struggle with anxiety and depression. Sometimes those two conspire to manifest through conversion disorder. In third grade, that meant I missed more than half the year of school due to stomach aches that had me doubled in pain. In college, it meant scaly skin on my eyelids. Many times, conversion disorder meant headaches, migraines. Then it morphed into falling out. I would pass out. Over and over. Sometimes I didn’t wake on my own, or at least not quickly. I lost my ability to drive, my self-direction, and my independence. I couldn’t shower, certainly not alone. I couldn’t care for my little boys. I couldn’t be counted on for anything but weakness, pain, and self-loathing.

I’ve been somewhat better for a while now. No more loss of consciousness – and that is a win. I drive. I bathe myself all by myself. My family allows me to stay home alone, go out alone, and wander away from them in public places.

Too often, I find myself ruminating and fearing. That happened. What if it happens again? What if I let everyone down? What if my kids grow up with me as their broken mother? What if they don’t?

It robs me of the present. It prevents me connecting with Husband, Eldest, Middling, and Third. It stops the process of being in the moment as soon as the moment begins.

In therapy last week, I was talking about these things. About my endless waiting. My constant worry over past and future and whether the airplane flying overhead will stay in the sky. I decided I needed an object. Some thing to remind me.

I told Husband and he suggested the words ‘be here now’. I ordered two items for myself on Saturday – a ring and a necklace, both to be stamped with those words – because I had received an unanticipated payment and invested in this idea. In the notes on the order, I thanked the company for the $40 off coupon because that allowed me to expedite the order. I explained that anxiety and depression are my enemies and the reason for these pieces of jewelry.

Simple Message Ring, lower case plain; Wrapped Message Necklace, gold rolo chain, natural/organic lettering

Then election night came. I was honestly unsurprised by the outcome. I’d thought for weeks that Trump would be elected, but I’d hoped it was my pessimism running amok.

This morning my doorbell rang and a small package graced my doorstep. Inside were the items I ordered, hand crafted by Kendra. I put them on immediately. I traced the letters and immersed myself in the now.

That’s what we must do in this present time. We must embrace the now. The now is when and where we can create change. Now is the conduit through which we all touch life. Now will help me connect, help me be, help me do.

Isn’t that what it comes down to for all of us? What lets us connect, be, and do? Find it. Find it in art, love, cooking, praying, giving, working – ANYTHING – but find it. We have more reason today than we had even yesterday to be here now.

Blessings, friends.

By the way, if you need some stamped jewelry, check out The Vintage Pearl. They are located in Oklahoma. If you need another reason, just check out this super kind note they added to my order.

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