Something was going on with my right knee, and it just kept getting worse, but I figured that once the week was over I could just rest it for a long time.
irana asked me if I'd gotten something out of it, and I surprised myself a little by answering, yes. I really, really got a lot out of the week, and I'm doing some of my contemplation after getting home rather than beforehand, the way I usually do. It was all well worth it, and more besides.
Something big was understanding that I needed the "retreat" aspects of this job, that while John and I do what we can at home with the problems that are at home, there's something more and different to the fact that with the Biloxi trip we get away from *everything* that is ours. I can go away from it all and put my whole heart into the problem in front of me, and do it without any qualms about what else I "should" be doing at home. It's a way to lend myself a sort of perspective I can't get any other way.
To look at the whole economic problem Mississippi and Louisiana have compared to Colorado is just sobering. To see the kinds of problems the people there have compared to here, makes what I run across every day just... that much less stressful or 'horrible'. To see two-inch cockroaches in a kitchen makes me realize just how good I have it. Being away makes it come home so much harder, when still a third of the town is boarded up and tilting and rotting away compared to a few For Sale signs and a couple of empty business complexes. Sure the economy is hard all over, but some places it's a hell of a lot harder than it is here.
The retreat aspect takes me out of my self and lets me look at things in a way I can't at home, in the midst of it. And it makes me far more thankful for what I am, who I am, and what I have as well. My problems are still real, but now I have something to measure them again for how upset or how reactive I should be.
One of the things that I loved about the people I was working with was the simple fact that they were all problem-solvers. There wasn't a whiner, complainer, slacker, or defeatist among them. There were no excuses. Sometimes an apology or two for mistakes, but then we'd just get on with doing it right. There was no one that just kept asking "is this worth it" or "what difference will this make"? They all just jumped in and when there was a problem, they just did their utmost to fix it. DO something about it.
I love working with and being with people like that. Everything is a possibility, not a stone wall.
The other thing I really liked was that the experienced folks taught the inexperienced folks when the inexperienced folks said, "I'll try that." They took enough time to make sure we knew what we were doing, and then most of all and best of all, they TRUSTED us to just do it. There was this moment when Clay needed John for something and was about to take John away from leading the window frame folks. He glanced at me and said, "Well, can't she lead 'em?"
THAT was worth every sore joint, bruise, banged finger and more besides.
His dad ended up heading the job in many ways, but I knew enough after five minutes with John about what had to be done and how, to remember which way the nails were supposed to go and how to get the frame constructed that we were able to get it done right. That was... amazingly good.
Another thing that really fed me was the whole fellowship thing, just... being with these people was amazingly good. They just work like crazy through the day and when they were done, they were *done*. No guilt, no workaholic tendencies to LOOK like they were working longer, harder hours than anyone else, like the Ohio group that was just... I can't imagine working sunup to sundown and being *effective* that whole time, and when we went out to enjoy the local food and each others company everyone just really sat back and enjoyed it all together.
I don't usually like being in a crowd. I don't like big gatherings, as I really have to work at how to respond. I really, really listen hard with most people and try to "figure them out" and see what's safe or unsafe to say or do or be... and with this crowd, I don't have to be so careful. I can just be me, something I never thought I'd say about a church group.
Incredibly enough, after that week of bingeing on fried food every night, I actually lost weight. I was at 170 lbs before we left, and now I'm down to 163 lbs and it feels really, really good. I miss the work, in some ways, but I also now have the self-esteem and lack of stress to keep my diet better and on some exercise *laughs* I also know that I should probably, next year, do some weight lifting before the trip to get my strength up beforehand instead of only thinking about it after. Heck, maybe I should start now and see how it goes and that might help my self-esteem as well.
My knee is mostly recovered today, after three days of icing, and I'm probably going to do the exercise bike lightly. I haven't had enough brain or energy to get writing, yet, and this year I'm not down on myself, too much yet, about it. I need the recovery time, and to not be hard on myself about it, or I'll just go into a depressive cycle. I started one on Tuesday, but pulled myself out with the help of simply being with John's parents, Jet, John, and myself. I got Isabel's fingerless mitts done and she liked them so much I'm starting to think of doing even more fingerless mitts on commission, as enough people have paid for them, it'd be fun to open that up sometime and completely cover my yarn obsession and costs.
Yesterday, Mimi had extra work for me, part of it was teaching her how to multiple load a brush for Chinese ink-style painting, and then she had a good load of computer work for me that I really could get into and just blow through. So I think I just needed to know that I could be effective, do something, with the jobs I have at home, too, as that felt really good.
I still miss the really hard work though.
I miss being up to speed, too, but know that, at the moment, it's healthier for me to slow down a little bit at least. I have Odyessy of the Mind judging on Saturday, it turns out, in Littleton, so I have the challenge of getting there on time, it'll be interesting to see if it's something that can fill some of that gap I have of working with others, and doing something creative rather than being critical.