This past weekend was Camp Widow Toronto.
I went there on a 9 hour car ride from Massachusetts, with me and 3 other people.
We had an unforgettable experience.
We met new friends, and reunited with old ones.
We had moments of healing, and moments of helping heal others.
We ate yummy food.
We laughed without apology.
And cried without shame.
We danced together on the dance floor.
We said the phrase that you hear more than any other at camp:
"Yeah. Me too."
As usual, I did my comedic presentation, which was a total blast and very healing and meaningful for me. In addition to that, I led a Round Table discussion for widowed people who are NOT religious. I jokingly call us "the Heathen group." We always have so much fun. People of no-faith are a laugh riot. For real. They are filled with sarcasm and humor and beautiful truth.
This year, a new workshop was put into place. Since 3 of the 7 writer's from this very blog, WIDOWS VOICE, were going to be in attendance in Toronto, (me, Mike, and Sarah) it was decided we would offer a "writers panel" workshop, where we would answer any questions that people might have about our writing style, specific blogs we wrote in here, or whatever else. Sarah, Mike, and I met up hours before the workshop, to take notes and prepare ourselves for what we thought would be a flurry of questions and comments from our "fans" and readers. We took vigorous notes and created an outline for the workshop, based on what we thought people might ask us.
There were about 15 people in the workshop. We started by telling them a bit about each of us, a short intro about how we began writing for WIDOWS VOICE, and a bit about our own loss and story. Then we went around the room and asked people to tell us why they were here in this workshop, and how long they have followed this blog, etc. Well, once we got around to about person number 3, it became glaringly obvious that none of these people knew who the hell we were, and had never even read the blog. It was actually quite comical. I turned over to Sarah next to me, pointed to our page long list of notes and topics to cover, and whispered to her defiantly: "All of this? IRRELEVANT!"
And so something unexpected happened. We improvised. It ended up being a lot of fellow writers, who had questions about THEIR writing. Things such as: How do I get out of my own head? How do I finish a piece of writing that I started when my husband got sick, but now Im stuck? How do I begin to structure a memoir? So they asked questions, and we tried to help. And it was lovely. And beneficial. And not at all what we had planned, or were expecting to do.
Sometimes you think your life, or your workshop, is going to go a certain way, and then it doesnt. Sometimes it goes a very different way, and sometimes improvising is key. We did a lot of that this past weekend, and we do a lot of that in life. Its hard, but Im getting better at it every day. Unexpected happenings are special. Because they can really lead anywhere.
If youre open to it.