Monday, February 1, 2010

Overboard on Retreat

Friday, January 29, 2010
“Retreat” is defined as a period away from normal activities, devoted to prayer and meditation, often spent in a religious community. Today I leave for a three-day Catholic Women’s Retreat atop a Santa Barbara mountain. A beautiful, reflective spot.

Some funny stories are sure to be born as I am sharing a room with Overboard, who does not seek or crave time alone. Let me introduce Overboard to you. She’s my zany Italian mom who doesn’t know when enough’s enough. May that be hugs and kisses (it’s hard to walk past her in the house without her grabbing onto you with two fists clenched to your upper arms then smacking a kiss on your head or cheek) or controlling all manner of situations where she wants what she wants. She is extremely  festive, Italian spirited and loves themed clothing. She collects Fitz and Floyd figurines by the hundreds, and goes overboard on just about everything she does … be it feeding the masses, spoiling her grandsons, volunteering, party planning over the top, assisting elderly family members, binge shopping or styling your hair. She gives it 150%.   Her idea of serenity is a visit to the Chumash Casino to play the noisy slot machines or making homemade lasagna for twelve. Everyone soothes their spirit in different ways. The room we are sharing on this retreat is sure to feel the tug of our different directions along with lots of laughter, as she’s a character. Overboard is playing a key part in this retreat, being in charge of “environment.” That means she is responsible for decorating the Meeting Room and floral arrangements. You see, Overboard is gifted in these artistic areas (along with bulk cooking and gift-basket making) and has been feverishly preparing the last few months.

Sunday, January 31, 2010
I am back … “Awakening Faith, Hope and Love ~ Exploring the Landscape of Your Soul” was the retreat theme. The speaker, Sister Deborah, is part of the Sisters of Social Services of Los Angeles, and an expert in the field of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Interesting combo: A Chinese medicine nun. Her talks  were eye-opening and educational. I had never felt Chi before. Chi is the inner energy generated inside each of us. When doing the meditative exercises on the Santa Barbara mountain bluff, it felt like I was holding a magnetic ball that had shape and a pull to it. Energy. I am not making this up either; I felt it.

A highlight of the weekend was the suite Overboard and I shared. Since she was in charge of all the decorating, she was upgraded to a suite, so I piggybacked on her hard work and relished the walk-in closet, private bathroom and sitting area.

I could go on about everything I learned … the spirit of sacred silence, understanding balance in our lives, building reserves for life’s lows, and channeling The Divine within. Another time I will impart these golden nuggets of inner peace and truth. For now, I will share with you my Church Laugh (see blog entry on Jan 10, 2010 for definition) that played out the first night. Overboard hung all of these amazing inspirational handmade paintings and quotes throughout the Meeting Room. Take a look-see at the photos. Friday night, one hundred women gathered in the Meeting Room listening intently to Sister Deborah explain Chi, when out of nowhere, the fruit of Overboard’s labor, a large piece of artwork, fell off the wall … “Ka Flump! FLUMP!” Maybe a bad tape job? Perish the thought! Overboard is a woman who travels with a pair of scissors, glue-gun and no less than four types of tape! (No exaggeration and I’ll go into the boxes of craft and office supplies she traveled with on an Alaskan Cruise at another time.) All eyes looked to the empty wall space and acknowledged the floor art. My insides felt for her, as I was sure she was disappointed.
Fast forward one hour on this first retreat night. The sea of women split up into assigned small groups. After that, all one hundred of us filed back into the amazingly decorated Meeting Room to find our seats. Sister Deborah had just started speaking when an even louder, longer “Flaaa-BUMP! Thud! Gasp. THUD!” resonated in the room. Everyone, including Overboard and I, turned around to see an older woman on the floor. Her chair had broken from under her. Upon realizing the cause of the horrible sound, Overbaord leaned into me and said, “Thank God … I thought another picture fell.”

The show went on, but I spent the next five minutes holding my scarf over my mouth to hide the howls of laughter that begged to escape. It struck me as funny, you know, Church Laugh funny. Tears were streaming down my face, my body jiggling soundlessly as I replayed her reaction to the old lady’s fall. Normally, Overboard would be the first to help an old woman stand up, it is her nature to try and rescue and assist anyone at anytime, but I’m guessing her relief of the lack of falling art took over. I struggled to maintain respect and hide my giggles.

Another unique part of bunking with Overboard meant our room smelt flower fragrant as she had a bucket of flowers to create bouquets. The downside of this? When I used the bathroom on Saturday morning, I had to do a double take as I was inches away from parking my bottom on unopened stargazer lilies stored in the toilet bowl vase. Only ingenious Overboard could think this one up!

I will write more on the retreat later. For now, I mentally prepare for a week being casted as a single mom as my husband is flying to Kentucky (Thank God for Overboard, she drove him to LAX at 5:30 AM!). It is always humbling and exhausting to be both parents. How do my single-mom friends do it? Maybe they channel alot more Chi than the rest of us.


Sommer Cornett said...

Ohhh my..i chuckled so hard reading this. I think I may have needed a scarf too! :)

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