Last week I had the honor of watching a project of mine over the past 10 months blossom in Southern California. About 40 miles outside San Diego, 60+ med students, residents and physician mentors gathered for the seventh annual National Circle of Healer's Conference/Retreat, sponsored by the American Medical Student Association. We had expert led (and volunteered!) workshops on narrative medicine, non-violent communication, communicative/therapeutic drumming and shamanistic journeying.
Initially, I was thrilled to have this opportunity to design a healthy weekend party with a $7000 budget for some of my dear friends (both present and future) and to invest myself around the creation of an intimate space and a vision (using communication to channel personal inspiration into the physician/patient encounter) ... to give authority to my seldom acknowledged hippie/granola side ...
Over the months, though, this project grew to strain me both logistically (attention to minutiae in coordinating something 9,000 miles away) and metaphysically (maintaining some non-attachment so that I didn't overwhelm the project with my own needs and expectations)
In the end, it was a bit of a blur (perhaps due to the jet-lag), but we got rave reviews from all of the mentors and participants (most of whom had spent around $500 each on airfare and program fees to be there that weekend) ... no one was hurt, we home-cooked all of our vegetarian meals, and it looks like we might have come in under budget ... unfortunately, as I consigned myself to the business of making sure things ran smoothly/promptly, I did not put myself in a very good position to properly appreciate the weekend ... but this is a small price to pay for it all.
The project wouldn't have been much without the help and support of my planning committee (Dave, Evan, Sonia, Sonya, Sahana, Amy, Marcy) and I guess the true testiment to the weekend was that while helping to make sure things did not go awful, awry or askew, they all seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves -- and for that I am very thankful
Continuing with my counter-intuitive winter pattern, I experienced my coldest night of the year in the hills around San Diego ... 15 degrees F ... the coldest temperature on record at the retreat site, with about half an inch of snow as icing on the frozen cake .... I should have expected it, especially when I met the camp site caretaker, who was actually named "Frosty" ... Fortunately, we had a glorious indoor fire pit and enough firewood and space heaters in the cabins to make sure that nobody really noticed ...
Some images from that weekend: