August 30, 2011

Lost and Found: Gaycation take-aways

Our gaycation to Star Island. Three days. 10 miles off the coast of New Hampshire. With my mindfulness practice and experience as a holistic health coach, what can I see and learn in 72 hours?


THE SHORT FERRY RIDE of 45 minutes is smooth and wonderful. Salty sea air, light breeze, perfect sunny day. As we get farther into the 10 mile trip away from the mainland I can literally feel months of stress melt away. I am going to enjoy 3 days on 1 square mile of land where all my basic needs will be taken care of and I can just read and rock in rocking chairs. And play tennis.

[upon landing at the dock] I unzip my bag and realize I don't have my iPhone.

So ironic! Only an hour before I was reading my friend's blog post on said iPhone---she had left her phone behind on vacation! ARGH--I manifested this, too!

Panic sets in. It isn't so much that I don't have my phone...I'm not that much of an addict--right? But where IS the damn thing?

Melted-away stress comes back with a VENGEANCE! I am now totally stressed out and we are only 2 minutes into what is supposed to be the most relaxing three days I've had in a year.


After 10 minutes of bickering and attempts to call the mainland, I unzip my bag. Whoops. I had hurriedly stashed the phone in a secret compartment in the bag. Would have definitely spent 3 days panicked and never would have thought to look there. Why did I look there? What led me to be so distracted that I didn't even remember doing that?

LOST: my patience, gratitude and balance
FOUND: my awareness of my dependence on technology, a realization of my mindless actions from being too overwhelmed and my gratitude for "the bigger perspective"

ABOUT 15 MINUTES LATER, a familiar face comes bounding towards me. Her name is Genna, she's 22 and I've known her since she was 14. We "grew up together" essentially, in the basements of UU churches in New Jersey and New York. Me, a youth advisor-she, a talented and wise person who has taught me alot about the person I want to be. We had no idea we were going to be on this 1 square mile in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on this clear, sunny day but we are happy to be reunited. Crazier than that? The same exact thing happened two years ago, almost to the day. I took a last-minute opportunity to work a conference on this island and here was Genna, running toward me with open arms. "What are you doing here?!!"

Coincidence? Twice in 2 years?

Methinks, Providence.

LOST: my reverence for my past and all the gifts I've been given
FOUND: appreciation for my path and the many loyal, beautiful, selfless people/teachers in my life

WE AREN'T REGISTERED for the conference that's in progress, but as Personal Retreaters we get to hang out with these people and meet them, eat with them.

Brenda and I make plans to play tennis together--she knows I love it so--and an older white gentleman strides across the court, his bubbly, gregarious wife three steps behind. He--in his Polo tennis shirt and white shorts comes up to me--me in my ribbed, white undershirt and grown-out armpit hair and my queer girlfriend--he comes up to me, squinting in the sun and says, "can you actually play?"

I say, "yes. I can." I point to Brenda, "She's learning, but we can play."

He says, "these guys--" gestures to the 4 elderly folks on court, "they aren't competition for me."

I smile and think, wow. He found kindred spirits in two queer young adults.

We play, we have an incredible time working out the kinks of whether or not to keep score or hit around for the fun of it. An hour passes and it's the most joy-filled I've had in months. Brenda overcomes her own insecurities about playing up against us "pros" and plays like a star. We laugh. The sun is overhead. The waves lap against the rocks just 20 feet away from us. Where else can I play tennis with complete strangers twice my age at the drop of the hat in these incredible weather conditions? Paul, my new friend, shouts across the court, "you need to be in the papers, you're good!"

The rest of that night, Paul tries to convince Brenda and I to stay the rest of the week. We wish we can. He comes by our dining table and snatches a piece of my cookie, like we've known each other forever. I head out at 11pm to sit beside him at the coffeehouse---because he requested my presence there. It's a small thing to make a gentle man happy with my mere presence. It's more than my own parents request these days...

LOST: perspective on friendship and my own self-worth
FOUND: validation and company from meaningful multigenerational relationships

As with most of my life recently, since my spiritual practice takes front seat more and more each day, these were precious days filled with lots of love and learning. I am grateful that I took the break and chose such a soul-filled, healing place. No junk food. No loud noises. (did I mention the foghorn that sounds from the lighthouse every 20 seconds? you learn to love it...) A little grit, showers every other day and plenty of light, waves lapping up against you on all sides----and those rocking chairs. Beckoning you every moment...

"come. Sit here. Stop moving and just sit. You can rock, if you really need to keep moving all that badly. Just sit here, watch the water and be still. You need it more than anything else, right now."

So true. So very, very true.

Thank you, Star. Thank you, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, for teaching me to slow down. Thank you, UU family and friends, for being open, generous and community-oriented.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The nonprofit Star Island Corporation has owned and operated Star Island since 1916, providing affordable individual and family retreats. While Star Island is founded on the liberal spiritual ideals of Unitarian-Universalism and the United Church of Christ, people representing a variety of beliefs attend conferences regularly. To learn more visit:


  1. I LOVE Star Island! I did a 10 week internship on Appledore at the Shoals Marine Lab in college and we went to Star all the time!

    I also grew up in the UU Church and I often forget my roots. Thank you for reminding me. I'm so glad that you found some peace on your gaycation!

  2. Great post, pal. Amazing what a little distance can help us find--and recognize we lost. --Melis


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