It was barely a month ago that I was on my way to the second annual World Domination Summit (WDS). Since then, my life has been a continuous whirlwind of a ride into one new realm after the next.
Actually this period of acceleration, exploration and rising intensity started more than a month ago. In the last six weeks I have journeyed through legions of virgin territory, both literally and figuratively.
It began as my parents, siblings, in-laws and I successfully navigated our first adult whole-family vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina -- virgin territory for all of us despite several who boast passports filled to overflowing. Since then I've windsurfed, bodysurfed, stand-up paddle boarded and built bonfires on the beach. I reconnected with seldom-seen cousins, nieces and nephews at all ages and life stages (even valiantly -- and successfully -- defeating breast cancer: Go Liz!).
One trip followed another as I jetted to Portland, Ore. for my inaugural WDS. The City of Roses in July was an unexpected gem and welcome change from my usual tropical paradise. The event itself (more on that in next week's post -- I'm still synthesizing this transformational experience) was filled to capacity with awe-inspiring unconventional people, heart-opening motivational speakers, and endless opportunities to make new friends and meet kindred spirits. I ate Voodoo doughnuts, ordered street-cart tacos (yum), drank craft beer, and savored the weekend farmers' market. I walked the waterfront, rode the trams, and basically reveled in the amazing outdoor scene of the Pacific Northwest. (And hell yeah I'll be back for WDS 2013.)
After a one week stop home to welcome my daughter's two teenage cousins from Mexico it was off to New York City with my husband and three teenage girls on a celebratory quinceañera weekend for our daughter's 15th birthday. Squeezing in a little business, I dashed from one appointment in a corporate high rise to the next in a Gramercy Park loft to shopping in Soho. We stayed across the river in Hoboken, N.J. (where the girls delightedly discovered J-Lo in our same hotel and cruised by Carlo's Bakery), splurged at Nobu for dinner, rode the subways, watched (and cried at) Phantom. The continuation of what was nearly a month-long birthday extravaganza for my daughter continued in Florida with jaunts to Miami for a Nicki Minaj concert, beach visits, snorkel trips, cupcake runs, and (these are teenage girls after all) more shopping.
The juggernaut wasn't over yet. July culminated with international visitors from two different countries and, to celebrate their arrival in south Florida (one of the many fun things about living where I do is people frequently vacation in Miami) a party for 20 at our house. Not to mention dinners and beach trips with our friends well into early August.
In the last six weeks I have ridden planes, trains, automobiles, taxis, limos, speedboats, wave runners, subways, streetcars, bikes and light-rail trams. I've walked miles of city streets, swam kilometers of ocean reef, squished my toes in the mud of Pamlico Sound, buried them in the sand of Cape Hatteras (and elsewhere). Even had one bit by a crab!
I've feasted -- on a variety, quantity and quality of cuisine truly fit for royalty -- and am deeply, humbly grateful for every morsel, from the fresh daily catch of the Outer Banks to the Portland street tacos, from Nobu scallops to Soho pizza, to the Brazilian picanha and Café Cubano of Miami. From frozen margaritas to double-tall lattes to green smoothies to rich merlots to locally-brewed Oregon beers (to lots and lots of water to keep myself going), I've drank it all.
And let me not forget to mention the people. I've met wandering nomads who've described themselves as "technically homeless" (like Jolly) to intentional nomads Dan and Audrey who prefer to be full-time travelers. I've met both budding entrepreneurs and millionaire venture capitalists, real estate investors and corporate vice presidents.
I've celebrated with cancer survivors, a guy who walked across America (read Nate's story), young people with boundless energy and optimism, old people with boundless energy and optimism, TED speakers (like Brene Brown there at right), best-selling authors, and (finally in person) two of my favorite bloggers and heart-centered entrepreneurs, Mark Silver and Chris Guillebeau.
Jennifer Louden (one of those best-selling authors I recently rubbed shoulders with and a primary reason this blog exists) recently summarized exactly how I feel:
"As I write this I am overcome with how much life, beauty and sensory splendor one month brings. I could write all day and not touch a 10th of it. May we always remember how blessed we are to be in bodies, to be alive."
I could say I am exhausted (and for a few weeks I was running at full tilt and short on sleep), but I'm mostly recovered from exhaustion. The truth is I'm more energized than exhausted by adventures into virgin territory -- always.
I could say I'm relieved that it's over, but the truth is now that this period of adventure, newness and exploration is winding down, I'm experiencing more letdown than relief. Chris Guillebeau, nonconformist extraordinaire and creator of the World Domination Summit, echoes similar sentiments in this post.
Maybe as 2012 continues to reveal an increased pace of change, we'll all be feeling moments of melancholy after periods of acceleration. As we live and open to more of life than we did before, our appetite grows.
The Ever-Rising Bar
That's the thing about fully participating in the human journey, about getting off the couch and out there: you never know where it will take you and how you'll be transformed.
What I was reminded of over the last six weeks is how every new adventure, manifested desire, and savory taste of fresh experience along the journey raises our personal bars.
With our thresholds heightened, once we realize what we're capable of and experience the richness and diversity we thought were out of reach, there is no going back. There is perhaps appreciation and gratitude, but not fulfillment with the way things were before.
Which leaves me (or anyone with a similar "high quality problem") where exactly? Hungry for more? Definitely. A little sad to slow down and return to routine? Sure. But mostly in a place of greater expectations -- for both myself and my fellow nonconformists.
I've been incredibly blessed with travel, resources, freedom and abundance beyond my own doing that it's not enough for me to simply gorge on more (tempting though that is).
With greater frequency I've recently wondered why I'm being shown the splendor and richness of the world that I've been fortunate enough to experience and can only conclude there must be a greater purpose -- a grander design to it -- than my own personal fulfillment. At least, I'd like there to be.
As life continually reinforces, to those whom much is given much is expected. The last six weeks have given me what I used to live in six months or a year (or what some are lucky to experience in six years or a lifetime). Now that I've had a breather to reflect and recharge, I've decided what to do. I'll be announcing that here next time.
In the meantime, stay hungry and stay nimble. That bar isn't going to get any lower, you know.