I actually still feel rested after our late arrival back from Turkey last week in spite of being back to early mornings and children who don’t want to be out of bed in time for school. The 16 loads of washing (OK, I exaggerate; but only slightly) are done and the cases are stored under the bed again waiting for Croatia.
So how was Turkey and our first alternative family holiday? It amazing, beautiful, a failure, a success and a learning.
We got some great feedback; ‘beautiful place’, ‘a mellow environment’, ‘a sense of freedom’. Angels Gardens was beautiful. the beds were comfortable, the rooms were clean, the food was delicious and healthy and the staff were friendly and helpful. The scenery was stunning..pictures describe it best; the quiet places to sit and chat:
The river running through which we paddled and dipped in:
The mountains which greeted us at breakfast;
The pet peacocks:
And the open, green spaces.
The local area was nothing like I expected; it reminded me of Thailand; very lush and green with stunning mountains and clear seas.
The sea was bracing at this time of year but there was shade on the beach and the ruins of Olympus as we walked to the beach were impressive and extensive.
People also said; ‘the best thing was you guys’, ‘it was less tiring than a normal family holiday’, ‘the kids played together and when the kids are happy, I’m happy’, there were ‘lovely adult conversations’.
We all had a Hamman and the adults had massages (bliss).
We walked up to see the Chimaera flames.
We had fireside sharings and a cabaret night (she’s not really drinking…honest!).
So surely we’ve got our alternative family holidays sorted then??
In spite of all this it felt like a failure for Susan and I.
Our sons sometimes get on and sometimes don’t which meant that there were times when we had to be mums and sort them out. Susan liked spontaneity and I like more structure. She’s an extrovert and I’m more introvert and I felt like I wasn’t ‘doing enough’ in comparison to the cabaret and drama workshop she put on.
We found it tough being ‘facilitators’ whilst also having your young children with us. We struggled with when we were mums and when we were facilitators and when we were partners. We didn’t really have time to chat to each other as friends as we spent most of the time planning and organising.
- When do you find yourself having conflicting demands made on you?
- How do you deal with that?
- How would you like to deal with that?
- What can you change?
The reality was that we couldn’t do what we wanted to do. We couldn’t facilitate and be mums and partners, the demands were too great and often conflicting. The dream was over after all the hours of careful work and planning. .
The other families left earlier so my family had 3 days on our own during which time my kids missed the other kids and I felt a failure.
Then I spoke to Karin the co-owner of Angel Gardens who’s had over 20 years in the travel industry. I told her how I was feeling and was really honest about what I thought had failed. She listened and reflected and suggested and slowly I began to shift my thinking.
She said how much she’d enjoyed having us and the kids there; how she had liked being amongst other families when she her own friends were childless. She also said she’d valued watching how we dealt with our own and each others’ kids and seeing the different ages and stages her toddler had ahead of him.
Wow! So in fact, the very things that I felt had ‘got in the way’ were the things that she’d appreciated. Hmm. Curiouser and Curiouser.
The Buddhists say that suffering is caused by wanting things to be different and that’s what we’d been doing.
- Do you do that?
- What do you wish was different?
We went to Turkey with a dream in our head about what we would be like, how it would go and how our alternative family holidays would be like. We had an image in our heads of what we needed to be like to facilitate. We had expectations of how our children should behave, how we should behave.
I felt like I should be more extrovert like Susie, I felt like I shouldn’t have been feeling quite so premenstrual when I arrived.
No wonder we were stressed…we were not living up to our own dreams and expectations and so we failed to live up to our own fictions.
However, when I looked at what had actually happened, rather than what I thought should happen…it all looked different. We were in a beautiful place with lovely people and stuff happened, albeit kids falling out or spontaneous aerial photography. People enjoyed being together, and sometimes they didn’t. The kids didn’t like some of the food sometimes and at other times they did. Some days the beach was very windy, other days it was calm and hot. Sometimes we drank beer (the adults and laughed till it hurt and at other times we were quiet and more solitary.
There are 4 Noble Truths in Buddhism and the first is that we suffer. We suffer through illness, ageing, birth. Kids suffered when one of them thought the other was cheating at games, Susie and I suffered when we felt so stressed at trying to be something and someone we couldn’t be.
The second Noble Truth is that suffering is caused by craving or thirsting for things to be different. Oh how true. I wanted to be perfect, to have calm and gracious children who got one with everyone all the time. I wanted to be a sexy, intimate partner whilst also being an inspiring and peaceful facilitator.
Oh the delusions of the ego!
All this wanting is about me, me, me. Me wanting the kids to be how I want them to be. Me wanting me to behave in a certain way and be a certain type of person. Me wanting the wind to stop blowing. Oh the arrogance. Suffering is indeed caused by craving for things to be different.
The third Noble Truth is that we can end suffering. We can’t end illness and aging but we can accept it. I can’t stop feeling premenstrual, but I can accept it. I can’t stop my kids from sometimes not getting on, but I can accept it.
- When you look at how things actually are, rather than what you’d like them to be like; what do you see?
So when I accept what is, rather than what I think should be, what do I see? What is the truth about FamilyChill?
The truth is that we got great people to a great place.
The truth is that they wanted to be there and enjoyed being there.
The truth is that Susie and I are mums, partners, facilitators, teachers, women, sisters, daughters and that we are none of these roles as well as all of them.
The truth is that when you bring a bunch of people together in a community there is tension and there is ease. There is structure and there is flow. There are introvert quiet time and extrovert noisy times. The truth is that there is eb and flow, night and day, torrential rain one morning followed in an hour or two by hot sun.
The truth is that our kids do fall out sometimes, that we may fall out at some time. The truth is that family life is gritty, exhausting, fun and intimate.
The truth is that nothing and no one is perfect…and yet on another level; everyone and everything is perfect.
- What is the truth about your situation?
- Can you accept it?
The fourth Noble Truth is that suffering can cease once we drop our illusions about our self and our world. I’m not there yet but I feel like I’ve taken another step closer to seeing what is.
So this is what I think FamilyChill is. Starting in Croatia there are no facilitators and there as many facilitators as there are people present. Susie and I will be there with our perfectly imperfect families and we will be who we are in that moment.
The truth is that in Turkey, in spite of our plans and disappoi9ntments, things just happened anyway so things will happen Croatia. Structured people will structure, creative people will create, reflective people will reflect, the dads will do what dads do and the mums will do what the mums do and the kids will do what kids do.
So suddenly there is no failure, only learning because it’s made me look at what we actually do and what actually happened rather than what our thoughts told us.
We wanted an alternative family holiday where there is a chance to hang out with other people and to see what happens. An alternative family holiday where we could drop our masks of shoulds and oughts and to actually meet each other as we are in that moment. We wanted an alternative family holiday which is co-created moment by moment by all the people there. It is a chance to be honest and authentic; to say ‘my kid is falling out with your kid and I don’t know how to handle this’ and to get support.
It’s a chance to reflect on our parenting, for our boundaries to rub up against other people’s boundaries to see where we can meet.
Our alternative family holidays are a chance to be real, to feel, to get things wrong and to get things right, to have fun and to be irritated, to be bored and to be entertained and for all of it to be OK. Because life is all of those things and why should holidays be any different?
How deluded and arrogant of me to think that I could create a community holiday which was peaceful and harmonious all the time. Life’s just not like that.
Buddhism also talks about the Eightfold path as a way to end suffering.
Right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
When I reflect on what actually happened whilst we were busy trying hard to make things happen I smile as so many of the 8 steps were going on anyway; impromptu meditation and yoga sessions, informal chats about a charity one of the people had set up and numerous reflections on how to work and earn money and have time for the family. People contributed what they could when they could..sometimes hair braiding, sometimes having each others kids for sleepovers.
At the heart of what happened was a view that being together was better than being apart and that it was OK to not join in too. There was honest and authentic communication going on, people trying to express their truths in ways which created connection.
So Love Being Me brings together the Right People, that is to say, the people who are attracted to it and are in interested in it will automatically be the right people. We also spend time talking to people before they come so they know whether or not it is for them and many of the people who come arrive by word of mouth.
Love Being Me finds the right places. We want beauty and health wherever we go and we want locations that love kids and are have space enough for everything from football, to beer drinking to meditation.
Love Being Me is at the right time ie in the school holidays. It is also the right time for us to connect in a radically honest and authentic way. It’s OK to be a different ‘you’, a different ‘family’ and to try out new ways of communicating, parenting and partnering as the chances are that the people you meet on Love Being Me alternative family holidays are not the people who are part of your everyday life, so they have no expectations of how you normally are, there is no historical baggage of what you used to be like. We meet each other as we are now.
Love Being Me alternative family holidays allow you time to drop your masks, speak your truth, try out new bits of you and relate to you family supported by lovely people doing the same thing, most of whom you will only see the next time you come on holiday with us. This is a safe time and space to be different and to take back new ideas and links and people with you.
Love Being Me has the right intention which is to see things as they are, to be as we are. To drop our mask and our shoulds and our delusions of what life and holidays and families should be like and to be in the moment with what is.
- Which masks and shoulds are you going to drop?
So that’s where we’re up to. Croatia is going ahead; click on this link to like us on Facebook.
I’m also looking at what is in another way. The truth is that whilst I love running courses that get people together to solve their problems, most of you, and I have trouble getting out at night because of the kids and during the day we’re working- right? So with the help of WebTechWonderWoman Jenny, I’m going to give on line stuff a whirl.
Getting Jenny involved has also been facing up to what is rather than what should be ie I am rubbish at the tech bit and all the time I was thinking I ‘should’ do it…nothing was happening…so now I’ve owned up to that and handed over to Jenny..things can move on.
- What can you own up to and hand over to someone else?
Going with what is, really is easier!
Have a good week.