I open one eye.  The other one is still caked shut with sleep.  My froggy voice can barely croak out,
“What time is it?”
The answer comes from directly below me:  “5:25 a.m. I think. F–K”
The raucous continues right outside the bedroom door with the offenders showing no concern for those of us still sleeping.  Their voices get louder.  It is clear they want to rouse the entire house.  Both of my eyes  are now open and I know they will not close again until late that night
I surrender and descend from the top bunk.  Rebecca, my roommate in the bottom bunk sighs and rises as well.  She curses again.
Moments later we are running naked down the Oregon beach and into the frigid Pacific ocean alongside six other women – eight in total — whooping and joyous. A first for all of us.
My family is 3000 miles away.   I am 43 years old and this is my summer vacation.

We were born a year ago when Meghan Davidson yearned for a group of creative souls that she could call her own.  Feeling a pressing need to connect with women who were also committed to examining their own personal journeys, she sought out those interested in sharing their paths for the benefit of the collective group.  What she got – what all of us got — was so much more.

We called ourselves The Tribe.

That first year of The Tribe we were more than a bit in awe of what we had been witness to:  a group of women who did not know one another who bonded instantly over a period of five days in a small cottage on the beach in Manzanita.  We were writers, bloggers, filmmakers, photographers, and artists looking to make our mark in the world.  But we were also wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, and girlfriends – unique individuals who were balancing our fragile souls on life’s various edges.

Our format is simple – and has gently guided us in our time together.  Each Tribe member comes to Manzanita with one small kindness and one group activity.  Those elements set a path of both tradition and exploration.  Required reading, a video shoot, and a soundtrack comprised of songs most meaningful to each of us were repeats from year one.  To that we added Reike sessions, vision boards, and henna tattoos.  Oh… and skinny dipping.  The jury is still out whether that will become a tradition.

We listened to poetry, drank wine, painted rocks, and checked in on the previous year.  We cheered those Tribe members who made significant steps towards living their best life, and held space for those who long to take the leap.  Our love for one another is fierce to be sure.

My time with my Tribe resembles nothing I do during the other 360 days of the year.  The rush of daily to-dos leaves little time to ask the questions that would seem to be vitally important to someone wishing to live a life true to oneself.

What feeds me?  What scares me?  Am I fulfilled?  Is my time well spent?  Personally? Professionally?

Once the daily static of our lives is removed, it becomes remarkably quiet.  We no longer have excuses or distractions to keep us from hearing what our hearts need to say.  Tears flowed freely throughout our time together as we took turns facing the angels and demons that confront us.

The heavy moments were balanced by lightness, humor, and a genuine fondness for one another.  Conversations flowed effortlessly from topics ranging from one member’s fear of failure to another’s fear of socks.  As we pondered our own relationships out loud, we analyzed Tom and Katie’s breakup with an impressive degree of fervor.  We watched YouTube videos, lip-synched 80s songs, and took in a little shopping.  An outsider might mistake our time together as a girl’s getaway which, while factually accurate, falls far short from what it really was.

I came away from Tribe 2012 with more than just bragging rights to a naked romp in the Pacific.  I am inspired by our Tribe members who have taken meaningful steps towards their dreams in the last year.  I have a new up-do that I can fix myself; I learned how to use Instagram; and I came clean about the rut I am in, but have refused to admit to anyone, including myself.

Meghan, Sarah, Soph, Melissa, Rebecca, Celina and Elizabeth – thank you for sharing your true selves this past week.  Our time was so very precious to me – and I leave you exhausted, fortified, and full of love.

Photo: Melissa Dowler

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