You have a choice: I have many stories, two of which can be found here. If you choose Version A, you will hear my story as I may tell it to you sitting around a campfire, throwing rocks on the beach or shuffling along a hiking trail - it is written conversationally. If you choose Version B, you will read my story painstakingly crafted in flowing prose most likely to be found in a formal memoir (or the first edition of this website). Both stories are heartfelt, and true-to-the-core, but the writing styles vary. A lot. Continue reading below to hear my casual story, version A. Select Version B if you want my verbose, flowery story (also a good read, in my opinion.)
Life is good
I've lived and loved in many amazing places - deep in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, among the rolling hills of Wisconsin's farmlands, sequestered on iconic Catalina Island in Southern California and many places in between. Every single one of those places was important to me; I made dear friends; and I felt connected to the place and the people. However, in my many moves, I never experienced a place that shook my foundation and touched me like Lummi Island did.
In the beginning
The spirit of adventure prompted us to leave our home in sunny Colorado to relocate to the rather damp Pacific Northwest. Without a solid plan (also without jobs or a clear destination), we tearfully left our friends in Colorado and starting driving west to Washington State. A friend owned a vacant cabin on Lummi Island, and when she learned of our half-baked scheme, she offered it to us for a few months until we found our footing and a permanent home.
Fast forward through the trying drive with three very young daughters, a huge (and somewhat smelly) dog, and a directionally-challenged driver - me. We finally arrived at Gooseberry Point, where we caught the small ferry to Lummi Island. It was impossible not to be awed by the natural beauty of the snowcapped mountains, the evergreen forests and the sparkling Salish Sea. Little did I know that I was about to really have my socks knocked off.
We. Have. Arrived.
I was taken by the beautiful surroundings, charmed by the eclectic collection of homes and community buildings, but I was bowled over by the inclusive community. It took only hours to make a life-changing decision. We were staying. Forever.
What I learned over time, is how passionately dedicated Islanders are to one another's well being and to their precious island home. However, I couldn't have understood this after only a few days of moving to Lummi.
What was apparent right away was that Islanders were social and enjoyed spending time together and they took care of one another in times of need. There were community events planned for almost every week of the year: pancake breakfasts & salmon feeds at the Grange; visits from Santa at the ferry dock; the annual Halloween Party at the school; the Thanksgiving "Stomach-Stretching" dinner at the church; the Veteran's assembly at the cemetery; the harvest parade that marched right by my front door and more. So. Much. More. People cared for people: they distributed May Day Flowers to the elderly; brought meals to new parents; ran errands for those who had fallen ill; joined together for roadside clean ups. For years, I longed to live somewhere that neighbors frequently came together to work, to socialize and to lend support. Here it was.
Another factor contributing to my practically split-second decision to settle on Lummi Island - the warmth and sincerity with which others welcomed and accepted us. They learned our names immediately, they included us in their lives and they were invested in our welfare. I was surprised at how safe and secure I felt, surrounded by others who knew us and who were already looking out for us.
After being on the island for a while, I realized that my initial impressions were true: This group of 816 people really did function as a cohesive whole. They were a diverse group, but they shared one thing: the Lummi Island Spirit.
We all matter
Naturally, Islanders sometimes ruffle one another's feathers, and the only thing they have in common is geography, but this doesn't prevent them from being kind and lending a helping hand when they can. Despite our differences, every member of this community is valued for one reason or another. We are all vital pieces of the puzzle we call community.
This feeling of belonging, of being valued, of being an important part of a larger whole is so precious, and sometimes so rare, that I want to create it and share it with others at REC Retreats. Society today can be fragmented and people tend to disengage with those around them, resulting in many people feeling isolated, lonely or simply lacking. REC Retreats exists to reinforce that we all matter, we all belong and we all have a unique worth that contributes to our community.
Call it community, call it a clan, call it a tribe
I hope you join me at REC Retreats sometime. I would like to welcome you to our community. I would love to share an experience or two. I would be honored to walk a few steps of life's journey together.
I am interested in hearing your story.