This weekend many of the people I have “met” and “chatted to” and have learned so much from over recent months all congregated in York. The Open Nest Conference sounded great from the very first time I heard about it, some months ago.
When it came down to it though, this particular weekend, for me Taking Care apparently meant not being there.
I thought about whether I might go a long time ago.
After all, it looked great.
It appeared to provide a forum where people would help me learn more about things I was already intrigued by and wanted to learn more about! It was very definitely one of only a few chances I would have to meet face to face people I already felt I “knew” and so much want to know better. And the bonus card: it was in York, somewhere I may know only a little but a place on my list to return to as soon as the opportunity presents.
Perfect then really.
But as a prospective adopter – a novice explorer still mapping out a foreign land rather than walking the terrain of experience – I couldn’t quite convince myself I was sure it was appropriate. What did I have to bring to the party rather than simply to take? How could I truly understand the world of adoption, its joys and tribulations, its wonders and its overwhelming full-on tiredness, when I was still standing outside looking in with hope, trepidation, and the tiny window of vicarious experience gained through training, preparation groups and my own personal reading/learning/thinking journey (oh and Twitter of course!)?
I knew already, with absolute certainty, I would have been welcome. Indeed it was suggested to me that I might come quite recently by someone who I knew was reaching out to include me deliberately. That small invitation – right there is the kindness of the adoption community incarnate. Oh yes, I knew that the community I have joined – currently as a sort of associate member I suppose! – would open its arms to me again as it has so often already.
However, I believe in general there are spaces that all communities and groups need where they can truly be open with themselves. And I was worried. If anyone would feel inhibited by a someone like me being present then it would feel wrong, however much I could potentially learn and gain from both the experience and however much I might enjoy meeting so many people I had already come to think of as friends.
So I kept thinking. I remained uncertain. I didn’t buy a ticket, but it stayed on my radar. The wait and see button stayed lit in my brain.
Much more recently, indeed just a couple of months ago, there were however developments in my own Adoption Journey (sorry – I know I’m out of synch here as they are yet to appear in my blog!). Suddenly I simply couldn’t go whether it was the best idea since sliced bread or the worst since Marathon became Snickers. Still a tiny bit jealous yes, my thoughts were rather taken over by events elsewhere. It’s easy to walk away from something, however attractive, when it is simply no longer an option.
Only a couple of weeks ago though it was all change again. Suddenly I was free to attend. (When life plans change at short notice your diary tends to be empty suddenly too!)
But (even apart from the costs – which for last minute train tickets etc would have been a real ouch for someone supposed to be saving!) I somehow knew that going wasn’t the right thing to do. Why it wasn’t right t wasn’t so sure.
This weekend also saw a big march in London fighting for better pay and standing up for all those fighting for ordinary people against the harsh consequences of austerity and an economy still at best struggling to deliver for most of us. I wanted to go to that too – and any London visit allows me to see friends and family as well, always a bonus.
I debated and hummed and haahed. I knew somehow that this time London would win out. What I still couldn’t work out was why? My reasons for deciding that London would win over York in this battle between two big pulls on my emotions remained hidden from me. Was it really just money and other practicalities? I couldn’t read it myself even though I knew what I would do.
Today I finally, belatedly, worked it out.
I was Taking Care.
The theme of the Conference in York was Taking Care. The #WASO theme over at The Adoption Social, reflecting the level of engagement and interest in the Conference, has also this weekend been Taking Care.
Earlier today I was planning an evening trying to catch up from afar and seeing what I’d missed. I wondered if I could write a blog on the subject myself for the weekly #WASO and laughed at myself for my own audacity in even having the idea.
But then finally I realised what had been going on in my brain.
Somehow my mind had known that yes, just now I do need to Take Care – of myself. I need to seek support and help but also to be distracted. I need to continue to build my place in the world I want to move into – but I also need to look after my place in the world I currently live in.
This weekend I saw friends, I visited family, I marched through London, I ate newly-baked bread rolls and drank water while sitting outside the National Gallery and watching the world go by. I drank wine, I read, I smiled at strangers on buses and on trains, I met up with people who I have known for many years and others who I have met only recently.
For me, just now, I think that was the right call.
For me, just now, Taking Care needed to be remembering that not everything needs to be about learning and preparing for the future, about even my dearest hopes and dreams.
For me, just now, Taking Care needed to be about reminding myself of the me that I am already, the me that is already so lucky with all I have in my life.
(Having said that, of course, my next job now after writing this quickly before the weekend’s #WASO theme ends, is to read everyone else’s blogs which are actually from York and hopefully get a taste of what I missed!)