A week from today, Karyn and I will be heading to the airport to fly to Tuscany for the 2023 Write, Travel, Transform retreat at a 15th century villa. This morning, I got up early and had a couple of hours before my morning class, so I went to my closet and started pulling out clothes I might take to Italy, preferably as few as possible. I’m working on paring down the personal belongings I bring on these trips, because as the teacher, I also have to carry a lot of extra things for my students: the gong I use to start class, hanging name tags in plastic sleeves, handouts, a talking stick, basic medical supplies, and on and on.
We’ve scheduled this Write, Travel, Transform retreat during shoulder season, which means the weather could transition from the 50s into the high 70s or more—last year we held this retreat in June and it was unseasonably warm, and in our after-retreat debrief, we decided that the weather had been a little too hot for several of our participants—it was uncomfortable to be out in the middle of the day. So, this year, we moved the trip up by a few weeks, and as a result, the weather will be a bit cooler and more variable, with a chance of rain. So, an umbrella and a raincoat have been added to our packing lists.
Today was the first day I actually began feeling excited about this trip. Until now, I’ve been dealing with tons of logistics, organizing, promoting, preparing, planning, writing “lead up to the trip emails,” meeting deadlines, producing deliverables, feeling the stress of marketing, taking care of the myriad details that go into pulling off a trip like this. I’ve been blessed to work with Graseilah Coolidge as my on-the-ground partner. She and I just had our last in-person meeting just a few days ago. She’s flying to Italy tomorrow. And my virtual assistant, Jen Petras, has been dealing with last minute customer service behind the scenes. This has definitely been a team effort.
There’s a moment before I leave on a long trip when my life at home starts to lose its grip and I begin transitioning into travel mode. It’s a feeling of relief and release, freedom and excitement, and I felt the first glimmers of that lightening today. My endless lists of future tasks have been pared down. My to-dos have been moved to an “after Tuscany” list although in reality, my “after Tuscany” list may be more of “an end of the summer” list because I’m going to be traveling a lot this summer: teaching four retreats, taking an extended camping trip with Karyn, hiking the Camino de Santiago in September, and I’ve also slotted in some blessed unplanned time, so a lot of things will be on hold until October when I get back from the Camino and life really settles back down at home again.
I’m looking forward to having a different kind of summer. For the last six months or so, I’ve been feeling squeezed by my life and the way I live it—hungry for more freedom, space, and less doing. I’m less and less interested in generating, promoting, and keeping up “the Laura Davis brand.” I’m yearning for something new, something different in my life. I can feel myself approaching a new chapter, but so far that chapter is a big fat empty page, and I don’t yet know it may lead to. This kind of big life transition is scary and stressful—and on good days, it feels exciting. I feel like I’m standing on the edge, on the cusp…of something new.
Travel always cracks things open for me—so I’m looking forward to whatever it is that my time in Italy inspires and has to teach me.
This will be an intermittent version of my Virtual Vacation blog. I generally get inspired to keep it up when I’m in a foreign land—so many new sensory experiences to notice, revel in, be touched by. Look for digests of my posts via email if you’re on my lauradavis.net mailing list. You can also follow my travel blog at: