Edit: I’m hoping to post a review of Ravenwood Castle itself, but I first wanted to share thoughts from the social experience point of view, since that was the point. Since I never know how long a post will take me to finish, I will say that I recommend it highly. The board games on hand and the atmosphere of the great hall made it impossible not to enjoy the experience. In short, I can’t wait to go back for another relaxing visit.
About a month ago, my husband and I were invited to join in on surprise birthday festivities for a friend. It turned out to be more fantastic than we could have hoped, in spite of our high expectations and my Health Blah aggro. There were old friends (comparatively speaking, back to the beginnings of my Twitter experience in 2007), but also new friends. And it takes only a tiny bit of bravery to say that, because I feel the bond of a shared experience, even if I didn’t get to spend much time with each of them.
And while I wish I had been less shy and gotten time with everyone, I prefer to err on the side of not being a pain in the ass (whenever possible). Besides, I cannot imagine being able to retain even ONE more memory or survive one more breathless and teary-eyed laughing fit. As I was trying to gather my scattered and grateful thoughts together to do a post commemorating the heart-container-filling weekend, something triggered a recurring thought, and I’ve decided to use our weekend setting to better noodle through what I keep returning to:
Human interaction is an unpredictable roll of the dice, as ALL parties imprint on shared experiences, depending on their mood, behavior and personality.
And in this case, it was tasty.
Invited party guests were asked to keep it all quiet, both to keep the surprise from the honoree and to avoid hurting the feelings for those that space did not allow to include. It was excruciating not sharing more, but I will say that with the right combination of people, anything is possible.
The only downside was that we were “roughing it” without internet, cell signal or HD TV’s blasting ticker tape news over a reporter talking in another direction. An insulated bubble was in place around us and we were (primarily) our only distractions. Phone calls were not easily made, people (myself included) were not constantly reaching for their devices to check for messages, tweet, post or otherwise spend their time with a mental foot in the outside world. I found myself grateful to be disconnected with others that were more appreciative to be there than to waste any real time watching for connectivity, save those with important matters to address.
More frequently, people expressed gratitude for the experience and the efforts made by all to keep it truly special and just embraced it. There were some jokes and comments made, but I don’t remember anything other than general statements like, “Well, I’d check IMDB.com to tell you what else Ryan Gosling was in, but I can’t!” Which was typically met with laughter rather than kvetching.
In regards to my Health Blahs, the weekend reinforced in me, after several occurrences, that taking the time to meditate, nap or whatever else is needed to be on an even keel, MUST be done. Not only was my experience improved by trying to manage my neurological symptoms as they arose, but I found it easier to do so knowing that my “energy” or “mood” or whatever you choose to call it, could have a negative impact on the experience for others.
When I wasn’t feeling well, I could easily take my leave and return recharged and ready for the next fascinating and/or giggling adventure. And although he offered, it would have been unkind to allow Chooch to come with me to give comfort when I was fine, just in pain or managing some symptom or another. Better to leave he and the others to their fun and come back to watch or join in on the gaming, if and when I was feeling well enough to, for the greater enjoyment of us all.
But as for the impact of everyone’s mood, I think it’s the same kind of thing that all that advice from the Dog Whisperer and other animal trainers (as well as those that do Super Nanny/rescuing children in unhealthy situations) all boil down to — demonstrating how crappy behavior by those in charge directly impacts the behavior of their (fill in the blank). If your emotions are in conflict, you are likely create chaos in those around you. “Taking Five” or a “cigarette break” or a “mental health break” all fall into this as well. It’s a kindness to all, practicing self-care. This is kind of an epiphany for me, since I always put my energy into helping others and then straggling to keep up when things are in motion again.
It also helped knowing that I wasn’t alone in the need to occasionally isolate myself. Others have similar health issues, anxiety issues, creative projects to work on, or whatevs, so I wasn’t mocked or teased for being a light weight. Or any other weight, for that matter. Even without a moat, I felt utterly safe.
I don’t know what my point is, other than total relief at having found myself in the middle of a group of people in a castle in the woods that were all of a similar mind, all being respectful of everyone else’s needs for the Greater Good. All being fascinating, extremely clever and open to the experience.
And, as always, the kindness demonstrated towards my husband always makes me appreciate the giver more, since I don’t think Chooch has revealed even the tiniest fraction of just how magnificent he really is. I’m an instant fan of anyone that gets that his Greatness. I mean, just look at him, for Glob’s sake!
Again, happy birthday to all we celebrated! Especially to my beloved Chooch, whose 42nd birthday was days later. Here’s to you, my love, and a birthday we’ll never forget.
(Photo taken by the stunningly talented and utterly captivating J.R. Blackwell. Many thanks for an image that we’ll treasure forever.)