Last year I hosted a writing retreat on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. It was my second time there, and I loved it! One of the interesting things about this exotic location is the potcake dogs.
According to Wikipedia, “a potcake dog is a mixed-breed dog type found on several Caribbean islands. Its name comes from the congealed peas and rice mixture that local residents traditionally eat, as the rice that cakes to the bottom of the pot would go to the dogs. Although appearance varies, potcakes generally have smooth coats, cocked ears, and long faces. A group of potcakes is known as a parliament.”
In my experience, the dogs—who generally travel in small groups—are friendly. They’re usually looking for a food handout. If you accommodate them (which I don’t think you’re supposed to, but I did), then you have friends for life!
The same thing happened when I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
And the same thing happened when I was on a writing sabbatical in Darby, Montana—only this time, it was with a small herd of deer!
Would you feed a stray animal—even if you’re not supposed to?
On the seventeen mile drive between Darby and Hamilton in Montana, there’s a totem pole carver who does exquisite work. When I stood back to admire his creations, in my mind’s eye, I imagined the “weight” on the shoulders of the “person” on the bottom.
You’ve heard it said—or maybe even said it yourself—“No problem, I’ve got broad shoulders.” Meaning, I have the ability to take criticism, accept responsibility, or carry another person’s burdens.
When people ask about my role as a transformational life coach I respond, “I won’t walk in front you. I won’t walk behind you. I won’t carry you. I will, however, walk beside you.”
How many people are you carrying on your shoulders?
During my sabbatical (January through March of this year) Willa enjoyed the best of both worlds spending time in Boise, Idaho with Len, and then he’d bring her to me in Darby, Montana. She adored the wilds of Montana for a couple of reasons:
The two resident cats where we stayed—Marlo and Avocado.
The zillions of up-close-and-personal mule deer. Willa always stayed statue-still and simply enjoyed watching them.
Willa watching the Nature Channel—deer outside the window
And then there was the day that a doe hopped the six-foot wooden fence into the back yard and couldn’t get back out. That was definitely an oh deer moment. I made like Harry Potter and put on my invisibility cloak, snuck outside and opened the gate, then snuck back in and watched through the window. Sure enough, the moment she saw the way to freedom she made like a bread truck and hauled her buns!
Literal or figurative, what was your last “oh deer” moment?
While in Darby, Montana to finish writing The Business of Being, I passed this Lost Horse sign on my weekly drive to Hamilton to buy groceries. The mischievous side of me was desperate to strike through the word “lost” with a black marker and write “found” instead. I’m happy to report that the better part of me won out.
And though I didn’t lose a horse while on sabbatical, I lost some preconceived ideas and found better ones to take their place. For instance:
All males in Montana are not fashioned after the Marlboro man.
Not every public place in Montana has a spittoon.
There’s an incredible French bistro—Taste of Paris—in Hamilton, Montana. Who knew?!
The libraries in Montana (I visited four different ones) are amazing!
While there I learned that “creek” is pronounced “crick.”
On the Montana Fun Facts and Trivia website I additionally learned that “the word ‘ditch’ can be used to order a drink. It means ‘with water.’ ‘I’d like a Jack Daniel’s ditch, please’ means, ‘I’d like a Jack Daniel’s and water.’ This is not a joke. In fact, all you really have to ask for is a ‘Jack ditch.’ Try it out the next time you find yourself in a Montana saloon.”
And while invention and discovery are two different things—invention means to create or design something; discovery means to find or observe something that was already there—both of these occurrences can experience breakthroughs. Here are just a few examples:
Bandit Brewing Co. is a nano-brewery and the smallest brewery in Montana with a quaint tasting room in Darby, just off of Highway 93, and within walking distance of where I stayed.
When I was on sabbatical in Darby, I experienced an artistic breakthrough. I wrote to beat the band! I assure you, however, that the discovery of Bandit Brewing Co. and my writing breakthrough are not linked.
The first person to type the accurate location of my sabbatical — Darby, Montana — into the comments section of March 28th post was bodojanbo. Congratulations! She has won a signed copy of Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth.
Wintering in Darby, Montana was a great experience. Not only was it breathtakingly gorgeous, it was productive. I completed what I set out to do—finish The Business of Being: Soul Purpose In and Out of the Workplace.
Often mistaken for an extrovert, I’m an introvert who functions as an extrovert. So this opportunity—three months of solitude—was like a decadent slice (or three) of crème brûlée.