The magic of life, that’s what I seek. I also try to make a contribution of magic through stories and connections each and every time I speak or train. They say what you give you get back, and about a year ago I was given one of the greatest gifts of my career – the Gulf Breeze Dream (see previous posts).
I had wished in the early stages of Highroad, Inc. for clients with whom I could do transformative work, not just one day of training and that’s all she wrote. Like all good wishes that one came true in the form of several clients, and one in particular called AppRiver (www.appriver.com). As I described in posts past, their company culture is nothing short of phenomenal and this extends to the service they give their customers. As they serve clients and partners from around the globe, the company decided to boost cultural competence as a central part of their customer care. Honored to be a part of that journey I recently traveled back to Gulf Breeze for a series of sessions.
I enjoyed the smell of the sea air from the moment I stepped off the plane. When I drove out of Pensacola Airport rain was pouring down and I navigated to the beach under dark clouds. I made a decision that this would ruin nothing, because the Gulf Breeze Dream is a state of mind, not a set of weather conditions. By the time I reached the beach the sun had come out. Imagine that.
As I did on the past two trips I soaked in the atmosphere in the form of fabulous buttery shrimp, music, sugary sand, clear water, sting rays, crabs running around at sunset, incredible skies filled with color at dusk, and swims in the warm Gulf. I splashed around in the water every day and let the waves restore me. I trained nearly one hundred people at AppRiver and saw all of my friends there. We talked of maps, time zones, building rapport with global customers, and my famous Indian riot story (click here to read). As always I relished the time I spent there.
That evening, Jay flew down from Atlanta and we spent the next day exploring nearly deserted beaches, dunes covered with sea oats, and various sea creatures. We spent sunsets watching what we called “The Critter Hour” as all the sea animals came to feed. The clouds formed shapes like I had never seen and they seemed to change every minute.
Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach were magical as always, but this trip was just a little bit different. Somewhere beneath Jimmy Buffet’s happy music lay a slightly darker world for Jay and I, the world of grief over the loss of his mother to leukemia this July. We marveled at the sunsets, the orange clouds and accompanying rainbows, but our hearts felt a little heavier than before. The beauty of this experience was that I learned to see magic and grief not as mutually exclusive, but as parts of the same life. We could appreciate the Gulf Breeze Dream and take in its magic while at the same time giving ourselves permission to be sad. Part of going to a magical place is that you see it many forms, changing with the seasons, the culture, and your own perceptions.
I spent many moments sitting on the balcony of the hotel and staring out at the Gulf, taking mental pictures to remind myself of the wonderful synchronicity that brought me there. I look forward to my continued discovery of what the Gulf Breeze Dream will bring next.
Stay tuned for adventures in India coming in October!