Everything , it seems, but sleep.
Unless you count last week when I spent several nights in a tent in the Swiss mountains, trying to sleep for two-hours-at-a-stretch maximum, while surrounded by 40 teenaged girls.
As volunteer president of the teenaged girls’ organization of our church in and around the Geneva, Switzerland region, I’m regularly visiting the eight congregations that make up our regional church body, teaching lessons on Sundays or sometimes midweek, speaking at youth conferences, inviting special guest speakers for multiregional firesides and conducting those events, and getting to know local leaders and all their young women.
I also got to attend the annual 3 1/2 day regional Young Women’s Camp held at a site overlooking the medieval village of Romainmôtier with its historic Benedictine Abbey and splendid hiking trails all around.
As fate would have it, Le Camp des Jeunes Filles happened to be scheduled just as I was nostril-deep in Pre-Book Launch mania.
Eh. . . bien. Tant mieux, (all the better), we say.
Because for me, it’s vital right now to get out of cramped little head upholstered with All Things Book and enter fully into nature and into the heart of others’ lives. It gave me much, this camp, including dearly-needed fresh perspective. And 17 mosquito bites. On my shins alone.
From Wednesday until late Saturday afternoon, I was able/forced to unplug completely from this laptop and all other devices and concerns about this woman named Global Mom. I spent the days truly getting to know all these girls and their local leaders (from Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, England).
I awoke to the sound of cowbells (and Harley Davidsons) on the slopes surrounding our camp site. I fell asleep (in a loose manner of speaking) to the giggles and screams of all our girls in the adjacent tents. I made the rounds in the middle of the night, making sure every tent was zip-locked and everyone was accounted for. I watched for critters.
I chatted with Sœur Madeleine, one of the local nuns. I observed growth. I learned critical truths. I grew in gratitude.
I cleaned toilets, table tops, garbage cans and wounds. I set up and took down (how many?) tents. I got every name.
I did not shower.
I did not write.
And on Saturday, after every last girl and flip-flop and hair band and pocket knife and tent spike was accounted for. . .
I drove home to my village by Lake Geneva. I kissed my husband, checked my email and accumulating deadlines, packed my bag, showered (yes, in that order), slept five hours, and boarded a plane.
(No, I did not sleep then, either, unless letting my eyes close and my head bob a few times during my flight from Geneva to Paris to Salt Lake City, Utah counts. I wrote until my laptop battery was drained dry and the recharging apparatus didn’t work. But I stayed awake.)
Hours later — luggage lost, toe sprained, hair still smelling of Swiss campfire, every last mosquito bite well-covered — I was sitting in a TV studio in Salt Lake City, Utah, doing a live morning talk show. Before cameras rolled, I reached down to scratch a mosquito bite, and in that instant felt so grateful for all 17 of them, for my 40 girls back home in Switzerland, for my 2 boys with me in Utah, my 1 daughter far away in Italy, and for my eldest, who has been with me all along this crazy trail, trying to be a Global Mom.