Saturday, June 23, 2007

In review: 2007 California HSP Gathering

It felt like a bit of a homecoming to return to Walker Creek Ranch in Marin County for the 2007 West Coast HSP Gathering. WCR is one of my favorite spots in the world, and it was also the venue of the very first HSP Gathering, as well as the location for the first Gathering I personally attended.
View of Turtle Pond at Walker Creek Ranch
This was the 12th Gathering; the 5th at Walker Creek Ranch. 26 HSPs from as far away as New Zealand attended, spending four days together. As always, it was a beautiful experience to see people from around the world come together, and realize that they had "found their tribe" after many years of feeling like "the odd one."

Every Gathering appears to have a particular "spirit;" the spirit of this event seemed to be "camraderie." More than any other Gathering I have been to, "socializing" took center stage, as normally retiring and private HSPs stayed up till 1:00-1:30 in the morning, talking in the common room, or around an impromptu campfire.

In addition to social time, there were a variety of workshops to choose from, culminating with Elaine Aron's "keynote presentation" on Saturday morning, followed by a book signing. Although not attending to give a workshop, Dr. Barrie Jaeger (author of "Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person") was also at the Gathering, and met informally with many gatherers to discuss HSPs and work.

As often is the case, the "closing circle" was the most emotionally charged time we had, as each person contemplated and shared what they hoped to take with them. Overwhelmingly, the answers tended towards the idea of "community," and "belonging" and a deep desire to stay connected with the beautiful people we had so quickly managed to connect so deeply with.

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The idea of going to an HSP Gathering may seem unusual to many who read this. After all, it seems "unlikely" that an HSP would voluntarily travel across the country (stress) to be with a group (stress) of strangers (stress). All I can tell you-- as a result of experiencing many HSP Gatherings and workshops-- is that a group of HSPs is not like "a group" as you might be familiar with it. The energy is gentle and accepting; all the things you may have thought made you "odd" are suddenly OK, and probably shared by most present. I highly recommend going to gatherings, because they are-- quite simply-- life-changing events.

The next HSP Gathering will take place in Estes Park, CO on October 4-7th, 2007. For more information, and to register, please visit organizer Jacquelyn Strickland's web site.

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