A Family story of Steak and Political Activism
Love your life, love your dreams, You will do Amazing Things
You don’t have to work it out, Just stay in the here and now.
Let your mind rest for a little while
Sometimes deepest answers come with you’re out there having fun,
So, close your eyes, and take a breath and smile…
AMAZING THINGS – © Megan McDonough & Jana Stanfield
It’s pretty hard to argue with a statement like…”Texas is Big!” and no one would argue with the assumption that Texans hearts are just as big. That was ably demonstrated by the participants of this year’s First Annual SCU Family Retreat, June 24-26, 2022, themed “AMAZING THINGS”!
The SCU cohorts drove a zillion miles in the heat to come together in the Texas Hill Country at Canyon Lake. 2 days of food, fun and deep long talks that would extend far beyond civilized bedtimes. And floating down the Guadalupe River in innertubes. And dining in fine style at the Gristmill in Gruen (pronounced GREEN), Texas.
Before we do the play-by-play, let’s give some background!
Why an SCU Retreat?
Sex Coach U is a B-I-G entity! We are all over the place…literally world-wide. Earlier in the year, Dr. Patti and Kincaid McMinn had been discussing the possibility of gathering SCU family members together based their location geographically. Once graduation occurs, for people like all of us, we need each other more than ever. We need each other for support, resources, encouragement, and peer learning. And we all know, we can do more as a group, whatever it is, than any one of us can do singly. And to be honest, this “get-together” was our Beta Test for the concept of creating families of cohorts all over the globe. We put strong expectations on the concept of “Scaffolding”-each of us lending support to our other family members…more on that later!
The notion caught fire during a discussion in April. I know…I know…that did not give much lead time for an event in June, but hey, things had to begin sometime and somewhere. As we polled the Texas family, it became obvious that even though there might be limited participation, the will of the group was strong and the need acknowledged…and the seeds were being planted for both now and later.
Now, Back to our story…
Around the six o’clock hour on Friday afternoon, folks started rolling into the multi-story Air B&B on Canyon Lake. As everyone stretched, unpacked, and hugged, there was no indication that this WASN’T the gathering of a close-knit family, though it was the first time we had all been in the same location at the same time in person. You’d never know it by observing!
After unpacking and shaking off the dust, everyone branched out , some starting the grill, others doing food prep, others getting sleeping arrangements solidified. The Grill Chefs produced Ribeye steaks, chicken breasts, sausages, shrimp and mushrooms, summer corn and potato salad. Then there was the snacks and desserts!
Dr. Patti joined us via zoom as we all gathered around the table for our Friday evening dinner. The gathering was celebratory and emotionally charged… and comforting… and focused….REAL FOCUSED! The Supreme Court decision had just been announced that day. Dr. Patti joined us via the miracle of ZOOM and “mothered” us in a strong and loving Call to Arms and Action. In a perfect time and a perfect world, she would have been sitting around the dinner table with us in person. However, her love and care and concerns for each one there was unmistakable.
Opening Session – Scaffolding As with all people of Type-A Personality Syndrome (not sure if that’s a real thing or not!), we all expect ourselves to be perfectly capable of doing any and all things. Multi-tasking? No sweat! Multiple tandem careers? Of course, doesn’t everybody do that? Award-winning parenting for both our kids and the adults that need it too? Well, yes, that’s JUST who we are! Back into the real world…nobody can excel at everything that comes onto our path. Seriously…the multi-tasking thing is a MYTH. Our brains might work fast, but it’s still just one task at a time. That being said, this is where scaffolding comes in. Scaffolding is a way for group members to come to the assist of other cohorts, lending a hand with the things that are NOT our strong suites. In return, we do the same for others with the things we excel at. Maybe social media is not big in our personal skill set. For another member of the group, who just loves MediaWorld, they can give a boost helping us to push forward. It is for an agreed, as-needed, short-term period. Around the table, during the weekend, we began to learn each of our strengths and weaknesses. And we hatched up ways for this to raise the business abilities and outcomes for all of us!
Late Night Talk Late ( and I mean the kind of late where we all knew we ought to sleep but nobody really wanted to!) in the evening after midnight, in-depth soul sharing created a “Kum-Ba-Ya” atmosphere uniting the siblings. An atmosphere creating deep bonds. A time of bringing forth memories that last a lifetime!
Coffee, Tea, and Breakfast with a side of Political Indignation After not a lot of sleep, Texas Hill Country Breakfast Tacos, and lots of caffeination, the activism fires from the night before quickly took hold again. After a bit of rest, the embers reflamed and took on focus and resolve.
Running the River We put the fast-paced back-n-forth conversation on hold around mid-morning. The time had come to grab our gear and head to the beautiful Guadalupe River. Old-growth cypress trees lining the banks and deep, pure green waters flows quietly through the town of New Braunfels, as it has for hundreds of years. Inner Tubes and ice chests and sunscreen and camaraderie. For this group, it was extreme self-care. It was an opportunity become a bunch of high school kids with extraordinarily little expectations or dignity. We were just there to have a fun time! But it’s all fun and games until we hit the rapids. Rapids are created by the underwater rocks getting taller, the water getting shallower and the people in the tubes going “What the F—!”
Final score? River-1…InnerTubers-0
Afternoon R&R – Discussions of Political Activism In a group of SCU people, the backgrounds are many and varied. The Texas group is blessed to have a Community organizer and entrepreneur, a pharmacist, an attorney, a sexual crisis advocate, event planner, chef, SCU Senior staff member and tech wiz and all on the Sex Coach path. The Before Dinner Discussion was led by the Advocates and Attorney of the group, focused on how to become effectively and personally involved in today’s political battles. For now, this is NOT a sex-positive society and, dare we say it, NOT a people-positive society. We collaboratively crafted ways that each of us can work for REAL change, not lip service.
The Gristmill In the tiny village of Gruen, Texas (which years ago was swallowed up by its big sister town of New Braunfels) sits the Gristmill. You see, the Gristmill was the original cotton gin for the area. But, between the Mexican Boll Weevils, drought, and a raging fire back in the 20th century, it was down for the count. Enter some college kids tubing down the river in the early 1990’s. By that time, it was pretty much abandoned. With a hell of a lot of grit and determination, they managed to wrangle the little village from the chokehold of developers wanting to build condos. Fast forward…The shell of the burned-out cotton gin was rebuilt and has become a destination restaurant sitting on the banks of the river. The whole area is a historical district with shops and Inns, and a vintage Texas Dance Hall that now hosts BIG names in entertainment. Think Willie Nelson, George Strait, Asleep at the Wheel, and others performing almost every night of the week. And more restaurants that you can shake a stick at! The SCU River Rats trouped into the Gristmill at their appointed time for a Hill Country feast of Texas proportions. There’s nothing quite like the sunset over the Guadalupe river paired with margaritas and German Hill Country cuisine. (And the Onion Rings…oh, my!)
S’thoughts and S’mores around the late-night fire Making our way back to the condominium, we could have been mistaken for a gang of over-stuffed Teddy Bears. I know… building a fire in a firepit when the midnight temperature is hovering in the mid-90’s is tantamount to building an ice factory in the Antarctic region. But it is, unquestionably, just what you do on a retreat, right? And not making S’mores, just because of the heat? Unthinkable! It’s amazing how chocolate and gooey marshmallows dredge up the most delicious thoughts and observations…’nough said!
Sunday Morning Breakfast…Homemade Ice Cream, Fresh Summer Fruit…and a Big Serving of Commitment “Anybody want pancakes for breakfast? No?” By group consensus, it was decided breakfast would be a freezer of Old-Fashioned Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with fresh berries and peaches and granola (just to be healthy!) We’re grown-ups, right? We can have Ice Cream for breakfast….and thus, a tradition is born! We slurped ice cream and reflected on the weekend. What will we always do in future retreats? What should we examine? What can be streamlined next year. What will the future of the Texas Family SCU Retreat look like? To tie an appropriate bow on this incredible gift, Kincaid circled us up for a time of group and personal commitment. The quiet, thoughtful ceremony will forever be held in all our memories as the precious personal gift it is.