After a year’s gap, Rachel and I finally went on our annual retreat to the Isles of Scilly last week and it was a truly awesome trip.  We saw all the weather – got soaked in the rain, bathed in the sun, blown away by gales and everything in between. Most importantly, we both had a little respite from the day to day madness and we spent a lot of time thinking and talking things through.  We are like a self-organising team when we’re on Scilly and there’s no wastage of effort or input.  What I mean is that we intuitively understand what the team needs and who is best placed to do it so it just works.

There is a massive amount to be gained by having that trusted critical friend, whether in a professional or personal capacity or even both, and it helps to gain perspective on where you’re at and what might come next.  We bounced ideas, asked difficult questions, set goals, reflected and planned and we came away from Scilly with suntan marks, lots of notes and a clarity of focus for each of us for the next phase of life.

On the Wednesday, we went to St Martin’s and made our pilgrimage to the vineyard.  Having secured wine, we hiked to the daymark and wended our way through the island to Lower Town to find a suitable beach spot for lunch.  Having found such a spot, we ate and drank and settled in to read and sunbathe…

A little while later, Awesome Angela (we don’t know her name but this seemed appropriate!) came around the corner.  This extraordinary lady stopped and chatted with us for a little while, asked us why we’d come to Scilly, what we were doing etc.  And somehow we got onto the topic of work and life and the challenges of living with and supporting someone who has a long-term health condition. I won’t go into the depths of the conversation but it was inspiring and insightful and generous and particularly relevant for me as my husband has end-stage renal failure.  Awesome Angela was an injection of inspiration for both of us as we sat on that beach, considering the meaning of life and everything.

Then came Thursday and the conclusion of our break away.  The forecast was gales and rain and we were heading back to the mainland on the Scillonian.  For the uninitiated, the Scillonian is a flat-bottomed passenger ferry that operates between Penzance and St Mary’s and the journey usually takes 2hrs 45mins. We had been watching the forecast all week with some trepidation and the crossing had been brought earlier in the day.  To be honest, we were half expecting it to be cancelled as we stood on the quay waiting.

In anticipation of very heavy seas, we had taken seasickness medication and stocked up on ginger nuts and full-fat coke.  It’s fair to say that we were fairly anxious at the prospect of this crossing and I in particular had had to stop from trying to evaluate all the potential options and identify plans for each.  I reminded myself that the Captain of the Scillonian is a Master Mariner and he knows his boat and he knows his responsibilities for our safety so IT WILL ALL BE FINE. We took control of the things we could and trusted in those who know more about this kind of thing and the crossing was fine.  We hunkered down in the quiet space on the bunks and dozed our way back, off our faces on Sturgeron, and it was all fine.

And the moral of the story here is that it’s all about TRUST. Trust in those critical friends who are helping you to be the best you. Trust in those sparks of inspiration from the perspectives of others.  Trust in those who know more about it than you. Use their input and support to fuel you and use your effort to manage, influence and control those elements you can.

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