What the heck is Winfield and what does it have to do with this blog? There are some things in life that so nourish our souls that they should become non-negotiable. For anyone whose career is taking care of others, that should be a commitment to our own wellness. Nurses, social workers, family caregivers, therapists, activity professionals, chaplains, you name it—we’re all in the same boat when it comes to self-care. How we each “do” self-care is a personal choice. My choice is Winfield!
The Walnut Valley Festival is a five-day music festival that, since 1972, takes place in Winfield, Kansas on the third weekend of September. The first time I went was in 1977 when I was a college student. I’ve been back almost every year since! The folks who make the journey simply call it “Winfield”. You see, it’s not just a place or an event, but an experience that got in my heart and didn’t let go. So why would a middle-aged woman want to camp in a field in a tent in 100 degree weather, rain, mud –this year the river has flooded the area– cold and even a tornado a couple of years ago? Oh, and packed in with 12,000 other people? The awesome music heard 24 hours each day? Yeah, but that’s not it.
This virtual reality called Winfield is an attitude, a culture, that, affirms goodness, tolerance, friendliness, cooperation, simplicity and good-natured fun we all long for in our rather out of control daily lives. People at Winfield smile a lot. We help each other… laugh and also have grieved together. In 2001, the festival was only three days after the Twin Towers fell. Lots of people that year said they couldn’t think of any place they would rather be. Not to hide away or deny what was happening, but to be with “family” in the midst of our grief and affirm what’s still good in the world.
I like to tell people that I have only one policy posted on the wall of my office. It’s a sign that reads, “I can’t, I’m going to Winfield.” Lots of people have said those exact words. I’ve heard stories of people actually quitting a job because they couldn’t get off work to attend and others who begged their daughter to change her chosen wedding date. Want me to schedule dementia training or attend a conference on the third weekend of September? I think you know the answer! What do you have in your life that feeds your soul so much that it’s practically non-negotiable? What’s your, “I can’t I’m________.”?