Twice a year I “retreat” from the busy-ness of my life and clear some space and time just for me.
I’ve just returned from two of my favorite days of the year. Once in the spring and once in the autumn, I go away overnight on a personal retreat.
I got this idea from another mom a year ago and fell in love with it immediately. I mean, what’s not to love about two whole uninterrupted days all to myself to do with as I please? Yes, please!
I’ve done this three times now, and I learn a little more, and refine the process each time. I’ve added it to my toolbox of things I do to make my life lighter, and it’s been incredibly valuable. I thought I’d share a bit of what I do, and you can see if this is something that might bless you as well.
First of all, it doesn’t have to be an overnight. If cost or a nursing baby or other obligations prohibit that much time away, it can just be a day, or an afternoon. Start with what works for you. The first time, I just took a day. The last two times, it’s been overnight. And I plan to keep it that way as often as I can.
Next, I find a place to go. I like to be far enough away that I’m never tempted to “just run home for a bit,” but not so far away that I’m not accessible in case of emergency. I’ve been able to find places about an hour to an hour and a half away, and that works perfect for me. I’ve stayed in a cute little vintage hotel and an adorable cottage I found on VRBO. But I always look for something “out in nature” rather than in the middle of a bustling city. That just suits me better. With the wonder of the internet, you can find something that works for your budget, distance, and style.
Once I’ve got my place, I pack my bag! What I toss in my trunk is both simple and deliberate. Some of the things I’ll bring are: comfy clothes, toiletries, yoga mat, essential oils, diffuser, water bottle, notebooks, and pens. I’ll include a small cooler for food and a small camp chair too.
Then I go! I usually have a loose idea of things I’d like to do and I do them as I feel like it. The first night I often spend a lot of time relaxing and de-stressing! I might go for a hike, do yoga, get a massage, eat a healthy meal, take a detox bath, and just rest. That evening I’ll pull out my notebook and begin to write. I’ll write out all the things that happened in the last six months and celebrate the successes and learn from the challenges. I’ll journal about where I am right then and write out my thoughts about how things currently are. In essence, I’ll “shine a light” on the last six months and see what I find. After pampering my body and clearing my mind, I’ll get a good night’s sleep!
The next morning, after rest, a healthy meal, yoga, a hot shower, or whatever suits my fancy, I’ll pull out the notebook again. This time I’ll look forward. What do I know is coming in the next six months? What do I want to have happen? What do I want to do the same and what do I want to do differently? And I’ll come up with a game plan.
I take a good look at all the facets of my life. Everything from my health, to my relationships, to my home, to my job. And I see where I can make little changes that might help. And I celebrate what is working. And I ponder what has me stumped. I’ll often do a little research on something if I need ideas (like a list of healthy breakfasts or what’s best to plant in a vegetable garden in my area) but I try not to get sucked into the internet black hole. Deliberate research!
After completing my planning, I give myself a little fun break! Dancing, kayaking, hiking, another yummy meal, something fun to celebrate all the hard work I’ve been doing!
Then when I’m all packed up and ready to head back to my life, I’ll find myself a little spot somewhere in nature, (this time, it was a spot on a hill overlooking the bay) and I’ll look through all my notes one more time, and write myself a little summary complete with messages of encouragement, and I’ll say goodbye to another wonderful personal retreat.
I can’t say enough how wonderful it is for me to be able to step away from my daily responsibilities and create a little space to think. Having uninterrupted time and space to deliberately look at how my life is going is priceless. And having uninterrupted time and space to rest, relax, and rejuvenate is so needed! Especially at this stage in my life where I’m “on” 24/7 for a couple of little boys, it’s so critical for my own health to get an honest-to-goodness vacation. It gives me the opportunity to shine a light on how my life is and helps me find ways to keep making things lighter.
Your personal retreat will most likely look different from mine. You can tailor it to your needs in your life at this particular time. But I highly recommend taking just a little block of time, just for you. Every time I’ve done this, I am so blessed. And I believe the people around me that I interact with are blessed too. It’s so very worth it.
Have you taken a personal retreat? What would you do for yours?