We all need an occasional “time out” to renew our spirits. Often times this is our hope when we take a vacation. It’s clearly a goal when we go on a retreat. But what may serve to renew us can vary from person to person and even across an individual’s lifetime.
I have known for a long time that I’ve needed a “get-away”. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to travel and take a break from the daily grind. Unfortunately for my renewal meter they haven’t really helped. Most of the traveling I’ve done in the past 5 years has been to promote my writing. They’ve been working vacations. I may not have had Orion along, I may have gotten inspired, but I haven’t had that sense of renewal.
I’ve been looking at a “real” vacation for awhile now. I had plans to go to Italy last fall, but they went by the wayside as I’ve been struggling to find a way to do home repairs. I haven’t given up. I’m still studying the language. But I also know that if I’m going to spend that kind of money I want to take time. If I take enough time then I also need to take Orion. That’s great for travel, but it’s not renewal.
As a birthday present to myself I gave myself a long weekend. Orion went to his Weekend Ventures retreat with Reach for Resources and to his Dad. I just had to figure out what I needed to do to find that renewal.
I tossed around driving or flying. How far could I go on my limited budget? Did I really want to spend the little time I had in transit? I looked at AirBnB I looked at package deals, I looked at the weather.
Historically my renewal/retreat weekends have involved a small (cheap) cabin in the woods, a fireplace, breakfast included and a kitchen for the rest of my meals. I’ve sat on porches and sipped coffee. I’ve curled up in the sunshine and read books. I’ve taken short walks in the woods. I’ve been alone long enough to get past the list of “shoulds” and into the bottled up emotions of my life.
Those options just aren’t available anymore. All the places I used to go have gone out of business. Any places I could still go seemed a little more structured, or a little more primitive, than I wanted. Even visiting my parents house (which used to be a cheap get-away) has become focused on helping them out. I can’t just sit and read undisturbed, or take a long soak in the tub.
Staying at home became more appealing, but I know myself well enough to recognize I’ve had plenty of weekends home without Orion that were not about renewal. It’s very easy to be distracted at home. It’s very easy to do the things that NEED to be done rather than the things that WANT to be done. It’s also very easy to bury my head to avoid the whole issue.
So I made an attitude adjustment plan. I know if I keep a fire going it shifts my focus. I know if I stay off the computer (read internet) I’m less likely to waste my time off. I know if I prepare ahead I can eliminate any URGENT household tasks.
So I cleaned the bathroom, changed the sheets on the bed, went to the grocery store and had a lovely renewal weekend at home. I did get on the internet, but it was to write book reviews because I felt like writing. I did light a fire one evening, but only because I really wanted to have that grounding task. I took several long leisurely baths – book in hand. I even took a walk. I didn’t take phone calls, didn’t check email, didn’t read Facebook.
It was different than a retreat, but in some ways it was better. Now I know I can have a renewal in my own home. I can make choices that are about taking care of myself rather than just indulging the whim of the moment. I can make myself get out the door just because it’s a nice day.
Those insights alone make taking a break well worth while!
It’s always bittersweet coming to recognize that it is time to let something go. Drawing the line in the sand and saying, “enough” takes courage and strength. Being able to walk away when something you care about is no longer willing or able to receive help from your presence is heartbreaking. Moving on, knowing you’re doing what you need to do, and being free from those obligations that have become burdensome is freeing. Being grateful for what you have, what you’ve left and learned, what opportunities that freedom opens up, is healing.
For whatever reason I seem to be participating in various stages of this process this month in multiple arenas. I have friends both walking away, and unable to walk away from toxic relationships. I have friends in desperate need of medical support some choosing to get it, others in vehement denial. I put lot of volunteer hours with an organization shutting it’s doors, and more hours with another involved in a large fundraising drive. It was Mother’s Day weekend, and my Mother was out-of-town. It was the weekend the family chose to celebrate my ex-father-in-law’s 90th birthday.
This appears to be a year of transitions for me. The slow process of getting my house in order is the physical manifestation of what seems to be going on in my spirit. I have opportunities. I’m writing another book, I’m looking for speaking engagements, I’m trying to figure out what a career will look like at this stage in my life. I’m also struggling with letting go, setting boundaries and managing my time and resources.
It’s all up in the air!
I’m grateful that it’s spring. Although my gardening is going on “hold” again this year, the season still carries all that potential. The lilacs and apple trees are blooming. The birds wake me up in the mornings.
I’m setting seeds into my life. Some will sprout, others won’t. Some will come up, and then need pulling. Others will thrive. That is what I’m hanging on to.