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Making Time For A Personal Retreat

Every year I try to make plans for a get-away. Not a girlfriend weekend or a spa day but an away place by myself. The first few hours or even the first day is always great. I find myself skipping to the local coffee place journal in hand. I can spend two hours just sitting, writing and sketching. I feel freer as my head empties of all the usual have-to’s that include the have-to’s that I actually enjoy. Just being away from the house, the chores, the telephone and ordinary responsibilities help me see the world in a different way.

I feel myself open more profoundly as the everydayness of life slips away. It’s a rare opportunity to look inward and watch with complete awareness the emotions that surface. When you are away and alone and can’t procrastinate feeling, something changes internally. You see with eyes that are clearer and more honest. An array of feelings, perhaps a view of the ups and downs that are part of all of our experience—we don’t notice them as much when we are “busy”. We can always get away from the parts of ourselves that would be sad and anxious when there are real things to do and get accomplished.

Alone time is enormously important to me and I am really good about taking that time for myself. But there is something quite different about the alone time when I am actually away from home and my daily life—when I can’t let the laundry or a mandatory dog walk take me away from myself. At home I don’t feel that sense of elation that comes with being away. I don’t have the feeling of freedom that helps me shed all the surface protection. In those away moments all I have are my journal, my pens and myself.  I also have sadness, fear and anxiety. And I know it’s all right and good even when it’s uncomfortable.

I am nearing the time of my yearly retreat. No place has presented itself that calls to me. A few have seemed interesting but are prohibitively expensive. I often like to have a workshop piggyback my retreat—something that facilitates the self-awareness that I look forward to (really, truly). I covet the bits of sadness. I treasure the opportunity to be honest with myself and to assess where I am in my life and ask myself where I want to be? I’m not getting younger so it seems more important than ever to check-in with myself.

Tips For Planning Your Retreat:

1. You don’t have to go far

2. Check with a friend who might be away for the weekend and will let you use their place

3. Take an extra day or two if you have to travel for business

4. If you have some flexibility with time Expedia, Travelocity and Hotels.com offer great deals on hotel rooms off-season. A Bed and Breakfast at the beach can be ridiculously inexpensive in the late fall or early spring

5. Don’t wait until you are totally burnt out and exhausted

And now for the really important question: Where should I go? All suggestions are welcome!

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