This year, one of my goals was to go on a personal retreat. By myself. 48 hours in solitude, peace, and quiet. No agenda, nowhere I had to be, nothing I had to do.
This is the first time I have done something like this, and I have to say – it’s truly amazing! I can feel my soul expand, bursting the bonds of Shoulds and Have To’s. I have 48 hours to myself – all to myself! I can sleep in as late as I want to, go out and experience new places or stay in if I want to, sit in the sunshine without saying a word for as long as I want to or go out into civilization. Gratitude is pouring out of me for this opportunity. And joy – such joy! – it almost hurts!
How am I doing this? WHY am I doing this? More specifically, why am I without my husband?? Before you get carried away, let me reassure you: yes, I love my husband very much. I love spending time with my beloved husband! And if I did not have his support and encouragement, this retreat would not be nearly as relaxing as it is.
Why… everything starts with Why.
I go to Bible study. I take Little Man to preschool. I go on weekly runs with friends. I have mostly regular dates – at least monthly – with my husband. By all accounts, I should be happy, filled, content; I am doing a great job of “self-care”. Shouldn’t that be enough?
It’s not. My innermost being cries out for silence, for peace and quiet, for solitude. For sunshine and wind and nature. For animals and dirt and water and mountains. “Be still and know that I am God,” whispers my soul. And oh, how my soul yearns to be still! And not still for only 5 minutes during nap time or when I’m exhausted right after the kids are in bed – it pleads with me to go and spend an entire day outside, inhaling, soaking in the beauty of God’s creation. I need time by myself to calm down, slow down, be still. And rather then continuing to run on fumes and risk combustion, my husband and I planned and scheduled a time for me to get away and take a break. A break from the Shoulds and To Do lists; a break from responsibility and commitments. A true vacation. And no, I am not spending $1,000+ on an expensive resort; in fact, I’ve spend less than $200 total this weekend! A couple hundred dollars is worth it in our budget for my sanity. #cheaperthantherapy
So, what am I doing? Well, I left on Friday evening after Hubby got home. I had booked an AirBnB on a working farm in Longmont, CO. It has been absolutely perfect! It’s a finished basement apartment with a complete kitchen. The windows in the living room face east, so I have an unobstructed view of the plains. This morning, I just sat on the back patio to drink my chai tea and eat my overnight oats, listening to the birds and the quiet. Oh, the peace of this place! So beautiful, so peaceful. I can hear the birds twittering, gossiping to each other or reprimanding their children. Occasionally, a dog will bark. Later, my host asked if I wanted to go see their cows and newborn lambs. The sweet scent of their barn was so therapeutic! Once I returned to my yoga mat to sit and write, I could still hear the low call of a steer or ewe.
Which got me thinking…. why don’t more people do this? Why don’t more women – busy working women, stay at home moms, moms with small children, moms with lots of children – take breaks like this? Why are the only retreats offered for women in large groups, usually with a church in a seminar setting with speakers and breakout sessions? And those groups are needed! We as women need fellowship, encouragement from others. And we certainly need time away with our husbands! My husband and I have a tradition to go to a different state for our wedding anniversary. We do not take the kids with us (unless there is a nursing child), because we want to protect this special day to celebrate and reconnect. But what about solo trips? Do those need to go by the wayside when we say “I do” or after we have kids? Would other women benefit from escaping into God’s creation by themselves for a few days? Am I the only one?