As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, we have recently just launched both our children into young adulthood, leaving my husband, Jeff, and me to tend to our nest. The past few days, Jeff has been out on a crazy 400+ mile self-supported mountain bike race. So it’s just been me in the home.
I’ve had a few friends ask how I’m doing with everyone gone.
For the record: great! I’ve been really enjoying my time.
I could spend this alone time feeling sorry for myself. But that’s not generally my style. Instead, I decided to turn these couple of days into a mini-retreat.
If you’ve been to a retreat, you know they can bring wonderful rejuvenation to your body and soul. It’s good to take some intentional time for rest, relaxation, vision casting, dreaming, creating, and pampering. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing the past couple of days. I have put on and participated in retreats for groups of women, but this time it’s been a retreat just for me.
There many different types of retreats: writers’, readers’, spiritual, adventure, pampering, health, cleansing, music. So I decided to create my own, and it involves elements from all of these.
The first day I decided to fast. Fasting has a ton of health benefits (here are 20), and can also have a way of fine-tuning your spiritual life. So I spent the day focused on prayer and meditating on Scripture and heavenward thoughts. So good! I love to play guitar and sing, and easily filled a couple hours with this pursuit. I also read for a few long sessions, which makes me happy. I went on a long hike/jog (oops, got dehydrated) and took a couple short naps throughout the day.
Day two of my mini-retreat was spent doing more things I love. Early morning reading and prayer, a lovely walk at daybreak. Experimenting in the kitchen with simple recipes I made up. I rode my bike into town for Boise’s First Thursday, where I enjoyed art, music, browsing in shops, and tasting culinary delights. On the way back I stopped by our local community teaching farm/garden (green therapy!), and relished the simple pleasure of looking at the flowers and produce (and sampling berries, grapes, tomatoes). When I finally arrived home, it was dark, which gave me opportunity to enjoy good music and Holy Yoga under the lights in my back courtyard, while a warm breeze stirred and crickets chirped.
Day three has been more yoga and other exercise, more praying and music and writing. And I danced in the kitchen (yes, by myself, which I know might be weird, but I swear I couldn’t help it) to a video of the song, “Uptown Funk.” You can watch it here. Bonus points if you actually dance along.
Others’ list of elements for their retreat might look different than mine (ooo, a massage would be nice). It doesn’t really matter. The idea is to step back from ordinary life and create space to rest and rejuvenate, gain clarity and vision. Your retreat can be a solo affair, with your spouse, with a good friend, or a large group.
In our society, we’re urged to keep pressing on, marching toward our goals, pressing ever onward. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do those things, but am merely suggesting we press “pause” for a bit. An added bonus of stepping back in this way is that it allows fresh inspiration to come our way. Who knows, but that your next Big Idea might show up when your mind and body are relaxed?
This has been a dreamy few days for me… mostly. Yeah, I had some errands to run both days. I got caught in nasty traffic in hot weather. Blech. But the rest of it has been wonderful.
I recognize that I am in a unique situation. I have never had the time or freedom to do this since marriage and children. That’s 23+ years. But it got me to thinking: if I can create a mini-retreat for three days, I could create one for a one day, or a half-day, or two hours, or one hour. And so can you. By golly, if 15 minutes is all you have, you can still create something restful and beautiful.
It’s important to occasionally step away from daily demands placed on us. Rest has the power to lessen stress and is key to the health of our bodies and souls. With a little intentionality and imagination, it’s easy to create a delicious retreat for yourself.
Step back and collect ideas of what a dreamy mini-retreat would look like for you. And then do it!
I’d love to hear what’s on your list.