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Personal Retreat

I once heard someone say that spiritual self-care required an interval-based approach to cover all the bases.

  1. A daily ritual

  2. A weekly reflection

  3. A monthly practice

  4. A yearly retreat

Three years ago I booked myself in for a personal retreat at a local monastic retreat centre. I'm not Catholic, so I found that environment to be both foreign and beautiful. Almost mystical. That was my first real attempt to reconnect with my writer-self; I'd taken most of my old coil-bound notebooks with me as well as a smattering of pens/pencils, a novel, and food that didn't require much (if any) preparation. There was poor cell service anyhow, but I left my phone turned off and barely used my laptop. It was glorious. I spent a lot of my afternoons wandering the grounds, soaking in the rich symbolism and meaning evident in the Stations of the Cross set up all around the centre. If I wanted, I could have made a day-long hike of it. And my evenings were spent curled up with my novel, something unfamiliar but written by an author I always found inspiring.

With the busyness of starting up my own business, stresses associated with my own studies, and the extra factors associated with helping my husband navigate his energy levels, self-support, and medication, I'm feeling tired. Very tired. These blog posts have taken on the role of my weekly spiritual reflection, but I've struggled to write anything more than this for many months. I'm more-or-less successfully keeping up on my daily spiritual ritual, although they're becoming behaivoural more than meaningful. And while sitting outside by my firepit is of significant value to me, it's currently less effective as a monthly practice because I'm relying too heavily on the few hours of silence and stillness that backyard fire can provide for me.

I had actually forgotten that personal spiritual retreats exist until one of my coworkers, sympathetic with my exhaustion, asked if I had considered attending a ladies' retreat organized by our church's denomination. Historically, I've found such things to be well-intentioned and friendly but also inadequate for my specific needs. Nevertheless, the word "retreat" caught in my mind and reminded me that personal retreat was an option.

When your mental faculties (emotion, cognition, and sense of self) are all taxed, being around people is work. I think I need a cabin with a firepit, a tiny kitchen, some easy foods, my notebooks, a novel, and maybe some pencil crayons this time.

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