Recently, I was able to get away for a personal weekend retreat. For some, it seems like such a luxury (and I fully recognize that it is). Especially when you have small children, or are a single parent, the thought of spending 2 nights alone, in a quiet place seems like an unattainable dream. I remember. I was there.
What I’ve learned over time is that I am better when I make time to get away, to get alone and to be quiet, a priority. In different years of my life, that time away has sometimes looked like a few hours alone, maybe at a coffee shop or the library or even on a local hiking trail. Sometimes it looked like a whole day apart, walking, reading, planning, praying, journaling, listening. Sometimes it looked like getting away to a quiet retreat center for a night. In this season of life, I’m able to get away for two nights.
There are two places near me I like to go to: The Quiet Place, Inc. and The Awakenings Center for Inner Healing and Empowerment. Both are small, personal retreat settings in the mountains of North Carolina. They are non-profit centers run by women and the suggested donation covers your stay and meals. The beds are so comfortable and both women are excellent cooks! Part of the joy of this time away for me, is allowing someone else to care for me through good food.
You may not be in a season where you can get away for 2 nights. That’s ok! Here are some ideas for how you might be able to add personal retreat time into your life, without taking an overnight trip:
- If you have school age kids, take a day off when the kids are in school and use the school hours to sit in the park, take a walk, sit in the quiet of the local library or a local church, walk through an art gallery, go fishing, or do what you need to fill your soul and rest. Do not catch up on household tasks or run errands.
- If you are married with kids, work with your spouse to plan a day that you can be out of the house from wake up until after kid bedtime. Prepare meals, routines, movie nights, or whatever is necessary ahead of time, so that your time away is less stressful on your spouse.
- Ask a trusted friend or family member to come over to your house and watch your children for a few hours and use that time to sit in a quiet place to read/pray/nap/walk or do whatever else fills your soul.
- If you live alone, still take a day to get out of your house. Sleep in, then go to a local space that is comfortable and lovely and not a usual part of your life. Take a book, art supplies, a bird watching book and binoculars, or even a yoga mat and blanket (for outside sitting or napping or stretching). Allow yourself to be still in a different setting.
- If you absolutely cannot get out of your home, make a retreat at home for yourself. Choose a day (or even evening after kids are in bed). Turn off all the electronics and things that beep/buzz/make noise. Dress comfy, have a special treat for food (some fruit or a snack you rarely buy) or order something delicious from a local restaurant. Light some candles, get comfy, stretch, sit outside and just listen to the sounds of nature. Do not do chores and sneak in that one phone call or answer just that one text. Be still and quiet. Meditate, pray, listen. Unwind and rest.
Which of these ideas might you try this month or next? What are the barriers that keep you from taking some type of retreat time (even if it is just a few hours)? Comment below and let’s see how we can be creative in getting around those challenges!