I have yet to talk to someone who has lost a loved one who wouldn’t love to ‘retreat’. Of course this means different things at different stages of loss. I can remember wanting to ‘retreat’ in the military sense of the word shortly after Brandon’s death… I wanted to pull back, withdraw from life and admit defeat.
As you know there’s another type of ‘Retreat’ – one that fills your soul, rejuvenates your spirit, heals your heart and gives you hope. That’s the kind of retreat we all want to take – right!
I believe the concept of a retreat is essential to our healing. Taking time to care for our broken heart, look inward and reflect on where we are and what we most need to heal can be an incredibly powerful act. But it’s not realistic to think we’re going to pack our bags and in “Eat, Pray, Love” style go travel the globe for a year, find our deepest inner self, heal our heart and fall in love with a super sexy man (my inner gypsy would do this in less than a heart beat!)
The power of choosing to ‘retreat’ is not in the money or time it takes – it’s in the powerful mind shift that occurs when we make the conscience decision to ‘retreat’ from our day to day lives.
Think of a time you have gone on vacation or taken a trip. Can you remember that moment when you flipped your mental switch into ‘vacation mode’? That moment when you detached from your life and mentally gave yourself a timeline to stay detached – an overnight, a long weekend or a full week of time. And, if you’re like me, as that time ticks closer to the end you can feel that switch being flipped back into ‘real life’ mode…ugh…
But – The power is in the moment you make a decision to change your mindset. You become more mindful of your surroundings. You relax. You let yourself have that dessert, sleep in, take longer to get ready, enjoy a massage, turn off your phone, take a leisurely walk, enjoy friends, a good bottle of wine…whatever it is that makes you feel like you are indulging and pampering yourself.
Well beautiful soul, I am giving you permission to pamper yourself…without getting on a plane or spending a lot of money.
Two Steps That Create A Retreat Experience Without Depleting Your Savings
The first part is to take time to plan. Part of what makes us feel good about a taking a trip is that we’ve planned exactly what we want to do and what will make us happy. Planning primes the pump for that mindset shift. Get out your calendar and a notebook and go through each step below – write it down!
- Determine how much time you have for your personal retreat. Can you take an afternoon or an entire day?
- Put it on your calendar! Choose the date, write it in and don’t look back
- Do you want a friend along or if you need to go solo. This is very important, don’t skip this step.
- Plan the details of how you will implement it (just like you do for a vacation). Do you need to call in sick, take a vacation day, get a baby-sitter or pet-sitter?
- Set a budget – I know this is the bummer part where we have to be realistic. But, spending a day at the most expensive spa in town and running up a $500 bill if you can’t afford it, will just stress you out later – not worth it my friend.
- Make a list of all the things you would like to do with the time and money you have. In step two below I have listed some ideas to get you started in case you get stumped.
The second part of creating a retreat experience is taking the time to determine what you really need. When we feel depleted, exhausted or just spinning off balance, taking time to figure out why we feel this way helps laser focus where our resources are best used. This, in turn, will help you determine the perfect activity for your ‘retreat’
- What part of your life feels like it’s on empty – Do you need to connect socially or have alone time to collect your thoughts? Do you need to feel pampered or would you feel good about giving back to someone else? Would you like to deepen your spiritual connection or be brave and try something you’ve never done before? Write down the thoughts that come up through your heart when you think about this. Did one of the ideas above create a tingle of energy or did something else come up for you?
- What can you do to fill up this area of your life? Below I have listed a ideas to get your wheels turning, a retreat can be much more than just a massage and mani/pedi. Think outside the box!
- Take a class: cooking, jewelry making, wine & chocolate pairing (please invite me!), basket weaving, knitting, Tai Chi, Salsa dancing, sky diving (you crazy girl!)
- Imagine you are a tourist in your own city/town. Visit a museum, local historical place, botanic gardens, or other local venue that you’ve always been curious about.
- Treat yourself to an overnight at a hotel – even if it’s still in your own town! Order room service and curl up in the fluffy robe to watch a movie.
- Book a full or half day at a spa (if it’s in your budget). Do some research, there are lots of different spa treatments that could be fun to try – mud, hot stone, Russian.
- Take a mini road trip. Pack snacks and map a course to get you out of town. Maybe there’s a yummy bistro in a town an hour or two away you’ve always wanted to try.
- Research your area for spiritual centers or retreats. These places often offer one day services that you can pay a fee and get a meal and some type of activity.
- Get Outside! You knew I would say this. Connecting to nature can soothe your soul quicker than any romantic comedy.
- Volunteer and/or donate. This may not sound very exciting, but sometimes when we take time to give to people who are less fortunate we fill up our own tanks with gratitude, appreciation and love. Perhaps you schedule a couple hours of volunteer time then treat yourself to your town’s best Asian restaurant… yum!
- Stay home, turn off your phone, TV & computer and plan an at home spa day. Light candles, relax in a hot bath, read a book, do a craft, fix your favorite meal and/or enjoy your favorite beverage… sounds amazing!
Make It FEEL Like A Retreat
As I said before it’s getting into “vacation mode” that is the most powerful part of retreating from our lives. There’s a few simple things you can do to prime yourself into vacay status:
- Turn off your phone! If you were on a beach in the Bahamas no one could call you. Create vacation mode by not being connected to your phone or any other screen.
- Pack a bag. Even if you’re just retreating for a few hours, pack a bag of goodies and maybe a magazine or good book. Our minds are always looking for connections. By packing a bag we are establishing the mood of what is going to happen and cueing our brain to shift gears.
- Plan your re-entry. On a trip you will return by plane or a long car ride giving your brain and body the message it’s returning to ‘real life’. You may not get on a plane or ride in the car for hours, but you can take a different route home or do something you would typically do on your way home from a trip like stop at the store for milk. You can also set aside the last 15-20 minutes of your retreat to think about how you take your relaxed feelings back into life with you.
- Before you leave be sure to tidy up your house and do some chores… nothing can ruin a restorative trip quicker than coming home to a sink full of dirty dishes and a week of laundry.
In a perfect world all of us would get an “Eat, Pray, Love” pass to be redeemed at some point in our lives. But, since that’s not going to happen create your own mini version… I promise you it will be better because only you know what you really need and want to thrive!
In the comments below tell me your ideas for a retreat! What are you going to do, where are you going to go? Or tell me if you’ve ever taken a mini-retreat!
I love these ideas, most of which I am doing. But I am ready for a retreat with other bereaved moms. I wonder if you know of any? I’m in NY but have my dividend miles and a spirit of adventure I “inherited” from my daughter who died at the age of 20 from leukemia four years ago. So good to have found you.
Robin – YAY YOU, what a beautiful spirit you have! I will be hosting a retreat this Sept here in Colorado. Yoga, Hiking, Fresh Air and the beautiful Rocky Mountains! It would be wonderful if you would join us! Throughout the summer I will be offering ‘day adventures’, which may not work for you, but stay connected and sign up to receive my emails so that you are the first to know when registration opens up for the Sept event! So glad we’ve connected and look forward to meeting you some day! *hugs*
My son just passed away 4 months ago from a very aggressive cancer. He was diagnosed and within 1 year and 2 weeks he was an angel. I am totally struggling. I am in South Jersey and cant seem to find a support group strictly for parents. I have been to Compassionate Friends but they only meet once a month. I feel like I need more. I am considering coming to Colorado in September and would love to know more about. I have 6 children 27,26,24 (who is my now angel) 22,17,9 and I am missing one of them right now in the worst way. Signed sleepless in South Jersey.. I am glad I found you too.. Hoping you can help me.
Welcome Beautiful Mamma! I am so sorry about the loss of your son. It would be a joy to have you join us in Sept.I will be sending out the updated info as it comes together (still some loose ends to tie up). Please sign up to receive my emails so you can grab your spot when I open registration. Please email me at Paula@crazygoodgrief.com with other Q’s you have. *hugs*
I love this blog! When my son died a year ago, my friends told me that I needed to be able to “look forward” to something at least every other month, and they were willing to go with me most of the time. I have “retreated” in as big a way as going to Ireland 2 months after he died (it was already in the plans), to going to a 40 year homecoming game with buddies, to having a half spa day on Mother’s Day this year. Each time I’ve done a retreat I cry a little, laugh a little, learn a little, and am so glad I went when I get home. My son loved to live life, too, and when I do this, it makes me feel closer to him.