With all of the excitement + busy-ness of the summer, all of the fun of having visitors, all of the emotions of saying farewell to summer, and all of the getting back in the groove of long workdays, this contemplative soul realized that she needed to turn it down + turn inwards. I could feel my soul craving a weekend all to myself. A little retreat for just me.
As “luck” would have it, my wife planned a girl’s weekend with some friends just in time for this yearning of my soul, and so I decided to create an entire weekend of blissful me time while she was away. Alone. Slow. And unplanned.
Do you crave alone time? Do you ever wish you had me time, but feel uncomfortable with it? Do you think you don’t have time for alone time? Do you feel guilty for setting aside time just for yourself?
These are fairly common questions that many people deal with when faced with time alone and/or the desire to have some alone time. Many people also run from the prospect of having a weekend alone. The misconception is that it’s sad, lonely, pathetic, scary and boring. I’m here to say that that’s not the case at all.
Of course, there are many people who face living by themselves and have to deal with unwelcome alone time on a constant basis. And, maybe, the perception is that I’m just so blessed that I get to “choose” to have alone time… unlike many people who are alone, yet do not choose to be. Maybe I seem as if I’m up on my high horse, totally unaware of the pain that some people feel because they are trapped in a life that is lonely and unfulfilling due to circumstances not of their choosing.
I am fully aware that there are people who are homebound or who ache for companionship. My soul aches for those people as well, my heart aches for you if you are one of them. And, if you are, please reach out to me. I’d be more than honored to chat with you, Skype with you or meet you. Truly.
What I am talking about here, though, is something that we can all do. No matter whether we live with 10 other people or completely by ourselves. What I am talking about, when I talk about a solitary retreat is a conscious choice to turn off the world + to spend some time with just our own soul. To focus solely (and soul-ly) on ourselves. To slow down + listen + feel + experience. What I am talking about is an intentional time set apart to just mindfully be with ourselves.
Scary, I know. Uncomfortable, most definitely. Selfish, some people think. But, more than these society-driven “negative” thoughts we have about choosing to spend some time alone, having a little solitary retreat is sooooo good for our souls. It is such a great opportunity to refocus, to listen, to face ourselves, to pamper and care for ourselves, to say to ourselves that we are worthy just as we are, and to find joy within our own souls + personalities. In other words, to simply become friends with ourselves again.
Now, I am a person that literally needs + aches for some slow, me time. I am a contemplative down deep into my bones. So, it comes naturally to me to be alone. Plus, I’m in my 40s + very grateful to feel very comfortable with myself. That means, I don’t need company in order to go out. I could care less what other people think about me sitting by myself sipping on wine. And, let me tell you, this is a gooooood place in be in life. I deeply wish this feeling of freedom to just be for everyone.
In any case, last Friday I put my love on a train + then our German friend on a train, and I headed home to begin my solitary, stay-at-home weekend.
I stayed at home because there was no need to go + spend money. Plus, no one else was there. Except the cat. Had I had this deep craving when my love was also home, then I would have considered headed off to some other place to be alone. But, this was not necessary this weekend.
So, what was I going to do? Well, I had no plans. I made the decision not to contact anyone, so I could literally just be by myself. Other than that, there were no rules. I began to imagine that I might have a more active day on Saturday + then a very slow, self-care, pj day on Sunday… but I was going to trust my mood and my feelings.
Friday night ended up being dinner, wine, and Netflix at home. Slow, easy, and very relaxing.
Saturday, I slept until almost 9! Unheard of for me! I made coffee and then snuggled in bed with a mug (or 3) throughout the morning. I blogged, took photos, and decided that I’d try to beef up my presence on Instastories – that disappearing video SnapChat-like part of Instagram. I felt like giving my creativity soul a little kick and challenge.
I took a long shower, ate some food, watched a documentary, and laid around on the sofa with the cat. It felt sooooo good.
Suddenly, I felt the desire to go outside. So, I packed my backpack with coffee, a rain jacket, my journal + pen, and a blanket and headed off towards the river.
I wandered out of the city and out into the countryside, taking photos all along the way. The sky was gray, it dribbled some rain every now + then, but I was totally satisfied walking among the trees and fields.
After an hour or so, with my soul absolutely filled to the brim, I turned back toward the city and slowly walked back into civilization, continuing to stop and observe and look at the details of everything all along the way. I made it into the crowded city and immediately felt inspired by the vibes of Culture Night – a day/night where the streets are teeming with a festival-like atmosphere. Music, food, acts, laughter, and tons of happy people. It all felt so alive + free + fun!
I wandered around, watched some bands, took photos, and finally decided that it was time for wine. So, I headed to my favorite wine bar + grabbed a stool at the bar that faced out the front window. A candle flickered beside me, people laughed and chatted all around me, and I pulled out my journal. Totally content. I ordered a glass of pinot noir and let the hours pass by. I sat and wrote and listened and watched for a while, and then finally decided to head home.
On the way, I passed through our little Chinatown block. It was packed with people, sampling food, buying food, Asian music was blaring, local Asians manned their booths, enticing everyone in with their specialty… it was a real Chinese market place. And it was amazing.
I slowly wandered through and kept heading towards home. Just before I left the downtown area, I heard singing. It sounded familiar. Yes, it was old Appalachian sacred harp music. The kind you heard in the mountains of North Carolina back in the 1800s. Four parts. Two men, two women. Moving their hands up + down. Like what you see in Cold Mountain, the movie (A movie about the true happenings during the US Civil War in the mountains in which I was raised).
Turns out there is a group that sings just that kind of music/hymns in Uppsala! I stood and watched and sang the old hymns and tunes that I knew. One of the group members saw me and motioned for me to come join them in the middle of their performance. So, without thinking at all, I did.
I sang North Carolina mountain Sacred Harp music at the train station in Uppsala. It was surreal. And beautiful. And my soul was flying.
Back home, I settled down a bit. Turned on the tv to wind down even more and then headed to bed early.
Sunday came + I woke late again. Coffee, first thing and then writing. Blogging and photo editing and more coffee. And snuggles with the cat. Oh, and a cheesy Hallmark movie. I stayed home all day. And, to be honest, I don’t really remember what I did. It didn’t involve much action, but it did involve just being with myself. Just enjoying moment after moment.
My love came home in time for dinner, and with that, my solitary retreat came to a beautiful, relaxing end. And I eased back into my regular, everyday life.
The weekend as exactly what my soul needed. I had no pressure on myself to accomplish anything, no goals, and only one intention: to listen to whatever my heart + soul + mind were saying to me. To literally take it one moment at a time, living fully present + completely relaxed.
I did come away with some thoughts, but more than that, I came away from the weekend feeling rejuvinated, re-inspired, and well-rested.
My lovelies, I highly recommend carving out some alone time for yourself soon. Give yourself permission to do whatever you want and just hang out with yourself. It may be that you dive deep into your soul, or it may be that you pamper yourself, or it may be that you just do things that you love to do. Whatever the case, let your soul guide you. It will always lead you where you need to be.