True confessions.... I - me - the one whose mantra is"if you are overwhelmed, off-kilter, confused, or just want to get more focused and in flow, take a short retreat" - I actually had myself convinced that launching a new venture constituted a "retreat."
I had some basis for this. After all, rational-lies do tend to have a kernel of logic. I do occasionally do things on my retreats that to the outside world would appear to be "work." For instance, a few years back, my husband and daughter were traveling on the day after Christmas. I decided to give myself the gift of that day to try to get my life in order (this was before I had articulated the At Home Retreat concept). I looked forward to having that day all to myself during the entire month of December.
On my appointed retreat day, I spent several hours collecting my stacks of unsorted important and unimportant papers, unread magazines, outstanding to-dos, undone errands, wish lists, assorted household clutter and other "open items" and sorting through them using David Allen's "Getting Things Done" system. I can't say it was the most fun I've ever had, but it did have a Zen-like quality to it. David's system forces you to single task and deal with one item at a time (without losing track of other priorities). I was taking control of my life again - and that was liberating. And while it was "work," it was also a form of self-care, a giving of attention to things that needed attention, a collecting of "to-do's" that allowed me to see the true priorities and what needed to be dropped or delegated. I had a LOT of stuff, and, as satisfying as the work was, it took a fair amount of energy, so I didn't finish it that day. But I did "do, drop or delegate" a lot of items, and got much needed clarity, at a global as well as a detail level, about what was left to be done. I felt much more in control of my busy life when I was done. And that sense of calm and control lasted for months afterward. Vestiges of it are still with me today, in the systems I have in place and the knowledge that I can regain control on those occassions when life happens and things have slipped a bit.
I have also been known to use a One Hour Retreat to get clarity about a business issue or to brainstorm strategies. And if my intention for the time was to take a step back in order to obtain clarity and focus, that time did in fact constitute a "retreat."
So, with that history, I looked forward to using this year's post-holiday retreat (yesterday) to finalize the launch of my new "30 Days to Done: Get Your Writing Done" online series. (If you happen to be interested in that, you can get the details here: http://wingedlifecoaching.com/30daystodone.html)
But now I have to admit (gulp!) that that was not a retreat. That was work. Not "special" work, like the Getting It Done exercise I went through a few years ago, or "clarity and focus" work - just everyday tasks that needed to get done and had gotten delayed due to the holidays. And while I am really excited about completing the launch of the program, and looking forward to being able to share in my clients' success as they do in fact get their writing done, that doesn't make doing that work into a retreat.
And so now I'm planning a real retreat, starting as soon as I publish this post. I know I "should" be publicizing the writing program, and I "should" be planning for the New Year (and I have been doing some thinking about that). But right now, what I need is to relax and just be....
Retreats are great for planning, re-grouping, re-prioritizing, doing something creative, or jump-starting a spiritual practice. But we don't always need to DO something on our retreats. Sometimes, we can just be. Just relax, have a cup of hot chocolate or hot coffee or hot toddy, sit by the fireplace or under a cozy blanket, and just nap, read, or listen to a favorite bit of music.
We don't always have to journal, pray, or do yoga. We don't always have to plan or prioritize or observe. Sometimes we can - sometimes we need to - just be.
I invite you to take a "just being" retreat this week. Take an hour (or more!) and let yourself truly unwind, let go, and be at peace.
P.S. If you are in the mood for a New Year's oriented retreat, here is one to try: http://www.genuinecoaching.com/celebrating-the-gifts-of-the-year-a-new-year-exercise.html
This is from Linda Dessau, one of my favorite writing gurus. I just discovered this site today, and found out that Linda is also a creativity coach. I love her New Year's exercise, especially the emphasis on looking at how you've changed and grown, not just on what you've accomplished. And the exercise from The Art of Possibility (the Zanders call it "Give Yourself An A") is one of my favorites. Reminds me that it's time for me to revisit that book!
If you're beating yourself up over too much December indulgence of one type or another, check out last year's One Hour Retreat suggestion here: http://onehourretreat.blogspot.com/2010/01/holiday-hangover-dont-make-it-worse.html