I’m writing this two days before it will actually post….because I’m ON my retreat right now! Woo hoo!
I’ve briefly mentioned a retreat over the past few days, but I didn’t go into too much depth. My life is great, I love my work, my writing, my marriage. But for the last 3 years, I haven’t had a “Jen project.” I’ve heard of people taking personal retreats, locking themselves away in a hotel to write, and I’ve always wanted to do that. We had a little bit of money left over to celebrate, and I received some money for my birthday. All told, I figured I had a budget of $227.38. I went back and forth on if I should include Bret or not. Ultimately, we decided it would make the most sense if he came along.
Oh friends, I spent SO much time looking for a place. I scoured Groupon and Living Social. I searched my hotel chains. What gave me a breakthrough was looking for places near a Dunkin Donuts. Yes, you read that right. It’s funny, sure, but one piece of advice I gleaned while researching creating a personal retreat was – how do you want your retreat to feel? I spent time thinking about this, and thinking about things that were important. I wanted to have access to Dunkin, because it makes me happy. I wanted to have access to showers and bathrooms. I didn’t want to travel too far, because I wanted most of the time spent at the location of the retreat.
When I was about to book my hotel, I happened to see reviews of the hotel….um, hello, look at the reviews first guys. Oy. Bed bugs, a smoke smelling room…..in a non-smoking room. All kinds of “not quite what I’m looking for” in my retreat. So, back to the drawing board.
Then I thought about a cabin again. I had looked at a ton of airbnb’s across MD, VA, WV, PA….but nothing really stuck. Ok, well, the State Parks have cabins…I did a statewide search for cabins with electricity. And that my friends, is when the magic happened. I found the perfect cabin in Martinak State Park! With some more searching, I realized that NO one was staying in the whole loop we booked our cabin, the whole time. There are folks checking out the morning we arrived (yesterday), and there are folks arriving tomorrow (after we leave). AND there is a Dunkin 1.4 miles away.
So far, we have spent $107.23 on lodging. We’re estimating $20-30 for gas, $20-30 for firewood, and the rest for food. I’ll do a follow up post with how things went and how much we actually spent.
To plan out the retreat, I spent several hours rereading some of my journals. I took notes on things that spoke me. I realize there are a few things I need to meditate on – specifically how my life has changed over the last few years, I want to spend time just thinking about things. I thought about questions I want to ask myself. And I want to work on my memoir about my alcoholism.
What I’ve learned so far about myself while rereading my journals, is that I really need to journal more! I loved looking at life through my 19 year old eyes, and other various ages. It is so so so important to journal!
After I finished reviewing my journals, I typed up my notes, and organized everything into categories. I’m still fleshing out the “schedule” at the writing of this post. But the best “how to” advice I can give you – craft something that YOU enjoy, not what you think you should do. What will speak to your soul the most? Where are you most at peace so you can really focus on what needs attention?
Have you ever taken a personal retreat? What did you learn? What mistakes did you make? Let me know in the comments below!
(This photo is from our local State Park, stay tuned for photos from this new place!)
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