Addicted to retreating

Do you fantasize about escaping from your life? Do you sometimes say “I have had enough! I just need to get away and have a break?”  Well do you? If you do how often do you actually follow through on your frustrated inspiration?

Well I do sometimes. However to assuage my guilt I usually have a purpose. To go away I have always attached some sort of reason. The most common purpose is to attend a seminar or workshop. This learning aspect serves 1) to justify the escape to all in my family and 2) to give me permission to get away. 

© Jenn Shallvey
A close inspection of my diary over the past several years reveals the real truth. I am a learning junkie.  Ok, more than that. I am a retreat junkie. I have to get my fix or I will go crazy.  Well not literally crazy, but certainly borderline difficult to be around or live with. Hence why my family likely understands and reluctantly sends me off on my little jaunts.

Some of my retreats have been big experiences and taken me to new levels of insight and transformation. Others fit more into an excuse for pampering. Either way I truly, 100% vouch for the experience as a way to maintain my sanity and enhance my professional development.

Tactful balance

Of course with a tendency as I have towards over-retreating, I need to remain mindful that I have a husband, two kids, a business and a life of responsibilities.  Yes they also remind me as well.

I have yet though to go on a family retreat. Call me selfish but I believe that a happy me is a happy family and a happy client. If I look after myself then everyone else benefits. As a professional coach and facilitator I also must continue to practice what I preach – throw myself into experiences that give me opportunity to grow and develop as often as possible.

Highlights and lowlights

One of the challenges of being so into the retreat experience is that on paper or in marketing language the experience sometimes looks a lot better than what you get.  Also because many of the retreats/learning experiences I delve into involve personal growth there is a risk that I transfer my ‘growing pains’ onto the experience.  You know. You build the whole thing up only to find that at the end you fizzle out.  So the meditation didn’t work, big deal. Oh, you had to share a room with a snoring person – but then realized you snore as well.  Yes we all have to eat together at the same time. And worst of all for me there is a thing called morning that doesn’t necessarily match with the idea of bedtime for night owls like me.

Yet to make up for these challenges I always find that I grow and return a better person. It may not be immediate. Yet as I take the time to allow the integration to happen naturally I begin to notice a shift.  I also see others noticing the shift.  There will be comments as simple as “Hey Jenn, your face looks brighter and your eyes are so clear.” Or “Jenn, you seem so relaxed and unflustered by this problem what’s your secret.”  On the flip side there are also moments where people need to step back and give me space.  Often as I leave behind a few more unwanted behaviours, beliefs and attitudes it takes time for new ones to settle in.  In fact a typical experience is for me to actually warn people close to me to give me some space while all settles.

Again this may sound selfish to you but it’s so not.  In the spirit of making the most of me, my talents and my gifts it is important that I do my best to shed what gets in the way. This effort is not without ups and downs. Yet the ultimate outcome is that I am truer to myself, more authentic, and better at connecting with the people that really mean a lot to me in my life and work.

A long gap

The last time I immersed myself in self development I chose two back to back yet totally contrasting experiences. On one end of the spectrum I travelled internationally, enjoyed conference time, seminars and spa retreats. At the other end I hung out in a cave for a day and night roughing it as best I could in the spirit of letting go and shifting some old heavy baggage. Both experiences served me in different ways. 

Both experiences were as far apart as possible.  And yes both experiences were 5 long months ago.  That is a LONG time for me. I could feel the need welling up inside of me to get away.  I also could feel the need to have the experience be just about me and nothing else.  Mind you I also have enjoyed the domesticity of my life with kids and husband.  There is a groundedness in the regularity and routine of life that helps me integrate the retreats.

A me only retreat

So it is in this context that I decided to do a me retreat.

This meant that for the first time I needed to go away to do nothing. No purpose. No to do list. No places to visit. No activities.

The only way to achieve this outcome would be to not do a learning retreat and go away by myself.

So this is what I did.  I picked two nights in the middle of the week. I made arrangements with my husband and kids. I found a place to stay that was only 2 hours away, had nice accomodation and a good deal for winter rates. Then it was off on retreat for me.

Ironically I set out with a few rules being 1) no electronic devices, 2) no books, 3) no tv or dvds at the hotel, 4) no plans or bookings other than a massage, 5) no tourist trips.  Essentially my only intention was to allow me to be me, go with the flow and simply notice my self and my experience.

With this post I am just setting the context. With the next post I will share with you some of my experience. It’s not earth shattering. But I will share it with you because it is part of my learning and therefore sharing for you.