As soon as my client left I was rushing upstairs to get my bags packed. Being the last minute girl that I am, I still had this task unfinished. What to take and not take! I couldn't believe I had such a dilemma when I was only going away two nights! I thought of my travelling friends who managed to go around the world with one small suitcase.  Yet whether a month to the States or a quick night away I always want to be prepared for anything, well at least as far as my luggage goes.

This time though was to be different. I promised to myself no computer, not even my iPad. This meant the only device allowed was a phone. How tempting it was to sneak the iPad in. Willpower prevailed though I did leave a note to my son to look after my WeRule farms while I was away.

© Jenn Shallvey

(Note...old photo, not my car, just playing around with some dreaming.  This photo though captures the feeling I had on my departure so include it.)

I finished packing. Then just as I was about to go I realized I was still dressed in the outfit I wore for work. Thinking high heeled boots and a sweater coat weren't going to do it for a beachside escape off they went. On came what I refer to as my winter American Tourist outfit. Being half American I am allowed to say what I want with reference to the USA. Anyway this classic outfit consists of jeans, t-shirt, zipper hoodie sweatshirt (tracksuit top for you Aussies reading this), polarfleece jacket and the ultimate style maker - running shoes (not obviously used for running). Personally I think anytime I throw in sneakers and jeans I am 1/2 way back to California.

Back to my escape, uhm I mean retreat
Packed to go I loaded one suitcase of clothes and toiletries, one bag of nibbles and my own food including gourmet coffee, coffee filters and strainer, herbal tea assortment and fruit to of course remind me to try and be healthy.

Before leaving I left a quick I’ll miss you notes on the kids beds, made an attempt to tidy the house so no one would really miss me. Well I did leave the kitchen a mess but then since that is normal no risk of being missed.

Off I went buoyed by a combination of enthusiasm and perhaps a bit of caffeine from my coffee.

Me at this stage
So being a retreat for me the essential ingredient would be constant reflection. I am not talking forced journaling or dialoguing. No I am all about noticing, paying attention and seeing me in a different way than usual. When in retreat stage I always take along me and my other self, the one that steps back and observes me in the moment.

It is from my other self perspective that I share some of these meanderings and insights.
As of the point of departure my greatest insight was my small victory over guilt. Yes this is the big aha.  As a mother, leaving my family behind so I can indulge in me time, there is a larger than normal proportion of guilt draped over me.  I usually feel it in the head, shoulders or lower back.  So to walk out the door lighter than air I knew I was on the right track.  I could smile, appreciate and gratefully acknowledge the gift of time.

A little sharing for you…
As I like to write my posts sometimes as if we were in conversation I wonder. I actually really wonder what it is like for you when you manage to secure a few days away for you.  What happens? How do you feel?  How long can you get away before your work, family or other personal obligations drag your conscious back to where it left off?  What excuses do you build up and lavish attention to delay such breaks?  I am wondering with a little dose of curiosity.

Anyway, I will share a few more tidbits from this little weekend in a few more subsequent posts.