When Is It Time for a Retreat?
The Northeastern winters get tough on me. I’m not fond of trudging through snow. I start to feel housebound. I have tried many things to keep myself in a healthy and creative mindset: going to the Y, curling up with a great book by the wood stove, trying delicious sounding soup and stew recipes.
But sometimes nothing works and I find myself sitting under a blanket wishing I were in Hawaii (I’ve never been, but in my mind, that’s the place where creativity reigns unfettered).
I begin to search online for writer’s retreats, or spas where I might spend two weeks having someone else make my meals, wandering around warm snow-free walking paths, joining a yoga class every morning…and, most of all, having hours of solitary focus on my writing. It always sounds like heaven…expensive heaven.
Running Away on the Cheap
This year, I knew I needed to find a way to get away. I trolled my usual suspects, but there was no way I could afford them. Then I got an email from Virgin America about a sale. I could nab an inexpensive ticket to San Francisco. My daughter, my sister, and my cousin live in San Francisco. Hmmm.
My daughter won (from my perspective) because she is expecting my grandson in a few months. Also because she and my son-in-law work all day long and they have a pool and a lemon tree in their back yard.
My sister is my retreat-within-a-retreat spot because she has a wonderful place with a fitness center (and an even bigger pool).
For the cost of a few groceries and chores (I helped paint my grandson-to-be’s nursery, which was inspiring to my creativity), I am away from the snow, able to walk new and interesting paths, and I have uninterrupted hours of the day to write.
Rules for DIY Writer’s Retreats
Here are the four simple rules I stumbled on for making sure your DIY retreat is as good as the posh expensive version:
- Be focused. Enlist support from your friendly retreat provider. Tell them you love hanging out, but you need/want solitude, too (although, I suppose, if you timed it right, you could housesit for a friend/relative and have no need to break creative stride…)
- Be serious. Bring your work…but only the important work. Leave the rest for after the retreat.
- Be committed. Do your work.
- Be grateful. Your friend/relative is not a posh elegant (expensive) retreat. He/she is saving your creative spirit.
I’m always looking for retreats from the northeastern winters. Have you ever run away from home to save your creative bacon? Did you do it on the cheap? Did it work?