Today is my birthday and as I sit here doing a breathing treatment I wanted to tell you about the last few days.
I started last week with a lot of anxiety and a little premature frustration. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my birthday.
After days with no real headway into any kind of answer I finally had to ask myself Danielle LaPort’s question – “how did I want to feel?”
As best as I could admit, I wanted to feel strong, seen and like I am ready to face the next year.
And what would make me feel that way?
I wanted the answer to be, a big party and everyone to shower me with gifts. And as lovely as that would be, I knew it wouldn’t get at the deeper craving.
So after talking and crying my way through a conversation with my husband on Wednesday, he very gently made the suggestion that perhaps what I needed was to take myself away for the weekend, alone. I knew in my bones that he was exactly right, even as I found myself saying “I couldn’t possibly…”
There is so much tension around this encouragement of aloneness. It feels selfish, and counterintuitive. Logically how does one feel seen if no one is there to see you? How do you feel strong if no one around you will be weaker? How do you send yourself into a new season if no one is there to toast to you?
There aren’t good roadmaps for this kind of detour and very few stories from the field. Perhaps that is because so few of us admit to feeling empty or we think suffering will cure us. Or maybe we are afraid to be alone with ourselves.
Whatever the reason it’s a worthy question.
I’m so happy to be able to tell you I took the encouragement and I went away. I saw a window of opportunity and I knew if I didn’t jump I would regret it.
I literally decided on Thursday that I would go. I left that same night. I gave myself an hour to pack, which was helpful so I didn’t overthink it.
I was given a recommendation for a place to stay in Seward. I called and booked the only cabin they had which was right on the water but no amenities: so no running water or heat, just a wood stove, electricity and a mattress. I was doing this!
I left at 8pm and got there at 11pm.
When I arrived it was COLD, but I could hear the waves lapping and see the stars. I knew I had done the right thing.
After getting settled as best I could in the cabin, which was as bare and cozy as it could be, I finally fell asleep under all the blankets and clothes I had brought. I relished my first test of courage.
Then I woke up to this:
I spent the day walking, reading, sunbathing, and thinking. I took my time. I didn’t check the clock or hold myself to any austerity measures. I just tried to be kind but also to challenge myself to dig into some deeper questions that had be tugging at me. I didn’t expect to come away with any conclusions, rather just to have a better grasp of the conversations that my soul and spirit keep trying to have with me.
The day was magical. The wind stayed calm, the sun was warm and I found the best food (in a warm restaurant!). I also found a perfect place called Resurrect Art Coffee shop and gallery, which is in an old style church. Can you get more perfect? I doubt it. I bought art, drank tea and soaked in the view.
For my first solo trip it was an absolute success. I was refreshed and revitalized. I found my peace and felt my strength. Most of all I was able to give myself what I desperately needed: a break.