I am now back at my desk and back in my ’real life’ after a weeklong retreat. In late October, I travel the 500 kilometres to our timeshare unit in Canmore for a period of relaxation, reflection, and, hopefully, a boatload of work.
It’s a comfortable space of about 365 square feet, but, over the years, I’ve figured out what I need to bring to make it cozier and more functional for my purposes. There’s never enough light for late night reading, so I brought a book light. I bring a power surge protector for my electronics. This year I bought a paring knife and an extension cord at the thrift store because I needed both. I’ve already replaced the crappy little scissors (that make chewing seem an option) with a better pair for next year. I always bring a talisman or two, a candle or two in tins, and have relaxation music loaded into iTunes. Oh, and of course books, journals, projects-on-the-go. I buy fresh flowers for the vase I bring from home. Some blank paper and a wad of coloured felts came in handy for some impromptu sketching and mind-mapping.
On that same trip to the church-run thrift store I scored a nine- by twelve-inch acrylic landscape painting for $2.25! It classed up the joint and made a fine focal point for meditating. I brought a beautiful scarf from home to drape over the couch. I bought a large red plastic magnet to remind me of the Law of Attraction. I love the cream coloured scrapbooking album I scored. With thirty pages and a grosgrain ribbon closure it can house all manner of dream images.
You wouldn’t think it possible to over pack intangibles; but every year I do. I’ve got big plans and ambitious intentions. Far more than can reasonably be accomplished in one week.
This year was different in that I ’unclenched.’ I slowed down and tried not to force anything. I did what felt right in the moment. When on my arrival night I couldn’t make the DVD player get beyond eight minutes of previews I decided it was a sign from the universe that I wasn’t to waste time on that. I did things I had no intention of doing and released things I had my heart set on advancing but couldn’t.
I did morning pages (ala Julia Cameron). I made a daily gratitude list right in my Brownline agenda. I started a slush pile of blog posts for an as-yet non-existent blog. I ate my favourite Vietnamese meal on my final night, visited the library, had tea at Café Books. I didn’t answer or send emails. I did no festival work.
Now, thrust back in my life, my challenge is hanging on to the good habits I created and staying aware of what I need to be doing moment-to-moment to move my life forward. Getting caught up in everyone else’s ’shoulds’ no longer interests me. What a precious insight, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.