This October I travelled to Galliano Island, B.C. It was my second year attending a very small retreat with the same group of people and I was very excited! I had been looking forward to getting away all summer, specifically because it was such an active summer! I needed to replenish. Especially after the ten week visit I had from my mother. Ten weeks of sharing my house, my room, even my bed with my mother. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing. My mother is a source of inspiration for me. She is a very beautiful and strong woman but I found she had become worn – a weaker version of her usual self. The passing of my father earlier that year had taken a toll on her (and I) and so I took that ten weeks to help her (and I) get back on our feet.
I am pleased to say that this retreat was exactly what I had hoped for in every single way. It wasn’t sunny and warm like last year but it was calm, and that was perfect. It was an opportunity to care for myself. After being very involved with caring for my mother, and being in a line of work where I am a caregiver – it was absolutely refreshing and wonderful to simply have my self care as priority.
I was surprised to find that it took two full days of silence and practices to drop below my “to do” list – who I needed to thank, who I need to call, what projects needed attention. Two full days of no phones, no internet, and no talking before I could disconnect from my hectic life.
During that time of disconnect there was nothing but complete exhaustion. I was in a cycle of sleeping/resting/sleeping/resting that my body seemed to crave. After those two days I noticed there was finally enough energy in me to reconnect with myself. To stop living in
the demands of the future and engaging with my self in the present – to tend to my inner world. The consequence being a feeling of finally unfolding places that had unknowingly been folded up so tight on the inside. Going on this retreat showed me that there were areas within myself that I had neglected. I used this time to give myself room to unwind and unfold in real time – to peel back the layers and get in touch with places that were buried. I so value keeping company with these previously orphaned places – and attend to them.
After the first day of return I began reengaging with my life. It was time to put on my heels and go dancing (the argentine tango, my favourite!). Upon opening my closet I found it difficult to find an outfit that felt good for me to wear – 90% of the stuff I saw was no longer me. I didn’t recognize these clothes as mine. Those clothes represented previous ways I saw myself or presented my outer self that and I didn’t need to hold on to them anymore. Until that moment I didn’t realize I had been hanging on to so much, so many outdated definitions of myself, so much unnecessary closet baggage.
I came out of this retreat with the sense that I needed less. I feel more now in a place to let go of the unessential parts of life and make more space. Space inside myself for what is essential. As a result I am more available to the moment and undressed of some of my previous self confection. And for that, I am thankful!
Stay tuned for a Clean-the-Closet follow-up!
Take care of yourself,