I have yearned for an escape for a while. The thought of being in the middle of nature, alone with my books and thoughts, sounded heavenly. And I finally did it. I found some cabins at Lake of the Ozarks State Park for $50 a night (with air con!), okayed the vacation time with my boss, booked the rooms, and did it!
I took a work revision project, A Confederacy of Dunces, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and my journal. My adventure started Monday morning and ended Wednesday morning, about 48 hours total. These little Outpost Cabins were exactly what I wanted: privacy, surrounded by nature, but including some of the creature comforts I didn’t really want to derive myself of (did I mention the air conditioning and the already stifling Missouri heat?).
I spent a significant time working on the revision project for work, which might sound like the last thing I should be doing on a self-imposed retreat, but it’s revision. That is my favorite part of the writing process, and when I’m revising, I need to be immersed. Unfortunately, the nature of our office doesn’t allow for much uninterrupted time, which is something I had lots of on my retreat. When I wanted a break from formal writing, I journaled or read. Monday afternoon, it stormed, and I took my journal onto the covered porch and worked through some things with the soothing sound of rain.
In one of the forwards to 7 Habits, Bill Gates’ biennial Think Weeks were mentioned, so I read up on them. He worked during his escape too. In fact, that was the point of the separation from colleagues, family, and friends: to work and study and expose himself to research he would not otherwise have time for. I immediately banished all guilt I had about working on my retreat. And I resolved to to make these retreats a habit in my life.
I am an introvert. I recharge during time alone. Because of my husband’s retail schedule, I often enjoy evenings alone, but I realized that I have been wasting them. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I often spend the time doing chores, playing games on my phone, and watching TV. It’s recharging enough, but I could be doing so much more with my solitary evenings, and that is one change that I will make as a result of this retreat.
Thanks to the wonders of modern society, I had LTE coverage the entire time I was at the cabin. But the first thing I did when I got there was turn off all of the notifications on my phone, except for Messages and weather apps, and I pretty much ignored all messages from anyone but Rob. I need to start doing this when Rob closes, to give myself some time away from the constant interruption. In fact, when I turned notifications back on, I left some off that I had on before. I am sure that I won’t miss them.
The other change I will make to my solitary evenings is a dedication to Sharpening the Saw. I have not reached that chapter in 7 Habits, but I’ve heard of it before, and it was referenced several times already. I can enjoy super mini retreats a couple times a week by dedicating the evening to reading something that will improve my mind and writing and reflecting.
An aside about 7 Habits: I expected a book that was going to make me a better employee. I did not know that it was a life-changing book that aims to affect every area of your life. I cannot believe that I hadn’t read it sooner in my life, but I am glad I am reading it now.