Like many people I can sometimes be a real procrastinator. Often it involves things I don’t really want to be doing in the first place, but sometimes it includes work that I actually really do love. These days it’s busyness that takes me to that place, it’s the need to fit in my facilitation and visual recording work on top of my new full time day job. Add in all the reading that I’m doing to quench my professional development thirst, and I definitely have been feeling lately that I have a lot of things that I want to do with my life and not enough time to do them in. That’s not the place that I want to be in.
All this work on top of the demands of mothering and “wifehood” is a bit daunting for me right now. It’s why I hardly ever post on this blog these days! Simply not enough time. Sometimes the last thing I want to do after I work all day, and “mother” all evening is put in another 1-2 hours of work on facilitation projects after my daughter goes to bed. But truthfully, that’s what I often do.
It was definitely time for a working retreat that could also function as a little time on my own. I knew that if I created the space to get away to blitz through a bunch of work I had on my plate then it would make me feel much more easily able to add in more variety of the fun kind throughout the rest of my days, and also feel more organized being on top of the extra work that I actually really love to do!
I knew that booking a hotel room somewhere at Victoria or up-island prices in the summer would likely cost a small fortune, so I got the idea to post a message in my WomenAlive group to see if anyone had any ideas for me of a place I could go on retreat – for free. (I’ve become a big fan of asking “the universe” for what I want, which sometimes involves me just driving alone talking to myself in my car, and sometimes means talking to real people!) Here’s what I said:
Anyone know of a house sitting empty that could use of a brief housesitter for two days and one night on the August long weekend? I’m in serious need of a quiet place to work on passion projects for a couple of days. An in-town working retreat is in order. (And I mean to squeeze in relaxation time too!)
Wouldn’t you know, within a day I had five replies of places to stay!
I ended up going to a friend of a friend’s place in Sooke which, if you’re not from Victoria, is a small village about a 45-minute drive from my house. After connecting with the homeowner I agreed to visit with her two cats, water her garden, and eat her garden-fresh peas while I was there. It was a deal! I spent days looking forward to this little working retreat. As much as I was interested in getting some time on my own – if only for one night – I was really looking forward to getting some much-needed work off my plate.
I arrived at the home last Saturday morning about 9am. Right away I discovered that the homeowner had left me a gift certificate to a local restaurant as a thank you – what a delight! Here I was thinking that I was tremendously in her debt for allowing to use her place and she was giving me a thank you gift for being a housesitter!
I dug in to work pretty soon after I arrived, setting myself up on the kitchen table and spreading out a mountain of paperwork and books surrounding my laptop. Over the course of next 24 hours I worked 12 of them, sleeping, eating, reading and watering the garden in the others. I got tons of work done on the next course I’m developing, revelling in the creativity of how I was going to make it all work out well for the participants. I wrote learning outcomes, developed assignments, created lesson plans and had the time and space to really think about how I was going to make the course interactive, so that the participants could not only draw on me as a resource throughout, but on each other.
To give myself a break from the work I also finished two fantastic non-fiction books that I had brought along, one of which almost brought me to tears it was so good and relevant to the life I’m leading right now. (Thanks to the friend who loaned me Parker Palmer’s “Let Your Life Speak” and Jean Shinoda Bolen’s “The Millionth Circle”.) I went out to dinner at Mai-Mai’s Bistro with my new gift certificate and had delicious Japanese food. Yum.
Thanks (!) to a bad night’s sleep on Saturday evening due to the weekend’s heat wave, I got up – to the surprise of the cats – Sunday morning before the crack of dawn and started working at the computer again. It actually was a blessing because I was then able to leave a little earlier than I had originally planned that day because I had gotten so much done. After the 12 hour dig-in, I conceded to myself that it was time to put the work aside again for a while to let new thoughts percolate.
Leaving a “thank you” bottle of wine behind for the homeowners when I left, I drove out of Sooke through the sunlight to spend the rest of the day with my family. I had only been away a smidge longer than 24 hours but it had done the trick. I already felt more at ease with all that I have going on. And it made me think that the next time we’re away we should offer up our house to a housesitter for a few days to give someone else a retreat opportunity too! I hope that the next time someone else asks “the universe” for some time to think, I’ll be the one to be able to help.