Me in 2012, the night before I left for retreat in Nepal and Bali.
I had this deal with myself when I was at home, raising young kids. I made a pact that after I finished breastfeeding each of my children, I'd leave for retreat to replenish myself. My biggest fear about having kids was that I'd lose myself, entirely. But to leave alone like this, I knew, was the way back.
My departure was often met with resistance from others. "How could you leave your children? How incredibly kind of your husband!!" As if my partner and I didn't share mutual responsibility for these children of ours.
My departure was often met with resistance from myself. As I talk about in my book, before you leave, the world will test you to see how badly you want this space for yourself. So much so that you might almost back out.
But I never did.
Pilgrimage has always been my jam. Travel and retreating, and reading, and quiet fills me like no other. I wonder if it does you, too?
So, next week, after a long hiatus, I'm going on my own retreat. I'm headed to a lovely little yurt by myself. I feel familiar pangs of excitement and regret as my departure approaches. Thankfully, I now recognize these signals as just part of the path of retreat, not particularly unique to me.
It is never easy to leave.
There is never a good time at work, or for your family, financially, or otherwise. There are so many more reasons to stay. The world perpetuates this narrative for women reminding us that our duty is to serve everyone and thing around us, at all costs, until the day we die.
But if there is something in you that's yearning for more, that could desperately use the time to rest, or find what excites you at this particular time in your life, you must find a way to loosen the grip and step away.
Yesterday while getting my brows waxed, the woman asked me: "How do you know if the world is giving you signs to walk away from something or if you need to stick with it and push through?" She was referring to her relationship.
She's asked many people - healers, therapists and more. Everyone has an opinion for her.
The truth is, we are the only ones who can know what is best for us. And to know this, we have to get quiet. When we find ourselves constantly seeking answers in other people, ideologies, courses and more, it's time to get to know ourselves, again.
You can't do this when surrounded by others. There are too many voices, opinions, and obligations. And women, in particular, are hungry to please and connect. So we spend a lifetime chasing the insatiable needs of others.
Retreating familiarizes us with that little, inside voice. That one you knew so well in your girlhood that may have slipped to the back these days.
So, as I get ready to leave for my own personal sojourn, I encourage you to offer yourself permission to do the same, in your own way.
There will be resistance. But if we're to offer anything of value to those around us, we have to allow ourselves to be complete people on our own. Trust me, your children / work / partner / grandkids will not remember that week you pulled away for retreat. But you will never forget it.
To your leavings,