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My Second Annual Personal Retreat: Parts 1-3

fullsizerender-14If this post had a subtitle, it would be something like, “A Solopreneur’s Guide to Flexibility.” Like many of you, I had big plans for the New Year, and also for my second annual personal retreat. Plan A was to head to Tennessee to hang out with some of my best friends to ring in 2017. After leaving there, I was going to head to a hotel somewhere between my house and theirs to hole up for a few days to enjoy my retreat. I did this for the first time last year because I wanted dedicated time away from my house to plan and dream for the year ahead, especially for my business. I had another big list of tasks to accomplish, articles and posts to read, homework from my business coach, 2017 planning to do, and of course, a bit of relaxing needed to be thrown in.

PART 1:

But if there is any lesson you’re doomed to repeat as a self-employed entrepreneur, it’s one in flexibility. About two weeks prior to New Year’s, my friends needed to cancel. It was a good reason, but I was disappointed and so were they. So, I decided to move up my personal retreat to New Year’s Eve. But, no problem, Plan B kicked in. #flexible

Then I got another call.

I thought the first week of January was going to be really slow, and I was okay with that so I’d have plenty of time for my retreat and to finish up any additional items upon returning home. But my contact at my largest client called to say that he’d just accepted a new job, his two weeks notice had been turned in that morning, and we needed to finish our current project within that timeframe—which wasn’t originally due until March.

Hello, Plan C. Now it was two days until New Year’s Eve. So, I decided to cut the retreat down to one night since I’d be working hard over the weekend on my retreat, and needed to jump into client work first thing Monday morning. Additionally, due to this hiccup and the fact that I’d just be returning from Christmas travel as well, I decided to stick super close to home. Technically, I can do my work from just about anywhere, but I didn’t want to use a bunch of hotel points on a local hotel, especially if I wasn’t even going to be doing my own planning.

Ok, so I found a place that looked great, was close by, and had a kitchen so I could bring groceries to cut down on food costs. #budget So, now New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were now officially planned! Additionally, to add some of the relaxation element, I made the decision to kick off my retreat with Rogue One.

So, I went to the movie (which was fun!), packed up, and headed to the hotel. And then plans fell apart again . . . womp womp. I did manage to get a few things done, but way less than I thought, and as the day went on I felt progressively worse. Then I discovered that while my kitchen looked adequate, it didn’t have an oven despite saying it had a full kitchen. And, you guessed it, my Trader Joe’s appetizers needed to be cooked in the oven and not by microwave or stovetop. So, because I wasn’t feeling well, I ordered room service rather than going out to pick something up—which was terrible. Therefore my big New Year’s Eve plans included sickness, a tasteless hamburger, and flipping between bad countdown shows. Ah, the glamorous life of an entrepreneur! But before I checked out, though, I eat get a fairly good (and free) breakfast buffet, and managed to check a big planning item off my list. So, I put the rest of my personal retreat on hold . . . because it’s mine and I can do that. And since I was feeling better, I decided to bookend the retreat with a movie, La La Land.

Just a couple of days later, my friend Katie came into town, and we got a group of girls together for brunch. I was feeling much better, so this was a welcome respite and mental break to some of the crazy that just happened.

PART 2:

I’d been emailing a bit with my aforementioned Tennessee friends, Daron and Margaret, and found out they had a long weekend for MLK Jr Day. So, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue my retreat now that the client work was finished, and I was originally supposed to start my retreat with them anyway! Plans made. Bags packed. Headed north. This was a great weekend! On the way to their house, I was able to meet up with two other friends, Amy and Rhonda, one of which I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Awesome start!

Then Saturday and Sunday were spent entirely with Daron, Margaret and their boys. It was fantastic to catch up with them, and see how much the boys have grown (4-years-old, and 2-years-old)! And Saturday night, they hired a babysitter, so just the three of us had great, quality time out on the town. We shared our words for the year (coming soon!), and oh so much more. The three of us always have great conversations, and it was a real life-giving experience, which we all needed. Sunday was mostly about relaxing, which was also needed by all of us.

Monday morning on my way out of town, I met another friend, Jana, for brunch in Nashville that I hadn’t seen in a year or so. Again, more great conversation. We even ran into a friend from our old church, so that was a fun surprise as well. So, overall, it was just an amazing weekend of nothing special and everything special, all at the same time. It put the “treat” in retreat. 🙂

PART 3:

This past week was full of completely unexpected gifts, which is why I’m considering it an extension of my planned retreat. It was already going to be a short week due to MLK Jr Day and returning from Tennessee. But it was packed full of goodness!

I did manage to get some work and planning done on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Wednesday night I had dinner with my friend Michelle, and our other friend, Rocio, whom neither of us had seen in years while she lived in Indonesia. Lots of laughing was involved!

Thursday, I attended an anti-trafficking conference put on by a local organization, which involved speakers from the FBI, Homeland Security, and other non-governmental orgs. (Notes coming soon.) While this may not sound very retreat-ish to you, it was for me. My mom once asked me how I could handle being around the terrible stats and stories that came with increased knowledge about trafficking and slavery. It is awful. But I told her, and still believe, that is how I know I’m called to it. Ever since I first heard about this issue in 2006, it has rooted itself deeply into my heart. So, while there is a lot of horrible-ness to it, I loved hearing success stories, being informed of laws are making it tougher for perpetrators (especially in Georgia), and meeting those on the front lines of this work. It was a great event.

Thursday night, my friend, Jen, and I attended a local networking event. These kinds of things aren’t usually our scene, for many of the same reasons you’d probably list, but Jen’s friend told her these are really low key and not insane or competitive. And she was right. This chapter nearby is just getting started, so there were only a handful of us at a local coffee shop, and we were able to hear from and encourage each other in our different work. It was nice.

Friday included my monthly chiropractic and massage appointment, so enough said there. Great way to end the week. And Friday night, another friend, Katrell, was in town, so I had dinner with her and our other friend, Stephanie. This included meeting Stephanie’s new baby, which was fun! He’s a keeper. Katrell and Stephanie are the friends I went to India with in 2015, and it’s been a few months since I’ve seen them. More good conversation, some baby talk, and figuring out what 2017 looks like for us. Of course, like many of you, most of my conversations have been focused on that topic over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, this also included an update that one of the girls in Katrell’s program has recently been tricked by her family and sold into marriage in India. It’s heartbreaking, and we are all hoping it doesn’t turn into a trafficking situation, which it easily could. We’re trying to get more information about the situation that’s going on thousands of miles away. Lots of praying there.

This morning I had coffee with Jen again, and was introduced to another freelancer, Robert. It was a time to meet in person, learn what projects we were all working on, and if there are ways to connect and encourage each other. I also stayed a few hours to catch up on the mound of emails in both my business and personal inbox that have been piling up over the past week. The rest of the day has pretty much involved catching up on Hulu and napping!

CONCLUSION:

So, despite some ups and downs, I had a very interesting personal retreat, and in some ways a very long one! It has also made for a super interesting January, and who knows where the year will go from here.

But there are a few things I am reminded of:

  1. Personal retreats are well worth the effort.
  2. I have amazing friends who keep me sane.
  3. Businesses are built on who you know.
  4. Flexibility is key!

I hope this encourages you to take a personal retreat! It may look very similar, or very different, for you, but the investment will pay off. I’m already looking forward to my next one! 😉

And if you’ve done one, let me know how it is or offer suggestions!

 


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My First Personal Retreat

me timeI’ve taken several vacations by myself, but New Year’s Day marked my first personal retreat. And it was time. Actually, it was way overdue.

At the end of last year, I was exhausted in every way, and had chosen RENEW as my word/theme for the year. I really wanted to cling to that word, but needed a catalyst to help get me there. So, I used some hotel points to get away. I knew if I stayed home I’d find too many distractions.

Rome, Georgia, ended up being the destination. And I was able to check in early and check out late, to maximize my stay. I had my computer, a few books, and a ready heart. (And, of course, a change of clothes.) I’d already been collecting resources that I wanted to work through, but as I predicted, ending up following a few rabbit trails, too.

My original intent was just to spend the night and fit in all my retreat activities into that 24 hour period. But I was tired and kept stumbling upon new resources so I ended up extending the retreat through the weekend, at home. Being able to focus at the hotel proved to be a great starting point, though. It gave me the energy and determination to keep up the work . . . but there may have been a pedicure and couple Netflix breaks. I mean, come on, we’re talking about 72 hours here. I’m not a monk.

These are the primary resources that I spent time with:

They are awesome, and I’d recommend any of them. They greatly enhanced my retreat, and I believe, came to me at just the right time.

There are also a few (hopefully) regular practices that came out of this weekend, which I believe will help to keep me RENEWed during the year. The first is The Five Minute Journal, mentioned above. I hate journaling, but this one was recommended on a podcast I listen to, and it sounded like something I could do. It’s just a couple bullet points to answer each morning and evening, and there is an introduction that shows the reasoning and science behind the questions. So far, even in my most groggy morning state, I’ve been able to keep up.

The second is meditation. I’ve tried it before, and failed miserably. My mind is constantly going 90 miles an hour! But like journaling, I know the benefits and want to reap them. I need to be able to clear my mind and listen in silence. That will do me a world of good. And meditation is one of those things that kept popping up around me in various ways at the end of the year, so I knew it was time to try again. The blog post mentioned above by Rick Warren also speaks in-depth to the practice. (Funny note: I have a book called The Will Power Instinct that I started several years ago. But the first chapter says that you have to be able to meditate for 10 minutes to continue the book in order to get the most out of it—so, yep, I’ve never finished. Maybe this is the year!)

The third is, well, to borrow another Rick Warren-ism, purposeful relaxation. The second half of that blog post was what I actually went online to find, and strangely, it was paired with meditation. I’d heard him speak on the topic before at a conference, and couldn’t remember exactly how it was phrased. I love the way he puts it: divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually. Honestly, it’s going to be hard. I’m a multi-tasker. But for me, one of the best ways to do this is to unplug for a while. I’m usually connected even when I travel, so there is usually a nagging feeling that something needs my attention. It’s going to be a hard lesson to learn, and hard to fit into life when there is always something pressing. However, as he notes, if Jesus felt the need to do it, I should too. So, I’m trying to weave more of this into my life.

And that’s it! That was my personal retreat. It was wonderful. Another lesson that came from this time was just how valuable it was, and that this is something I should continue however I can. I usually try and fit books and articles and podcasts into the busyness, but having this dedicated time for it, with a specific purpose in mind, was well, RENEWing.

The reality of life hit me hard just after my personal retreat. Of course it did. Of. Course. It. Did. And it was frustrating because I wanted to keep the good vibes going. Life was interrupting my zen! But I realized that I wouldn’t have been prepared for it without this retreat. So, it’s already served me well in ways I couldn’t predict, and I guess that’s just another reason I should continue.

First one down, hopefully many more to go.

 

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