While January seemed all get up and go in positive directions, February was more of an emotional arse kicking.
The month started with a semi solo retreat. This sounds lovely, although I never really gave much thought to what a solo retreat looks like. But if I had, the reality of my adventure was nothing like I would have imagined it to be.
When I bought my ticket, all I was thinking was that I’d never gone on a solo fun trip since having kids, if ever. I’d gone on a couple of solo work trips in the recent years, and those were fantastic~ but for personal trips, I always had my kids, partner or a friend along.
I might not have considered doing it at all except for a couple of things.
My Girl Child had just just bought herself a ticket to go to Italy with a friend, which made me think that if my kids are old enough to go on trips without me, then they’re old enough for me to do the same.
The big thing that sent me packing though was a surprise escrow refund check that showed up in my mailbox right after I had seen an awesome deal on airfare on Travelzoo. It was just enough to cover my single ticket.
So, I figured it would be fun and good for me, and that the universe wanted me to go all by my big girl self.
Now, I’ve done enough adventuring to realize that knowing and liking your traveling companions is one of the most important things a person can do to make sure you enjoy a trip.
But when your only traveling companion is yourself, well….that brings up all kinds of stuff.
Somehow that never crossed my mind when I decided to buy my cheap ticket and use up a bunch of vacation days that a solo trip meant spending a whole lotta time with myself. I suppose the introspection was good, and I certainly had plenty to think about.
The complexities actually started before I even got off the ground. I was a bit giddy when I bought the ticket, but as the days got closer to going, difficulties began to creep up.
Getting a ride to the airport, getting any sleep, getting through traffic and airport security~ they were all friggen hard~ a lot harder than I expected. My bags were rifled through, my glasses misplaced and I was excruciatingly tired. I’m pretty sure my mental faculties were only functioning marginally.
But I had an island to see and an old friend picking me up and warm beaches awaited, so I kept going through hoops and metal detectors and customer service people who were not authorized to be very helpful.
It wasn’t entirely easy when I landed either, but it was all very worth it.
I got to go to a lovely tropical paradise, and stay for free in the home of my dear friend, to love up some kids who needed it and to hopefully be somewhat helpful during some hard and uncomfortable situations.
I saw sea turtles and swam in warm salt waters, played with a puppy, hiked in a forest, watched sunsets, laughed with children, and cried with my friend.
I also did a lot of witnessing of people in painful transitions who were hurt and in some cases very angry. Witnessing is excruciatingly hard for me and I felt helpless and heartbroken and powerless to make anything better, no matter how much I wanted to.
So, did the only things I could think of~ I made food and I made jokes.
A friend once mentioned the dangers of teaching children to soothe emotions with food, and I do suppose that’s valid, but if the only comfort I can offer is to make nachos or buy an island style pizza cooked in a brick oven on wheels, then I’m going to do what I can and trust they will at least have happy and full bellies and be able to figure out the complexities later.
The same goes for jokes, of which mine are sometimes ill timed and sarcastic, but I’m a firm believer that if there’s a choice between laughter and tears, I’m going to choose the laughs, even if they are a bit on the inappropriate side.
I wrote a lot in the 9 days I was away, and painted and drew as well. But I left my laptop at home to avoid carrying it, so all of this creativity was done in my journal, which is just as well because it was raw and personal processing.
So, that was the start of why I didn’t post anything, and when I got home, well life just kept coming and coming. My household grew, which is a story for another time. All of that introspection and thinking I’d been through had me feeling over analytical (even for me) and semi self critical, which isn’t exactly an inspiring way to go about putting your words into the world.
Plus, I was still tired. Happy, but tired.
All that retreating left me retreating more into myself and so I put posting anything on the back burner.
But the month is almost over, and I’m over it with the over thinking as well. I’m just going to be gentle with myself and hit publish, and hope this lands where it is supposed to. Maybe it will even resonate with someone.
I’m not sure what my next retreat will look like, but since I never would have imagined what this one looked like, that’s probably ok. I didn’t know it would take so much out of me, but it also gave me a lot in return.
There are probably some metaphorical life lessons in how hard the whole thing was, but I'm still too mentally taxed to connect it all together and have any epiphanies.
A couple of things I do know for sure... If I had to deal with emotional intensities, I’m thankful it was at least in a beautiful place. And I’m oh so thankful for the people I have to share this journey with.
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Here’s to hoping March will bring beautiful new beginnings along with spring.