Thursday, January 18th, 2018
Feeling stuck, lost, or confused with any aspect in your life? I have discovered the cure: Kids and a Retreat (obviously separate events…).
I was fortunate enough to babysit Claire Bear for a few days and IT WAS THE BEST TIME EVER. I honestly get a lump in my throat while thinking of her because I love her so much! Who knew a teeny little two-year old could have such a tug at my heart? First of all, she’s adorable. Proof:
But not only is she adorable on the outside, her personality is precious. Her whole body tenses up with excitement when we play hide and seek, watch Frozen, or sit down to read a book. She pronounces pillow as “pillilow” and I almost thought she was saying a bad word when she asked for a fruit snack (“fwoo fak”). She loves to color and whenever she comes across the white crayon she holds it up and says, “Thisonesnotworkingthisonesnotworkingthisonesnotworking. It break!” She gets so proud when she makes a triangle out of her hands – then makes the triangle smaller and says, “Baby triangle!” She loves Dozy Bear and she loves being held (“Hold you! Hold you!”). She is not a fan of baths, but she is a fan of yoga and cheese. Atta girl…
I’m still technically unemployed and sometimes when I think about it, I tense up out of stress and start internally panicking. “I need to find a job quickly so I can start making money! People think I’m lazy! I need to figure out where I’m going to live!” Being unemployed certainly isn’t ideal, but I want to make sure that whatever I do next is the right thing, you know? I’m so happy I’m able to take my time, keep soul-searching, and carve my path. My hope is to find a way to make an income while doing something that I love. What a concept, right?! It seems like so many people are unhappy with their jobs and that marrying the two (income + passion) isn’t possible. That’s what we’ve been taught. Work during the week, live on the weekends… Maybe I’m an idiot and should start applying to all jobs I can find on LinkedIn.com – but right now, I’m so enjoying this freedom and I’m crossing my fingers that the right thing will come along. I have so many ideas of what I could do, so I’m working on narrowing it all down. Time will tell…
So here I am, 30 years old, figuring out my life and trying to not to let the uncertainty overwhelm me. So many questions – so many options – so many paths I could take. …And then I get to play with Claire Bear and she wants me to make some ice cream for her. She sits in front of the ‘counter’ and stares at all of the options available and takes some time to decide. I feel it, Claire. Tough decisions. Remember when the hardest decision in our life was which flavor of ice cream we were going to devour? Maybe we need to look at our decisions as an adult in a different way. Follow the gut.
Claire ended up choosing a chocolate cone, strawberry ice cream, and chocolate syrup. Solid combo. I could go on and on and on and on about the things I love about Claire and how much she is teaching me. One of the greatest gifts she is giving me is a return to childhood. Memories of my childhood are coming back and when I’m with her, I get to be a kid again. I keep wondering if what ‘I’m supposed to do‘ as a grownup has something to do with kids. Something’s telling me that would be a flavor of ice cream that I’d end up loving…
After spending a few days with Claire Bear, I headed to a cabin in Leavenworth for a “Silent Retreat.” I’ve looked into several silent retreats before, but they are very expensive and they are a bit more precise with their expectations (zero speaking, no writing, no music, 100% silence). I decided to have my own retreat and the main challenge was unplugging my phone for 3 days straight. Not even checking my messages at the end of each night.
If you’re reading this now: GO ON A RETREAT AND UNPLUG. Seriously. It is the best and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Do it. Do it. Do it.
The last time I was going to truly unplug was in Bali for 5 days. The first day I turned off my phone, well that’s when the earthquakes began, which started my fear and stopped my freedom. I think the last time I had unplugged for a significant amount of time was at Priest Lake, Summer of 2016. I was long overdue.
For my retreat, I brought a bag full of books, journals, delicious food, and tea. I turned my phone on airplane mode and began my new sense of freedom. I was still in the habit of checking my phone ever 5 minutes, so I put it in a drawer and committed to only using it for photos. Then it was 3 days of bliss.
The cabin is secluded on a snowy road, surrounded by trees, and has huge windows that allow a flood of natural light to shine in. My favorite part of the cabin is the fireplace – I had a natural fire burning almost the entire time – I truly don’t think I love anything more than the sound and smell of a real fire.
Each day, I journaled and read for hours. But that’s something I frequently do. What was even better about having a retreat like this is you can do whatever the heck you want. Did I sing at the top of my lungs? Sure did. Did I have multiple dance parties? Without a doubt. Did I feel like a teenager without a care in the world? Thank goodness, yes. There was no one to judge and I could be completely myself. I remember thinking as I put on my striped sweatshirt while I was wearing my tie-dyed pants, “If I wore this in public, people would think I’m nuts!” But I didn’t care – they were mismatched, but comfy as hell. I could listen to whatever music, watch any movies, and eat whatever I wanted. So did I make pancakes for dinner? Yup.
The best part of a retreat like this is that you lose track of time. I remember feeling like my entire world in those moments was right in front of me. Only Me. Always Now. Complete Freedom.
There were a few times I alllllllmost turned my phone back on, though. I had been disconnected from ‘reality’ for a couple of days and for some silly reason I kept wondering if something was wrong. “What if something bad happened and no one is able to let me know?” I came so so close to connecting again, but then I told myself that if I got back into service, it would stop the intention of this retreat. I had set out to last until 5:55pm Monday night, and I reminded myself of this goal. Maybe something did happen, but it’s okay if I go one more day without knowing. Besides, there was a greater chance that all was fine in the outside world. So, not surprisingly, when I did finally turn my phone back on Monday night, all was good. There was no reason to worry.
I can’t express enough how good this was for my soul. Maybe I didn’t come out of it with a concise gameplan for my future, but I became completely centered and that’s even more important. I took the long way home (Highway 2 is so beautiful!!) and have been so calm and happy. Nothing can really bring me down at this point [knock on wood].
Even the past few days since I’ve returned from babysitting and my retreat, I’ve felt so…..at peace. I am now in California staying with my cousin and his family for a while. I can’t wait to see what pops up while I’m here. Going with the flow like usual and maintaining my sense of peace…and child-like imagination.
We’re all dreamers… Sometimes we have ice cream to choose or bills to pay, but we can always return to our daydream. When Claire makes us coffee with her playset, she is truly, without a doubt, making coffee. Dozy Bear is as real to her as the string cheese she eats every day. Imagination is a lot more fun than reality, so why do we stop visiting Neverland when we get older? Who knows? Maybe things we imagine can one day show up in real life.
Thank you, Claire, for inviting me back into my childhood. When I remember the world I created as a little girl, I feel all warm and fuzzy. Maybe I’m not a real-life mermaid, but when I snorkeled in Bali, I kept saying that I felt like one. When I was under water and swimming through the prettiest coral reef with rainbow fish, my imagination was right in front of me. If you take a few minutes now to be silent, think back to being a kid again and what you used to imagine – how does it make you feel?
So there it is, the cure. Time with kids and time to reconnect with your inner child. Life is meant to be fun and the world is our playground. Don’t get stuck in timeout before you’re out of time.
We’re all kids at heart – anything is possible. If you don’t believe it, just ask a kiddo.
So…what’s your daydream?