By Julie Seedorf
I had my week planned. I was cat sitting my grandkitties, and I would be alone the entire week. My plan was to write, write and write some more and finish my next book.
I arrived at my daughter’s house on Sunday after coming back from my son’s house and his wedding in Iowa. That meant we had traveled for hours. I left my husband at home so he could get ready for a few days fishing up north and then I proceeded north myself to cat sit.
I was ready. After my daughter and her husband left for the airport at 5:30 a.m. I went back to bed intending to get a few more hours sleep. I did wake up again at 8 o’clock and had no energy to pursue anything but laying on the couch, reading and watching television and taking a nap. The only thing I did that day was feed the cats, change the litter box and scrounge in the fridge for food, being too lazy to go to the grocery store. I was tired. I was detailed out.
The next morning I woke up somewhat more energized. I made it to the grocery store and stocked up on food for a few days. When I got back to my grandkitties, I again sat on the couch and read a book. I would write later in the day. Their couch is very comfy and again I took a nap.
By Wednesday I figured out I needed the time to rest. I needed a week away from noise, looking at all the repairs and housework that was needed at my house, and away from the noise of social media and the all the details of my life.
We don’t think of all the details we take care of on a daily basis that exhaust us emotionally and physically. For me that means interacting on social media, writing, cleaning, taking care of my outside plants, washing dishes, cleaning toilets and sending cards to those who have died and have birthdays and are sick. It means cleaning litter boxes and feeding cats and buying groceries. It means remembering all my grandchildren’s birthdays and kid’s birthdays and finding the appropriate presents. It means paying bills, figuring my meager checkbook and keeping track of schedules.
My social media schedule includes everyday interacting with my readers and other authors via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other sites. It means promoting my books, scheduling interviews, doing interviews, writing guest blog posts, writing my own blog, keeping up with my website and doing promotion for another business and keeping my Amazon author page up to date. It also means reading books by other authors whose books aren’t out yet. We read our friends work to make sure it makes sense before it is published or if it needs a short blurb for the cover. We all share our work so we can make it the very best.
Details rule my life, and because there are so many my old head spins round and round. You might tell me that is my own choosing, and it is. It is now my career and all that comes with it, and I do love my career. It is my dream job. But I realized I was tired and needed to rest instead of write so my brain could churn out creativity again.
My planned writing retreat became a solitary time to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. I saw a quote on the day I was to begin my solitary week and it said: “If you want to be strong learn to enjoy being alone.”
As an only child, I didn’t like being alone. I always surrounded myself with friends. As an adult, I didn’t like going anywhere alone and I always made sure I had someone with me. Alone by myself was not a place I liked to be. As I grow older, I find that I like being with myself from time to time. As a young adult, I think my fear of being alone was because alone I might have to contemplate my life — who I was and whether I liked myself. It was easier to be in the noise than to look at myself and the qualities I didn’t like or look at what was happening in my life that I didn’t want to face. And I felt weak alone.
Last summer I spent three weeks cat sitting with my grandcats, and I learned many things about myself. I don’t mind spending time with me or taking a retreat by myself. I can shed off the details and rest and reflect. I can eat when I want to eat, sleep when I want to sleep and write, paint or go out and learn a new craft. I can wallow in reading or television or take a solitary walk and enjoy nature. I become in touch with me again because I get lost in the details of life during the year. I knew it was something I had to do again and was excited when given the chance to do it this year again.
On my “me” fweek this year, I did manage to write but it was late at night. When the urge hit I could pick up my computer and pound away and not disturb anyone. I could sleep in and know no one would be coming to the door and I wouldn’t be disturbed by the phone or others in the house. I could drink a glass of wine in the morning on the porch and have a cup of coffee in the evening and stay up late watching the strawberry moon. I was free to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.
Now I am ready to be back in the real world with others and hopefully I will be a better person to be around because I have again become in touch with me.
If you get a chance I would recommend a solitary retreat to everyone. It might change your life.