Weekend Wellness

I woke Friday morning with a severe spike in my already considerable irritability. It was not long before I was angry and cursing aloud in front of the kids, which I’ve learned is a sign of rising anxiety for me. I sent off a quick email to a retreat center to see if they had any space. We have a babysitter helping us with childcare for now, so I left soon after she arrived, and went first to a yoga class, then to my regularly scheduled therapy appointment. I returned home better, though not feeling calm, and had almost forgotten about my inquiry to the retreat center. When I checked email at home, they’d replied and had a last minute cancellation at the hermitage, their private cabin for a solitary retreat. Figuring that the universe seemed to be answering my request, I said yes, then sent off a few emails and made some calls to alert friends that G. Grod would be on his own for the next 36 hours and could use some help with the boys.

My friend Becca recommended the ARC retreat center to me, and I will thank her forever for it. I’ve now gone twice, and it is a haven. The hermitage cabin has just what it needs and no more. Since I tend to anxious overdoing, I took way too much with me, but sorted things out when I got there.

Once I could think clearly, I realized what I did and didn’t need.

Did need: book, journal, fiction notebook.

Didn’t need: laptop, City Pages, two Entertainment Weekly’s, five books to review for the blog.

I also probably didn’t need any toiletries other than sunscreen, toothpaste and toothbrush. (And I would’ve liked to have fluoride-free toothpaste, since the cabin doesn’t have running water.)

The staff at ARC is wonderfully supportive, and the food they make is vegetarian, hearty, sustaining AND delicious. There was fresh bread at almost every meal, some wonderful gingered beets from a recipe in Sundays at Moosewood. I had a restorative 36 hours. During that time, I tried and succeeded at doing only one thing at a time; I didn’t multitask. I didn’t read while I ate (or in the outhouse). I also tried, and mostly succeeded, at not making a to-do list. I did one thing at a time, and allowed myself just one, “and then”. This worked surprisingly well, probably because I was in a tiny cabin in the woods by myself and chose to limit my options to: eating, sleeping, reading, journalling, novelling, and walking.

I have a huge crush on the book I took with me, that I finished this morning in between my first breakfast (yogurt with strawberry rhubarb sauce and granola, bread and butter, coffee with almond biscotti) and second breakfast (egg scramble with cheddar cheese and hummos). It’s Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

READ THIS BOOK. It’s funny, sad, honest and intelligent and it’s got some GREAT stuff on religion and spirituality. Gilbert is instantly accessible and empathetic. My only quibble (oh, I always have one, don’t I?) is Gilbert’s overuse of male pronouns for God. A little equal opportunity time for goddesses would have been lovely.

I came back this morning rested and with some little reserve that helped me to handle the boys screaming and poking and crying that has sporadically filled the day. I really needed to get away, and I’m so thankful and fortunate that I could do so. Thanks, G. Grod. Thanks, friends who helped G. Grod. Thanks again, Becca. Thanks, ARC staff. Thanks, whoever cancelled your hermitage reservation. Thanks, Liz Gilbert for writing an awesome spiritual memoir. Everybody rocks.

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