A Retreat in the Woods

I recently took off on a solo retreat that, for me, was pretty momentous. It was the first time in my life when I vacationed alone without attending a work conference or visiting family. As a parent, it’s always hard to justify stepping away, but I really needed a break (and was lucky that my family understood and supported that).

So I packed my bags and headed over to the Olympic Peninsula for what I hoped would be a restorative weekend. The first day was a bit hectic and involved a lot of driving around (I got to see my therapist in person, and get a fantastic massage from a friend of hers!), so by the first evening I was glad to check into my tiny house and curl up with a book in the loft bedroom.

deck of the tiny house in the woods with a bright-green shade stretched over two lawn chairs and a fire pit

The next day was spent wandering in the woods, journaling, cooking, reading, meditating, and even doing yoga on an outdoor deck overlooking a fern-obscured creek.

wooden patio overlooking a fern-covered gulch

Naturally, I had come into the weekend with tons of ideas of things I could write about and work on, but I only ended up doing a fraction of these. And though I was trying to be open to whatever the experience was going to be, at times I was a teensy bit… disappointed? I had been building up a lot of expectations in my mind, and I wanted to just go with the flow and follow my intuition about how to spend my time… yet I found myself journaling what was essentially a to-do list! Haha, obviously it’s going to take more than one weekend to get me to really slow down.

a string of lightbulbs inside a wood-ceilinged kitchen

Honestly, though, the most profound thing about the whole weekend had nothing to do with what I did (or didn’t do). The real treasure was having the time and space to settle into my skin and just be with myself.

Two years ago, I would have been terrified at the idea of spending a weekend alone in the woods, because I hated being me, hated being stuck inside a mind that was often fixated on destroying itself, and I was afraid of what I might do if I was away from the presence of my loved ones. 

cloudy skies, distant hills, and a log-strewn beach

But after a couple years of good therapy, hard work, and inner growth, I’m in a completely different mindset now. I plan to devote some time on the blog to going into more detail about this, because I’m still completely awestruck at the changes that can occur when we dig deep down and deal with issues that have been haunting us our whole lives.

a pinecone containing tiny white mushrooms growing out of the cracks being held up by a hand

So, this getaway was an opportunity to celebrate just how far I’ve come. What a miracle it is to simply enjoy being around myself! 

a bottle of prosecco next to a golden chalice, with a blue-and-white striped napkin in the foreground, upon which sits two slices of baguette and two pomegranate wedges

When I checked into my Airbnb, a bottle of chilled Prosecco was waiting for me on the coffee table. So the next day I headed into the woods with it in my pack (along with a baguette, some herbed cashew cheese, and a few wedges of pomegranate). I hiked until I found a nice flat clearing and unpacked my feast. I popped open that Prosecco and toasted myself. Here’s to making it through. Here’s to finding healing on the other side.