In the mid-seventies–as part of a radical move to simplify their lives–my parents hauled my four brothers and I from bustling San Antonio, TX to a remote area of Northern California. We lived in the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains near the Donner Pass. I rode our horses Bobbie and Pattie bareback, hiked over rocks and climbed trees barefoot, spent hours lounging in the sunny fields on my stomach writing poetry, daydreaming and enjoying the strong, clean smell of the Ponderosa pines.
But what I remember most from that period of my life was my relationship to time. It felt expansive, luxurious and endless. My brother and I would disappear into the forests for hours with nary a watch in site. No one called for us and no one bothered us. We had space to be, to explore and to follow our whims, wherever they took us. (At the time we attended a Waldorf school, so lucky us-no homework!)
This weekend, after a month of non-stop weekend activity, my family finally enjoyed a quiet, restful two-day respite. (I had to actually “plan” and fiercely guard this unscheduled weekend to make it happen; our only “have to” was an hour-long soccer game on Saturday.)
The break illuminated for me how essential it is for all of us to have expanses of time to do nothing. To do less so we can experience more (the title of one of the chapters in my new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Experience Peace in Everyday Life-New World Library 2013).
It seems crazy that we would have to fight off invitations, obligations, family and friend requests and distractions in order to “claim” this downtime for our family– which we so desperately needed in order to “reset.” To recalibrate. To pull back and remember what matters most.
Shouldn’t it be a given that we have time to rest? Isn’t this the most important thing we should be doing during our weekends, anyway (my yoga teacher says our job is to “do nothing–and then rest”)?
I have a cellular memory for how it felt as an eleven year-old to languish outdoors with my brothers in nature during our California sojourn. Now the question is how do I gift that same feeling to my son and reclaim it for myself?
Invitation: One of the biggest “resets” for me is to attend a beautiful guided retreat with someone who is masterful at creating an experience that offers group time, nature time AND solo time. I’d love to have you join me April 27-29 at Esalen in Big Sur, CA or June 22-24 at Kripalu in the MA Berkshire mountains. The retreats are almost full; learn more here
P.S. In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re giving away a Yummy Mummy Year of Self-Care package, which includes an all expenses paid trip to my Kripalu retreat (a $2500 value). Learn more.
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Photo: One of the places I reset or recalibrate is Barton Springs in Austin. This photo was taken last summer; I can’t wait for my annual baptism-into-summer dive this May!