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Retreat — suzanne-mcrae.com


Last weekend I was excited, the time had arrived for my 5-day retreat. The excitement quickly dissipated though as anxiety started creeping in. I wasn’t anxious about leaving for 5 days or of leaving my family behind at home, and I certainly wasn’t afraid of being by myself. It took me a little while to figure it out, the anxiety I was feeling was about the amount of ‘stuff’ I seemed to have to bring with me. When in reality what I really wanted was less, not more.

I spent the better part of a day in the presence of this nasty anxiety that was not leaving me alone. No matter where I turned or what I did, it kept following me. It seemed to be a familiar feeling, one that I had experienced with procrastination just that past week.

I wanted these 5 days to be about being able to dis-connect from the busy-ness of every day life and just be more present. Instead I found myself packing lots of things to bring with me.

As I gathered everything ready to leave my husband had a smirk on his face. I felt frustrated enough and his smirk wasn’t helping me. Then I cracked up laughing at the size of the pile I had accumulated by the door. Needless to say it filled up the back of my SUV.

When I asked my husband about why it is that I can’t bring just the bare minimum with me, ever? He told me, ‘It’s because you have a hard time with letting go’. This feels so challenging for me. Yet for him on a 2-week vacation he might take one book… compared to me for 5 days, I took books, laptop, iPad (more books on there too), art supplies, journals, paints, canvas and so on. I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t get bored. I couldn’t let go, even though I knew this get away was about dis-connecting and resting.

Is it unrealistic?

I want what he has… the ease and ability to simply be.

Surely, I thought I could blame this on being hereditary since it would seem that I’m a lot like my mother that way. Always busy doing something or other and never bored but also rarely stopping to smell the roses and be present. But I know that it’s not about anyone else, or blaming anyone else… it’s all me about being able to choose what I truly want each and every moment of every day.

Now that I truly know what I don’t want… my next step is becoming more aware and making better choices a bit at a time that will help me to let go of everything that I don’t need so I can experience the present moment more often.

I have no doubt that it’s within that I want to go, that quiet place that I know will help me feel more peaceful. I’ve allowed myself this week to test the waters a little bit, but I get antsy very quickly. I feel like like I want to run. I feel like I’m tied down when I sit and do nothing. So I’ll do it in little spurts until one day I will have released most of the resistance and the extra baggage that I carry with me that can cause me so much anxiety… and then I will have tipped the scale towards Being and living more fully.

On Sunday my guys dropped me off at the cottage. I have a lovely place here on the river. The weather has been spectacular. And I’m getting a bit of a tan that’s something new for me. Since I arrived on Sunday I have observed a heron in the water that hasn’t moved at all. It’s standing still in the same place… and 3 days later the heron is still there. Now talk about being in the moment. I have something to learn from that heron. So off I go to sit on my deck and watch the heron being still for a while. 🙂

My heron messenger… lower centre of the photo.

What is life teaching you?

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  1. Dear Suzanne:
    I so understand. My SUV was full up on the way to and from my three week vacation. I packed too many clothes and came back with too many books. I too wish for the ability to be still and rest with less.
    <3 Tanya

    • Tanya, thanks for dropping by. Sounds like we are a lot alike with our packing skills. I’m happy to hear that you took a three week vacation. It’s always so nice to get away.

  2. I have an issue with letting go, as well, so I completely connected with this post. I didn’t think anything odd about the amount of items you took with you. That photograph makes perfect sense: some clothing (which you certainly need), some ways to make healthy juices (which you certainly need), beauty products (you may not need, but I do – lol), journals, crafts and books (need, the whole purpose of the retreat is to reconnect, and these items help you do that). Nothing wrong with what you packed! Looks like a lovely place to retreat!

    • Gabriella, you make me feel really good by telling me that I didn’t pack too much. Surprisingly I used quite a bit of everything except maybe the journals and craft stuff which I brought a little bit too much of. I probably could have brought just one good book.


  1. […] knew that a retreat would be what I needed to help me reconnect with that deeper part of myself that I wasn’t […]

  2. […] My eyes might have fooled me about the so-I-thought-it-was-a-heron at my retreat at the cottage all week standing still not moving… but I caught the real heron on camera […]

  3. […] this blog post you will find a visual of the things I saw last week while I was away at my retreat. What was to be a 5 day retreat turned into a 7 day get-away. On Thursday evening my husband came […]

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