As part of my 10-month certificate in Positive Psychology program, I spent one week at an in-house immersion at Kripalu in the Berkshires. As I packed for the event (mostly yoga pants, comfy tops and slip on shoes easy for taking on and off), I realized I had not been on my own for a full week since 1999 when I took a business trip by myself to Tokyo. I know this is a very long time ago, because my sister (God bless her heart) made me a mix tape (yes, tape) of enough music to get me through the 14- hour flight. Fortunately, my immersion was only 3 hours away and I listened to a book on tape that I downloaded onto my kindle and used blue tooth connection to listen to during the car-ride—wow things have changed in 16 years!
My kids are 14 and 12, good ages for a mom to leave for a week. They can now stay in the house alone. They can do their homework without assistance. They can get ready for school every morning without help. But a week without their mom reminded all of us of how capable they really are. My kids were either very respectful of my need for retreat or they really did not miss me all that much. I heard very little from them. Aside from my daughter’s tooth ache, need for credit card to purchase a shirt and sharing an idea through email about a summer travel program, my kids left me pretty much alone. Maybe they needed a break from me as much as I needed a break from them?
My husband also left me alone—but that may be because he was too busy to communicate. He took over my duties along with his own and ran the house seamlessly. I was not surprised at all. In fact, I imagine when I get home tomorrow the house is going to be much neater than it usually is when I am in charge.
Spending a week away from home has allowed me to recharge in a way that I could never have done at home with all the distractions that brings. In addition, being in an immersion environment, I am working hard learning about Positive Psychology and getting to know myself better. I am someone who is very connected with myself. I regularly journal, I do yoga, I see an amazing therapist and I take long walks with my dog where I think about my life. I read tons of books on personal growth and think about how they apply to my life. But nothing is as powerful as a week-long immersion.
Some aha moments for me were:
-I need to become a more active listener
-I need to assert myself more
-I need to dream big and not fear failure (or success for that matter)
-I need to reconnect with my yoga practice
-I want to find more opportunities to teach
-I am full of love and gratitude
-My constant effort to resist the lure of “busy-ness” is a by-product of my efforts to stay true to myself and to my values.
There were two wonderful results of my week immersion on my family.
First, my family now knows that I give our dog Ivy water every day. Yes, it is hard to believe, but my family did not know that I give the dog water every day. And can I blame them? I did it invisibly for three years. If we want our family to know things, we must inform them, we must teach them. Thank goodness my family now knows about this life-affirming chore—dogs (and all living things) need water every day!
Second: My husband lit the Chanukah candles with the kids since I was away during Chanukah. This felt like a miracle to me almost as much as the oil that lasted for eight days. While Gideon and I do not fall into traditional roles in every way around the house (Gideon is obsessed with running the dishwasher and I am the only one who knows how to fix our computer printer) we have established fairly rigid roles in the family after being married for 17 years. So religion has been assigned to me. Anything Jewish is mine. Yet, during Chanukah, Gideon took out the menorah, said the prayers with the kids and provided them with an awesome gift (so typical of him to totally outdo me on the gift!—tickets to a Nets game while I had given out books on the day I left). I don’t know how Gideon felt about leading Chanukah and I am not going to ask him because I know that will totally annoy him, but I am deeply grateful that he got out of his comfort zone and continued something important to me without my even asking. When we choose our life partner, isn’t this what we hope for?
I am filled with gratitude for my life and I did not necessarily need a week away to realize that, but some time alone never hurts. I go home tomorrow and I am feeling ready to reenter my home life with renewed vigor, purpose and love and appreciation for the life I have created with my family.
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