Retreating

Thursday, July 21, 2016



First, there was this.

I looked around my office, and realized the majority of things/activities/projects/stuff in my life falls into one of four categories (with some exception).

  1. Reading (books, kindle, magazines, PDFs)
  2. Writing (more books, lots of half-done outlines, research materials, letters)
  3. Art (supplies, projects, books, UFOs, a ton of pens and journals)
  4.  Wandering.  (adventure gear, MORE books, guides)
Earlier this year, I started looking at what I actually do, vs. what I want to do, and got rid of a bunch of stuff that was mostly aspirational.  (That process continues apace, as I find things I'm just not as into as I thought I might be.  Discernment: it's a gift.)

And I realized that I tend to hold onto things out of a preternatural fear of being bored.  (Because that'll ever happen, right?  I can't remember the last time I sat around thinking I'm bored.  Life's got too many possibilities for that to ever happen.)  I also tend to not do all the things I want to do out of some kind of fear that if I do THAT thing, I won't be doing THE OTHER thing.  Moreover, if I try to do THE OTHER thing, I feel guilt for not doing the first thing.

It's a self-perpetuating cycle of crazy, really.

So I decided to try something different.


(Who was it that said that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?  That.)

I decided, kind of off-the-cuff, to do weeklong retreats.  A week of just reading.  A week of just writing.  A week of making all the art.  A week of adventuring.

A week seems like enough time to really dig into each category and to actually see some progress, without seeming like so much time that I'm abandoning the other categories.  I'm just focusing on one thing at a time for a longer period of time.  Doing activities in the category, varied enough to be interesting.

This first set of weeks are kind of exploratory, seeing how much I can do when I'm not worried I'm abandoning other things.  Trying to answer just how many books can I read in a week, or how many words can I write, or how many journal pages/canvases can I finish?  Because I've taken such a scattershot/follow-the-motivation approach so far, I don't really know yet.  They're valuable questions to ask.


This week has been my first reading week.

I didn't really theme it, though I plan to in later rounds.  (Fiction, non-fiction, just one topic, just one category, that kind of thing.)  I just grabbed a big stack of fiction off my shelves that I knew I only would want to read once before passing on.  (A Little Free Library opened near here, and I like feeding the shelves with books, since most of my fiction isn't suitable for buy-back at used bookstores, but are too good to just dump somewhere.)

I had 23 in my stack.  Ended up not staying completely on-stack (a few audio books, a few kindle books slipped in there, and I decimated my children's books collection to make room on the shelves, too), but found that it's probably realistic to assume a book a day is possible.  (If I finish the last two I'm reading now, I'll end the week with an even 20 read, but that includes a spate of kids' books that were literally only fifteen-minute reads.  I read all the time, finishing library books and kindle books I'd started and even a fair chunk of that stack up there.

While I've been tracking the titles on Goodreads and Facebook, I thought I'd make a quick record here, too, since this next week is a writing week and I'm probably going to end up spamming my blog with snippets and exercises and prompt-writing, just to keep it all in one place.  (Art week'll be pretty visual, too, I'm sure.)

If everything goes according to plan, I'll have six rounds of each category during the rest of 2016.

Granted, nothing ever really goes according to plan, and inevitably, something'll come up, because those somethings are real bastards when you have plans made.  But if I stick generally to the plan, I'll end 2016 with clearer shelves, lots of finished works, more than a few adventures, and a pretty big feeling of accomplishment.  I'm kind of excited about that, really.

Up there in the menu bar, I'm adding a category called RETREATS, which I'm going to try to use as indices for the weeks.  My booklists (even the cheezy, embarrassing stuff I read sometimes'll be there, because I'm not all that highbrow with my book choices sometimes....), writing posts, art posts, adventure stuff -- I'm going to try to keep them organized that way.  I'll link to sources and stuff whenever I can, and update that whenever I can.  (I'm lumping blog organization in with writing weeks, so it may get updated most often during those weeks.)

Let the experiment continue. :)






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© G O * E X P L O R I N G Maira Gall.