This is my retreat report for Dec 27, 2014 to Jan 1, 2015. My fifth one, actually.
I know I don’t actually have to make a “report” to anybody.
I am not even sure if anybody cares, but I will just keep sharing about my personal retreats as inspired. Wink.
My Day-by-day Account
Fri Dec 26 – I went dancing with two of my girl friends till the early morning of Dec 27. Earlier in the evening, I had an unusual stomache which I suspected was due to minor food poisoning.
Sat Dec 27 – I realised I might have caught a sore throat. In denial. Got up at 11a.m. Begun some major spring cleaning. Went for a 2p.m. facial. Dropped off my recycling upon my return. Sorted through my namecards and sent out numerous emails. I wrote down a few things which I would like to accomplish through the one-week, recognising from past experience that time would fly by if I didn’t set some intentions.
What turned out to be an ambitious plan included:
- Exercise – 1 hour per day
- Read – 1 hour per day
- Write – 1 hour per day
- Edit videos – 1 hour per day
- Do nothing – 1 hour per day
- Meditate – 1/2 hour per day
- Study – 1 hour per day
- Sit at/ near the grass at Zhongshan Park everyday (about 10-minute walk away)
Calculating the hours, I realised that would already be a full-day’s “work”. As the day come to a close, I went to Zhongshan Park – and read on a bench near the grass. I wanted to draw out a checklist similar to what I mentioned in this video, but I didn’t get around to it… because I fell sick.
Sun 28 Dec – Flu at its worst. Slept and read. Struggled through editing my videos most of the day. Either that or sleep even more. Did not make it to Zhongshan Park. Slept early.
Mon 29 Dec – Went to the gym and did only simple exercises. Ate breakfast at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) only to realise there was a heavy downpour. I sat and did some envisioning at Coffee Bean at TTSH. Small luxuries. The rain started up as I was walking home. The rain managed to get me, I thought.
I wrote an article for Feb issue of Ezyhealth Singapore because I realised after receiving an email from the Editor that it was due! It’s not fair, I whined inside as I worked on it, I’m sick and on my retreat. But a deadline is a deadline, and it’s entirely my fault for having forgotten about it. Fortunately I finished it miraculously quickly.
I spent most of the remaining day on my website:
- Posting the happy announcement about becoming a columnist with Elephant Journal
- Posting my numerous 2015 events
- Publishing testimonials received
- Designing and scheduling e-mailers to my mailing list
I know. My retreat was beginning to look like, and sound a lot like work – except I’m doing it with less of the daily interruptions and more in flow. That evening, I set off towards Zhongshan Park only for rain to start. I had no umbrella and turned back.
I received confirmation that I am scheduled to speak at a lunchtime talk at Singapore Management University (SMU) on Wed 28 Jan. The entire structure of my speech came to me in a dream – in the form of a download. I am setting the intent that the way I make the speech turns out the way I dreamt of.
Tues 30 Dec – Could not sleep due to a hives attack and wrote this piece instead till 4 a.m. Did not go to the gym.
With the worst of my flu over, I went to my office to collect my library books, and then to the library nearby to borrow even more books. Upon my return, I was literally on my way to Zhongshan Park when it started to rain again. I turned back for a second time. There must be some kind of joke, I thought. Spent a long time looking at rental prices and units online as my lease would be up by Feb 20.
Wed 31 Dec – Last day of 2014. Seemed as if sore throat was returning. Went to the gym. Did light walking on the treadmill. Received lots of emails and texts from friends and clients through the day. On a stroke of inspiration, I pulled together all my testimonials received from my Vaginismus clients here and reshared on my social media channels.
I received texts (I was not picking up any calls) from a producer of a Mandarin documentary (I already did a three-hour shoot with them on Dec 26). We proceeded to speak and he asked if I could do filming on Fri 2 Jan. Unbeknownst to most people, a half-hour documentary would need three to four days of filming. I am still on my retreat, I protested weakly. Well, what other dates did I have? I didn’t have many available dates upon my return, and I definitely did not want to give up any of my possible client slots. I decided there and then to cut my one-week retreat one day short.
There are times when exceptions to the rules we set ourselves need to be broken because there are bigger things at stake. This was not about me being featured on T.V. but rather about being considerate of the time schedule of at least three other people. I could be angry about the unanticipated disruption or be grateful for the time I’ve already had to rest.
After the call, I start out to Zhongshan Park when I realised it was drizzling again. I decided to take my chances and not to turn back (this would be my third attempt over three days). Fortunately the rain did stop, and I read under a dry bench sheltered by a big tree. Pure joy. Brought some groceries. Organised my electronic files on my hard disks. Edited more videos. Answered a set of media questions from Men’s Health Malaysia. Wrote one article and submitted three more onto Elephant Journal.
Thurs 1 Jan – I woke up with a sad realisation that this would be the last day of my retreat. Rather than remain sad, I dug deeper and asked myself: What do I need to do on the last day of my retreat to feel complete? I felt a calm come upon me – there’d be other days.
Gym. Upon my return, I edited one article, and wrote another for Elephant Journal. Visited my parents. Was grateful to receive a lift (my first) back from my younger brother. Went to Zhongshan Park – read and did some envisioning. Felt inspired. Was posed a set of reflection questions and decided to answer them here.
There is one thing I have not mentioned anywhere yet, and that is: I ended up fasting each day. I realised that I went for periods of 24 hours without food – having one or two meals consecutively instead. That’s one eat a day for the last six days.
I did not set out to fast (derive myself of food), but I didn’t feel like eating anyway – being ill. Next, I didn’t want to interrupt whatever I was working on – being in flow. In the end, transcending food (physical) helped me in going deeper within in some degree. Fasting actually felt good, not a deprivation, and something I like to do more of in future retreats.
I never did draw up a checklist because I fell ill. It is perhaps my body’s way of wanting a through rest. I recognise that if I hadn’t been unwell, I would have pushed myself hard to accomplish this or that – even during my retreat. Being the human that I am, the art of doing nothing still eluded me. There really is no point having the retreat I mapped out, when it was not what I needed. In the end, I choose to trust that it was the perfect retreat for me.
I am happy with the two pieces I wrote from scratch this retreat here and here (three, if you include this one). I published three other blog posts during my retreat – here, here and here. By the time you read this, some other blog posts would be saved in draft form.
This is my scorecard of sorts:
- Exercise – Three times
- Read – More than seven hours
- Write – More than seven hours
- Edit videos – More than seven hours
- Do nothing – Slept and lazed in bed a lot
- Meditate – 1/2 hour per day in some form or another
- Study – Not much
- Sit at/ near the grass at Zhongshan Park -Three of six days due to rain
The Chinese have a saying, “Rest so as to continue on your journey.” Life is a journey. Not a race. It’s necessary to take time outs. I’ve scheduled the remaining retreats of the year. It is important to continue to honour myself.
I am grateful. I am complete.
When was the last time you took time off just for yourself, by yourself? And did you feel nurtured and fed as a result of it? I know far too many people who feel a longing to get away, only to feel even more stressed out by the many things they feel compelled to accomplish. They often feel a need to have a holiday from the holiday they just think they had.
I like to invite you to read my posts from my 4th retreat here:
How my book came to be here.
- How I overcame my fear of cats here.
- Chakra Dance – Because dance is healing here.
- How I rediscovered my love for the rain here.
- Reflections on Emma Watson’s speech on the F-word here.
- What’s in the groceries bag of an Eco-sexual here?
- Find out why I cried on the bus on my way up to K.L. here.
- Why I am on my 4th week-long retreat here.
If you liked this post, please leave your comments on Facebook and Twitter and in the meantime, keep loving, live life fully and stay lovely!
Who is Martha?
Dr. Martha Tara Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching. She is a certified sexologist with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality. She provides sexuality and relationship coaching for individuals and couples, conducts sexual education workshops and speaks at public events. She is the author of the book Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, and the host of the weekly radio show Eros Evolution on OMTimes Radio. For more, visit www.ErosCoaching.com or email email@example.com.
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