Claiming Space, Naming Intentions
Two weeks ago, as calendars flipped from August to September and many of us (in this hemisphere, at any rate) readied for fall clothes and back to school schedules, I took a two-night retreat away from home and family. I didn’t travel too far–just under an hour away–but I made sure the little cottage I rented via AirBnB was private and off the beaten path.
I’m not going to use words like “indulge” or “deserve” when I talk about this self-designed retreat, and I hope that others see the logic behind that. The myth of the meritocracy (as Jenn Armbrust might put it), would have us believe that in order to “earn” something like two days away, we have to work tirelessly and to a near point of exhaustion. I insist upon the opposite. That is, in order to function sustainably in my life as an author, teacher, business owner, mother, spouse, friend, daughter, and more…I need to claim space and name intentions that are in alignment with my values, in order to be the best person that I can be in these various roles.
Regarding my business, which contains both my practice as a creative writer and my work providing transformative mentorship curricula for writers, the space I claimed on this retreat had everything to do with shifting focus away from registration and towards delivering what I promise. Once I crunched the numbers for my fall programs, instituted a few new systems (like Harvest) into my operating procedures, and debriefed the annual calendar with Maximum Impact’s project manager, I was ready to name my intentions for the next season.
Being in a private space with full permission to listen to my body, mind, and spirit, I felt powerful clarity about those intensions. While some things in life work well with the “first thought / best thought” mantra, other acts require slow, patient listening. When I slowed down enough to really listen to my needs and aspirations, it became easy to state my intentions for the rest of 2018:
- Spend 2 hours on my creative writing each morning that River is in childcare (he attends a woodland preschool program T-F 8:30am-12:30pm)
- Spend River’s 1 hour naps on my most immediate business needs (email is not immediate; corresponding with my 6 Monthly Mentees and my project manager is immediate and that comes first)
- Use Monday afternoons, when River is with his Nana, for business tasks and management.
When I returned from my retreat, it might have been easy to feel overwhelmed. Instead, I stuck to my list of intentions and began slowly “ploughing the ground” to assure success. I set a few essential but minimal items in the Airstream for my creative writing time, including my MacBook Air, and programmed the Wi-Fi settings to OFF. I started the search for backup childcare for those dates that my mother is away or River’s preschool is on vacation. I shared my intensions with my spouse, naming them and feeling volleyed by his support and endorsement of my choices.