I decided to make a five day retreat, beginning today, at home. I’m not exactly sure what that means in 2022, yet with our child in Chicago, and my spouse in Des Moines, it’s just me here in Big Grove. It is telling the first thing I did when alone was to create structure.
When I went on a retreat in high school, a bunch of us boys crowded into one of the Saint Ambrose College dormitories for an overnight. The key takeaway had little to do with religion. A couple of classmates filched whisky and dandelion wine from their parents’ liquor cabinet and brought it. While I didn’t drink any, the main point of the weekend was doing what our parents wouldn’t let us. Priests supervised us, but, you know, post Vatican II.
A few things are determined the next few days. For one, I’m changing my morning schedule. Instead of making coffee and heading to my writing desk immediately after waking, I plan to work in the kitchen. With only me in the house, I can make as much noise as I like, when I like, without worrying about disturbing someone. I can turn the radio volume up.
After kitchen work will be reading, the usual minimum of 25 pages per day. The book I’m reading is good, so likely more than that. During the snow storm, clearing the driveway will be important. It’s easier if I blow it a couple of inches at a time, multiple times a day, instead of waiting for it all to accumulate. All these activities are intended to restart old habits, develop new ones, and provide fresh perspective. After “morning chores” the day begins. After today’s regimen I got a lot accomplished by 9 a.m.
While bunkered in during the blizzard I’ll pay more attention to food preparation. There are plenty of provisions and an open book on how much hot pepper I can use in cooking. No fancy dishes, just personal favorites on the spicy side made with butter, eggs and other dairy products.
Dinner was simple when I returned from the road last night: a veggie burger made into a cheeseburger with a bagel for a bun, potato chips, and dill pickles on the side. It served.
Soon, maybe tonight, I will make stuffed bell peppers. Saturday, Christmas eve, will be chili and cornbread. After that, I haven’t decided. Some sort of festive, holiday fare, no doubt.
The reason I need a retreat is to get organized for 2023. The big stuff: writing, gardening, home repair, and cooking are all necessary components. To take a step back and review where I find myself is an important part of setting appropriate goals for the coming year.
I’ll definitely write about the experience daily. I hope some readers will follow along.