Do you need a soul-cation?
OK, that’s a rhetorical question. Of course you need a soul-cation. Everyone needs a soul-cation. Everyone needs a mind-body-spirit rest. We know that. We feel it in our hunched shoulders, tense tummies, and racing minds. We know it in our 3 AM worry fests. We see it in our relentless schedules and hopeless to-do lists. We see it in our piles–papers, projects, laundry–always, it seems, there are more piles.
We know we should stop. But we don’t. I didn’t. I had been feeling the call to stop for weeks but had not allowed myself to hear it. Because if I heard it, I’d have to stop. And I couldn’t afford to do that. I had too many events to plan, programs to edit, speeches to give, calls to return, proposals to write, and bills to cover.
Jennifer Hill Robenalt, my heaven-sent publicist, took matters into her own hands. “Stop!” she yelled, “you need to take five days with nothing. No email, no facebook, no computer, no phone calls. Nothing for five days.” “I know you’re right,” I sighed, “but I can’t.”
That night I asked the Voice for the perfect Hafiz poem for the last night of the Creative Blessing teleclass. I opened The Gift to:
A Still Cup
For God to make love,
for the divine alchemy to work,
The Pitcher needs a still cup.
Why ask Hafiz to say anything more about
your most vital requirement?
As I read Hafiz’s words to the class, each of us, sitting in our homes from California to Florida, shared this vision of Spirit pouring–or rather, trying to pour–an boundless supply of love, light, wisdom, and grace into our little cups. But we, frantic with worry and responsibility, keep chasing something that is somehow just out of reach. All that we want is right there, so close we can smell it, but it falls uncollected to the ground. And so, we keep going, working ever harder to accomplish what we want.
Reading “A Still Cup” I knew what I had to do. I called Jennifer and told her I was going on soul-cation. I went to the library and checked out an armload of books. I sent a few “out of commission” emails so people wouldn’t worry. I told my twitter and facebook buddies I was going on soul-cation. Then, on Saturday, August 1st, I stopped.
That morning, as I walked past my office door, the computer called to me. My hands itched for the keyboard. My eyes begged for one quick glance at the calendar. I sighed, closed the office door, and walked away.
I knew I needed to do something dramatically different to break the visceral urge to work. For me, that’s cleaning. I hate to clean. I’d much, much rather write. So before I could talk myself out of it, I vacuumed the blinds, oiled the furniture, scrubbed the kitchen, and polished the floors. When I finished, I felt great and the house smiled. The next day I pruned the garden. The garden smiled. I ironed. The rows of linen napkins winked up at me. To celebrate my happy home, I invited friends over for an old-fashioned Sunday dinner of roasted peppers, marinated mushrooms, green beans, carrot salad, potato salad, pesto tomatoes, and Greek grilled chicken. Took me all day. I loved every minute.
For seven days I did not enter my office. Instead, I prayed and I slept. I wrote in my journal for hours on end. Sometimes I just sat in my chair. And I read. I read:
Fingerprints of God, Barbara Bradley Haggerty
Healing Words, Larry Dossey
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Wells
Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch
I read Conversations years ago, but I needed to read it again. There were the answers to all the questions plaguing me. I resolved to re-read Conversations once a year. If you read only one book on your soul-cation, make it Conversations with God.
On Tuesday, as I sipped coffee in my reading chair, I glanced up and looked at my favorite Denis Gaston painting, “The Awakened One” on the opposite wall. She’s a powerful woman with orange skin, huge green eyes and wild medusa hair. Thank you, God,” I said out loud, “for Denis Gaston. And thank you for this gorgeous, gorgeous painting.” My eyes drifted down to my lime green sofa. “Thank you, oh thank you, for this sofa. And thank you for the money that made it possible.”
Around the room I went. For three hours. Basking in the beauty of each and every object in my home. I thanked Spirit for the thing, the person who made it, and the person who gave it to me or the place where I found it. By the time I finished, my living room was pulsing with love and my heart was soaring. This was so much fun, I did it again the next day. And the next. That attitude of gratitude thing? It works.
At the end of the seven days I felt better. Stiller. Calmer. Quieter. Happier. And an amazing thing happened. On my first day back I received five new speaking invitations. On day two, travel arrangements that had eluded me fell effortlessly into place. On day three, the outline for The Joy of Writing in Theta tumbled onto the page. On day four, I was invited to speak to two professional writers groups. The truth is I accomplished more in the week I rested than I would have had I worked.
So now, I ask you again, do you need a soul-cation? It costs nothing. Well, you might spend a bit more on food. But that’s it. If you’d like to create a soul-cation for yourself, here are a few ideas to get you started.
I did NOT
• watch TV
• read the news
• turn on the computer (no email, internet, blogging, facebook, twitter…)
• pay bills or look at my bank account
• spend money (except for food)
• go anywhere (except for the produce stand and St Michael’s Shrine)
• talk on the phone (except to invite people over)
• give myself permission to take time off
• stay quiet
• sleep (some nights 12 hours)
• dream (dreams were loaded with messages)
• lots and lots of deep soul writing
• read (it’s a particularly delicious form of hooky for we workaholics to read in the middle of the day)
• do different things like clean (may not sound like fun for you, but it was an important shift activity for me. You’ll discover your own shift activity)
• eat with joy (I slowed down and really enjoyed cooking and eating. Plus, I set the table with my newly ironed linens and my mother’s crystal goblets)
• garden (with each weed, I felt I was yanking out dead fears)
• have friends over for slow, conversation-filled dinners
• visit a holy site (for me, that’s St Michael’s shrine in Tarpon Springs FL)
And one last essential item. I said my Covenant every day, more slowly and more thoughtfully than ever. I spoke it aloud, really hearing what I was saying. I stood perfectly still as I spoke, knowing that when I am those statements, I become a still cup and The Pitcher can and will find me and fill me up. (details on the Sept 9th Covenant teleclass)
For more ideas on how to create your soul-cation, look at how to create a soul day on pages 230-236 in Writing Down Your Soul.
Your soul-cation won’t look exactly like mine. There are no rules. The key is to stop. Simply stop and give The Pitcher a chance to fill your still, open, receptive cup. And then you know what will happen? Your cup will runneth over!
(This article was originally published in my Writing Down Your Soul Newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter using the tab at the top of this page.)
No one is taking a vacation right now. Perhaps because they don’t have a job from which to take a break –or, even if they have a job, they don’t have enough money to leave town. Or they can’t walk away from the relentless list of all the things they should be doing.
Whatever the reason, people are either working through their “vacation,” or taking a “staycation”– the going term for the no-cost, no-go, stay-at-home one-week rest. One week at home — and we’re supposed to return refreshed and ready to plunge, once more, into the fray of business and profit.
Well, I can’t. On many, many levels, I simply can’t.
I can’t leave. I can’t spend nonexistent money for a nonexistent vacation. Yet in my own home, my own space, my own office, I can’t stop the relentless dance of research, email, twitter, and facebook. I can’t stop the necessary updates on book tour or my website or eventbrite or the newsletter. I can’t stop toying with my next book proposal or teleclass or product launch.
In a word, I can’t stop. But it’s only in stopping that I can refresh this frazzled soul.
And so I stop. Just stop. I say no. No to twitter, no to email, no to facebook, no to teaching. No to “let’s go here” or “let’s have lunch, ” or “can you talk.”
But I need so much more than just sitting home and pretending to be on vacation. From what? The job I don’t have? How silly.
So here I am in my home with the same view, the same morning paper, the same food in the frig, the same wine in the cupboard, the same books on the same shelves and the same relentless list of things to do.
But I refuse. I refuse to do the same things for the same reasons in the same schedule. OK, so I can’t travel. I can’t leave the house. So how do I take a break from the jaws of the necessary, the needful, the now?
It may not be the ideal answer. But this is the answer I’ve got. Stop. Stop and look the OTHER way.
The “other” for me is the functional, the ordinary, the necessary — like cleaning, laundry, gardening, pruning. And so, for the past 48 hrs, I’ve polished floors, pulled weeds, ironed napkins, and scrubbed the fountain.
Is this a vacation? I think so. Not in the go-to-europe sense or the pampered spa sense, but in the soul sense. At last, there are only two persons present in this house: me and my soul. I’m letting this honored guest sleep as long as she likes, read for hours on end, step outside even when it’s hot and miserable, and spend a day cooking for friends.
And she is grateful. What about you? Can you take a soul-cation? Will you?