Blessed Midsummer! I recently returned from a solitary writer's retreat in Ocean Beach, California. It was a gift I gave myself as part of a year's circle and retreat work on self-love and pleasure where I found that I was teaching what I most needed to learn (sound familiar?!) . I was the worst student, the unmothered child, but now I am catching up. How? By taking a sacred pause from my life to nurture my soul.
Solstices, Equinoxes, all Earth Holy Days are portals of opportunity to reweave our webs of life and our stories if we take the time to pause, spend time in nature, reflect on what is most meaningful to us at this turn of the wheel, and simply be. Like the sealwoman in Clarissa Estes' "Sealskin, Soulskin" in Women Who Run with the Wolves, I realized that I had lost my pelt. Four years of losses and feeling out of my element had left me like her: parched, dry, limping, and losing sight. I wanted to see (literally and metaphorically) my way out of this downward spiral of loss that took me to the darkest depths of my being and left me feeling vulnerable and wounded.
When I gave myself the gift of time alone at the sea, a beautiful, spacious haven with Mother Ocean crashing her waves against the cliffs that seemed right underneath the table at which I wrote, I finished in longhand what later amounted to 10 typewritten pages, in peace and roaring silence. As I reread my words, I felt as if this part of my life was complete, and something had shifted and transformed during and after this period of writing.
What I learned from this experience:
1) How important it was to listen to the voice of healing, my intuition, telling me that I needed to become my own best friend and mother myself with what I most needed; the gift of time away, alone.
2) How crucial it was to act on that understanding as soon as it became clear, knowing that my mental, physical, psychological, and creative health were at stake.
3) To relish solitude and be-ing and give myself permission to go without expectations - to sleep day and night for the 5 days of my retreat, if necessary. To take care of myself profoundly and exclusively.
4) To refrain from turning on the TV, to use the phone only for navigating, to not knowing every day what was happening in the world was a crucial act because I could heal from what has become the trauma of everyday life and experience a true retreat.
When I gave myself the gift of time alone at the ocean in a nurturing space that I had chosen with love for myself, I returned with a list of intentions ready to be realized, a passionate fire restoked for the Solstice, and a pelt so succulent that I truly feel reborn. I also realized that there is now a new story to be written, with those I have loved and lost tucked safely in my heart. The joy that has arisen with my own return to the topside world will abide as I continue to mother, nurture, and care for my soul and keep my pelt succulent.
I ask you to consider the state of your own pelt and see what you can do to care for yourself this Midsummer. Summer Solstice is the perfect time to love yourself fiercely and shine your light. The shift doesn't occur in one day only, but serves as an opening to what time is right for you. Take that sacred pause, do what brings you pleasure and feeds your soul, and see what happens. Blessed be!