I am married, have kids, and a very busy life. I get a little solitude here and there when I get up early for work and during my drive to and from work. It can be very busy going from meeting to meeting and trying to get some work done in between. At home, I seldom get the house to myself, but find that I really enjoy a little peace on those rare occasions that I do.
In Introvert Power, Dr. Laurie Helgoe has an entire chapter devoted to taking a retreat.
“As the term implies, a retreat is a backing away, a withdrawal, an experience in the realm of yin, an act of introversion. A retreat can be a ten-minute break or an extended escape – such as Paul Gauguin’s two-year artistic sabbatical in Tahiti – but we usually think of a retreat as a weekend or vacation-length trip “away from it all.” For an introvert, retreating is the ultimate indulgence: an inner life binge that fills our depleted energy stores.”
Dr. Helgoe gives many examples and suggestions for retreats, including a trip to a Bed & Breakfast she took alone. Taking a vacation without my wife and kids? Am I allowed to do this? Probably not. I usually go to a work conference a couple of times a year, and often, if I can have some time to myself it does have a wonderful retreat-like effect. When I am allowed to have periods of solitude, I may get some needed peace back in my life. It gives me time to put things into perspective or to reflect on my life’s dreams. However, up until recently I did not fully realize that this solitude was a must for me and not an option if I was going to be happy and successful. One of the major keys to success and happiness is knowing how you operate best and what you need.
This past holiday weekend I stayed home from a family outing. This is not something that I usually do. However, coming off of a very busy time at work and looking ahead to my upcoming busy schedule, I knew that I needed it. A “day off” alone was what I needed at the time and my family did have fun without me. This is not something I plan to do often, as I love my family and love spending time with them. However, in this case it was the right thing to do.
I am fascinated with the idea that Dr. Helgoe shares of taking a vacation alone. I am not sure I would be allowed to go to a Bed & Breakfast without my wife, but I can see how this could occasionally be very good for the soul. For now, I will look for ways to carve out the solitude that I need.